Big East Tournament Quotes - St. John's
Updated: Mar 18, 2020
COURTESY OF THE BIG EAST CONFERENCE
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by St. John's.
COACH ANDERSON: Proud of these guys. I always think the way we play is a game of runs, and we had one of our better runs this year. Fatigue, I thought, was a factor. You look at these two guys up here, I thought they were so important in this particular win. And Georgetown, Pat has done an unbelievable job. He has a short bench. But those guys continue to play at a high level. Allen, we had no answer for him in the first half -- he and Pickett. I thought in the second half we did a much better job of really making them feel our pressure defense. Fatigue was a factor in this game. I thought they wore down at the end. With six minutes to go I think it's a 10- point game or something like that, 62-52, I think, and we went on an unbelievable run. I just saw our guys, the energy level pick up. But it started with our defense. Just first game you never know how your guys are going to come out. Especially in the tournament setting, I didn't have a clue. But I guess they satisfied me from the standpoint of they actually put together a much better second half than they did the first half.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Marcellus, can you describe what it feels like to be in what those last six minutes were, 23-0 run to finish the game, 3-pointers falling? What was that like?
MARCELLUS EARLINGTON: It was a great feeling. I work on my shot every day. So it didn't surprise me as much. And my teammates did a good job of finding me at my spots. I had good spot-up shots. Like I said, it was great to go out there and go on that run. Coach always talks about periods. In practice we run four-minute periods, three-minute periods. And I think we translated what we did in practice to the game. So the outcome is great.
Q. Coach, how are you guys able to turn it around the way you did during the regular season? You've lost a lot of close games. So how difficult was it for you to, like, impress upon these guys it's not over?
COACH ANDERSON: It tested my patience, I know that. I had to constantly preach to these guys, just don't let go of the rope. We're close, guys, we're close. And you could see it, because we had -- we started getting contributions from some guys that, number one, they hadn't played at all last year. So they were learning their roles. You talk about Marcellus. You talk about Greg Williams. Even Rasheem. He had to settle down. The guy that constantly, I think he's -- I think he's kind of the litmus test for our basketball team is Nick Rutherford. When he comes in, things happen. And it seems like he's the Energizer Bunny or whatever, and he just trickles throughout our team. I think it's just a combination of guys understanding their roles and not getting so down because we were losing some close games. And all we had to do was learn how to finish. We're competing, competing at a high level. But I guess to answer your question, we got more guys that are giving us something. I thought our bench played really, really well. We don't wear them down if David doesn't come in and give us those minutes. Damien comes in and gives us quality minutes. Nick comes off the bench and gives us quality minutes. So everybody that came in in this game contributed in a big way.
Q. You've lost some games at the Garden like that where you've had leads and haven't been able to finish. Obviously didn't lose on a 23-0 run. But what was it like to pull a game out like that at the Garden, especially the Big East Tournament and the way you did?
LJ FIGUEROA: It's an unbelievable feeling. Just Coach always emphasizes we're never out of game. We just go out there, play as hard as we can. I mean, honestly I don't think anybody knew on the court that we were on a 23-0 run. It just felt like we were out there having fun, and that's how it's supposed to feel.
COACH ANDERSON: And I think, you know, it's taking your practice to the game. We always talk about that. And I even have to tell them sometimes don't act like you never seen that before or act like you've seen it before because they'll do something and they'll just kind of go crazy. I say, we do that every day in practice. But to see it in a game, it just tells me that these guys are -- they're playing for each other; they're trusting each other offensively and defensively. I thought the last six minutes was a classic. I thought the trapping, the rotation -- just, I just think guys just fixing things on defense, they were rotating the right place. We got every loose ball. We were getting rebounds. We were in attack mode. And as Marcellus started knocking shots down we found the mismatch. Then, guess what? It opened up the lane. And LJ Figueroa, he'll shoot it from half court if you let him. That was a big shot he hit in the corner with the game still in balance. But Georgetown was never out of the game.
Q. Just to piggyback on that, in the beginning of the first half you guys were giving up on the wings in the perimeter. Weak side help wasn't to your liking. Second half you pushed the tempo and the paint got restricted. What halftime adjustment did you make and your team make?
COACH ANDERSON: If you know what Georgetown was getting they were getting layups or 3-point shots. That's what they were doing. I think early in the game we had a little success touching balls and stealing some balls, and I thought we got greedy. When you get greedy, guess what? You get out of position. We shoot it. We're settling for jump shots. We shoot it and they get it and go to the other end and we're jogging back. I talked about, guys, transition defense will be first and foremost. Not only that, let's make sure our pressure is going to be effective and with purpose. I thought let's make sure our rotations -- and take some pride in your defense. I think sometimes guys have to take some individual pride. And let's say the Allen kid, he was on a role, run. Somebody has to step up and say I got him. Guess what? At halftime that's what they said. And then you look at the rebounds. I mean, we went small, went small in that game. I thought it was an effective lineup. We had those three small guards, and, LJ, you were my power forward?
LJ FIGUEROA: Yeah.
COACH ANDERSON: He was my power forward and look at the center here, but he's shorter than me. (Laughter).
Q. Each one of you give your own sort of version of the answer here. You're about to play Creighton. They're the top seed but they're also a team that you guys just smoked. Do you guys feel like maybe you're on the cusp of something here?
MARCELLUS EARLINGTON: I feel like as a team, feel like we could beat anybody in the country. And you know we're just going to build off this win, the momentum. If we come out and play the style of basketball we've been playing all year, and if that outcome is the win, then it's a win.
Q. L.J., what do you think?
LJ FIGUEROA: We're going to go back to the hotel, get some rest, wake up in the morning, the next game is the biggest game on our schedule. So we're just going to come in and execute, play high energy, play our type of basketball and live with the results. Q. How much confidence do you have playing Creighton here at the Garden on your home court? Also they don't have Marcus; he's injured, how will that factor into it? How much confidence do you have playing them here, Creighton?
MARCELLUS EARLINGTON: I believe we can beat any team. So we're going to take it like as it is any team. Have the same preparation. Go in with the same mindset.
Q. What about that, L.J.?
COACH ANDERSON: I'll jump in on that one. They have players. They're a top 10 team, I think.
Q. No. 7.
COACH ANDERSON: That being said, Greg has done a great job with that basketball team. They're the Big East champs. And so it's going to be an awesome challenge, but at the same time it's a great opportunity and one of the greatest tournaments there is, the Big East Tournament. So look forward to the opportunity and the challenge. THE
MODERATOR: Thank you.