Friday, November 10, 2017

Mullin: "Our big focus is defense"

St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin. Photo by Jason Schott.

St. John’s opens their season on Friday night against New Orleans at Carnesecca Arena.

St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin said of the mindset of the team heading into the season, “Every day is important. Every film session, practice, shoot around, and if you approach it that way you can just go out there and play. Each and every day is important, that’s why we practice.”

On the evaluation of the team heading into season opener, Mullin said, “We had a really good summer, and a good fall of preparation. There was a ton of individual improvement, skill wise. Probably more importantly, we grew together as a team by spending time together. Not only basketball wise, but on a day-to-day basis. Just the blending of skills and personalities, which takes time, has been good."

Mullin said of what he wants to see the Red Storm step up with this season, "Our improvement areas are really about defensive rebounding. Offensively we were pretty good last season, and will improve this season, because we’re unselfish. So our big focus is defense. We had some trouble rebounding last year, so that’s going to be a big focal point for us.”

Bashir Ahmed is entering his second second and Mullin said of his growth during  the offseason, “I thought he did a really good job over the summer. First and foremost, I think he saw himself on film and saw some of the things that we were trying to enforce. Sometimes it’s hard to make those changes in season with the games coming rapidly, so I think he took time and watched himself on film. As a coach, you always want to build a player’s confidence and point out their strengths, but you also need to point out the things that they need to get better at. However, it’s probably more important that a player sees it himself and realizes it. I think he has better control, a better grasp of playing with his teammates, when to attack, and move the ball. All that stuff takes time too.”

Mullin said of St. John's establishing scoring in the paint, “To me, it’s always important to get to the free-throw line. How you get there is not as important…I don’t think you have to have a traditional way to get there. I’m not quite sure there’s a traditional low-post scorer on the face of the Earth anymore. To me it’s more important to attack off the dribble, get to the paint, running the floor are all different ways to attack the rim, and getting to the free-throw line is always a focal point.”

Redshirt sophomore guard Justin Simon transferred to St. John's from Arizona and he will be making his debut in Queens on Friday night.

Simon said of being a stand out player, “I feel like everyone’s game has developed. I think defensively everyone has stepped up their level of play. ”

On his role with the team, Simon said, “I need to be a versatile player and a leader, as well as helping out on the defensive end. It’s important for me to get rebounds and stops but it is also important that I am vocal and work on being a facilitator while I’m out on the court.”

Simon said of his previous experience, “You have to have that winning mindset of competing every day and just being a winner…I feel like Marvin and I both bring that.”

Redshirt junior forward Marvin Clark II transferred to the Red Storm from Michigan State.

Clark said of getting acclimated this season, “I think we are already acclimated as a team…it’s more about knocking off the rust. We have to play as hard as we can, and I have to stay on the floor so I can get those game reps and get my feel back as quick as possible. Overall, when it comes to our effort in the game, I feel pretty good. ”

Clark said of St. John's dynamic duo of Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds, both sophomores, “Marcus and Shamorie are very dynamic scorers but they also understand it’s not all about scoring. They have both developed tremendously on the defensive end, and helped to make plays for others. They have grown a lot, and are very talented players."

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