|St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The St. John's Red Storm will open the Big East Tournament on Wednesday night against DePaul, with tip-off around 9:30 p.m.
The Red Storm finished the regular season with three straight losses, which left their Big East Conference record at 8-9 and saw them drop to seventh place from third, and missing a bye in the tournament.
On Sunday, point guard Shamorie Ponds was named to the All-Big East First Team, and on Monday, Justin Simon was named the Big East Defensive Player Of The Year award.
St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin took part in a Big East coaches teleconference on Monday and he said of the honors for Ponds and Simon, “I am very happy for Shamorie. He’s been very consistent. He is probably the best player ever at St. John’s, statistically. He has just been a very incredible performer. So I am very happy and proud of him. Justin Simon transferred in, took that redshirt year and was able to elevate his game. He just really has continued to evolve as a player, all facets of his game. His versatility has really helped us so much in our success. Just really happy and proud of both of those guys.”
DePaul beat St. John's twice in the regular season, a 79-71 win at Carnesecca Arena on January 12 when the Red Storm were without Ponds, and a 92-83 triumph in Chicago on March 3 when Max Strus scored 48 points.
Mullin said of taking a new approach against DePaul this time around, “Yes, probably nothing I would put out publicly. We have had some success in those games, two very different games. In the last game there were two different halves, quite frankly. So, we know what we have to do. We have proved it to ourselves, you know the style of play we need to be successful. Making sure we make it happen is our sole focus.”
Then, in response to a question about getting Marquette (whom they beat twice in the regular season) on Thursday if they get by DePaul, Mullin stated clearly, “We are totally focused on DePaul. They are a handful for us. They’ve beaten us twice. So our sole focus is on starting a brand-new season and focusing on DePaul.”
Mullin was then asked about the differences he sees in his team now compared to two weeks ago when they were coming off wins over Villanova and Seton Hall, “My mind doesn’t go that far back, thank god. We practice today at one [o’clock] and our sole focus is having a brand-new start. We had a good season, if you look at the trend, consistent, inconsistent, it’s all in the past. We really just came with new energy, brand new season. Everyone is starting at 0-0, and it is a refreshing feeling, bringing new energy, and getting ready for DePaul.”
St. John's finished the season with an overall record of 20-11, and Mullin said of the team believing that's enough to make the NCAA tournament or if they need a win or two at the Big East Tournament, “We focus on what we need to do to succeed. So that’s today’s practice session and more importantly starting new. We have a nice clean slate, mentally and physically. Having that renewed energy is more important than anything else.”