Friday, December 15, 2023

Pitino's Points Ahead Of St. John's Meeting Fordham In Holiday Festival At MSG


Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm will take on the Fordham Rams on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden.

Each team took part in the NABC Brooklyn Showcase at Barclays Center last Sunday, to far different results. Fordham opened the afternoon with a 60-59 win over North Texas, which was clinched on a Abdou Tsimbila dunk as time expired. St. John's lost a tough one to Boston College, 76-70, which broke their four-game winning streak.

Pitino Pregame: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media on Friday morning on the St. John's campus:

On playing at Madison Square Garden: "What I've tried to relay to the guys is every single team that comes to play in Madison Square Garden this is their most famous moment. You take Fordham. In the old days, they used to play in The Garden all the time, but they don't get a chance to do that anymore. Michigan has not played as well since our game (note: St. John's lost to Michigan on November 13)...You hear it all the time, from Kobe to LeBron to [Michael Jordan] to Bird, everybody thinks it's 'The World's Most Famous Arena,' so you get everyone's best game. That's the message I've relayed to the guys. It's not about your excitement to play in The Garden, that's 'The World's Most Famous Arena' that you get a chance to perform in.'

On a surprise visit he received Sunday night after the Boston College game: "I had something really nice happen to me and I don't think I've ever seen it before. [The players] knew I was really down after the Boston College game and I had a neighbor come over after the game to try and cheer me up, so my son Ryan and I ordered a pizza. All of a sudden, the doorbell rang and I went there, Joel [Soriano], Chris Ledlum, and Daniss [Jenkins] came with the pizza and came in to try and cheer me up. They drove 45 minutes from Queens to do that and that is unheard of in my almost 50 years of coaching. They didn't eat any of the pizza either. I really appreciated that. Rather than the coach thinking the players were down and thinking we have to build them up, they went the other way. You don't see guys drive 45 minutes to try and cheer a coach up."

On building the St. John's roster: "We put together this basketball team abruptly and we tried to get as many good offensive basketball players as possible. The first year I've coached at every place it has taken time to put in all the defenses. No matter if it was Boston University, whether it was Providence, the Knicks, Kentucky or Louisville, it takes time, especially when you have all offensive basketball players. I knew that it would take time so I tried to do away with that theory by recruiting six fifth-year seniors, thinking it would alleviate the problem of taking time. Unfortunately, it didn't because four of the six need a lot of time to improve defensively in order for us to mature as a basketball team."

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