Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Pitino Pregame: Big East Tourney Battle With The Hall


St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino at Carnesecca Arena on December 6. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm will take on the Seton Hall Hall Pirates on Thursday afternoon in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

For the Red Storm, they need to win this game to give them 20 on the season and firm up their big for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They are 19-12 on the season, and that includes an 11-9 record in Big East play.

St. John's closed the regular season having won five straight games after they lost to Seton Hall, 68-62, on February 18 at UBS Arena. That game has become known for St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino ripping his players by name in his post game press conference, which obviously had the desired effect. They also lost their other matchup against The Hall, 80-65, on January 16 in Newark, a game Pitino missed due to Covid. With that in mind, it's natural to wonder how Pitino will impact this third meeting between these local rivals.

PITINO PREGAME: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino spoke to the media on campus on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the Big East Tournament, and he opened with this statement: "The Big East Tournament I've always looked forward to. It's been a while since I've been back and the tournament's highly competitive, you don't know who is going to win so it's very exciting. We are pleasantly surprised we got a bye; it didn't look that way about three weeks ago, but it's very exciting to have a bye."

On if Seton Hall will see a different team from their last meeting: "We are a team that has improved in the last two or three weeks. We played a decent first half against them the first time around. One thing you have to do, you have to have great spacing against Seton Hall. If you don't have great spacing in your attack, they are going to make you pay for that. We are a better basketball team from an offensive spacing standpoint since the last time we played them."

On the pressure St. John's is facing in the Big East Tournament: "I love [the word pressure]. I think it's the greatest word for any competitor. Whether you take Billie Jean King's analysis of pressure as a privilege, or mine. Pressure to me is your ally, your best friend in life. Stress is your enemy. This is what we live for, these moments. I think we are all under the pressure when you get to this time of year. The only ones not under the influence of pressure are probably Connecticut, Creighton and Marquette. So we are all under that, but it's fun. Pressure makes it fun. We have been under this pressure thing the last [five] games in a row because if we lost any of those, we wouldn't be on this proverbial [NCAA Tournament] bubble they talk about all the time."

On Daniss Jenkins' All-Big East Second Team Selection: "You know, [Daniss Jenkins] could have made the First Team, he was good enough, but I have no problem with the people that are on the first team. He's had a fabulous year. It is well deserved. I'm very proud of him. You know, Daniss came in [to Iona] and I wouldn't say his qualities were great as a leader, I wouldn't say his qualities were great as a point guard. He developed the qualities of a leader and he was the MVP of the MAAC Tournament. He's developed all of that and now he's carried it to a different level against better competition in the Big East, so I'm really proud of him."

On his past success in the Big East Tournament: "[My teams at Louisville had success] because they all matured together. [Players] came back. Peyton [Siva] and Russ [Smith] didn't play too much, and they all grew into a championship team. My team was not ready to play against Rutgers or Michigan because we were teaching not only the fundamentals, but the system and I realize now I spent a whole summer with player development. I was making them better basketball players, shooting, dribbling and all of the offensive moves. I probably should have spent more time developing the offenses and the defenses. You learn this new climate now and that's what I would do going into next year. But this team is capable of winning and capable of winning in the NCAA Tournament. Would I have said that three weeks ago? Probably not. But they have evolved into what I hoped they would evolve into and that's really great to see."

No comments:

Post a Comment