JT III and a few of his players talked to the media this afternoon about their game tomorrow against Seton Hall, West Virginia cheers and Bryon Jansen’s three pointer at the end of the St. John’s game.
On the maturation of Vernon Macklin: He’s been working really hard in practice—getting his moves down pat. We do a lot of moves together before and after practice, and it is really beginning to show. The sky-hook and the two-foot hook are his main moves, and whenever he gets in the open court he does his job. I’m trying to get like him in the open court.
On defending Macklin’s hook shot: I’ve blocked it a couple times. Obviously I see it so many times and we learn different techniques [to defend it], but I’m not going to give it away. But there is a way to block it.
On difference between Roy and Vernon: He’s a different player. He’s a lot leaner and quicker, so he makes quicker moves. I’m usually banging against two or three other people, but he’s learning that too.
On Bryon Jansen’s three: I was happy. He works hard so it was great to see that at the end of the game.
On returning home to New York: It was fun. To be in New York and play that kind of game, where we dominate the whole way—it was fun. Having my family there, and my friends and fans enjoyed it, it was a fun atmosphere. My family had tickets, and then other people were buying tickets leading up to the game so there were maybe 60 or 70 [friends and family].
On his recent outside shooting streak: I just take what’s there. I want to show people that I can do that along with being a leader on this team.
On Bryon Jansen: It meant a lot. That guy works hard, he’s one of the hardest working players I’ve ever seen. For him to make that shot meant a lot and I was proud of him.
On Patrick Ewing Jr: He’s a passionate player. He loves the game and he brings that to the table each and every game. People might mistake that for attitude, but it’s a positive vibe and when he’s energetic and I’m energetic, we all get energetic.
On WVU fans’ insults: I watched the game the day after and I heard it on the tape. I guess it was ‘Sapp is crap.’ I mean, that wasn’t very creative but they tried. I can’t even say what they said to Pat.
On rebounding: We all need to make a conscious effort of pursuing the ball—long rebounds and rebounds around the rim.
On facing Seton Hall: We are going to have to get back quick in transition and identify the ball early on. They get a lot of penetration and kickouts for open shots so we need to shut down that aspect of their game. Top to bottom they may have one of the quickest lineups in the conference. We have the size so we need to close down the lane and cut off the drives to be successful.
On Bryon Jansen: Bryon is one of those guys that comes in every day to practice. He’s not necessarily worried about the minutes he’s going to get to play. He just wants to help us out in any way. He was very excited, I’m pretty sure you could tell from the emotion he showed that it was a pretty big moment for him.
On opposing fans: I hear it. You can’t block out the huge signs or all the expletives they throw out at me during the game, but it’s something that I’ve been dealing with my whole life and I accept that it’s going to happen. I have no problems with it. In the games where the crowd has tried to kill me I’ve definitely had good games. It’s also an asset because it takes pressure off of Roy, DaJuan, Austin, Jessie or any of the other players. Taking the pressure off of them helps them play better also.
On playing at Madison Square Garden: I love to go to the Garden, it’s my favorite place to play. Any basketball player loves the Garden, it’s the basketball Mecca of the world. When I’m out there I’m having fun just like any other game, but it’s always special to play there. I wouldn’t say I was more comfortable there—I’m comfortable in every game, but it’s nice to go there and play and see my dad’s jersey up in the rafters.
On Bryon Jansen: It’s good to see the people who don’t get a lot of recognition for what they do go out there and show what they can do. Bryon works hard every day in practice. Half the time people get mad at him because he is being real physical and they don’t like it, but he works just as hard or harder than everyone else. He’s always in there after practice getting up shots. We will go on away trips and he’s always the guy who says, ‘Yo guys, let’s go to the weight room and lift some weights or something like that’ and we are all like, ‘Bryon, are you serious? We’ve got a game tomorrow, what are you talking about?’ But his work ethic—for him to score those points, especially in the Garden where everyone wants to show what they can do, it’s great. Everyone was proud. I was telling Coach, ‘Let’s run an iso[lation] for Bryon, he needs to get a shot, he needs to get some points on the board.’
On Jansen’s bank shot: I just asked him if he called it. He said he called it—I didn’t hear him though. But in a game a basket’s a basket.
On Seton Hall: They are a very good offensive team. They lead our league in scoring and their perimeter people not only make shots, but they can get to the basket and get to the foul line. They put pressure on the defense and no one has found a way to slow them down yet. We just hope they have a bad day.
On the post play: It’s improving. And I’m happy in that sense, but we have to keep going in the right direction. We have to continue to throw it down, and not just to Roy and Vernon, but to other people.
On Vernon Macklin: He has developed, and he is still developing. Obviously playing behind Roy, he doesn’t get the opportunity to show his skills as often as he’d like. His options have been limited. But he has worked extremely hard and still has a long way to go, but I think he will get there. At this level there is that pressure, that dialogue and frustration as kids grow and improve. He’s a McDonald’s All-American and realizes he has to get better, but the same thing happened at Princeton with kids I recruited who didn’t have all those accolades. We have 13 guys who want to play, so that’s the balance.
On Bryon Jansen: You have to be happy for him. It’s Madison Square Garden and he hits a three-point shot. We each have our part to do, and the caring and the work that he brings to our team—it’s very similar to Tyler [Crawford], to tell you the truth. He had a big offensive rebound a couple possessions before that could have been a 1-and-1 or a shooting foul.
On learning from Roy: I can take a lot of things from Roy. His smartness on the floor, his passes in the post—I can take a lot from his game.
On free throw shooting: It really is all mental. I just think too much. I just don’t want to miss. I go up there thinking ‘I can’t miss this free throw,’ I just need to clear my mind and go up there and start making them.
On getting more playing time: I’m still learning, I’m still watching Roy and Pat. I’m going to keep working hard until my time.
On what he can improve: I need to get some rebounds. To stay out there longer I need to be able to rebound and defend, not just score.
On the team’s transition game: In the Big East, every team you play knows everything about you, so you need to give them some different looks. It’s hard to run sometimes in the Big East. It’s very exciting to see what can happen this year and next year, but we are going to keep with the Princeton [offense] now.
On having to wait for his chance: At first it was tough, but then you know playing behind Jeff [Green] and Roy—you learn a lot. At first I didn’t understand, but I’m getting more mature, I’ve learned.
On practice/the hook shot: I work on the hook every day, left and right. We break up a lot into groups and work on moves. You don’t know what Roy is going to do when you guard him, either power or speed. So watching him and playing against him every day—when I get on the court and guard someone I just visualize Roy.