Chris Mullin: 'It Got Pretty Tense In The Room'

LISTEN: St. John's HC Joined Mike Francesa

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March 18, 2019 - 4:02 pm

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St. John's squeaked their way into the NCAA Tournament. They were the final at-large team to get in. The Red Storm will be a 11 seed and take on 11-seeded Arizona State on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio in one of the first four play-in games. If they win, they will move on to the field of 64 and take on six-seed Buffalo.

St. John's head coach Chris Mullin joined WFAN's Mike Francesa to discuss it coming down to the wire for them to go dancing. 

"I felt good about the way we played for the most part. I thought the Big East was underrated as a league," Mullin said. "As soon as they went through the first three backets, it got pretty tense in the room. I still felt pretty good. I haven't been around an explosion like that emotionally in a long, long time. It was pretty cool." 

What does coach think about having to go at it in the play-in game? 

"It makes no difference. Everyone in the tournament is starting from zero," said Mullin. "I really think the teams that come in there with a nice, fresh mindset and fresh physically have the advantage. I think we'll be juiced up and ready to go." 

How are the Johnnies feeling going into this game against Arizona State? 

"Physically, we're good to go. When we're really good, when we're active defensively, playing with passion, we're really really tough," Mullin said. "Like most teams, making shots has an effect on us emotionally. When we play well, it's really about our defense and we take care at least halfway decently on the defensive glass." 

MORE: St. John's, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Iona Learn Opponents As NCAA Tournament Bracket Unveiled

The Sun Devils were 22-10 in the regular season and 12-6 in Pac-12 play. What's the scouting report look like? 

"They're very similar to us. They're athletic. They like to get up and down, play the fast-pace," the fourt-year St. John's head coach said. "They got three really good perimeter players. They'll play one or two bigs at a time. Their bigs are more athletic and can crash the boards so it's something we really got to concentrate on. It should be a really good game. It should be a high-octane, fast-paced game I think." 

It's been a rocky couple of weeks for St. John's, who is not coming into the NCAA Tournament playing their best basketball. They have had a wide variety of experiences though throughout this season from big wins to tough losses and difficult opponents. 


"I think we've got enough good experiences to fall back on and we've had enough adversity to guard ourselves," Mullin stated. "We had a nice comeback against Villanova down 19. We also blew some leads. We played against Duke. We have had a lot of experiences together. I think they'll all come in handy. The one thing we know is we got to play energetic, passionate and really dictate tempo. That's our game. We got to make sure we do that." 

You can hear the entire interview with the Johnnies head men's basketball coach in the audio player above.