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SJU Basketball Coaches and Players Discuss Upcoming Season at Media Day

Big East Men's Basketball Media Day (Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

Big East Men’s Basketball Media Day (Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)

 

Media members from all different outlets packed into Carnesecca Arena on October 21 for St. John’s Basketball Media Day.

Head coach of St. John’s women’s team, Joe Tartamella started the day off taking questions from the media. He spoke about his Tasha Pointer, who is the newest addition of his coaching staff. He believes she will bring on a great deal of leadership because of her experiences as a player and now assistant coach.

Coach Tartamella also spoke about how this season the team is focused on shooting better from the arc, as they shot only 25% from 3-point land last season. They averaged 64 points per game, and coach believes if they get it to around 70 point per game by getting a few more of those 3-point shots to fall, it will lead to more wins.  They are taking much more shots in practice to improve their shooting so that they do not solely have to rely on the paint and free throw shooting.

Next was Chris Mullin to the podium and he spoke about various topics. He was asked what type of pace the team would play this year, in turn he responded with a fast paced, NBA type style. “If you play hard, you play unselfish”. However, he also explained how it is a work in progress and that the team will adjust as they play actual games. They have only played against each other, so once they play against other teams they will make the adjustments needed to succeed.

Mullin also spoke about his coaching staff additions, Matt Abdelmassih and Greg St. Jean who came with him from the Sacramento Kings. He praised Mitch Ritchmond, as being one of the best players the NBA has seen, who is now part of his staff as Special Assistant.

Mullin spoke on his team and how they all have been playing unselfish since day one. They are a great group of guys, who work together, which is what Mullin looks for.  Mullin also spoke on the point guard position being run by two frehsmen.

“From what I’ve seen on the court from Federico [Mussini] and Marcus [LoVett] is that their experience is beyond their years,” said Mullin. “They’re composed and confident. We have returning players and some fifth-year seniors that are going to be our leaders and I think it’s important that they help those guys [Federico and Marcus] from their experience.”

Speaking to Malik Ellison about the impact his dad, being a NBA Star and former Number 1 overall pick by the Kings, as had on him, he says, “Him knowing the game has really helped me grow as a player.” He has learned all the ins and outs from his father’s playing career and has pushed him to get to where he is today. Turning to Malk’s broken tibia from his senior year in high school he said, “It was a little rough at first and I played my senior year in high school at 80%. But coming to the college the great conditioning staff here got me right and I’m ready to go.”

Ellison also spoke about his experiences at Life Center Academy and how that has shaped his career thus far. “Life Center Academy is a Christian School, you know and it kept me focused and out of trouble. It kept me in the gym, where I got a lot of extra work in. It shaped me really nicely.”

Malik, who is 6-6, will be an important factor in St. John’s success this year as a guard both on and off the ball.

Federico Mussini was also available for interview and he spoke about transitioning from Italy to America. The lifestyle is much faster in the America and style of play as well. He also spoke about how in terms of his offensive game he needs to bulk up and get more explosive to the rim. Finishing at the rim is also a big improvement for Mussini. He says he watches a lot of Stephen Curry and Jason Williams videos, him being similar to them at 6-1 and only 155 pounds. Finally, he spoke on how Chris Mullin has helped him thus far by saying, “I have already learned a lot from him, he is one of the best players ever, and he will teach me a lot of things, not only in basketball but my personal life too.”

Mussini, along with Marcus Lovett will be crucial at the point guard position for St. John’s success. His long range shooting will be a viable asset for this team and his maturity level on the court will hopefully translate to the rest of his teammates.

Freshman guard Marcus LoVett added, “Take each day at a time, real slowly, starting with practice. How we play in practice is how we’re going to play in the game, so if we practice with this mindset, I believe everything will work out. [Come game day] we have to be focused on the game plan and stick to it.” He also explained how Chris Mullin was one of the strong reasons he chose St. John’s. Asked about his mixtape and if that put him on the map in terms of recruiting, he says, “ It was just a blessing to have my videos in tons of other countries and yes it definitely put me on the map.”

LoVett will be a important player for St. John’s this year and will need him to play well to make it the tournament this season.

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