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St. John's basketball: Pre-game quotes from the Red Storm coaches and players

From the NY Daily News, F Anthony Mason Jr. is practicing, but won't play in today's game. Partial qualifier Rob Thomas (F) is back at practice with the team:

There's more for the Johnnies to look forward to about the trip to Hawaii than just hitting a luau and getting away from the cold. Anthony Mason Jr., who missed the first three games of the season with a high ankle sprain and re-injured it in his return, will play in their tournament opener on Dec. 19.

And the Johnnies also will add to their attack with Rob Thomas, a 6-6 redshirt freshman who was a heralded recruit. When Thomas tore two knee ligaments and damaged the meniscus in his knee during a March 26 pickup game and had surgery five days later, it was thought he might miss the entire season.

Both Mason and Thomas began practicing on Wednesday and Roberts said having the team complete has been a lift.

From the team's official pre-game quotes, Coach Roberts says:

What we've done over the long break that we had was try to break down all different aspects of the game, both offensively and defensively. We've tried to work on our zone offense and tried to get more fluid doing that. We've really tried to work on our defense and being more solid. We've also been trying to work on guys individually too, we've done a lot of individual work.

And Justin Burrell on practice and the two-week long layoff between games:

No, we've practiced everyday. The way that the coaches set up practice, the practices are a lot harder than the game is.

The thing we worked on the most was getting as deep into our offense as possible. From the earlier games we thought we could rely on the first couple of phases of our offense instead of getting all the way through and making teams play defense throughout the whole shot clock.

I feel every game we have grown in certain ways. I do feel we will look better than last game. But every game is different so you never know what will be shown out on the court.