"If I was to listen to preseason analysis, I never would've played basketball to begin with," says Mullin to reporter Mike Waters, who wrote St. John's preview in this year's Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook preview.
Usually, the Blue Ribbon Basketball preview – published this week – has a wealth of information on almost every division one team, including St. John's. It has a sense of what the coach is thinking about the outlook of the team, who the leaders should be – which usually holds to form barring injury, and where the causes for concern are. Yes, it's written in a way that is friendly to the coach but there are hints.
This year's Blue Ribbon preview of St. John's basketball?
The basic answer is "your guess is as good as mine," though all the uncertainty has Blue Ribbon, like many other publications, predicting St. John's near the bottom of the Big East - in this case, ninth, above only Creighton - noting how St. John's lost 96% of the team's scoring and 92% of the team's rebounding from last season.
"A lot of times [in the NBA] you get into camp and then you get on court and evaluate," he told Blue Ribbon, saying that he has a sense of how he wants to play but won't know until workouts.
Mullin lays out the need to have a steady vision and approach in his leadership, "setting standards and then sticking to them."
Reaching back a few weeks, Mullin mentioned more about what he wants from his team at the New York Yankees Steakhouse event:
Ideally, we are trying to teach these kids to play with the guy next to them. Make a play for your teammate. I don’t want our guys looking at me to call a play for them. I’d rather have them out there feeling confident and prepared where they’re playing with each other.
The desire to play fast and instinctual, which Mullin has said he wants his players to be, is not a divergence from Steve Lavin's philosophies.
Where the two will likely diverge is in sticking to standards.
Lavin tolerated Rysheed Jordan's violations of the social media rules within the program, Chris Obekpa's lack of discipline, and other internal issues. Sometimes it worked; and sometimes that style meant inexplicable losses that were difficult to overcome at the end of the season. Both of those players departed after a few weeks working with Chris Mullin's demands.
And while fast and instinctual are great buzz words, they can hold different meanings - one could mean "take the first shot you can step into even if it's just inside the three-point line" (the lowest-value shot on the court), while another could mean "reacting to get to the rim".
But we don't yet know what Mullin means.
What seems to be important to Mullin is the work and effort put in, sticking with a routine for development, establishing a work ethic and discipline within his all-new team.