City Sports Report

Justise Winslow on playing in hometown of Houston


Justise Winslow returned to Houston, Texas, his hometown where he played his high school basketball and also where his father, Rickie Winslow, starred for the University of Houston with Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.  Justise discussed returning home to play in the Sweet 16 after the win over Utah.

Justise, you talked about yesterday there was a business trip for you. With all the circumstances of being home and your birthday, talk about what you were able to accomplish tonight getting one step closer.

JUSTISE WINSLOW: We wanted to win. Whatever it take to get the job done. The first half a lot of our buckets weren’t going in. We hang our hats on defense. We did a good job other than giving up offensive rebounds. I’m glad to be home, but it’s a business trip and it’s just about getting Duke two wins so we got one down tonight and one more Sunday.
Q. Justise, can you talk about adding that outside component to your game, how hard you worked on it?
JUSTISE WINSLOW: I worked very hard on it. It’s something that wasn’t there early on in my basketball career, but, you know, when I’m out there to try to stay aggressive. Coach tells me throughout the season, “stay aggressive, try to get to the basket.” If they’re sagging off, shoot my bullets. Whenever they sag off, get to the lane. It’s something I’m capable of. At the same time I’m trying to stay aggressive and just make plays.

Tyus and Justise both, just the idea that you know everybody — we only talk about the freshmen. You guys have played a full season now. I’m assuming you don’t feel like freshmen, and just talk about the idea of how much this team has grown up through the season.

JUSTISE WINSLOW: I think the biggest thing is Coach never treated us like freshmen. Once we got here, he gave us all the confidence, believed in us. There was never a moment where we felt like freshmen. He gave us his trust and he just believed in us. When we’re out there on the big stage, we know we have the trust of our coach and the whole coaching staff and our teammates. When you have that, you should — you play like yourself. We’ve been in tough moments where our back was against the wall. Coach tells us to go out there and play basketball. That’s what we do. That’s what we love to do. When we’re out there, we’re just going out there to have fun.
Q. Justise, can you just give a ballpark of the number of people you know here specifically from St. John’s or friends or family, all that kind of stuff, just a guess, not anything specific and how much that support really means to you?
JUSTISE WINSLOW: I probably knew maybe a hundred people at the game personally. Couldn’t give them all tickets. Lot of them have to buy tickets. High school friends and family, probably about a hundred people I really knew personally. It’s just amazing to be back home playing with your team, playing for Coach K. And, you know, I didn’t want that to be a distraction being home, but I just felt very comfortable out there, you know. It’s just really special when you can look out beyond the bench and see your mom and siblings and that sort of thing. When I was out there, I felt very comfortable and glad we got the win.

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