Quinn Slazinski, who played for Rick Pitino at Iona, thriving in West Virginia
Quinn Slazinski wants to set the record straight.
He wasnt pushed out by Rick Pitino.
He doesnt hold any animosity toward the St. Johns coach. But he is eager to face him when the Johnnies visit West Virginia on Friday night.
The game has been circled on his calendar for quite some time.
This is just a big game, Slazinski said on a Zoom call Thursday ahead of the matchup. I told the West Virginia staff, Im not here to play one-on-one versus Rick Pitino, Im here to play West Virginia against St. Johns.
The greatest thing Pitino taught me was that pressure is the greatest gift an athlete can have. Its upon you to step up in the moment. Im using his words to help me play against him Friday night. The fire Im going to play with Friday is my competitive edge. Its not a you-did-me-wrong kind of thing, because that just wasnt the case, and its not true.
The 6-foot-9, court-spacing Slazinski spent two years under Pitino at Iona after starting his career at Louisville.
3West Virginia’s Quinn Slazinski (right), battling Ryan Dunn for a rebound during a recent game against Virginia, said it’s “a big game” for him, facing his former coach at Iona, Rick Pitino. APHe then committed to join Pitino as a transfer at St. Johns in the spring. But after Chris Ledlums arrival, Slazinski had a change of heart.
He wanted a major role, and he didnt think that would be available in Queens after Ledlum, the Harvard transfer, came aboard.
Slazinski had only positive things to say about Pitino, crediting him for his development over the past few years. He also has no regrets about his decision.
Its almost like God came down himself and gave me the best Christmas present I couldve ever received in my life, Slazinski said. From where this season is going now, its been nothing but great. Theres been highs and lows within the teams season, but being able to come here my fifth year, playing the way Ive been playing and to do it with a smile on my face, which hasnt been seen in a while, it was really important for me to get this my last year.
The move has worked out well for Slazinski.
He is leading West Virginia (3-3) in scoring (16.3), shooting 37.8 percent from 3-point range and averaging a career-high 33.5 minutes per game.
3West Virginia’s Quinn Slazinski defends Ryan Dunn during a recent game against Virginia. APWhile St. Johns couldve used him as an option at the 4 behind Ledlum Pitino has said the Johnnies are one big man short and the plan is to use talented wing RJ Luis as a small-ball 4 when Ledlum isnt on the floor the Hall of Fame coach believes his former player made the right choice.
Slazinski only appeared in seven games last season at Iona due to a foot injury, and now he is showcasing his ability for the next level.
He wouldve played half the amount of time, wouldve split it with Ledlum. Hes on the same level as Ledlum, he does different things, Pitino said. We certainly wanted him to stay. Put it this way: Im very happy hes doing so well. Hes their leading scorer, hes got a very good NIL deal, and Im very happy for him. Would I have liked him to stay? Yes I would have. He probably, for Quinn Slazinski, made the right move. He wants to be a professional basketball player oveseas, and this is going to propel him to get that opportunity.
3Quinn Slazinski played for Rick Pitino while both were at Iona. APThis is a significant game for St. Johns (4-2), another step forward it hopes in this brand new teams development.
It has begun to play better after a shaky start, winning three of its past four games including an impressive victory over Utah, ranked in the top-40 by the analytics website KenPom.com.
The non-conference schedule is relatively soft the rest of the way.
West Virginia is likely the stiffest challenge, even if the Mountaineers arent a projected tournament team.
It will be the Johnnies first true road game of the season.
Its a hostile environment and a really tough place to play, said sophomore forward Zuby Ejiofor, who experienced WVU Coliseum with Kansas last season. The crowd and the fans are all into it. Its going to take a lot of teamwork for us to come out with a victory on the road.
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