"They're going with the lefty tonight," Chris Mullin said, having put on a Mets No. 20 jersey, preparing to throw the ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field before Wednesday night's game against the Phillies.

His invitation to the mound came at the end of a milestone day for Mullin, 52, the new basketball coach at St. John's, his alma mater. He pointed out that it was the first day of classes on campus in Jamaica. "We had a nice little team meeting and nice little workout," he said. "The one thing I am good at is taking things day by day. Today was a good day. Tonight will be a great night and we'll start again tomorrow."

There is a long road ahead for the first-time coach, what with a roster that has nine new players. "I told them yesterday, that's even unprecedented in the NBA, turnover like that. For these two months, we're going to train like crazy, get in the best shape we can and figure out together how to play," Mullin said, adding that if the group works hard, "I'll live with the results."

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He feels more comfortable now that his family has moved here from California. "It feels more real. I've been excited pretty much all summer because everything is new to me. The recruiting was new, having new young players is great. I think at this point in my life it's good," he said. "I don't feel like a coach yet. When they say 'Coach' I'm looking over my shoulder to see where Coach Carnesecca is."

Regardless of his major transition, he has been able to follow the major-league baseball season. "I'm a huge Met fan. I have been forever," he said on the field before the game against the Phillies. "It's funny, when I first came back around April and maybe soon after, they couldn't get a hit. Then two weeks ago, they broke records like you couldn't believe. It shows you, you hang in there, you never know what the next day will bring. A few trades always help too. Talent always helps. Makes the coach look good."