by Josh Adams
The search is over.
St. John’s signed Mike Anderson to be their new head coach in the late hours of Thursday night and he will be introduced at a press conference at Madison Square Garden on Friday afternoon. What was a whirlwind search with names like Bobby Hurley, Tim Cluess and James Jones being floated on twitter and then being dismissed, with Loyola-Chicago coach Porter Moser turning down an 8 year offer and with one of the most prominent boosters of the program going on a talk radio program and trashing the school leadership the situation in Queens looked bleak. Who St. John’s ended up with though is a coach who has a ton of experience with a winning record in the SEC, ran a clean program and is thought highly of by his peers. Anderson as a head coach at UAB, Missouri and Arkansas complied a record of 369-200 in his career and has earned an NCAA Tournament berth nine times.
Two St. John’s insiders told a source that getting Anderson is the, “Best hire St. John’s has had in the last twenty years.” He has his work cut out for him as he needs to hit the ground running in getting a coaching staff together, getting the lay of the NYC hoops universe and hopefully get the top returing player, LJ Figueroa, to take himself off of the transfer wire. Anderson inherits a program from Chris Mullin that lost Shamorie Ponds and Justin Simon to the draft and Melvin Clark III to graduation and Bryan Trimble to the transfer portal.
While St. John’s got into the NCAA Tournament last year in the First Four, the season was generally viewed as a disappointment and Mullin’s sudden departure for personal reasons left the program in flux as their was a scramble to find his replacement. After Hurley, Moser and Cluess took their names out of the running, things looked dire for St. John’s. With the hiring of Anderson, it brings some much needed closure to what was an ugly ten days in St. John’s basketball history and will bring some stability to a program that desperately needs it. As a disciple of Nolan Richardson’s “40 minutes of hell” Arkansas teams of the 1990’s, Anderson’s Razorback teams play a high-octane style of basketball that resulted in the second most wins in SEC play after Kentucky in the last five years. He knows how to recruit and had back to back Top 25 recruiting classes in the past two years.
The Red Storm and Anderson both have something to prove after a rough news cycle and Anderson’s dismissal from Arkansas after an 18-16 season in 2018-19. New York has forever been a city where anyone can show up and get a fresh start on life. We wish Anderson well in the new chapter of his coaching career here in the Big Apple.