Mike An­der­son hired as new St. John’s bas­ket­ball coach

The News-Times - - COLLEGES | CLASSIFIED­S -

NEW YORK — Af­ter a me­an­der­ing search, St. John’s fi­nally set­tled on Mike An­der­son as its new bas­ket­ball coach.

An­der­son was hired Fri­day by the Red Storm af­ter get­ting fired at Arkansas last month. He also had head coach­ing stints with Mis­souri and UAB be­fore lead­ing the Ra­zor­backs to five post­sea­son ap­pear­ances and a 169-102 record in eight sea­sons.

Once he was let go, it didn’t take long for An­der­son to land an­other job. Terms of the con­tract were not dis­closed.

“I’ve been dream­ing about this mo­ment for the last nine days,” St. John’s ath­letic direc­tor Mike Cragg said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at Madi­son Square Gar­den. “And I found the right guy. We are go­ing to win cham­pi­onships.”

The 59-year-old An­der­son takes over for for­mer St. John’s star Chris Mullin, who re­signed on April 9, cit­ing a “re­cent per­sonal loss.” His older brother, Roddy, died last month at 58 af­ter bat­tling cancer for years.

An­der­son said he had not spo­ken to Mullin about the state of the program, but planned to reach out to him. Mullin guided the Red Storm to the NCAA Tour­na­ment this year for the only time in his four sea­sons at the helm. They were im­me­di­ately elim­i­nated by Ari­zona State in a First Four game, and the school doesn’t have an NCAA Tour­na­ment vic­tory since 2000.

In the wake of Mullin’s de­par­ture, St. John’s drew crit­i­cism for be­ing un­able to lure ini­tial coach­ing can­di­dates dur­ing a pro­tracted hir­ing process.

Ari­zona State’s Bobby Hur­ley and Loy­ola-Chicago’s Porter Moser were tar­geted be­fore de­cid­ing to stay at their schools. Iona coach Tim Cluess said in a state­ment Thurs­day he was con­tacted but was with­draw­ing his name from con­sid­er­a­tion. And ac­cord­ing to re­ports, St. John’s spoke to Yale coach James Jones and for­mer Ge­or­gia Tech and Ge­orge Ma­son coach Paul He­witt about the job as well.

In a ra­dio in­ter­view Wed­nes­day on WFAN, wealthy alum Mike Re­pole was crit­i­cal of Pres­i­dent Con­rado “Bobby” Gem­pe­saw, Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Oliva, and the school’s board of trustees.

Ul­ti­mately, the Red Storm de­cided on An­der­son, who is 369-200 in 17 sea­sons as a Di­vi­sion I head coach. He has never had a los­ing record.

Nei­ther Oliva nor Cragg would comment specif­i­cally on Re­pole’s crit­i­cism, but both de­fended the process the school went through be­fore pick­ing An­der­son.

“I would say nine days is a pretty thor­ough and ef­fi­cient search,” said Cragg, who came to St. John’s from Duke last fall.

An­der­son, a na­tive of Birm­ing­ham, Alabama, spent the first part of his ca­reer work­ing for Nolan Richard­son. An­der­son played for Richard­son at Tulsa be­fore be­com­ing an assistant un­der him with the Golden Hur­ri­cane.

When Richard­son left for Arkansas, An­der­son joined him in Fayettevil­le. He was an assistant coach at Arkansas for 17 years, help­ing the Ra­zor­backs win the 1995 na­tional cham­pi­onship.

Known for coach­ing up-tempo teams that press on de­fense, An­der­son said his goal is to im­ple­ment an ex­cit­ing style of bas­ket­ball that is “re­ally en­ter­tain­ing.” He said his teams would be “one of the top as­sist teams in the coun­try.”

“They’re go­ing to be one of the top turnover teams in the coun­try. One of the bet­ter scor­ing (and) field­goal percentage teams,” he added.

An­der­son said he en­vi­sions a team that’s un­pre­dictable.

“You don’t know what we’re go­ing to do,” he ex­plained. “Our pres­sure may come from the half court. It may come full court. It may come from a zone. Now you’ve got to worry about what we’re do­ing. I don’t worry about what teams do. I worry more about what we’re do­ing.”

An­der­son spoke briefly with St. John’s play­ers Mustapha Heron and L.J. Figueroa, who at­tended the news con­fer­ence.

The new coach will have plenty of work to do in or­der to build a qual­ity Big East ros­ter for next sea­son. Ju­nior guards Shamorie Ponds and Justin Si­mon have de­clared for the NBA draft, while Figueroa and guard Bryan Trim­ble Jr. re­port­edly have placed their names in the trans­fer por­tal.

An­der­son, who doesn’t have pre­vi­ous New York ties, said his plan is to re­cruit in the area.

“I had some­body ask me, ‘Who’s the guy who’s go­ing to re­cruit for you?’ My staff’s go­ing to re­cruit. That’s who’s go­ing to re­cruit. Have three guys that are go­ing to be re­cruit­ing and you’re go­ing to see me out there as well,” An­der­son said.

“I think it comes down to build­ing those re­la­tion­ships,” he added. “I know that they’re go­ing to see me. They’re go­ing to get a chance to know me.”

Fol­low­ing the news con­fer­ence, An­der­son was sched­uled to tour the school’s on-cam­pus fa­cil­i­ties. He said the pre­vi­ous time he had been in­side Car­nesecca Arena was 2003 when he was the coach at UAB.

“I re­mem­ber the last time I played (there), man, it was tight up in there,” An­der­son said. “I re­mem­ber it be­ing a re­ally close en­vi­ron­ment and you put peo­ple on top of peo­ple, so I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting over there and (see­ing) what (has) been done since those days.”

Craig Ruttle / As­so­ci­ated Press

Mike An­der­son holds up a jersey af­ter be­ing in­tro­duced as the new St. John’s men’s bas­ket­ball coach dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on Fri­day at Madi­son Square Gar­den in New York. An­der­son was hired as Red Storm coach on Fri­day af­ter he was fired by Arkansas in March.

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