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

Mike Anderson was introduced as the 21st head coach of the St. John’s basketball program on Friday at The Garden.

St. John’s held an introductory press conference for their new head coach. What made the press conference somewhat odd was that it was not St. John’s first choice for the job. It wasn’t their second or even third choice.

The Red Storm introduced Mike Anderson as their 21st head coach on Friday at a press conference at Madison Square Garden. Anderson, who was fired as coach of his alma mater Arkansas in March, comes to Queens with 12 postseason appearances in 17 years as a head coach. The hire seemed to surprise many, but Anderson is ready for the challenge of coaching in New York City.

“My goal as a head coach is to win a championship, and in order to do that, you have to have a vision of what it will take. I really feel that the place for that to happen is St. John’s.,” said Anderson on Friday. “We are in the Mecca of college basketball, Madison Square Garden. For all the New Yorkers and all the St. John’s alumni, for the administration, for the students and for the faculty, I want you to know you got a guy here who is going to leave it all on the floor. You are going to have kids who represent this University in a first-class manner on and off the floor.”

The Right Choice?

The hiring of Anderson comes one day after Tim Cluess spurned St. John’s to remain at Iona. The Cluess rejection surprised some as the coach has St. John’s ties but seemed to be the low candidate. Athletic Director Mike Cragg initially wanted Bobby Hurley, who decided to stay at Arizona State. Among the other coaches to turn down the St. John’s job was Loyola-Chicago’s Porter Moser, Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton, and UMBC coach Ryan Odom.

In the end, Cragg hired a coach that has never had a losing record as a head coach and one who has a record of building programs. While not his first choice, Cragg is excited about the Anderson.

“We were committed to finding the best coach in America to represent St. John’s and to be where our goals are, that is to be a BIG EAST Championship program and to compete for national championships,” Cragg said the press conference. “We are in the kid business and what that means for St. John’s could be different from what it means at another school. For St. John’s it means we need a coach who is committed to [the players] and works hard. This has been an amazing journey and we are very proud that we have found the best coach in Coach Anderson.”

Red Storm In Flux

The St. John’s job has a ton of challenges that Anderson must face. Leading scorer Shamorie Ponds and Justin Simon declared for the NBA Draft. Bryan Trimble Jr. and LJ Figueroa have entered the NCAA’s transfer portal, and they have lost a highly touted recruit. Mustapha Heron does return and three transfers who sat out last season are ready to go for next season.

With all of that, Anderson is looking to bring a new style of play to the Red Storm and the Big East.

“When you come to Madison Square Garden when you come to Carnesecca Arena, you are going to see a team that is going to be really entertaining. They are going to guard, they are going to defend, they are going to be one of the top assist teams in the country, and they are going to be one of the top turnover teams in the country. They will be one of the best scoring teams and field goal teams. It’s going to be a team that has depth, these guys are going to get the chance to showcase their God-given ability.”

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for DoubleGSports.com as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow DoubleGSports.com writer Jason Cordner.
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