Does Anderson know what he got himself into?
New St. John's basketball coach Mike Anderson inherits a mess where there is a power struggle with St. John's president and the athletic director, not to mention most of the players on the current roster are leaving.
St. John’s found someone who wanted to coach the basketball program in former Arkansas Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson. The Red Storm hired him on Thursday night, and they introduced him to the media on Friday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
Anderson accepted St. John’s offer since he needed a job coaching in a revenue conference such as the Big East. He also sought coaching in a viable market. He considered it an honor that St. John’s thought highly of him to even hire him.
Did he stop to think about the cons of coaching St. John’s? It was clear he didn’t since he accepted the offer right away. He should have because he inherited a mess with so many players entering the NBA draft and leaving the program to transfer elsewhere. At least, Mustapha Heron, LJ Figueroa and Eli Wright showed up for his press conference, so he has that going for him, even though Heron and Figueroa offered no assurances they would stay.
Look, no one questioned about the hiring. It’s a fine choice considering he led Missouri and Arkansas to NCAA tournament appearances. He learned about coaching through his mentor Nolan Richardson. His teams play defense, which is unheard of at St. John’s for a long time. His teams run, so the offense should be fun to watch.
Still, the task becomes harder based on how committed the university is to building a great program. Everyone deems St. John’s facilities as less than workable. High school coaches in the city and suburbs send their star players to other colleges rather than have them play at St. John’s. Philosophies on how to run the program tend to clash with the coach, athletic director, president and board of trustees based on the history of the university.
Norm Roberts, Steve Lavin and Chris Mullin tried to make all of this work with good intentions as St. John’s coaches. In the end, so much losing and tension took place. Making coaches as scapegoats symbolizes what St. John’s turned out into for a long time, which is being awful in running a basketball program. Too much preconceived agendas. Too much disagreements on how a basketball program is run. Lack of investment in funding a program.
When the Board of Trustees and St. John’s president torpedo the vision that the basketball head coach and the athletic director want to build, St. John’s can never be successful that way.
Here’s an example: St. John’s athletic director Mike Cragg wanted to hire Iona coach Tim Cluess or Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley. Hurley knew the infighting problems at St. John’s that he decided to stay at Arizona State, and St. John’s powers-to-be for only reasons they know had no interest in hiring Cluess.
Basically, Cragg did not get the head coach he wanted and St. John’s president Bobby Gempesaw and St. John’s vice-president Joe Oliva hired someone that was happy to take the job.
This bodes to be an awkward situation where Anderson works for an athletic director that did not want to hire him. Most of the time it does not work out.Of course, Cragg put a brave front on the hire by being at the press conference and citing Anderson’s accomplishment.
Time will tell how this works out for everyone involved. Still, Cragg must wonder what he got himself into without knowing the intricacies of how things are run at St. John’s. Anderson will find out for himself just like Roberts, Lavin and Mullin learned the hard way.
St. John’s is basically a dead-end job for basketball coaches. No coach can succeed there with all the nonsense going on behind closed doors. There’s a reason St. John’s is going on 20 years without winning a NCAA tournament game.
Anderson said all the right things. It means nothing. Results tell the whole story.
His work won’t be easy, especially next two years when he won’t have much players to work with. Forget him getting the benefit of the doubt since St. John’s fans are already frustrated as it is, especially with Cluess not getting the job.
We wish him the best of luck. It won’t be easy.
Here’s hoping he gets paid well for taking a thankless job.