Two articles on St. John's place in the Big East hierarchy. They are solid reads. one on what it takes to elevate the talent levels for the area teams - a task that Seton Hall is doing decently - and an article about how far the Red Storm is from being a credible team:
"[Rutgers coach] Freddie [Hill], like all our other coaches, has got to win games and Freddie knows that better than anyone," Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said Monday in a phone interview. "[Seton Hall coach] Bobby [Gonzalez] knows it. [St. John's coach] Norm [Roberts] knows that better than anyone.
"When you're struggling, of course you've got to win more games because ultimately they're being hired to win and everybody that comes in this league knows that."
"I think the bottom line is that Norm and Freddie and Bobby can all coach," Tranghese said. "That's not the issue. It's a matter of working hard and recruiting and continuing to get the players, but it's hard. The competition for players in this league is very, very difficult in this league right now."
"Besides just getting in their gym and getting them to games, the only way that you're going to get the kids that put you over the top is to get somebody close to them to get them in front of you," [St. Benedict's coach Dan Hurley] said. "Get them to your practices, get them to your games. You get to as many of their games as rules allow. You've got to live with these kids because it's so much easier committing to Texas than it is Seton Hall because it's perceived as a risk, whether that's right or wrong.
"Right now there's got to be a bond because you don't have the tradition, you don't have the recent success, you don't have the NBA players. And plus, all these other [schools] are great."
...let one alumnus who has backed the program with both his voice and his checkbook for around 30 years describe it: "If that [Georgetown] win keeps us from making a switch, it may be our biggest loss in years."
And it looks like it will. St. John's President Donald Harrington has privately told program supporters that calling for Roberts' dismissal this year will be akin to "beating a dead horse." Clearly, Harrington and AD Chris Monasch subscribe to the same pie-eyed plan: If you keep Roberts, maybe that ensures Lincoln wunderkind Lance Stephenson makes a cameo by Utopia Parkway. And maybe that means a Carmelo Anthony-style one-year run for the Storm next year.
That's one way to root, I suppose. But it is worth remembering that Felipe Lopez didn't exactly save Brian Mahoney's job way back when, facing similar stakes. And if Harrington and Monasch are really set to give Roberts one more year to earn his job - well, that's the worst kind of reason to keep a coach. Because what happens if Stephenson leaves, maybe after only one year, and leaves the coach behind him?
If he ever comes in the first place, that is.
The most vocal St. John's fans are in despair right now, occupying that awful sporting netherworld of being absolutely ambivalent about winning or losing. If Harrington and Monasch truly believe the status quo is the right call, they sure had better be right. Because fans can only be told their opinions don't count for so long before they take those opinions - and their passions - somewhere else. For good. Forever.
I hope that the "beating a dead horse" quote means that they will make a decision on their own, not that they are committed to keeping him. I bet Fran McCaffrey could run a clean program, too.
I will refer to this article again, but Basketball Prospectus had a nice article on Baylor and Notre Dame's struggles, seen from the angle of how well teams do when they bring back most of their players/ minutes. Note that in that article, the biggest leap in efficiency margin comes from Louisiana State, a team with a new coach that already had some high-level talent.
The Red Storm's in-conference efficiency margin (the difference between their offensive and defensive efficiency) is -12. The highest efficiency margin leap (a good indicator of wins and losses) was LSU's at +19, followed by Northwestern at +17; everyone else was under +10 (including South Carolina, whose talent probably matches up to St. John's level; they also have a new coach, Darrin Horn). Note that Northwestern was in the gutter (-21 disparity between efficiencies in 07-08).
What I am saying here is that bringing Norm and the current talent back is not likely to get the team a winning conference record and put them in the NCAAs. Bringing in Lance Stephenson and Anthony Mason Jr, will that make such a difference? Look at Rutgers, making a leap of a whopping +.01 with Mike Rosario and Greg Echinique. Norm may be a better coach than that, but a new voice would really help get this team somewhere in the conversation of the NCAA Tournament - Lance or not. It's been 5 years, and the team is very far from winning in the Big East.
They are also far from losing by less than 10 points almost every loss they have.