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St. John’s coaching search: all quiet on Utopia Parkway

The Red Storm could be... going about this search the right way?

California’s Central Valley Impacted By Major Drought Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

For St. John’s fans concerned with the coaching search for the men’s basketball team, no news is... no news.

Frustrating, for sure, with little information coming out form the local or national media. And that’s a good thing. Too often, coaching searches are leak-filled affairs, with flights being tracked, hints being dropped from coaches who have interest in the job.


Is daily dramatic motion indicative of decisive action?

Is creating a groundswell of interest for one coaching candidate good for the school as they negotiate possible terms (and hopefully, benchmarks for the coach to meet)?

Let’s look back to when Norm Roberts was let go back in 2010.

Billy Donovan got a call, Paul Hewitt turned down the job, Seth Greenberg and Al Skinner were mentioned, thanks to chatter to the media during the process.

NY Post’s Mike Vaccaro wrote then,

Mostly, what we see is this: [AD Chris] Monasch conducting this search in real time, rather than having done the kind of legwork you need already to have done if you’re going to replace your most valuable athletic commodity... Monasch is in real danger of making St. John’s coach look like a job he wouldn’t be able to give away in a lottery.

Around New York, that was embarrassing for the AD and by extension, embarrassing for the fans. [The search in 2004 that ended up with Norm Roberts was also not met with rave reviews.]

It’s exciting to be in the know, but it’s hard to convince a coach with winning tradition to pull up successful roots for a project that needs help, in a market where the upsides are high (St. John’s gets talked about nationally when they are competitive in the Big East) but the downsides are strong too (St. John’s gets sad “what happened to them” chatter, the cost of living is high, recruiting can be thorny in NYC).

That’s not happening right now, no matter the outcome. Yes, the late signing period starts on Wednesday, but the timeline for a hire that changes the trajectory of the program should not be taken lightly — or quickly.

From what we know, it’s not clear whether St. John’s thought the position would be open — seemingly, this was not a “done deal” like some thought it was.

To be fair, having the process take a few days is problematic; in an ideal world, this issue would have been solved right after the First Four game, giving the school some time to work on possible coaches through back channels, deflecting national interest with actual high-level games, and giving the Athletic Director Cragg a chance to meet people at the Final Four.

Now, players are likely fielding interest from other programs, being wooed to transfer. Time to reach out to high-impact players that either have not been seen or have not made their final decision is dwindling.

But this decision is not about next year.

The decision is about finding a coach who either proves worthy to stay for eight or more years or good enough to jump ship and trigger a buyout, allowing St. John’s to build on tradition created.

This decision is aimed at finding a coach that the fans will be proud of on the court for years.

Quick note on some other candidate names

A few names have popped up who have not received profiles from us at the Rumble. We will never go on record as saying we have insider information of what St. John’s list actually is, so feel free to get excited about any of these seemingly long shots:

Mike Brey, Notre Dame. I haven’t done a deeper search on the internet to figure out the logical leaps required to think this is something that might happen, aside from the Duke connection from 20 years ago.

Mike Brey is an excellent coach with the ability to adapt, recruit, and teach offense. His salary is upwards of $2M in South Bend, meaning he’d need a lot more to come to Queens to rebuild, when he has a strong job for a wealthy university in the ACC; he’s secure enough that he can have a losing season and no one calls for “evaluating” his job.

Tommy Amaker, Harvard. He’s very secure at Harvard, and his wife has a solid job at Harvard Medical School. Amaker can recruit solid student athletes at a school that does some of the recruiting itself.

Imagine if you were a recruit without a solid NBA future (but good enough to be an impact player), and you wanted to make the NCAA Tournament (Harvard is a perennial top half Ivy team), but a college wanted you, AND you get a Harvard degree?

Sure, anything could happen, but unsure why Amaker would make this change when he is making himself a legend at Harvard — after ok stints at Michigan and Seton Hall.

Porter Moser, Loyola-Chicago. Moser, a former Creighton player, has done a solid job at Loyola, reaching the Final Four a year ago.

Before we say anything about how the last two seasons are the first two winning seasons he has had in conference since his time at Little Rock (2000-2003) or note that he has, in truth, been to the NCAA Tournament only once, we want to note that Moser is very Chicago. He was born in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, now lives in the fancy northern suburbs... with four teen-aged children.

What reason would he have to move himself and his family to New York? Possibly money. Still, a bit unlikely, but we will keep our ears open.