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St. John’s hires Mike Anderson as head basketball coach

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After a dysfunctional coaching search, the Red Storm finally find their guy.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

After a week and a half long coaching search that spilled into the public eye, St. John’s has hired veteran coach Mike Anderson to lead St. John’s men’s basketball squad.

Anderson comes to New York after spending nearly 20 years coaching in the south. Most notably, he led the Arkansas Razorbacks from 2011-2019. Before coaching in Arkansas, he also made stops at Missouri and UAB.

During his career, Anderson has accumulated a career record of 369-200. He has lead nine different teams to the NCAA Tournament, advancing as far as the Elite Eight in 2009. Furthermore, five out of his last six teams have reached the postseason in some capacity.

Anderson, 59, will have a tall order in front of him. The perception of St. John’s in the last week has been damaged by rumors and accusations of infighting and interference from the decision-makers.

Additionally, the old Arkansas coach has very few ties to the New York area. It will be critical for Anderson to hire assistants with strong relations in the local high school scene. Zach Braziller of the NY Post reports that NY Rens AAU director Andy Borman will be considered as an addition to the new staff.

St. John’s fans can expect Anderson’s teams to play aggressive, especially when it comes to pressure on defense. His teams have generally been good at protecting the basketball. They have been most efficient when creating turnovers and playing in transition.

Anderson spent time as an assistant under coaching icon Nolan Richardson. He has more or less mirrored the style of Richardson’s. Those teams are remembered in history by the slogan “40 Minutes of Hell,” which signified up-tempo basketball, along with fierce defensive pressure.

Six out of his eight teams at Arkansas were in the top 100 defensively, according to KenPom. Three of those teams were top 75 in the nation.

All things considered, the Red Storm could have done much worse with this hire. Although some of their rumored top targets did not end up with the gig, Anderson is a solid coach. He is one of four current head coaches with more than 15 years of experience and no losing seasons. Roy Williams, Mark Few join him, and Tom Izzo in that category.

Recruiting/ player retention

Will his energy and credentials be enough to win the press conference... or win back some of the players who came to play for Chris Mullin?

The first order of business will be putting together a staff that can put the end of the season behind St. John’s — and retain some of the players who may look to other opportunities, especially LJ Figueroa and Mustapha Heron.

The second will be finding some grad transfers to bolster the team. St. John’s could use help in both the frontcourt and backcourt. Expect the new Red Storm coaching staff to be active in the transfer portal.

Follow along at Rumble in the Garden for analysis and commentary regarding the new St. John’s head coach.