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By Mike Fitzpatrick |
St. John’s fired men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson on Friday, one day after his fourth season in charge ended with an overtime loss to No. 6 Marquette in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals.
Athletic director Mike Cragg announced the move in a news release, saying the school has begun a national search for a new coach to lead the program.
The decision comes just two years after Anderson was the Big East coach of the year, earning him a contract extension through the 2026-27 season.
But the Red Storm never made the NCAA Tournament under Anderson. They went 18-15 during a rocky 2022-23 season, including 7-13 in Big East play to finish eighth in the conference standings.
“After fully evaluating the men’s basketball program, our University has decided a change is needed in both the leadership and direction of St. John’s Basketball,” Cragg said in the release. “We wish Coach Mike Anderson and his family the best in their future.”
Anderson, the 21st coach in school history, succeeded St. John’s great Chris Mullin at the helm and went 68-56 during his four seasons.
Associate head coach Van Macon will lead the program “for the interim” until a new coach is hired, the school said.
St. John’s won its first-round game in the Big East Tournament over Butler on Wednesday before blowing a 14-point lead against top-seeded Marquette at Madison Square Garden.
After the game, Anderson said his team would like to play in the NIT if invited and he would definitely like to be back at St. John’s.
“Without a doubt. I look forward to this team, guys,” he said.
Even before the move became official there was speculation St. John’s would target Iona coach Rick Pitino as Anderson’s replacement. The 70-year-old former Kentucky and Louisville coach has roots in the Big East and grew up on Long Island, not far from the St. John’s campus in Queens.
Although the Red Storm have won a Big East Tournament game in six of the past seven years, St. John’s still hasn’t reached the semifinals since winning the school’s third championship in 2000 — even though the event is held on one of its home courts.
This season got off to a strong start with a 10-1 record against a weak nonconference schedule, but the Red Storm were a disappointment in Big East competition.
The highlights were wins over ranked opponents in UConn and Providence. But there was trouble off the court.
Junior guard Andre Curbelo, a touted transfer from Illinois who led the team in assists, was suspended for one Big East game and benched for three others. He missed the final three games of the season in concussion protocol.
Reserve guard Rafael Pinzon, a high school teammate of Curbelo’s on Long Island, was suspended indefinitely and sat out the last six games of the season.
Anderson’s dismissal at St. John’s came one day after longtime Big East rival Georgetown fired coach Patrick Ewing.
Anderson has never had a losing season in 21 years as a Division I head coach at UAB, Missouri, Arkansas and St. John’s. He has a 437-256 record overall.
He played at Tulsa and was a longtime assistant for Hall of Fame coach Nolan Richardson, who won the 1994 national championship at Arkansas.
Top: St. John’s coach Mike Anderson watch his team play against UConn during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)