Mike Anderson didn’t receive a hot-seat warning from St. John’s, but he got no future assurances, either.
St. John’s athletic director Mike Cragg stayed neutral regarding Anderson, his men’s basketball head coach since 2019. Cragg declined to be critical of Anderson or to offer praise for him.
The Red Storm have struggled throughout a second consecutive disappointing season under Anderson. They are nowhere close to an NCAA Tournament bid as February begins, stuck in eighth place in the Big East. The fan base has grown considerably more frustrated with the stagnant state of the program.
Cragg declined a person-to-person interview with The Post, but did answer a series of questions centered around Anderson’s status. The 63-year-old coaching veteran is under contract through the 2026-27 season and is believed to be making roughly $2.5 million per season, after he was given an extension two years ago.
“At the end of each season, we evaluate the performance of every coach, and the leadership of every program,” Cragg wrote, when asked if Anderson’s job is in jeopardy.
“We clearly fell short of our goal last year and certainly have not given up on this year’s team.” the AD wrote later in the email correspondence. “There is much more basketball to play this season.”
The odds, however, are long that St. John’s will reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four seasons under Anderson, barring a Big East Tournament title. The Red Storm are 1-7 in Quad 1 and 2 games. They have a poor NET ranking of 88. Their non-conference strength of schedule is 330 out of 363 Division I teams, according to KenPom.com. That weak slate created the need for a strong conference season.
That has not happened. St. John’s is 4-7 in Big East play headed into its game Wednesday night against Seton Hall at Carnesecca Arena. Aside from the recent play of center Joel Soriano and freshman AJ Storr, several players have either taken steps back or not improved. The Red Storm set an Alumni Hall/Carnesecca record for most points allowed in regulation in a 96-85 loss to Marquette on Jan. 3. They also yielded 104 points in a rout last Wednesday at Creighton, the most points they had allowed since the 2017 Big East Tournament.
Cragg mostly sidestepped questions about Anderson, who owns a 64-49 record since the start of the 2019-20 season in Queens and has a 12-18 conference mark the last two seasons, after he was named the Big East Coach of the Year in 2020-21. Cragg mostly wrote in generalities when it came to the coach, expressing hope that Anderson and his staff will get the team to perform well the rest of the season.
“Obviously, this team is behind schedule while our expectations remain at a high level,” Cragg wrote.
Cragg, when asked about his confidence level in Anderson, wrote he believes he will “continue to find ways to build up this year’s team.”
When asked what his message is to the fan base, which is upset and believes a coaching change is in order, Cragg wrote: “We are in the business of supporting our student-athletes and giving them the best possible experience as they represent our university on and off the court. I remain proud of them and so should our fans. We need to support and cheer them on — louder and more positive than ever.”
The overriding question when it comes to Anderson and the future of the program’s leadership is who will have the final say. It could be a collaborative effort between Cragg, the board of trustees and university president Rev. Brian Shanley, who arrived two years ago from Providence and has a strong desire to boost the basketball program’s status. Anderson is owed a lot of money.
For now, as Cragg wrote, St. John’s is hoping the team can turn around its season. Otherwise, another coaching change seems possible.
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