St. John’s is known as, “New York’s Team,” but for too long, the Red Storm were a New York afterthought.
However, on October 2, 2018, the university hired former Duke COO Mike Cragg as it’s seventh ever Director of Athletics. Cragg succeeded former Athletic Director Anton Goff, who announced his resignation in the summer of 2018.
Cragg was exactly the man St. John’s needed. He had a vision, a plan, and most importantly, a lot of experience. He spent 30 plus years at Duke University, working hand-in-hand with their highly respected men’s basketball program. He knew exactly what a successful program looked like.
Since he was hired, Cragg has kept his promise and focused most of his efforts toward the student athlete experience. It’s no surprise that St. John’s lacks the facilities of other big-time programs. If you step foot in Carnesecca Arena, you’ll know what I’m talking about. However, Cragg has already transformed the locker rooms, which were extremely run-down before renovations.
On Twitter, he continually discusses improving Carnesecca Arena. The Red Storm played five games at Madison Square Garden last season, but will play seven this season to garner more exposure. Most importantly, Cragg hired a new coach to replace Chris Mullin after Mullin stepped down following the 2018-2019 season. Veteran coach Mike Anderson was tabbed to lead the Johnnies, concluding a coaching search filled with twists and turns.
Despite the obstacles faced to find a coach, it doesn’t change the fact that Anderson was a terrific hire. The former Arkansas head coach has compiled a 369-200 record lifetime record, and has never had a losing season. He’s one of only five coaches with fifteen years of experience to accomplish that feat.
Anderson has already hit the ground running with recruiting, landing some key pieces for this year and next. Perhaps his best pitch was his ability to keep the teams two top scorers in LJ Figueroa and Mustapha Heron.
Anderson’s style of play is tenacious and relentless, so it’s no surprise that he’s focused on conditioning. A tweet sent out by Anderson of the team doing sprints at 5 a.m. in the morning show that a new culture is being built.
Another New York team that had been stuck in mediocrity was the New York Islanders. There was talent there, but poor management held the organization back for far too long. Yet, that all changed when they brought in General Manager Lou Lamoriello, and Head Coach Barry Trotz.
Both brought experience, accountability and results. That’s exactly what Cragg and Anderson have done for St. John’s. Sure, they weren’t flashy hires, but as the Islanders are proving, stability always prevails. Now, St. John’s will follow suit.