After Chris Mullin’s decision to step down, St. John’s Basketball will begin their next head coaching search. Let’s take a close look at some of the candidates to take over the program.
Four years into his run at St. John’s, head coach Chris Mullin has decided to step down. He recently lost assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih to Nebraska and it has torpedoed the Red Storm’s recruiting efforts. Mullin led St. John’s Basketball to the NCAA Tournament this year, but they lost in the First Four and many pundits argue that they shouldn’t have received the bid in the first place. He was just 59-73 in his four years at the Big East school, just 20-52 in conference play.
Mullin was a star player at St. John’s in the 80’s and was hired to lead the program without any prior coaching experience. He spent 16 seasons in the NBA with the Warriors and Pacers, and his number 17 is up in the rafters at Oracle Arena. The expectation at his hiring was this NBA experience would help elevate a St. John’s program that has struggled in recent years, but that’s not exactly what happened.
He took over for Steve Lavin in 2015 and initially struggled to rebuild the program. The Red Storm’s win count increased in each of his four years, rising from 8 to 21, but they were never able to contend in the Big East. Even in making the NCAA Tournament this season, they still finished in 7th place despite a trio of great wins against Villanova and Marquette.
As previously mentioned, Abdelmassih was helping to lead the recruiting efforts, but with him gone, uncertainty circled this program. Each day, another recruit or player seemed to be leaving the program, and it all came to an end with Mullin’s resignation. His lack of coaching experience led to some of these struggles, though he certainly did slowly rebuild this program. The expectations, however, for Mullin were much higher than what he was able to accomplish and his time at his alma mater has ended.
The next head coach of the Red Storm will face similarly high expectations. This program used to be a Tournament team nearly every year, but have appeared just three times since 2002. Competing in the Big East on a regular basis is actually what the next coach will need to accomplish to succeed at this job.
New athletic director Mike Cragg will need to make a smart hire but he’ll have plenty of intriguing options. We’re going to look at a few of those candidates to replace Mullin as head coach; so let’s start analyzing these potential hires.