|Mike Anderson. Provided by St. John's.|
Mike Anderson was introduced as St. John's Head Coach on Friday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
Anderson, the 21st head coach in the program's history, recently served as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks for the past eight seasons. He led them to the postseason five times and they won 22 or more games in his final six seasons.
“My goal as a head coach is to win a championship and in order to do that you have to have a vision of what it will take," Anderson said. "I really feel that the place for that to happen is St. John’s. We are in the Mecca of college basketball, Madison Square Garden. For all the New Yorkers and all the St. John’s alumni, for the administration, for the students and for the faculty, I want you know you got a guy here who is going to leave it all on the floor. You are going to have kids who represent this University in a first class manor on and off the floor.”
Anderson said of the the future of this program, “What Chris [Mullin] did with this team last year, they won 21 games, I watched from a far. What I want to do is have an opportunity to come in and continue to take this program to another level. There is a core here and my job is to come in and evaluate and see what we have here and add some more pieces to it.”
St. John's Athletic Director Mike Cragg said of hiring Anderson, “We were committed to finding the best coach in America to represent St. John’s and to be where our goals are, that is to be a Big East Championship program and to compete for national championships. We are in the kid business and what that means for St. John’s could be different from what it means at another school. For St. John’s it means we need a coach who is committed to [the players] and works hard. This has been an amazing journey and we are very proud that we have found the best coach in Coach Anderson.”
Anderson said of Cragg, “You got a guy that is relentless. I just got a call Wednesday and look I am up here right now and I am going to be the Head Coach of St. John’s.”
On his role as a coach, Anderson said, “I know how to win, that’s not bragging, I just know how to win. The good lord brought these guys here and they have a package in them but my job as a coach is to get it out of them. This coach here will look out for their best interest.”
Anderson said what can be expected from this team, “When you come to Madison Square Garden, when you come to Carnessecca Arena, you are going to see a team that is going to be really entertaining. They are going to guard, they are going to defend, they are going to be one of the top assist teams in the country, and they are going to be one of the top turnover teams in the country. They will be one of the best scoring teams and field goal teams. It’s going to be a team that has depth, these guys are going to get the chance to showcase their God given ability.”
Anderson said of his philosophy when it comes to recruiting players, “I want it to be known that we want the best players in our state. We are going to build relationships and we are going to recruit players that fit what we are doing both on and off the floor. I think my resume speaks for itself, I think people have had the opportunity to watch me and watch my team’s development, but it all comes back to the relationship. I want to be open and have an opportunity to build some relationships. I want the best players to come to St. John’s. St. John’s is New York’s team.”
Sitting at The Garden, which will be one of his new homes, along with Carnesecca Arena, Anderson recalled some fond memories.
“I was part of an NIT Championship team that played here in Madison Square Garden in 1981 and beat Syracuse in the championship game. I played for a little team called Tulsa University, coached by Nolan Richardson. It was my first year playing major college basketball and now you flash forward to where we are today and I am having a press conference where I won my first college championship as a player.”
Anderson made clear the tone he wants to set with this program and the atmosphere around the team, saying, “I am big on families, my players are my family. This coach cares about them. I always tell their parents, you send me a young boy and I am going to send you back a man who is going to be a productive citizen. It has nothing to do with basketball, basketball will take care of itself. That is something they enjoy doing. They will be at my house and my wife, she will fix food for them because that’s what family does. Family breaks bread together. I will look out for their best interest. I will push them to be the best they can be. You can’t win on the floor until you get it right off the floor.”