Count me among the many people who badly needed Mike Anderson to work out as head coach at St. John’s. I’ve identified Anderson for extra than 30 years, since he was chopping his enamel as Nolan Richardson’s prime assistant at Arkansas and I used to be a child sportswriter who was round that program on daily basis for 2 years.
That was like a post-grad course in big-time basketball, watching Nolan form and coax and cajole some awfully enjoyable Razorbacks groups. Anderson, a loyal sidekick going again to when he’d performed for Richardson at Tulsa, was each bit as essential to that success, which culminated within the 1994 nationwide title for Arkansas.
That additionally launched Anderson to a superb profession as a head coach — 20 years at UAB, Missouri, Arkansas and St. John’s; 20 years during which he has by no means as soon as suffered a dropping report. Go again via the archives and see what number of coaches are capable of say that. Dean Smith cannot. Mike Krzyzewski cannot. Bob Knight cannot. John Thompson cannot.
Mike Anderson can, and can nearly definitely make it 21-for-21 with this yr’s Johnnies.
But simply as definitely, except St. John’s goes on a direct nine-game profitable streak or manages to make a memorable (and inconceivable) three-game or four-game rip via the Big East Tournament in March, they’ll miss the NCAA Tournament for a fourth-straight yr.
And issues are as soon as once more getting somewhat dicey on Utopia Parkway.
The Johnnies adopted up their finest win of the season, an 85-74 thrashing of then-No. 6 Connecticut in Hartford final Sunday — a recreation that, remarkably, wasn’t practically as shut as the ultimate rating — with one of many uglier video games Madison Square Garden has seen in an extended, very long time.
Villanova’s 57-49 rock-fight victory was a buzzkill on so many ranges. There was zero carryover from the win over UConn (and though the Huskies are in the midst of their very own stunning funk, they continue to be one of many Big East’s signature groups). Villanova, whereas a regal identify with an impeccable Garden résumé in recent times, is hardly the Villanova of latest classic. Just 4 days earlier, the Wildcats had been life-and-death with Georgetown, at dwelling, earlier than handing the Hoyas a twenty eighth straight Big East loss.
Worst of all, the Johnnies led Villanova 44-38 with 8 ¹/₂ minutes left, in entrance of the most effective dwelling crowd of the yr — 13,604 people who had been audibly (and adamantly) pro-SJU. And from there, they scored precisely 5 factors. Villanova—– which wants its personal substantial run of fine fortune to eke again into the NCAAs—took the sport clear away from the Johnnies.
It was ugly. It was inexplicable.
And, honestly, inexcusable.
The Johnnies wanted to be better than this in Year 4 under Anderson. They should be better than this. There is expertise right here. Even better, it’s the type of expertise that syncs with Anderson’s type, a descendant of the outdated “Forty Minutes of Hell” at Arkansas. There actually are instances in video games when it feels just like the Johnnies are taking part in 7-on-5, the protection is so relentless.
That was the staff we noticed Sunday at Connecticut, and that staff would be top-three within the league. But we have seen that staff too sometimes, and we definitely did not see it Friday night time on the Garden. It wants to look shortly, and with legs, or else they’re taking a look at an NIT bid that does not even imply the little bit it used to imply, because the NIT is not performed on the Garden anymore.
Since Lou Carnesecca retired, the Johnnies’ gig has been a revolving door, a surprising improvement when you think about that within the 56 years from 1936-92, simply 5 males coached the staff: Carnesecca (twice), Joe Lapchick (twice), Frank McGuire, Dusty DeStefano and Frank Mulzoff. Anderson is No. 7 since Looie. It should not be that means.
But except one thing surprising occurs… properly, Rick Pitino is lurking in New Rochelle (though he’ll nearly definitely produce other alternatives, perhaps even at Georgetown). Too many different apparent ships (Danny Hurley, Tim Cluess, Bob McKillop) have already sailed.
Anderson should have labored out right here. Maybe there’s a shock lurking throughout the subsequent eight or 9 weeks, and he nonetheless can. I nonetheless imagine St. John’s can once more be what it as soon as was. But the opposing testimony certain is attending to be a taller and taller stack.
Sweeny Murti has managed to drag off the rarest of day by day doubles: He has been glorious in a high-profile broadcasting job for 30 years and but stays as humble and accessible to listeners as he was his first day at WFAN. He can be a gentleman, and nice firm. Can’t wait to see the place your subsequent journey will take you, Sundance.
David Crosby died the opposite day after a lifetime spent making countless contributions to the nice American songbook. And it’s a must to imagine, at 81, with the life he lived, that he acquired his cash’s price.
If Damar Hamlin had been ever capable of seem at Buffalo’s Highmark Stadium on Sunday, in any capability, I do hope the Bills had engineers this week to check the outdated joint’s basis. Because the locals would possibly actually check it to its restrict.
Funny how Knicks followers are so fast to level out Mitch Robinson’s offensive shortcomings when he is taking part in, then have to observe what they appear to be on protection in his absence.
Whack Back at Vac
John Wagner: You are proper on in regards to the Phanatic being better than Mr. Met however… I disagree with MSG over the Palestra. If you had the unique Garden, your level would be legitimate. However, the present model solely dates from 1968, whereas the unique Palestra, relationship from 1927, continues to be the most effective website in school basketball.
Vac: For school video games alone, there’s the Palestra, there’s Phog Allen Fieldhouse and there’s each place else, MSG (and, sure, the Reilly Center) included. Concession made.
Charles Costello: Win or lose — and the Knicks have definitely had their fair proportion of struggles at dwelling this yr — having spent Monday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, I can not dream of a better sports activities venue to be at on Martin Luther King Day than the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Vac: And the Knicks had been means forward of the curve securing MLK Day as an annual vacation vacation spot, too.
@hbunsis: I actually appreciated your column on John Mara; to me, he has all the time bled Giants blue. You can quibble with some hires, however he’s a hands-on proprietor who is aware of soccer and solely needs to win. Contrast him with Dolan and the Wilpons, not even shut.
Vac: There is a stark distinction between an proprietor who makes dangerous choices and a nasty one
proprietor, put it that means.
Frank Giordano: The Jets should be within the Lamar Jackson sweepstakes. The oft-injured former MVP has not come near that season and likes to assist the opposite staff win. He single-handedly gave the Giants a recreation this season. So I suppose the Jets will signal him?
vac: That might be the single-Jetsiest e-mail within the historical past of e-mail.