Sources: St. John’s Target Pitino; Anderson is out

St. John’s fired head coach Mike Anderson on Friday and sources told ESPN that the Red Storm are expected to make Iona’s Rick Pitino their top target.

Anderson failed to reach the NCAA Tournament in his four seasons at St. John’s, with the Red Storm going 68-56 under his watch. They ended their season on Thursday with a loss to Marquette in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament. The loss dropped them to 18-15 overall and 7-13 in Big East play.

“After conducting a thorough evaluation of the men’s basketball program, our university has determined that a change in both the leadership and direction of St. John’s basketball is necessary,” athletic director Mike Cragg said in a statement. “We wish Coach Mike Anderson and his family the best in their future.”

The Red Storm hired Anderson in 2019, weeks after Arkansas parted ways with him. He reached the NCAA Tournament three times in his final five seasons with the Razorbacks, but failed to replicate that success in the Big East.

St. John’s is expected to make Pitino its top candidate to replace Anderson, sources told ESPN. A New York native, the Hall of Fame head coach won two regular-season championships and one conference tournament in his three seasons with the Gaels.

The 70-year-old Pitino is considered the best college basketball coach of his generation, and he’ll be a big name to light up a St. John’s fanbase that hasn’t seen an NCAA Tournament win since 2000.

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