St. John’s fired Mike Anderson targeting Rick Pitino, sources say

St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson was fired 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 any of his four seasons at St. John’s, with the Red Storm going 68-56 under his watch. They lost to Marquette in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament on Thursday, ending their season. The loss dropped them to 18-15 overall and 7-13 in Big East play.

“After a complete evaluation of the men’s basketball program, our university has decided that a change in 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 all the best for the future.”

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

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

Pitino, 70, is widely regarded as the best college basketball coach of his generation and would be the kind of big name needed to fire up fans at St. John’s, which hasn’t won an NCAA tournament since 2000.

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