All things considered, and to put it in as mild fashion as possible, last season was a kind of success while also kind of being a disappointment for the St. John’s Red Storm. The Johnnies went 21-13 overall and 8-10 in the Big East. They managed to reach the play-in round of the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Arizona State, 74-65. Following that loss, Chris Mullin resigned as head coach, Shamorie Ponds left the program for the professional ranks and a new era began.
We now turn our attention to the start of the Mike Anderson era of Red Storm basketball as St. John’s brought on board the former Arkansas head coach to build the program back up.
Over the course of his coaching career, Mike Anderson has found success everywhere he has gone, but now comes his toughest task up to this point with that being to begin the process of bringing the Red Storm back to a competitive level. Looking back on Big East Media Day, Coach Anderson noted that he came here to win and play competitive ball.
On Wednesday night he’ll get his first crack at it as the Johnnies play host to the Mercer Bears for the first time in program history. Mercer are coming off of a 11-20 season that saw them languishing towards the lower end of the Southern Conference. They also made a coaching change bringing in Greg Gary from Centenary College. The Bears have a number of returning options for this season among, which are there two leading scoring options Ross Cummings at 17.4 ppg and Ethan Stair at 11.7 ppg, that could give the Johnnies brief pause of the court.
In the grand scheme of things, this game will essentially be a blue print for how the Red Storm are going to go as a team this season. With the return of both LJ Figueroa and Mustapha Heron, Anderson has some dynamism to how to play his team, especially on offense. On defense, it will be more of a team effort with a style that has never been seen in the conference and one that is difficult to square up against. The defensive side of the ball will be where the Red Storm draws much of their strength.
In all it will be interesting how this iteration of St. John’s takes to the court on Wednesday night. It is the start of a new era for Red Storm basketball and one that we will see unfold further as the season wears on. Going up against Mercer will be the first test, but is also a good way to slowly ease into the season as well. The Bears will probably be not much of a challenge for St. John’s but strange things could happen.
How to Watch
Time: 6:30 pm ET
Stream: Fox Sports Go (Where available)