City Sports Report

Chris Mullin’s coaching journey with St. John’s starts now

Chris Mullin has a tall task ahead of him as a first-year head coach at his alma mater (photo courtesy of www.usatoday.com)

The St. John’s Red Storm have made their decision on their new head coach. The Red Storm extended their head coaching position to former player Chris Mullin and he has accepted the offer and will become the new head coach at his alma mater. The Red Storm decided to forgo the search for an experienced head coach and go for the name-brand guy that everyone will recognize. Mullin, who had a 16 year NBA career, has never dabbled into coaching so far in his career until now. But after turning away overtures from the Sacramento Kings before they hired George Karl to be the coach, Mullin could not turn down the call from St. John’s. Mullin will officially be announced Wednesday and his head-coaching journey with the Red Storm will begin.

Mullin was a very good NBA player and a Hall of Famer. He was part of Run TMC with Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway, Sr. for the Golden State Warriors and he was also a member of the Indiana Pacers team that went to the NBA Finals in the 1999-2000 season. The experience as a player is definitely there, but there is a question of what he will be as a coach. That seems to be the big mystery with this hiring by St. John’s. Looking at how his playing career was in the NBA, the Red Storm may be looking at an uptempo style. And with some pieces missing due to graduation, that may be his best option. But of course, how he crafts his style of coaching may be something to watch. This could go one of two ways for Mullin. He could end up going the way of Clyde Drexler when he was the head coach at the University of Houston. That experiment ended badly as Drexler went 19-39 (.327 winning percentage) in two years as head coach there and looked to have no idea what he was doing on the sideline. The university allowed Drexler to resign from the school, citing wanting to spend more time with family. But in all honesty, it was a good thing he decided to do that because it would have potentially got ugly with him driving the University of Houston into the ground as head coach. Drexler was bad, but there is also a good way this could go for Mullin. Former NBA player Fred Hoiberg was named head coach of Iowa State University in 2010.  He, like Mullin, went from the front office (Hoiberg was in the front office of the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2006-2010) to becoming a college head coach without much experience at all. And from there, he went on to lead the Iowa State Cyclones to the NCAA Tournament four times in a row after a long first year in Aimes, Iowa. And to date, he has been very successful implementing his style and what he wanted in his program. Unlike Drexler, he actually looks like he knows what he is doing. Either that or he has some great assistants that make him look brilliant.

Along with the coaching, there is also the side of a head coach that involves recruiting. Mullin and his NBA experience could be something that can draw players to St. John’s. He was arguably the best player to ever wear the St. John’s jersey and he also played in the NBA, so many will see him as the guy that can prepare them for the next level. But along with having that NBA experience, Mullin also has to be able to sell these kids and their parents on much more than just the basketball court. How he identifies with parents and players will be paramount in getting players there and also retaining them. The better you relate to your players, the more they will want to play for you as a coach. Mullin’s biggest task in his crash course on recruiting will be keeping the best recruits in the city of New York. It seems that most of the players in the New York area that are even worthy of playing at the high collegiate level tend to never end up at St. John’s. The thing that Mullin has going for him is that he essentially grew up in the city and went to St. John’s, staying home. Mullin was a star basketball player for Power Memorial and Xaverian High schools (transferred to Xaverian his junior season of high school). But even more than that, he was revered on the playgrounds of New York for his play. Any guy that can be known across all of New York and become a legend at one of the local universities will get the ear of local players. And with him having that experience, that has to help him recruiting players. But along with being able to capture the attention of players with his local ties and the respect he garners, he also has to hire assistant coaches that know the recruiting landscape. Knowing New York is always good, but eventually Mullin will have to have players come from out of state and are also. Doing that and having success will open St. John’s to a whole new world. And having assistants that have connections to good schools across America is a key thing to have at your disposal. Good assistants are not only good for helping an inexperienced head coach, but they also are good for getting connections to even more good players and establishing good recruiting relationships.

There are many factors that go into coaching and as far as Mullin, he has some pluses and minuses working for and against him. The key thing for him will be hiring the right coaches around him that will help accentuate his positives while minimizing the negatives. And if he is able to do that, there just might be a storm brewing in New York soon.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

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