City Sports Report

Mark Jackson is the answer for St. John’s basketball

Mark Jackson could be gracing the sidelines college(photo courtesy of

The St. John’s Red Storm made it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. And you would think that the university would be happy making the tournament two times that close together. But even though they were somewhat relevant under head coach Steve Lavin, the university thought otherwise. And after this past season and the exit in the first round of the tournament, Lavin and St. John’s mutually agreed to part ways. Many will look at this and wonder why Lavin left while others will be glad that he is gone. The reality of the matter in the end is that Lavin brought in talent (although some of the talent could not qualify to get in the school) and he made them be seen once again. He leaves with a record of 81 wins and 55 loses, which is not that bad at all for the situation he walked into. But going forward, the school has to find someone that can help take their profile to the next level as well as someone that can get talent to come to the university. The big name being floated out there is Chris Mullin, but the school may want to look at one of his former college and professional teammates as the answer for their head coaching position.

Mark Jackson was one of the best point guards to ever play in the Big East. The New York City-born guard was electric for St. John’s. He was also a successful player in the NBA for many years, including his first few years as a guard for the New York Knicks. He is a name that kids will recognize instantly. Although many will say that a player should not choose a team due to the coach that rarely happens these days, especially with the likes of Mike Kzryzewski at Duke and John Calipari at Kentucky. Imagine the opportunity of a point guard getting to learn from a former NBA point guard and coach at the college level. Just the experience alone of Jackson would draw talent there to want to learn from him on how to be an NBA player, which is the dream for a lot of these players these days. Comparing Jackson to Chris Mullin as coaches is like comparing apples to oranges. You know a little more about what you are getting with Jackson because of his previous coaching experience. And with Mullin, it would be his first ever head coaching job and in college at that. We saw what happened with Clyde Drexler when he became a first-time head coach at his alma mater back in 1998 (19-39 in two years) and Mullin would presumably have problems as well.

Jackson would be good for the school’s profile and has coaching experience, but there is also the issue of the grind of recruiting. Jackson is used to traveling from his time being the coach of the Golden State Warriors. But in the college coaching profession, it would be something a little out of the ordinary for him. Not all players are going to want to come to New York to play for him. Just like there are some that would love to learn under him and his NBA experience, there will be others that will want to go with the proven commodities to get them where they want to go. The key cog here will be bringing in coaches that are used to the rigors of college recruiting. The more he can put people around him that are used to getting in players’ homes and selling them on the university, the better he will be and the more he will learn. As far as Mullin, it would be an interesting choice with him because he would have to learn how to coach and recruit all at the same time.  Jackson would have some shortcomings, but he could definitely get by some of those with his history of giving great speeches. We heard them when he has been on the air analyzing NBA games on ESPN and we heard them when he was talking to his team in Golden State. And we could almost hear them as he talks to kids at his alma mater wearing the jersey he once wore.

It would be nice to bring Jackson back home, but there also is the issue of money. Jackson would probably command a high salary to come back to his alma mater. The thinking is that he will probably ask for top-college head coach money at the beginning. But as the negotiations go on, if they happen, two decisions have to be made. St. John’s has to decide how badly they would want Jackson to come coach. They are a program that has been inconsistent under Lavin and that was an improvement for them. And they would love to have someone who is from there come back and restore the team to where they want it to be. For Jackson, he has to decide how much he wants to go back. He will probably have to sacrifice a few dollars to come back, but is it worth it for him to come back to the place where he starred at one point in time? It could be or maybe he sees himself as a NBA head coach and not a college guy.

Jackson is a good guy and is definitely galvanizing as a head coach. And in the case of him versus Chris Mullin, he is definitely the more qualified of the two of them. But ultimately it comes down to availability and what direction the university wants to move in. They could decide that both of these former NBA players and alumni are not the option and stick to getting college head coaches to come there. But if you have to choose one, Jackson is definitely the more qualified of the two and would be the star coach in New York should he come there.

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


  1. Kevin Hackshaw

    March 28, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Mark Jackson is definitely the answer for St. John’s! He’s got the coaching experience and loves the University. They need to stop looking for the cheapest coach that can get them where they need to be. He would be a magnet for up and coming stars and can give instant respectability to the program again. St. John’s with its location in NYC ought to be a top 15 program annually with occasional appearances in the final four. It has not been under Lavin or Norm Roberts. It would be again with Mark Jackson. I think his salary should be slightly below the range for Kevin Ollie at UConn.

  2. Lee Love

    March 29, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    I would have liked to see Jackson become St.Johns coach but read today that Mullin is the choice. Levin gave back some respectability to the program we’ll see where Mullin takes it from here.

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