Is Mullin to Blame for Struggles?

J.P. Devetori, Staff Writer

After four seasons with the Red Storm and leading them their first March Madness appearance since 2015, Chris Mullin stepped down from his role as head coach of the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team on Tuesday, April 9. Mullin released a statement about his decision and cited “a recent personal loss” (his older brother died of cancer this past March).

   He will leave with two years and $4 million left on his contract, which presumably will be bought out. The decision did not come as a surprise to me because after the slow finish and a disappointing loss to Arizona State in the First Four game, I believed it was time for Mullin to step down.

The 2018-19 season was like a roller coaster. The Red Storm had a promising start, going 12-0 in non-conference play and a strong start in Big East play, earning them #24 spot in the AP rankings. After shares of wins and losses, Mullin’s fate as head coach was decided in the last five games. St. John’s ended up losing four of the last five games while getting swept by non-NCAA tournament bound teams like Providence, Creighton and Xavier.

Those games should have been simple wins, even after sweeping Marquette and Creighton.

The Red Storm’s performance in the Big East Tournament was not taken lightly because of their loss to Marquette in the quarterfinals – and Mullin was the one to blame. Before the season began, I expected that the Red Storm would turn things around from their previous season to not only garner enough wins to earn a bid to March Madness but to also win the Big East Tournament.

The starting lineup was full of talent that would give them a massive run in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. There was an apparent lack of leadership and direction from Chris Mullin that he missed when coaching his team to improve results.

I view him as passive and he has the “nothing left to lose” attitude. The team did turn things around from last season but it should have been better.

Mullin’s resignation is the start of a rebuilding process for the Red Storm. St. John’s would have entered the 2019-20 season with a new group of talented transfers but now the program has the potential to lose all of those players.

The departure of Mullin’s best recruiter, Matt Abdelmassih, to Nebraska has the transfer players changing their commitments. The departure of Shamorie Ponds and Justin Simon to the NBA draft, and the transfer decisions of Bryan Trimble and LJ Figueroa are big shoes to fill.