top of page

What is St. John's getting in Rick Pitino - a coach's perspective

Credit: Iona athletics

Jamion Christian is a former Division I head coach at Mount Saint Mary's, Siena and George Washington - who has joined Aaron Torres Media for the remainder of the season as a hoops analyst.

In addition to appearing on the "Aaron Torres Podcast" and "College Hoops Daily," Jamion is also tackling some writing from a coach's perspective.

After looking at Ed Cooley's fit at Georgetown last week, it's time today to look at the don, Rick Pitino, who is now the head coach at St. John's.


What is St. John's getting with Rick Pitino? Besides a proven winner

The experiences of Rick Pitino, good and bad, are all well-documented: built up to be a giant, knocked down to be mortal. Stepping on the campus of Iona he continued a great tradition and rebuilt his reputation, reminding us why - for over 40 years - one name has remained at the top of college basketball: Rick Pitino. Coach Pitino is the experienced warrior with scars and bruises needed to reinvigorate St. John’s basketball. Rising back up to be the giant he once was, with his last chance to show his greatness, he can bring back the pride of a forgotten power. Movies are made of this.

“Our failures and how we recover define who we are”

Rick Pitino is a tough M’Fer:

Imagine you work your entire life to be at a place in the sport where everything comes to you. The best players. The best donors. The best the best the best. Now imagine the pain that comes after the fall from grace when all those people lose faith in you. The ability and the strength required to go and rebuild yourself in a foreign land (Greece), far from the lights of Broadway (Iona). You’ve got to be a tough-minded, stubborn m’fer.

“My style still works”:

Full-court pressing and shooting tons of 3’s, that's where we are in basketball today. Rick made that style of play popular at the beginning of his career. The use of great guard play over established post play seemed taboo when he began his career.

Now, it is the norm. Coming on the heels of former head coach Mike Anderson (who also believes in playing fast), the players that remain on the roster will have an easier adjustment into the system that Pitino believes in.

For a full list of all the players St. John's has reached out to under Pitino so far - CLICK HERE

“I understand New York Hoops”

For years Pitino has recruited and coached some of the best guards out of New York City dating back to Jamal Mashburn in the early 1990's and more recently Russ Smith at Louisville. The ability to keep these guys home, or in this era bring them back home from out of state prep schools or the transfer portal, will be crucial.

Although the Big East footprint has changed through the years (with expansion to the west) the recruiting demographics for each spot are relatively the same. And New York was desperately in need of someone with the ability to keep the best players at home. To do this you need someone who not only speaks their language but also matches the New York hustle and tenacity.

A Fallen star. A forgotten hero. A tough guy. A hard worker sounds like Queens, NY to me. Rick Pitino matches the vibe and the timing is just right.

Follow Jamion on Twitter - @JamionChristian

bottom of page