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Mike Cragg/St. John’s Update

Former assistant Duke AD has the Johnnies pointed in the right direction

Xavier v St John’s
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 28: Athletic director Mike Cragg of the St. John’s Red Storm is seen during a game against the Xavier Musketeers at Carnesecca Arena on February 28, 2019 in New York City.
Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

One of the real good guys we’ve met at Duke is Mike Cragg. He’s just a good man. So while we were happy to see him get the St. John’s job, we hated to see him leave.

If you want to grossly oversimplify - and let’s face it, who doesn’t? - an AD’s job comes down to two basic, interrelated things.

  1. Hire winning coaches.
  2. Raise money.

For the most part, if you take care of hiring winning coaches, #2 gets a lot easier. That’s why hiring the right person makes a huge difference. Wake Forest got it wrong with Danny Manning but appears to have corrected that with Steve Forbes. In a couple of years, when he starts winning, the donations will flow in.

That may happen with St. John’s soon.

Cragg’s first major hire was Mike Anderson and while the hire seemed odd at first - Anderson is from Birmingham, Alabama, and has mostly coached in the South, far from the Big Apple - he’s having a good year.

And on Wednesday, the Johnnies didn’t just beat Villanova, they crushed them.

The margin was 11 so it might not seem like a crushing but it was.

First, Villanova is ranked #3. And second, Anderson, a former Nolan Richardson assistant, has his own version of the old 40 Minutes of Hell defense and it bothered the Wildcats.

A lot.

He has the other Champagnie too, Julian, twin of Pitt’s Justin, and much elegantly named, we might add.

If Anderson can build on what he’s accomplished so far this year, he’s going to make Cragg look very smart. And that of course will open up other possibilities, should he decide to leave the city.