St. John’s basketball head coach Rick Pitino had high praise for his predecessor.
It was an odd Thursday for the St. John’s basketball program, if you are familiar with how national coverage of college basketball is portrayed.
Typically, ESPN will highlight the teams and conferences that it broadcasts like the Big 12, ACC, or SEC and never talks about programs from the Big East, a conference broadcasted on FOX Sports, unless one of its schools are in the midst of an excellent season.
Well, that quickly changed as the Red Storm are now coached by Hall of Famer Rick Pitino and the primetime Thursday night SportsCenter on ESPN was live from Carnesecca Arena.
The hour and a half broadcast highlighted the history of the Johnnies and change in trajectory the program will see under Pitino as he stood in front of the cameras for a pair of interviews.
Rick Pitino quickly shut down the idea that St. John’s will be like the college basketball version of the Colorado Buffaloes after the football program hired Deion Sanders to be the head coach and has gathered a ton of national coverage.
Sanders stripped the Colorado roster as 41 players entered the transfer portal since he became the head coach and St. John’s went through a similar transition as nine Red Storm players opted to go to the portal when the Pitino hire became official.
“The difference between [us] and Deion, Deion had a lot of players that weren’t ready to play at that level,” Pitino said on SportsCenter.
“I had really good players at St. John’s, Mike Anderson did a tremendous job recruiting. I just wanted a whole different culture.”
St. John’s basketball roster coming from all different backgrounds
St. John’s only kept two players from Mike Anderson’s tenure on this roster, senior center Joel Soriano and sophomore forward Drissa Traore, and added ten players from the transfer portal in addition to two freshmen recruits.
Rick Pitino named Soriano as the team’s captain during his introductory press conference in March.
“The guys that were here, they could play,” Pitino added.
The Red Storm saw two of its former players remain in the Big East Conference as Posh Alexander transferred to Butler and Dylan Addae-Wusu landed at Seton Hall.
St. John’s will begin the Rick Pitino era on Tuesday, November 7 against Stony Brook (7:00p.m. ET, FS1).