Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Coach K says Chris Mullin is bringing the St. John’s brand back
By ADAM ZAGORIADURHAM, N.C. — Despite handing St. John’s a 30-point beatdown on Saturday afternoon, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski says Chris Mullin is bringing the St. John’s brand back.
“Chris is one of the great players in the history of the game and it’s so good that St. John’s has him back,” Coach K told me after his No. 2 Blue Devils hammered St. John’s, 91-61, behind 29 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 blocks from projected No. 1 pick Zion Williamson.
“For him to take the job and try to bring back the brand.”
Coach K also raved about new St. John’s AD Mike Cragg, who came over from Duke this year.
“Mike is really a Godsend because he recognizes that and he’ll do everything he can, which is a lot, to make sure it’s what it’s supposed to be,” he said. “But thank goodness for Chris that he’s made the effort, it’s a big commitment
Mullin, who famously turned Coach K down during his own recruitment to stay home at St. John’s, is now 54-66 in three-plus seasons at his alma mater. He’s still seeking his first NCAA Tournament appearance.
St. John’s beat Duke a year ago at Madison Square Garden and a win here would’ve made national news and given the Red Storm a signature win to add to its NCAA Tournament resume.
Instead, the blowout loss — which featured Shamorie Ponds shooting 3-of-11 for 11 points — marked St. John’s third loss in four games and and fifth in seven games.
“They’re a great team and talented and unselfish,” Mullin said of Duke. “I love playing Duke. They’re the classiest team in the country so we can learn a lot from them.
“It’s a non-conference game so the biggest thing for us is to wipe it clean and move on.”
The loss doesn’t impact the Red Storm’s Big East position, but they will take 4-5 conference record into Tuesday’s tilt at No. 10 Marquette. That will provide another golden opportunity for a signature win.
They will need to finish at least .500 in the conference to make the school’s first Big Dance since 2015 under Steve Lavin.
‘St. John’s is definitely an NCAA Tournament team,” Coach K said. “They can beat anybody.”
Photo; St. John’s
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.