Sources: St. John's is talking to Iona's Tim Cluess | Zagsblog
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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.
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Thursday / April 22.
  • Sources: St. John’s is talking to Iona’s Tim Cluess

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    St. John’s is talking to Iona coach Tim Cluess about potentially becoming the school’s next head men’s basketball coach, sources said.

    “It’s close,” one source said.

    Cluess, 60, played at St. John’s from 1979-81, and four of his siblings, three brothers and one sister, all played at the school. Cluess is one of the most highly respected coaches in the New York metropolitan area, and was named the 2018 All-Met Coach of the Year. In nine seasons at the MAAC school, he has led the Gaels to six NCAA Tournaments and gone 19-4 in the MAAC Tournament. He has never won an NCAA Tournament game, but Iona is often a bottom-tier seed because of its conference.

    After a 2-9 start this season, Iona went on to win the MAAC Tournament title and was given a 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament before losing to North Carolina in the first round.

    Iona is known for playing an uptempo, player-friendly offense that emphasizes shooting plenty of 3-pointers and shooting early in the shot clock.

    “They should hire Tim Cluess, he’s a magician,” said a second source, a Division 1 head coach. “He’s the right hire for them. He’ll be in the Elite Eight. He’ll win there. Tim Cluess does not know how not to win. He’s special good. He’s a very intelligent man, he always just finds a way. He’ll figure it out and he’s going to get good players.”

    Joe Arbitello, who led Christ the King to the New York Catholic League championship and the New York State Federation title, said: “Tim is a winner on every level he’s ever coached and he will find a way to win at St Johns because that’s what winners do. He’ll assemble the right staff. To me he’s a coach’s coach.”

    Said Archbishop Stepinac coach Pat Massaroni: “Coach Cluess has proven he is a winner at every level and I respect that and many in the New York City community do as well. He has had the ability to recruit players to Iona and win games. Whoever gets the job needs to make the tri-state area and specifically New York City a priority.”

    St. John’s officially parted ways with Chris Mullin earlier this week and owes him $4 million on the remaining two years of his contract. Mullin went to one NCAA Tournament in four years, but increased his win total each season.

    According to the latest public information, Cluess’ total compensation at Iona was $565,000 during the 2016-17 season. He would likely command in the neighborhood of $1.6-$1.8 million annually at St. John’s.

    Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, who was the first target of new St. John’s AD Mike Cragg, makes approximately $2.4 million and is under contract through 2022. Sources said Hurley would need something north of $3 million annually for a long-term deal. It appears increasingly unlikely that St. John’s can or will come up with that kind money, along with Hurley’s buyout worth $3 million. Hurley on Wednesday was leading the Sun Devils through workouts, sources said.

    Meantime, the exodus continues at St. John’s as sophomore wing L.J. Figueroa entered the transfer portal on Thursday, per sources. Figueroa, who averaged 14.4 points and 6.4 rebounds, is the latest St. John’s player to look to leave or decommit.

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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.