Rick Pitino was introduced as St. John's new men's basketball coach Tuesday, and the 70-year-old Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer was blunt about his expectations.
Pitino was announced as the team's next head coach just days after his Iona Gaels fell to the UConn Huskies in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday.
The Red Storm has not made the tournament since the 2018-19 season, when it lost in the First Four. Under former head coach Mike Anderson, the team went 68-56 over four seasons.
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Pitino has been brought in to make St. John's a Big East contender.
As he spoke at the podium about the program's current roster Tuesday, Pitino gave it to the New York media straight.
"The one thing I want to be honest with is a lot of the players probably won’t be back on this team because they’re probably not a good fit for me," Pitino said, via SNY.
"It takes a certain type of basketball player to want to play for me. He’s got to be a total over-the-top, in love with the game of basketball [player]. If you’re not, it’s just a bad fit for me. It doesn’t work. So there will be a lot of players that move on to, I hope, greener pastures.
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"It will be a round peg in a square hole. It won’t work."
Pitino has a different style of play than his predecessor, one that’s fast-paced and requires constant movement on both ends of the floor.
Pitino wanted to make sure he is a coach players like to play for, and he asked his former New York Knicks big man Charles Oakley about his coaching Monday night.
"With me, I think my players love playing for me, even from Mark Jackson and Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley. I spoke with Oak last night. They loved playing with me for the Knicks," he said.
There is one player, though, that Pitino appeared excited to work with.
Joel Soriano, a 6-foot-11, 250-pound forward from Yonkers will be a fifth-year senior next season, and he’s coming off an All-Big East season after dropping 15.2 points and 11.9 rebounds per game in 33 games for the Red Storm.
Pitino said Soriano would be named captain for next season.
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Other than that, it will be up to Pitino and his coaching staff to get recruiting quickly. Perhaps he looks at his old Iona squad, particularly sophomore guard Walter Clayton Jr., who was the Gaels' leading scorer this season with 16.8 points. He clearly worked well in Pitino's system.
And junior guard Daniss Jenkins and junior forward Nelly Junior Joseph both excelled for Iona during the MAAC Tournament-winning season.
The Big East is a competitive conference, as March Madness is showing this year. Pitino knows all about the league, having coached Providence and Louisville in the past.
In his three seasons with Iona, Pitino went 64-22, winning the conference tournament twice and earning two trips to the NCAA Tournament. He was a two-time MAAC Coach of the Year.
In over 35 seasons of coaching college basketball, Pitino owns a 834-293 record.