St. John's Shouldn't Consider Firing Norm Roberts

St. John's beat South Florida 65-48 on Sunday to improve to 12-9 on the season. It's a modest record, to be sure, but it is also one more win than they had all of last season, a step in the right direction for a team that's been stumbling through the wilderness for far too long. Take that with the victory over Notre Dame, ranked 10th at the time, and you've got the best Red Storm season in years.

That's why the school shouldn't be thinking twice about keeping coach Norm Roberts on the sidelines. He took over a team in shambles in 2004 and a program without facilities to compete. Predictably, he struggled and it's been an uphill climb to bring talent back to Queens. He finally got it done for this season and then watched as their best player, Anthony Mason Jr., went down for the season with an injury and other key players missed games with pains as well. Still, the Red Storm have played better than you'd expect under the circumstances.

The school doesn't sound convinced, though. The Rev. Donald Harrington, president of St. John's, spoke to reporters after the game and gave Roberts a lukewarm vote of support.

"We'll see how the season goes like we did last year and at the end of the whole season we'll sit down with (Athletic Director) Chris Monasch and evaluate him," Harrington said. "When we sit down and do a comprehensive evaluation, all of that will be on the table."  

Harrington said that boosters have expressed "a broad spectrum of satisfaction and dissatisfaction" with Roberts. Like some supporters of Army football, St. John's suffers from an anachronistic personality disorder. It isn't 1985 anymore, the Big East isn't a cozy group of programs and St. John's doesn't have a recruiting advantage just because they're in New York. Roberts has made strides, and, with a strong recruiting class coming, should keep making those strides.

Changing directions to a different coach right now would be the wrong move. Patience should be their blueprint because the current plan is working.

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