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St. John’s University Anderson, Alexander Claim Major BIG EAST Awards

On the eve of the Red Storm’s BIG EAST Tournament opener, Head Coach Mike Anderson and Posh Alexander have claimed major end-of-season awards from the conference.  Anderson has been named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year while Alexander has been announced as the BIG EAST Freshman of the Year.

Anderson is the first St. John’s head man in nearly three decades to receive the league’s top coaching honor.  Brian Mahoney last claimed that award in 1993 while his predecessor, Hall of Famer Lou Carnesecca, won it three times in 1983, 1985 and 1986.

In his second year leading the Johnnies, Anderson guided the Red Storm to a 16-10 regular season record, including a 10-9 mark in BIG EAST play.  St. John’s, picked ninth in the preseason coaches poll, finished with a league record of .500 or better for the first time since 2014-15 and secured a top-four seed in the BIG EAST Tournament for the first time since winning it all as the no. 3 seed in 2000.

Under Anderson’s tutelage, the Red Storm wrapped the regular season with the league’s top scoring offense, averaging 77.5 points per game against BIG EAST foes. Prior to this season, the Johnnies had last topped the BIG EAST in scoring output during league play in 1998-99, a year that ended with the program’s sixth trip to the Elite Eight. Defensively, the Red Storm ranks ninth nationally in steals per game (9.2) and places four players among the top 10 in the BIG EAST steal rankings.  Since 2002-03, Anderson has seen his teams lead the country in steals four times and finish inside the top 30 nationally on 15 separate occasions.

Anderson, who won his 400th career game on Feb. 16 against Xavier, was also named the Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2004, a year that saw him lead the Blazers to an appearance in the Sweet 16.  After guiding Missouri to the Elite Eight in 2009, Anderson was named the NABC National Coach of the Year and Clair Bee Coach of the Year.

In his 19th season as a head coach, Anderson has never finished a campaign with a sub-.500 record.  He is one of only four active Division I head coaches to coach 15 or more years and never turn in a losing record alongside Mark Few, Tom Izzo and Sean Miller.  Prior to taking over at UAB in 2002, Anderson spent 17 seasons on the staff his former coach and mentor, Hall of Famer Nolan Richardson.  He helped those Tulsa and Arkansas teams to 390 wins, including the 1994 National Championship with the Razorbacks.

Alexander becomes the fourth player in St. John’s history to be named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Year.  Moe Harkless and JaKarr Sampson won it back-to-back in 2012 and 2013, respectively, more than three decades after David Russell claimed the inaugural freshman of the year award in 1980.

Also the BIG EAST Co-Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous selection to the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team, Alexander leads the league and ranks seventh nationally in steals per game entering the BIG EAST Tournament.  He leads all freshmen nationwide in that category and is the only first year player to rank inside the top 25.

In addition to being an electric playmaker on the defensive end of the floor, Alexander has also developed into a reliable offensive talent over the course of the season.  The Brooklyn native ranks second on the team averaging 11.1 points per game, reaching double figures 13 times and tallying a pair of 20-point performances.  After starting his collegiate career just 5-of-22 (22.7%) from three-point range, Alexander shot 34.9 percent from deep over his final 10 games of the regular season.  His best offensive outing of the campaign came at Providence on Feb. 6, when Alexander scored a season-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including a 3-for-5 effort from beyond the arc, to lead St. John’s to a 92-81 victory.

Alexander is also the Red Storm’s top distributor, leading the team and ranking sixth in the BIG EAST with 4.4 assists per outing.  He leads all BIG EAST freshmen in that category and boasts an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.88-to-1, good enough for seventh in the league.

On the season, Alexander was named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week a league-high four times, including a back-to-back-to-back stretch from Jan. 25 to Feb. 8 during the team’s six-game winning streak.

The fourth-seeded Red Storm will begin BIG EAST Tournament play on Thursday when it takes on fifth-seeded Seton Hall.  Tip-off from Madison Square Garden is scheduled for 3 p.m. on FS1 and 570 AM WMCA.

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