McKenzie takes over for long-tenured Smith

More news about: St. John-s
St. John's photo by Brace Hemmelgarn

St. John's has named Pat McKenzie, a 2004 graduate, its head basketball coach. McKenzie becomes just the 15th head coach in the 113-year history of Johnnie basketball and replaces Jim Smith, who announced his retirement March 17 following 51 seasons at SJU. McKenzie completed his ninth season as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator in 2014-15.

"I am beyond appreciative for both the opportunity to lead this program, as well as the outpouring of support I have received from so many," McKenzie said. "Saint John's University is a very special place. I will work tirelessly to ensure that Saint John's basketball remains a transformative experience for our players and a program that our students, alumni and friends will be proud of."

The Johnnies recorded the second-most wins (110) in conference play during McKenzie's nine-year tenure as an assistant. He coached 14 All-MIAC first-team selections and the team finished fifth or better (out of 11 teams) in the MIAC standings eight of the nine seasons.

McKenzie returned to Collegeville after two seasons as director of basketball operations at Division I UW-Green Bay from 2004-06. 

"After 51 exceptional years under coach Smith, Saint John's University is excited to begin a new era in Johnnie basketball," SJU President Michael Hemesath said. "The search committee unanimously agreed that Pat was an ideal fit for the job. He is passionate and deeply committed to getting Saint John's to the top of the MIAC, one of the best NCAA Division III conferences in the country. Yet, he is equally passionate about Saint John's unwavering commitment to true student-athletes and the development of the whole person that have been the hallmarks of Johnnie athletics throughout our history.  

 Coach snapshot Pat McKenzie, St. John's
 Alma mater St. John's, 2004
 Experience Assistant coach at St. John's (nine seasons); director of basketball operations at UW-Green Bay (two seasons)
 Replaces Jim Smith (786-556, 51 seasons at SJU)

"We look forward to welcoming our many alumni, parents and friends back to campus next basketball season to enjoy the beginning of this new era."

As a collegiate player, McKenzie manned the point-guard position as a four-year letter-winner for the Johnnies from 2000-04. He led the MIAC in assists as a senior and was a member of the Johnnies' NCAA Division III Sweet 16 team as a freshman in 2000-01. McKenzie is sixth in SJU history with 305 career assists. 

"We are thrilled and honored to have Pat as Saint John's new head basketball coach," SJU athletic director Tom Stock said. "Pat has spent the last 15 years of his life preparing for this great coaching opportunity. Pat earned the support of head coach Jim Smith, his team, the campus community, the athletic department, our alumni and the national search committee. He will be an outstanding head coach for Saint John's and we hope he is SJU's head basketball coach for a long time."

McKenzie's father, Pat '79, was a point guard on four national-tournament teams at SJU from 1975-79 and a younger brother, Kevin '14, also played point guard for the Johnnies from 2010-14.

McKenzie and his wife, Jillian have a daughter, Evelyn, and reside in St. Joseph.

The Johnnies are expected to return 84.3 percent (1,584 of 1,878 points) of their scoring from last season in 2015-16, including All-MIAC first-team guards Mitchell Kuck and Alex Schmitt.