David Butler II | USA TODAY Sports

It is hard to find a basketball reason for St. John’s to keep Mike Anderson.

And no, Thursday’s gutty 72-70 overtime loss to Marquette in the Big East Tournament quarterfinal round does not count. Nor would a NIT bid in a few days.

Yes, Anderson has managed to squeeze out a winning record in each of his four seasons in Queens (which is his thing; he’s never had a losing year in his career). But the Johnnies have consistently regressed and underwhelmed on his watch, and they had discipline issues this time around as well.

But what is a no-brainer on the court is not necessarily one when balancing the checkbook. Which is the issue here. Coaching buyouts are always a moving target when dealing with a private school, but Anderson’s is believed to be in the $10 million range. Which is a big chunk of change for a small Catholic university in Queens. Especially one that has managed to alienate its passionate billionaire sports-drink baron alumnus.

It still seems likely St. John’s will can Anderson. Yes, that is a lot of money — especially if Mike Repole is not helping out. But the school stands to lose much more as a result of community apathy if Anderson gets another year. And given the fact he is an objectively good coach — again, he’s never finished under .500 — chances are Anderson will land on his feet somewhere at a second- or third-tier job back in the Southeast, at which point St. John’s would likely save some offset cash.

You can’t write about firing a coach without offering some thoughts on who should replace him. So here goes: The first call obviously has to go to Rick Pitino. The second call goes to Bobby Hurley, who has to be ready to leave Arizona State. After that? Maybe you try Mike Brey. But a young up-and-comer might be a better move at that point.

MORE ON ESNY:
Could Woody Johnson be reason Jets-Aaron Rodgers deal gets done?
Mets nostalgia overflowing during Italy-Cuba WBC matchup
Jim Boeheim out at Syracuse after buzzer-beater loss
Jersey patch ads could be coming for Yankees, Mets in near future
Giants’ Daniel Jones is not really making $40 million a year

James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.