by Eddie Mayrose
St. John’s Basketball Hires (Settles For?) Steve Lavin
Don’t know if there’s a better indication of how far the St. John’s basketball program has fallen than the difficulty the powers that be had in signing a new head coach. ESPN analyst and former UCLA head man, Steve Lavin, accepted the job after the Johnnies were rebuffed by Florida’s Billy Donovan and Paul Hewitt of Georgia Tech. In addition, Fran McCaffrey, who led Siena to the top of the MAAC during his tenure, and Boston College head man Al Skinner were brought in for interviews and may or may not have been offered the job. That Lavin is, at best, the Red Storm’s third choice, and might actually be the fifth, speaks volumes to the current irrelevance of what was once a national power. While Lavin has his work cut out for him, he does have a significant resource of talent in his own backyard. Armed with four returning senior starters and eight scholarships, he may actually be able to effect a significant turnaround in very short order if he can tap into the prep talent in New York City; something at which his two predecessors failed miserably. It’s been too long since the Johnnies were at the top of the Big East and a viable threat in the NCAA tournament. Lavin has an opportunity to be a hero to all of the Johnnie faithful longing to, once again, be a part of March Madness. Here’s hoping he delivers.