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. Continue reading »

By Eddie Mayrose

St. John’s Basketball May Be Out of the Norm

If this is where it ends for St. John’s Head Coach Norm Roberts, if yesterday’s loss to Marquette; his 100th, is the one from which he is not permitted to return, he need only to look in his own backyard as the reason he was unable to return St. John’s to the upper echelon of college basketball.

Charged with cleaning up the scandal ridden mess left by his predecessor, Mike Jarvis, Roberts has been every bit the classy, gentlemanly face Red Storm administrators had hoped when he was hired.  Despite their lack of success, his teams have been the kind of hard working, blue collar squads appreciated by coaches everywhere.  What they lacked, however, was that star player to put them over the top. The player that bails you out on a bad day.  The player that brings your school recognition with a successful NBA career.  The player that draws the media to practice and the fans to Madison Square Garden.  The player that, sadly, toils in High School gyms throughout the Metropolitan area but hasn’t decided to bring his game to Queens.  Having gone his entire tenure without recruiting a player that went on the the NBA, Roberts may have had his fate sealed last month, when just 3,500 showed up at the Garden on the night the Johnnies honored the 1985 Final Four squad led by Chris Mullin; the most recognizable player in their history. Continue reading »

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