By Eddie Mayrose

Knicks and Johnnies Bring Life Back to World’s Most Famous Arena

After the Golden State Warriors visited Madison Square Garden on November 10th and beat up a defenseless Knicks squad that saw its record drop to 3-8, it seemed as if the faithful were in for another terrible season of basketball on 32nd St. and 7th Ave.  Making matters more painful was that this was the year that Knicks’ brass had targeted for a turnaround.  But, they’d failed to land either LeBron James or Chris Bosh during the offseason and, worse, were floating the idea of bringing back Isiah Thomas; the very face of the debacle that had been the last decade.  A playoff berth, let alone a championship run, seemed like a fantasy.

Around the same time, I was discussing the decline of the St. John’s basketball program with Nolan Adams, assistant men’s basketball coach at the College of Mount Saint Vincent who opened my eyes with a comment that was both obvious and unbelievable at the same time.  When I suggested that the downfall of both Mike Jarvis and Norm Roberts was their failure to recruit kids from New York city, he pointed out that there was now, “… an entire generation of players that has never known St. John’s as a basketball power.”  It was a sad realization, but true nonetheless.  No one under the age of 20 would have seen the legendary Big East battles between the Johnnies and Georgetown, Syracuse or Villanova.  None would have watched them in a NCAA tournament game and, certainly, never have followed a St. John ’s alum through the first round of the draft and into the NBA. Continue reading »

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 »

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