I’m Lavin it!March 30, 2010
St. John’s fans wanted a new “homerun” coach in a New York minute. Fans also wanted St. John’s to be relevant again. It looks like the Redmen faithful might get their wish.
Former UCLA coach and former ESPN analyst Steve Lavin is close to agreeing to become the next coach of the St. John’s Red Storm. The 45 year-old emerged as the leading candidate after Paul Hewitt would not relocate and it was reported Al Skinner would not alter his assistant coaches.
After a meeting at a downtown Bistro Monday night, St. John’s AD Chris Monasch and Lavin left with an understanding that Lavin would become the next head coach at St. John’s University, according to Lenn Robbins of the New York Post.
“Steve Lavin is a huge get for St. John’s,” a source affiliated with the Pac-10 told JohnnyJungle.com. “He would always drive Lute Olsen crazy because Steve was the only guy who could go into someone’s living room and out recruit anybody.”
Lavin started his career as an assistant for Purdue under the tutelage of legendary coach Gene Keady. He eventually would leave Purdue to work under Jim Harrick at UCLA. After five seasons as an assistant he was promoted to interim head coach and eventually became UCLA’s 11th coach in the school’s history. In 7 seasons in LA, Steve Lavin had an impressive record of 145-78, with six NCAA Tournament appearances. His teams advanced to the Sweet 16 five times, and the Elite-8 once.
“Steve always had that itch to coach again. There wasn’t the right opportunity out there but with St. John’s he always thought of them as a sleeping giant,” said a source close to Lavin.
During the last seven years while working as a television analyst, Lavin passed up jobs at Arizona, Memphis, NC State, California, DePaul, and South Florida. Some believed that his personality was just meant for TV, and Lavin would never coach again. However, after watching game film of the Red Storm over the weekend, and reaching out to friends and colleagues in the Northeast to gather information about St. John’s, the Big East, and the prep talent level in the metro area, Lavin called the Johnnies officials and told them he was interested.
It was also reported that Lavin was already gathering information on the prep and AAU coaches in the metro area that he was eager to reach out to, identifying the elite underclassmen both locally and nationally and analyzing Big East teams.
“Lavin is a perfect fit for New York City, so it’s no surprise that he was interested. I mean, just look at the way he acts, dresses. He’s made for the spotlight.”
Wow, this is a big time rebound for St. John’s after losing out on Donovan and Hewitt. Lavin embodies everything Monasch and the administration wanted in a head coach; success at a BCS school, the ability to recruit and develop NBA talent, and a recognizable name nationally. That being said, until it is inked in paper, and I see it on ESPN.com, I will not get overly excited.
Lavin’s success as a recruiter is shown by the numerous current NBA players that he brought in to UCLA such as Baron Davis, Trevor Ariza, Matt Barnes, Jason Kapono, Dan Gadzuric, Earl Watson, and Ryan Hollins just to name a few. During his 7 years at UCLA Lavin brought in nine McDonald’s All-Americans.
What would make this move a grand-slam for the Johnnies is Lavin will reportedly bring along an all-star coaching staff. Rumored to be jumping aboard is former Manhattan head coach Barry Rohrssen who reportedly resigned as Manhattan coach Tuesday morning, former UConn assistant and former head coach at Virginia and Northeastern Dave Leitao, as well as former Duke guard Jason Williams.
Lavin is a brand name, which will help promote St. John’s not only in New York again, but nationally. The main concern is of course his ability to recruit the East Coast, and specifically New York, but that is why he brought in the assistants that he did. As one Big East official put it, “Slice (Rohrssen) will have Brooklyn and Queens on lockdown.”
Leitao is also highly regarded in the metro area for his work at UConn when he was Calhoun’s right-hand man in recruiting. Jason Williams will also provide a familiar face to potential recruits, as most probably watched Williams on TV while starring for Duke.
The rumored contract is 4 years at $1.6-1.8 million. It is not known whether or not an endoresement for Pantene Hair Gel is in the works.
But I’m sure he will bring along his actress wife.
…not too bad. Thumbs up!