Tag:Steve Lavin
Posted on: December 8, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 6:14 pm

St. John's to lose another newcomer

By Jeff GoodmanMatt Norlander and Jeff Borzello

A head coach recovering from surgery, three freshmen ruled ineligible and now, a transfer: sophomore guard Nuri Lindsey is leaving St. John's.

"I came to St. John's for a couple of reasons," Lindsey said in a prepared statement. "One was to be close to my mom, whose health has been up and down due to some past experiences. The second was to play for Coach Lav. In both instances it has not worked out how I envisioned."

He also reaffirmed to CBSSports.com that he is not looking to go to the NBA immediately.

"My intentions are to transfer to a Division-I school," Lindsey said. "I want to be a college basketball player."

It's a move the Red Storm can't really afford. The team's a shell of what it was last year, when it had nine seniors and went to the NCAA tournament. Steve Lavin's team this year is 4-5 and chock full of young players -- or at least was. The original crop that had come in is now about halfway. Jakarr Sampson, Amir Garrett and Norvel Pelle were ruled ineligible in mid-September. Garrett still plans to join the team at the semester break.

Lindsey was third on the team in scoring, averaging 11.8 points. He's also averaging 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists so far this season. Lindsey has been a very valuable piece to the Red Storm's operation, one that could really see its Big East chances to be competitive evaporate with him no longer in the mix.

He told CBSSports.com that his mother lives two and a half hours away from New York, and he would like to transfer to a school closer to her.

"We've talked and we already have a school in mind," Lindsey said. He would not reveal which school.

What's more, CBSSports.com has learned one of the reasons Lindsey has opted out was due to poor grades.

"It would've been a stretch to get him through," one source said, referring to his second semester on campus.

The news of Lindsey's transfer was first reported by Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News

Lindsey confirmed the news via Twitter, giving a long explanation of the reasons behind his decision, as well as what his next move will be. "Ultimately I felt as though this decision was best for me and my family," Lindsey tweeted. "I am looking forward to moving to another school. Will not be taking any steps toward any professional move. I like school, and feel as though I still have so much more to learn and much more room for improvement. So once again, sincerely apologize. I'll be moving on to another program."

The original version of this inaccurately listed Lindsey as a freshman.


Posted on: November 8, 2011 4:22 pm

Lavin returns to St. John's practice

By Matt Norlander

There is still no definitive timetable for when he will coach in a game again, but Tuesday, according to ESPNNewYork.com, Steve Lavin showed up at St. John's practice.

The second-year Red Storm coach announced at the end of last season that he had prostate cancer. A little more than a month ago, Lavin had successful surgery to remove the cancer.

From ESPNNewYork.com's Kieran Darcy:
It is still undecided whether Lavin will coach the team's next game, Wednesday night versus Lehigh. Lavin's surgery was deemed "a success" by the coach in a statement released by the school, and the coach has been consulting with his doctor daily about when to return to the team. He receives a DVD of every practice at his Manhattan apartment and is putting together the team's daily practice plans based on watching them.

Lavin is slowly making his way back to the young team, a team that defeated William & Mary on college basketball's opening night Monday.

Posted on: November 8, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: November 8, 2011 11:04 am

No timetable for Lavin's return

By Jeff Borzello

St. John’s won its opener without Steve Lavin on the sidelines, and it still remains unclear on when he will return.

Lavin is currently at home recovering from prostate cancer surgery on Oct 6.

“He’s starting to get back to normal,” Gene Keady said after Monday night’s game against William & Mary. “He laughs a lot now. He walks a lot. He’s making some progress about getting back to a normal life.”

Keady, the former Purdue head coach, was brought on last year as a special assistant to Lavin. Assistant coach Mike Dunlap, known for his X's and O's acumen, has taken over head coaching duties with Lavin out.

There is no set return date for Lavin to come back to the St. John’s bench, although some have been pointing to early December as the timetable.

“It’s basically when he wants to,” a source told CBSSports.com. “When he feels ready.”

St. John’s faces Arizona on Nov. 17, then the championship or consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic. The Red Storm also head to Kentucky on Dec. 1 as part of the SEC-Big East Challenge.

Lavin went 21-12 in his first season with St. John’s, leading the Red Storm to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002. He also signed one of the top three recruiting classes in the country.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: November 7, 2011 10:12 pm

Despite win, new St. John's era not as expected

Jeff Borzello

JAMAICA, N.Y. – The first half of Monday night’s opener against William & Mary certainly wasn’t what was envisioned with the talk of a new era in St. John’s basketball.

Steve Lavin at home recovering from prostate surgery; three top recruits ineligible for the start of the season; and a nine-point deficit to William & Mary in front of a lackluster crowd at Carnesecca Arena.

The second half, though, was the future – and present – at St. John’s. Overwhelming defensive pressure, effective transition offense and a youthful energy that has been missing from the Red Storm program for most of the past decade. Moreover, the 4500 fans in the building woke up and made it tough for William & Mary.

With four players scoring in double-figures, St. John’s dominated the second half en route to a 74-59 win over the Tribe. A 22-5 run after W&M scored to open the stanza put the Red Storm on top, with constant turnovers from the Tribe guards putting the game out of reach.

“The way we played in the second half is the way St. John’s plays,” freshman guard D’Angelo Harrison said.

Outside of 3-point shooting, St. John’s handled William & Mary in nearly all facets of the game. The Red Storm outscored the Tribe 44-10 in the paint, 28-0 off turnovers, 9-2 on second-chance opportunities and 16-0 in fast-break points. They forced 21 William & Mary turnovers and shot nearly 68 percent from the field in the second half.

St. John’s used seven players in the game, six of them newcomers and four of them playing college basketball for the first time. Despite the lack of depth, the Red Storm pressed throughout the game, drifting back into an active and aggressive 2-3 zone when William & Mary broke the full-court pressure.

Nurideen Lindsey (pictured) led the way with 19 points, the majority coming off steals and deflections that led to transition baskets at the other end. The athleticism and length of St. John’s simply wore down William & Mary in the second half.

“When the guys came out, we were a little tight,” Lindsey said. “We didn’t come out ready to play. We knew we had to turn it up a notch; we got more intense into the game. During halftime, we got together collectively and we understood that, defensively, that’s what we had to do.”

God’s Gift Achiuwa, the famously-named junior college transfer, went for 17 points and nine rebounds. More importantly, though, he stayed out of foul trouble and played 38 minutes. Moe Harkless had 17 points and eight rebounds.

During the first half, it seemed like St. John’s was looking for someone to take the reins in the huddle and be a leader. Harrison took on that role in the second half, becoming the emotional and vocal general the Red Storm needed. Once the intensity was there, talent simply took over.

“You can say it brought us together,” Harrison said. “Every game is an experience for us.”

“We were just playing basketball out there,” Harkless added. “I couldn’t really predict how the first game would go, but it’s definitely a great feeling.”

When Harkless first committed to St. John’s in August of 2010, no one knew what to expect. What followed was a whirlwind of commitments from across the country, both high school and junior college. There were three casualties along the way – Amir Garrett, JaKarr Sampson, Norvel Pelle – but the new faces of St. John’s basketball were still unknown to most people.

Tonight might have been the culmination of all the hype and anticipation of the last 15 months – or are we still waiting for the page to turn in Red Storm basketball lore? Lavin still hasn't returned and at least two recruits are waiting to be cleared.

This wasn’t Steve Lavin coaching Norm Roberts’ players. Heck, it wasn’t even Steve Lavin coaching Steve Lavin’s players.

But make no mistake; this is a new era in St. John’s basketball – even if it’s not how everyone pictured it.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: October 5, 2011 3:09 pm

Lavin to have prostate-cancer surgery Thursday

By Matt Norlander

The biggest win of Steve Lavin's life should hopefully come on Thursday. The St. John's coach, who in April announced he had been battling prostate cancer since the fall of 2010, will have surgery to eliminate his prostate cancer.

Lavin will go under the knife at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, one of the elite treatment centers in the world. It's primary location, where Lavin will have his surgery, is in Manhattan. He's expected to return to coaching after an undetermined "recovery period." That could be a week, could be a month -- until the surgery is complete, no one really knows.

But that's not an issue right now, of course. Getting Lavin cancer-free is the target, and it's an extremely optimistic one right now.

“The advantage of early detection is that we were afforded the time to research all options,” Lavin said in a statement. “After weighing treatment options with the experts at Sloan we have decided surgery is the best path to take for my particular prostate cancer condition. We are confident that this course of treatment will lead to a cancer-free life.”

Peter T. Scardino, the Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center said, “It is highly likely that this treatment will completely cure coach Lavin’s condition.”

According to St. John's, Lavin helped to raise more than $1 million for Coaches vs. Cancer since he became head coach of the team in March of 2010. He's also been a longtime contributor and supporter of the charity. And recently, Lavin and the program brought out more than 400 people for their “Dribble For The Cure” fundraiser on Sept. 24.

Posted on: September 16, 2011 10:10 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 10:18 am

Someone tell Mullin and Wennington not to worry

By Jeff Goodman

By now, you probably know that St. John's hyped freshman class, the one that was ranked just behind Kentucky and Duke, took a significant hit on Thursday.

Three guys - all considered Top 100 players - didn't qualify to play this semester. Amir Garrett's father told CBSSports.com that his son Amir, a two-sport star who intends to play minor league baseball in the summer, will take classes in the fall with the hope of suiting up for the Red Storm in December.

Norvel Pelle may do the same, but JaKarr Sampson - according to a source - is leaning towards heading back to prep school, where he could re-open his recruitment.

Now the Red Storm Nine are down to a half-dozen. Two of them are junior college kids, one is Chicago guard Phil Greene and the other three are highly regarded, consensus Top 100 high schoolers: Sir'Dominic Pointer, Maurice Harkless and D'Angelo Harrison.

Let's face it: St. John's was going to take their lumps this year, anyway.

Steve Lavin has already proven he can get players - and he'll continue to get them.

This was a setback, but I wouldn't push the panic button if I were, say, Chris Mullin, Mark Jackson, Bill Wennington or just an ordinary St. John's fan.

This season will be rough as the Red Storm will not only be young, but they'll also lack depth. That's a brutal combination in a league as unforgiving to inexperience as the Big East.

But there were only so many minutes, anyway, and now Pointer, Harkless and Harrison will gobble up the majority of them - instead of having to split them with the JUCO kids and also Sampson, Pelle and Garrett.

There's still a chance, at least according to Darrow Garrett, that his son and Pelle wind up in uniform for the second semester. Sampson is a big-time athlete and many have him ranked highest of the entire class, but he's still not a program-changer. He's a piece that would have certainly helped.

But The Johnnies will be fine. It's just going to take some time.
Posted on: May 2, 2011 9:40 am
Edited on: May 2, 2011 3:08 pm

Hewitt must win now to please Mason fans

Will this be a

Posted by Eric Angevine

I'll tell you what I think of George Mason's hire of deposed former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt in a minute. First, I want to take a look at how this news has hit the internet (hint: not as hard as the news of Osama bin Ladin's death).

John Feinstein at the Washington Post offered this assessment:

Hewitt is never going to become the kind of cult figure Larranaga became at GMU because his personality is entirely different from Larranaga’s. He’s not going to high-five cheerleaders during player introductions or come up with sayings about being Kryptonite or being from the CAA — Connecticut Assassins Association.

That’s not him. But he’s a respected leader in the coaching community — a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches board of directors — and someone who will have the instant respect of his new players because of the players he’s sent to the NBA (among them Chris Bosh) and because of his demeanor. Hewitt will never be as cuddly as Larranaga, but he will be well-liked.

That NBA connection is going to be huge for some players. I'd be very surprised if Hewitt doesn't have some of those former Tech stars drop by Fairfax to give pep talks and fire up the fan base. Hewitt may not have the personal magnetism Larranaga exudes, but knowing guys who appear on the front of cereal boxes will go a long ways toward ameliorating that deficiency.

Kevin Dunleavy of the Washington Examiner thinks Hewitt's experience may be cut to fit the situation:

At George Mason, Hewitt inherits a loaded team that will be favored to win the conference and is likely to be ranked in the preseason top 25. Pressure will be on from the start. Our guess here is that George Mason found the man best equipped to deal with it and take the Patriots onward -- and perhaps even upward.

Fan reaction has been rather more divided. A thread titled "Welcome Coach Hewitt!" at CAAZone.com offers a wide range of opinions:

Just the guy I had hoped we would land....dude can flat out recruit! - dawgs99

I love what Coach L did for our program, but I feel like we just traded in an older used car for a much younger model with better gas mileage. It's a great day to be a Patriot! - TomGMU

Terrible coach (being realized by NBA Scouts who notice how raw the bigs are and underutilized good guards are) - DontYouMeanACC

I feel like this is a pretty good hire, but not a great hire. Like (Tom O'Connor) was swinging to get on base and not strike out, but had no intention of trying to knock it over the fence. - Hugh Akston

My opinion of the hire falls in that 'wait and see' middle ground. Hewitt's record gives us plenty of positives and negatives to extrapolate from, but George Mason is not Siena (where Hewitt went 66-27 and led the Saints to the NCAA tournament), nor is it Georgia Tech (where Hewitt's best season was 9-7 in the ACC, the year he went to the NCAA title game). If anything, fans of the program must hope that Hewitt's mixture of experience garnered at the mid-major and BCS-team levels form a perfect storm at Mason.

We know Hewitt can recruit. He brought a parade of superstar athletes to Georgia Tech, but was never able to really match up with Duke or North Carolina. That's no crime, but a major red flag was appended to Hewitt's resume in 2008-9, when his 'Jackets fell to 2-14 in league play despite the presence of Gani Lawal, Alade Aminu and Iman Shumpert on that team. Last year's squad, though not nearly as loaded, lost to Kennesaw State (8-23 on the season) as well as severely depleted Siena (13-18) and Charlotte (10-20). Kennesaw fired coach Tony Ingle at the end of the season, and the Saints and 49ers outfoxed Hewitt under first-year head coaches.

Related links
Something about this hire reminds me of St. John's decision to hire Steve Lavin last season. The former UCLA head coach had a reputation as a super-smooth recruiter who wasn't the sharpest Xs and Os guy. So what made his first season in New York a success? In my opinion, it was Lavin's decision to tacitly admit his shortcomings, leading to the hire of Gene Keady as an assistant coach. If Lavin is the face and Keady the brains at SJU, it's working. Perhaps Paul Hewitt can find a similar, if cheaper and more low-profile, complementary piece for himself.

Hewitt won't have the luxury of a rebuilding job next season. He is expected to win the CAA and compete for a top-25 national ranking with the loaded team Larranaga left behind. As such, my tempered 'wait and see' is not particularly far-sighted. Mason fans will know what they got by this time next season. Only then will they know if this was a good move.

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: March 9, 2011 6:13 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 8:44 pm

Video: Postgame with Steve Lavin

Posted by Matt Norlander

Full disclosure: I wanted to get Mike Rice, naturally, but he's the midst of giving about 17 phone interviews. He is behind a big door and probably won't be coming out until Friday.

I did get the winning coach, though. Here's Steve Lavin discussing his team's success this year and, oh yeah, the ending to that game. Sort of crazy, yes? I do believe the people will be talking about this one through the night.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com