Even though St. John’s men’s basketball head coach Steve Lavin was not in attendance at the Red Storm Tip-Off on Oct. 14, he received the loudest cheer of the night when freshman forward Maurice Harkless read a statement he prepared
And even though he has been at home recovering from his Oct. 4 surgery to treat prostate cancer, he’s still calling
all the shots.
“[Lavin’s] still running the team,” said assistant coach Rico Hines. “He’s just running it via text.”
Lavin’s duties have been spread between assistant coaches Hines, Mike Dunlap and Mo Hicks as well as Special Assistant Gene Keady.
“It’s still his practice plan,” said Hines. “It’s still his way and what he wants. It’s still his program, so whatever he
wants, he gets.”
No date is set for when Lavin will return. The team said after his surgery that he would come back after a “recovery period,” but there’s been no indication as to how long that period will be.
“If I knew, I would tell you,” said Hines. “He’s playing it by ear. As he starts feeling better, we’ll start putting more on his plate. But right now, we just want him to get as much rest as possible.
“[Lavin’s] a ‘feel’ guy anyway,” he added. “He coaches like that, too. He’s a ‘feel type of person. So if he feels better, we’ll welcome him back. But as a staff, we’re going to do everything possible to make sure his ship is run smoothly.”
While Lavin’s absence has been attracting the headlines, it hasn’t affected what has happened on the practice floor.
“The assistant coaches and team have been doing a good job keeping it light in practice,” said junior point guard Malik Stith. “We’re in contact with coach all the time, checking up on him. He’sdoing fine.”
There has been no update on Lavin’s condition since the Tip-Off. St. John’s plays its first exhibition game on Oct. 25 against C.W. Post at Carnesecca Arena.
Even if his absence extends into the season, Hines still expects Lavin to find a way to continue to run the team.
“You never know, man. Technology’s good,” he said. “He might Skype us or something.”