Lavin Returns to Practice for First Time Since Surgery

St. John’s men’s basketball coach Steve Lavin went one step closer to a full return to the team on Nov. 8 when he returned to practice for the first time since his surgery on Oct. 6.

His return was confirmed when the team’s official Twitter page tweeted, “No definitive timetable for his return, but it’s great to see Coach Lavin at practice today! He looks and feels great!”

“I’m definitely feeling closer to full strength, and eager for a return to the sidelines,” Lavin said in a press release later that day. “I’ve been pleased with the progress made by our young team. During this period of recuperating, Coach Dunlap and the staff have worked in an impressive, collaborative manner to prepare our team for the challenges ahead.”

The team has been under the control of assistant coach Mike Dunlap for the past month. He was the team’s representative at Big East Media Day on Oct. 19 and assumed the role of head coach on the sidelines during games.

“Coach Dunlap’s done a great job filling in for Coach Lavin as a leader for us,” Special Assistant/Adviser Gene Keady said after the Red Storm’s 74-59 win over William & Mary on Nov. 7.

Keady noted Lavin’s improving health after the William & Mary game.

“I was over [Lavin’s] apartment last week. He’s starting to get back to normal,” Keady said. “He’s laughing a lot now. He walks a lot. He’s making some progress as far as getting back to a normal life. We’re anxious to get him back.”

Although Lavin has not been around, he’s been in close contact with the team. Assistant coach Rico Hines joked that Lavin would run the team by Skype if his absence extended far into the season, while Dunlap said that Lavin was so ever-present that they had a statue of him at halfcourt during practice.

“I have been monitoring the team’s progress by watching DVDs of practices and games,” Lavin said in the press release. “I have also been in contact via iPhone, text and e-mail with our coaches, student-athletes and recruits. Naturally we still have much to do in terms of implementing our system and style of play, but the effort from this team has been outstanding.”