Red Storm Prepare to take on ‘Cats Without Recovering Lavin

The St. John’s men’s basketball team will be without head coach Steve Lavin for the third consecutive game when it travels to Lexington, Kentucky Thursday night to take on No. 1 Kentucky at Rupp Arena.

 

“The good news is being cancer free. That was the objective of the surgery,” Lavin said in a press release. “But it would not be prudent at this juncture to return to the sidelines and jeopardize my long-term health. It’s not fair to the team if I coach in games when not yet having the necessary strength competing at the highest level of college basketball,”

 

Assistant coach Mike Dunlap said that the doubleheader against Arizona and Texas A&M during the 2K Sport’s Classic on Nov. 17 and 18 “used up a lot of [Lavin’s] stored energy.”

 

“Steve [Lavin] is a lot smarter today about what the significance of coaching does to the body,” said Dunlap. “He’s learned a couple of things since coaching those [2K Classic] games.”

 

Although Lavin will not make the trip to Kentucky (6-0) Dunlap revealed that the players are still getting the opportunity to see their head coach on a regular basis.

 

“Coach [Lavin] has been around, so the frequency of them seeing his face has helped them because if you look at him and you watch him operate, he operates with a lot of energy, and he still does.”

 

Despite the many distractions that the Johnnies are currently experiencing, they are looking to leave Rupp Arena with a positive result on Thursday night, but freshman forward Moe Harkless said that does not include moral victories

 

One of the most important keys to handing John Calipari’s team their first loss of the season, the team said, is defensive pressure.

 

“We have to make them work on defense and keep frustrating them and we’ll be able to get easy baskets,” said Harkless.

 

Whether or not the Johnnies pull through against the Wildcats, they feel that squaring off against the number one team in the nation will be a good test as they near closer to Big East Conference play.

 

“Everybody wants to play against what people call the best so this is a great opportunity for our team,” Harkless said.