The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Lavin will have to prove whether his name is enough

St. John’s wanted a name. It got just that.

Sure, it took a name that hasn’t been relevant at the
coaching level since 2003, the last time he graced the sidelines
coaching a UCLA team that had its fi rst losing season since
1948, but the school got a name it could stand behind.

Steve Lavin is his name. You’ve probably seen him on
ESPN sitting alongside Doug Gottlieb and Jay Bilas and
Dickie V. But what’s in a name if
there isn’t a reputation to go with it? John Calipari is a name
– the richest in college basketball-
but his name is usually chased by words of NCAA ?
violations at two different schools. Rick Pitino is also a
name-one of college basketball’s
most respected coaches-
but his name is chased by stories of a Louisville restaurant
bathroom in 2003 and an abortion he helped finance.

Steve Lavin? You won’t hear those stories with him.

In fact, you’ll probably hear that he’s a lot like the man
he replaced, Norm Roberts. You’ll hear he’s got a strong
moral background and does things the right way. You’ll
also hear talks of fi ve Sweet 16s and an Elite 8 appearance
without a single NCAA violation in Los Angeles.

You’ll hear the man can flat out coach. And after all, that’s what
St. John’s was looking for all along, a coach they could
pour their resources into without the slightest hesitation-
one who could ultimately get the Red Storm over the hump in
the Big East. The school wanted a man who could hold the
local college basketball landscape on his shoulders and
make New York City nationally
relevant in the college ranks again.

Turns out that’s what Lavin was looking for, too.

Lavin left coaching for the bright lights and cameras
of ESPN after he was fi red from UCLA in 2003 and,
though he had received offers over the years, he waited
for the right moment to return to the bench. He told the New
York Post Monday that St. John’s was “a unique situation
for me to put the armor on one more time.”

Now his name is associated with the seventh-winningest
program in men’s college basketball history, and it’ll be
put to the test. He’ll have to square off against names like
Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Jamie Dixon, John Thompson
III, Bob Huggins and yes, even Pitino, starting this fall.

If that’s not enough, he’ll have to compete against them
for recruits, too. It’s a good thing our society operates in the age of television, because kids are glued to ESPN and are able to
see Steve Lavin and know his personality and get a glimpse
of his basketball I.Q.

The coming years will test just how relevant the
name Steve Lavin is in college basketball. St. John’s
has nine scholarships freed after
the 2010-11 season, and he’ll have the chance to build the
program his way-with his own recruits. There has already been
anticipation of the hiring of an all-star cast of assistants,
people who know the New York City landscape and can
help Lavin pluck local players.

That is practically necessary, because Lavin’s
going to have to learn some names of his own. There’s
plenty of turnover throughout amateur basketball, with
high school and AAU coaches emerging annually, and sources
have told the major local newspapers that the times have
changed dramatically since Lavin last coached.

That is to say that even if Lavin’s got the name St.
John’s was looking for, he’ll need to recreate the reputation
for which he was hired in the first place.

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