Steve Lavin is having a rough conference season at St. John’s



Steve Lavin and St. John’s fell to Providence, 84-83, in double-overtime on Thursday night to drop its fifth-straight game and move to 0-5 in Big East play. Coach Lav’s fourth season in New York has been a struggle as the Red Storm have a 9-8 overall record. Last year Lavin recorded an 8-8 record in the Big East, and advanced to the second round of the NIT.

His debut season in Queens, Steve Lavin led the Red Storm to a third place finish in conference, a 12-6 record in league play and an NCAA Tournament appearance. Right now, it doesn’t look like SJU will end up in the postseason.

Steve Lavin St. John's

Steve Lavin has breathed new life into the Johnnies since he took over in 2010. He landed the #3 recruiting class in the nation in ’11-’12, and the #8 class in ’12-’13. Point guard Rysheed Jordan was rated third at his position in his class. So there’s plenty of talent there. It’s only a matter of time before the wins start coming in 2014. We have Jakarr Sampson in the first round of our latest NBA mock draft, and the media who cover this team seem to believe that there’s three future NBA guys on this squad.

Lavin can and always has been able to recruit; landing both a #1 and a #2 rated class during his days leading the UCLA Bruins, where he went 145-78, 80-46 in conference with an Elite 8 appearance in 1997 and five sweet 16 appearances. Obviously, Steve Lavin is well known as a college basketball analyst, having served in that role for seven years with ESPN in between head coaching gigs. That star power is showing up in the ticket sales numbers as Carnesecca Arena saw a 38% increase in attendance, the fourth largest in the nation.

steve lavin st. john's

But again they are 0-5 in the league, with some really tough games left: at #6 Villanova, two with #20 Creighton and a home date with Xavier.

“We’re disappointed with the outcome of a loss, but I felt that the team really competed and hung tough to come back from a double-digit deficit,” said head coach Steve Lavin. “It was a high-level BIG EAST game. Numbers wise, you can’t ask for anything better than 54-28 in the paint. We held them to 36.9 percent, which is our third-straight game of really strong defense. The team showed a lot of heart but just came up short.”

St. John’s owns a current RPI of 71, with the 12th-toughest schedule in the nation (7-2 home; 0-3 road; 2-2 neutral). The Red Storm’s SOS went from No. 20 to No. 7 after the matchup with Villanova (No. 4 in the RPI). Three of St. John’s losses have come to teams rated in the RPI’s top seven, including a neutral game vs. Wisconsin (RPI No. 2, 16-1) and games at The Garden vs. Villanova (RPI No. 4, 15-1) and still-unbeaten Syracuse (RPI No. 7, 17-0).

I asked Steve Lavin on Tuesday night, following a loss at DePaul, if there’s anything positive to be taken away from the winless start to league play.

steve lavin coach

“Good question. I think in each game, there’s different aspects that you look at that you’re disappointed with, but there’s positives that emerge, I think Rysheed Jordan, his gradual maturation, we’re seeing longer stretches of play where he shows the type of player that he’s capable of being. That’s a plus. I thought Gift (Graduate forward God’sGift Achiuwa, yes that name is awesome) was tremendous,” Steve Lavin responded.

Steve Lavin and St. John’s concludes their stretch of three games in five days as it takes its 9-3 non-conference record into its final non-league tilt of the season vs. Dartmouth (Sat., Jan. 18, 6 p.m. Fox Sports 1).

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments discussing:  Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Bears and Bulls on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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