Steve Lavin: the coaching solution or the question for St. John's

Strong rumors have it that former UCLA coach Steve Lavin may be the next St. John's coach. He didn't do enough for the UCLA Bruins fans, and has been out of the coaching game for 7 years (with the exception of some clinics), but his teams did get to the NCAA Tournament, and he did recruit a number of current NBA players, including Baron Davis, Matt Barnes, Dan Gadzuric, Jason Kapono... I loved that team.

If Lavin is hired, expect to see former Duke McDonald's All-American, Naismith and Wooden Award winner Jay Williams - currently on ESPN with Steve Lavin - as an assistant coach.

He's done some interesting things since his motorcycle accident, which robbed him of his ability to play ball in the NBA. he's been on ESPN, and has improved his announcing and analytical chops, but has also acted as a go-between for an agent and future NBA players.

Former Northeastern, DePaul, and Virginia head coach Dave Leitao has also been mentioned as a member of this staff.

Obviously, this staff can make a lot of name for themselves by saying they know how to get to the next level. A lot of notable names here, and somewhere in the group there has to be some solid coaching acumen.

Many people find Lavin personable and charming, a great salesman. And apparently, when they Google his image, they think of Steve Lavin's actress wife, Mary Ann Jarou (who has been in an episode of How I Met Your Mother and some other sitcoms). But...

UCLA fans still hate Lavin with a burning passion. The Bruins Nation blog has many posts dedicated to how much they think Steve Lavin is a terrible coach, a fraud, a charlatan. And it is strange that he hasn't worked in the college coaching business for a number of years. Is he able to run a staff? Can he manage the egos of a staff and of players (remember the Matt Barnes/ Rico Hines fight...)? Has he learned anything in the intervening years? Does he have the desire to learn?

Does his name have that cachet (and when did we start spelling it "cache" without an accent over the e?) with younger players? Can he get star NYC guard Doron Lamb? Or 5-6 other NY area players for 2011?

It's been 10 or so days since the St. John's Red Storm fired Norm Roberts. Is Lavin the solution? Can he coach them up and convince recruits to stay home with the restrictions they have? And is the money that the school will spend on this staff (at least $2 million, in my estimation) worth it? Could the money have gone to some more improvements, or some more impressive staff for Norm Roberts - a renowned recruiter, perhaps?

A lot of questions surround the St. John's program. Steve Lavin may not be the most obvious hire, but his record is certainly better than some of the guys who St. John's was interested in making an offer to, and has high-level experience... there is some high reward with the high risk.

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