Note: some of these links on St. John's basketball were tweeted by the official St. John's men's basketball Twitter account.
If you haven't heard, Steve Lavin can talk a LOT. And he held court on his senior-laden St. John's team, Gene Keady, and more, with help from Coach Gene Keady, DJ Kennedy, Paris Horne, Malik Boothe. There are quotes from all over about St. John's basketball...
NY Daily News/ Dick Weiss: Steve Lavin has created hope about the St. John's basketball program with recruiting success
Lavin.... is pragmatic in stressing the many steps that must be taken. He's been challenged to constantly shuffle the deck and tackle a different task daily, as St. John's is used to living in the past as opposed to building a future.
"I've continued to say while we have great optimism where we're headed, we live and operate in pragmatism and realism and I think optimism is somewhere in between," Lavin said yesterday at Big East media day at the Garden....
"I'd say we're a year and a half ahead of where I thought we'd be in recruiting because my initial expectation was it was going to take a full year to reestablish the rapport with people coast to coast," Lavin said.
Lavin is the Johnnies' first coach since the Lou Carnesecca era not to talk about what he's competing against to capture the headlines on the back pages of the tabloids. Nor does he need St.John's to validate his abilities, and the program is better off because of his presence.
Rivals.com: Lavin has St. John's buzzing
....Lavin has gone through five [cell phone chargers] since his hiring in April.
"It's not like he's losing them or breaking them," said Mark Fratto, Lavin's publicist. "He's just wearing them out. He's even burned through three actual phones."....
"He's intense," athletic director Chris Monasch said. "He's 24-7. That's what we love about him."
About the only thing Lavin doesn't do is Tweet – mainly, someone jokes, because it'd be impossible to limit him to 140 characters. Lavin's approach is deeper and more philosophical than that, and so far it's paid off big time for St. John's.
As much as it's job to coach, Lavin said the process of reviving a program requires so much work off the court that it's imperative to hire the best possible teachers to work closely with the Red Storm players.
"A head coach in college basketball is now more of a CEO than ever before," Lavin said. "They're your foot soldiers. They're an integral part of implementing your curriculum.
"You have to think of it from an educational standpoint. The principal creates the culture and hires the teachers. Then he has to recruit the students. If you deliver the product to your students, you develop a reputation, and more students want to come to your school."
If their intensity on the recruiting trail is any indication of how nasty the games could get, local hoops fans will be recycling their vitriol: Negative recruiting, where the bad blood usually starts, is alive again, as all three acknowledged yesterday at Big East media day in the Garden.
Lavin, who was out of college coaching for seven years while at ESPN, heard that the game has passed him by, and that his staff, consisting of former NBA assistants Rico Hines and Mike Dunlap, couldn't succeed in college recruiting.
"Initially the biggest one was that, 'They're going to get shut out. They're not going to get a single player," Lavin said. "So if you go there, you'd be triple-teamed because they won't have any other players to throw the ball to. That was probably more local."
North Jersey.com: Steve Lavin sees St. John's as a 'sleeping giant'
"I wouldn't have taken the job if I wasn't optimistic about the potential," said Lavin, adding that tradition-rich St. John's is a "sleeping giant."
Lavin's hire in late March after the dismissal of former coach Norm Roberts, and the former ESPN analyst's subsequent success on the recruiting trail have created more basketball buzz around the St. John's campus than there has been in quite some time.
"It's no pressure that we haven't been through," [DJ Kennedy] said. "We've been through pressure since [we were] freshmen. With New York basketball, there's always pressure. ... I've got a lot of respect for coach Pitino and he thinks we're going to be great. I feel like we're going to be great, too."
ESPN New York: Steve Lavin takes media day by Storm
More on this later, but I hope people realize how daunting of an opener this game is.
That said, Lavin also has the present team and his maiden season in the Big East to concern himself with. He has 10 seniors on his roster and very little time to implement his system before St. John's first game, on Nov. 16 at Saint Mary's (Calif.).
"Twenty-two opportunities -- two scrimmages, an exhibition, 19 practice days to prepare to play on the road against a Sweet 16 team from last year that beat Villanova and returns four or five starters," is how Lavin described the daunting task ahead of him.
This season's team will definitely try to play up tempo, on both sides of the ball. On offense, the players will push the ball up the floor and look for fast-break opportunities. On defense, they will pick up full court at times and try to create turnovers.
Former Purdue coach Gene Keady, who officially joined the program last week as a special assistant and adviser to Lavin, has been impressed by what he has seen in the first few days of practice.
"They seem to enjoy Steve's teaching," Keady said. "It looks like they want to learn. And when you have that kind of attitude, you'll be OK. You have a chance to win some games."
NY Times: Keady Brings His Aura to St. John’s
....Lavin hired Keady as a special assistant and adviser. What that means, essentially, is that Keady can advise the St. John’s coaches at staff meetings and help plan practices but that he is not allowed to coach on the floor....
"I like Steve a lot," Keady said. "He’s like a son. He has a great deal of respect for the game. I like the fact that he likes to teach, kind of the way Coach Wooden taught — the way I hope I did, too."
Lavin has had some early recruiting success at St. John’s, but he was not regarded at U.C.L.A. as a particularly strong bench coach. This is where Keady’s experience may be helpful. Keady was a national coach of the year at Purdue — six times.
"You’re not going to get a basketball coach in America who’s more respected," Lavin said.
Lavin, 46, also wanted someone on his staff who would be like a grandfather to his players. He could not think of anyone better for that role than Keady, who hired him as a graduate assistant at Purdue in 1988. The sport, Keady said, has not changed much.
"Pretty simple game," Keady said. "Easy to play, hard to master."
On Lavin's rule - having a clean-shaven squad:
"At first, we were all really upset about it," St. John's senior forward D.J. Kennedy said. "But then we listened and realized, it'll grow back. It's one of coach Lav's policies. It's from John Wooden, so I guess it's all right."
I agree with this. 6th is much too high.
Steve Lavin's presence has transformed the Red Storm again into a national name but it isn't fair to him or his coaching staff that their team was picked 6th in the Big East' pre-season poll -- that's way too high for a team that finished 13th a year ago, even if a slew of experience returns...
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Big East Notebook: Coaches vote Pitt No. 1
St. John's senior D.J. Kennedy, a Schenley High School graduate, was named second-team all-conference, but he was not that happy about it. He thought he should have made first team.
"It's still an honor, but I always want to aim higher," he said. "I feel like I should be first team. I have to show the coaches a little more. I'm not trying to settle for second team."
Cincinnati.com: Lavin's first St. John's season is a doozy for difficulty
"The schedule is appropriate for a veteran team. I wouldn't want to play this schedule next year when we have eight freshmen and 10 new players coming into the fold," Lavin said Wednesday at Big East Basketball Media Day. "But I think because our 10 seniors have been through the rigors of the Big East Conference and have been through some tough times both on and off the court, they're more prepared for the tough schedule that's ahead of them."
Louisville's Rick Pitino cast the lone first-place vote for St. John's in the preseason coaches' poll.
"Those seniors have not played in an NCAA Tournament and they're going to be very hungry to get there," Pitino said.
Capital New York:
A coach seductive enough to save St. John's basketball?
The confidence that Lavin used to convince so many of the finest high school seniors to join him at St. John’s is apparent. And St. John’s, criticized in many quarters for firing the well-liked Roberts in pursuit of big game talent, has to be thrilled with the early results.
Still, as both Lavin and Keady know, recruiting is one thing, and results are another. Carnesecca’s hand-picked successor, Brian Mahoney, brought in a recruiting class that included the consensus high school all-Americans Felipe Lopez, Zendon Hamilton and Tarik Turner. Mahoney even presided over a raucous Midnight Madness to begin the 1994-1995 season, the first with all three. But after the trio failed to approach expectations, Mahoney got fired in 1996.
"The honeymoon’s about over," Keady said, chuckling. "We understand that. But the opportunity is here."
Basketball Prospectus: A Conference in Transition
Lavin has a unique opportunity in Queens even before his impressive 2011 recruiting class hits campus. This year's St. John's roster boasts 10 seniors. True, the class has neither made an NCAA Tournament nor finished better than 6-12 in a Big East campaign, but still: 10 seniors....
If Lavin can fix whatever Norm Roberts did to the Red Storm offense, the team could challenge for an NCAA bid or at least push .500 in the conference.
NBE Basketball: One on one with Gene Keady
Big East.org: Men's Basketball Preview - St. John's
Big East.org: Interview with DJ Kennedy
From the video - The coaching staff places an emphasis on making plays without the ball in his hands/ moving without the basketball. More ball movement. And DJ was surprised by the 6th place vote by the coaches. They're approaching it as the 12th or 13th team, like they have something to prove.
More Media Day/ other links:
Dana O'Neil's Media Day notebook
Casual Hoya with a solid compilation
Leprechaun Legion with some quotes from Notre Dame's Mike Brey
Zagsblog with Big East video
Hoya Prospectus on the Hoyas' pace
NBC Sports with an infographic on non-conference games you must see
Bearcats Blog notes how Mick Cronin and the Bearcats were like an afterthought at Media Day
The Trentonian on Rutgers playing with a chip on its collective shoulder