The 2012-13 St. John's Red Storm are already racking up their frequent flyer miles.
Head coach Steve Lavin announced Wednesday night via his Twitter account that the Johnnies plan to travel west to the University of San Francisco for a true road matchup against the Dons. The game, which will take place on December 4th, will be one of many tough tests for the young Red Storm.
The west coast native Lavin once again integrates his basketball roots into his current job in New York. Much like he did by initiating a perennial series with his former employer UCLA (which may have ended), Lavin will match his St. John's team against a program that had much to do with his own education and foundation of love for the sport.
Lavin's father, Albert "Cap" Lavin, attended and played for San Francisco in the early 1950's, and had been considered to be one of the better players in that area during the time. The elder Lavin, a retired English teacher, has had an overwhelming influence on Steve's passion for the game and his incredible way with articulation of the language.
Now in 2012, over sixty years since Cap Lavin first laced up for the Dons, his son brings the east coast Johnnies back to where it began.
More, below the fold.
When St. John's invades the small, cramped War Memorial Gymnasium (5,300 capacity) on the campus of the University of San Francisco in early December, it will certainly be a challenge. The Dons are an up-and-coming program out of the West Coast Conference, having finished in 2011-12 with twenty overall wins.
The Dons finished in the top 100 in the nation in points per game (32nd), field goal percentage (38th), and assists per game (85th) a year ago. San Francisco, seniors Perris Blackwell (F) and Michael Williams (G) both transferred from the program... along with four others. Adding three graduates, the Dons return very few players. UCLA transfer De`End Parker may be eligible after applying for a waiver to be eligible to play immediately.
Ever since Lavin was hired in March of 2010, St. John's has not been afraid to play true road games early in the season - even in extremely small venues. The Johnnies have traveled to St. Mary's (CA), Fordham, and Detroit. And, no, they haven't fared well.
You may remember back in 2010-11 when St. John's went west three times with its senior-laden squad. Games at St. Mary's and UCLA along with a tournament in Alaska helped the team develop and grow before earning the program's first NCAA Tournament bid in nine years.
This year's Red Storm will be configured of almost entirely freshmen and sophomores, and Lavin is once again looking for accelerated maturity. He plans to utilize the experience that his team will gain during a trip to California and use it to get them ready for the Big East season.
St. John's is also slated for participation in the Charleston Classic in November and welcoming South Carolina and Duke to New York. The Johnnies will also face St. Francis at the newly constructed Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The remainder of the schedule is set to be announced in the fall.