The St. John's Red Storm's two-and-a-half month search for an assistant coach has been extensive and deliberate. After seventy-seven days of browsing through Steve Lavin's iPhone contact list, the team has found its man.
While the country was spending Labor Day relaxing at anywhere other than work, St. John's was busy solidifying Darrick Martin as the newest member of its basketball staff. Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News first reported the news that the school is 'very close' to hiring Martin on Monday.
Martin and Lavin have maintained a relationship since Martin's playing days for the Bruins in the early 1990's, while the current Red Storm head coach was an assistant in Westwood.
As Rumble in the Garden reported last week, the Johnnies have been in contact with Martin for at least a few weeks discussing a deal that would bring the former UCLA point guard aboard the staff.
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Martin, 41, does not have any experience coaching at the collegiate level, although he has spent much of his career in the NBA as both a player and in player development. After a long playing career both domestically and abroad, Martin continues to transition into his new professional stage as a coach.
As DeCourcy reported, it is expected that Martin will work closely with the Red Storm's ball handlers - most notably D`Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene, and Jamal Branch. His own pass-first mentality could teach the young guards to make stronger decisions with the rock in hand.
Martin will join fellow UCLA graduate Rico Hines, Tony Chiles, Moe Hicks, Derrick Wrobel, and the legendary Gene Keady on the bench alongside Lavin. Once again, the Red Storm will suit up one of the youngest squads in the nation, which will need guidance from the already-proven staff.
After associate head coach Mike Dunlap left the Red Storm to become head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, Lavin has considered a number of candidates to be a valid replacement for his schematic acumen and detailed coaching. Many of the initial proposed lists did not even include Martin.
It was believed that De La Salle High School head coach Frank Allocco was the front-runner for the job. In fact, it is likely that the search was extended so long to give Allocco the opportunity to accept. Gene Keady was even considered as an internal hire.
But now, just over a month from Red Storm Tip-Off and the start of organized practices, Lavin is set to bring Darrick Martin to New York as a first-time college assistant. The two have met within the past two weeks, discussing how the fit will benefit the up-and-coming Johnnies.
St. John's is expected to officially announce the hiring sometime this week, perhaps as early as Tuesday. The Rumble will keep you up to date with the news.
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