Rico Hines took the helm for the Johnnies in Steve Lavin's absence. - USA TODAY Sports
A day with a loss bigger than the game.
A tough day all around in the dome, with assistant Rico Hines getting to run the show for the first time with Steve Lavin heading to California after the passing of his father Cap Lavin (again, we send our condolences to the Lavin family).
It's easy to see a blowout and be down on the team's effort and/ or skill level, but Syracuse is a team on a different level of talent and experience than St. John's. This two-game stretch (Syracuse and Louisville on Valentine's Day night) are as tough a stretch that can be found in any conference outside of the Big Ten. A strong second half are minutes of the game to hang on to, but continued offensive struggles are a worry.
After you've read our game recap - St. John's fights, but falls at Syracuse 77-58 - take a look at what the rest of the media is saying.
On Albert "Cap" Lavin:
Marin Independent Journal // 'Cap' Lavin, longtime Marin English teacher, dies at 82
Mr. Lavin, known as "Cap" or "Cappy," was the father of St. John's basketball coach Steve Lavin. The longtime English teacher had survived heart attacks and triple-bypass surgeries in the past. Steve Lavin announced his father's death to his team before its game with Syracuse and flew to Marin Sunday to be with his family.
A former English teacher who taught generations of children, authored 19 books and co-founded the Bay Area Writing Project at the University of California at Berkeley, Mr. Lavin is survived by his wife, Mary, and six children, Rachel, John, Mark, Ken, Suzanne and Steve, and grandchildren as well.
San Francisco Chronicle // Teacher, former player Cap Lavin dies
Albert "Cap" Lavin, a decorated high school and college basketball player, a longtime English teacher and the father of St. John's head basketball coach Steve Lavin, has died. Cap Lavin was 82.
Mr. Lavin attended St. Ignatius and was named San Francisco's high school player of the decade for the 1940s. A guard noted for his ballhandling, Mr. Lavin played for USF in the early 1950s. He was inducted into the USF Hall of Fame in 1997.
That also was the year Mr. Lavin retired as an English teacher. He spent most of his career at Drake High in San Anselmo, and he also taught at Cal, San Francisco State and Dominican College (now Dominican University).
On the game:
Red Storm Sports // St. John's Defeated By No. 9/9 Syracuse, 77-58, At The Carrier Dome
St. John's trailed for the entire first half, by as many as 15 points on two occasions, but rallied to open the second half. Harrison drained a pair of 3s, including an off-balance attempt as the shot clock expired, to pull St. John's to within 43-34 with 16:05 remaining.
Syracuse pushed the lead back to 12 before Marc-Antoine Bourgault drained a 3-pointer as part of a 9-2 run as St. John's whittled the deficit to just five points, 48-43, at the 11:45 mark.
St. John's would get no closer than eight the rest of the way and Syracuse closed the game on an 11-2 run for the final margin.
The Johnnies gathered for their pregame meal when they got the bad news: coach Steve Lavin's 82-year-old father Cap had died overnight. Lavin was racing to his family's side in California. The bearer of the news, assistant coach Rico Hines, would fill in with help from the rest of the staff.
St. John's carried that grief onto the court against the Orange. After walking out of a locker room that had ";Do It For Cap" scrawled on the board, the Johnnies appeared emotionless. They opened with neither energy nor focus, fell behind quickly and couldn't climb back in a 77-58 defeat before 27,169.
"You could see people's air just go," D'Angelo Harrison said. "It's crazy. I can't explain it. It was just quiet in the room."
Lavin was not on the bench for the Red Storm's 77-58 loss to No. 9 Syracuse. He left yesterday morning, destination San Francisco and mourning.
His players — none of whom had ever played in this Grand Canyon of hoops or in front of this large a crowd (27,169) — took the court with heavy hearts.
"When your leader's not there, your coach that you go to battle for, you fight for in practice, who recruited you to come in, it's hard to play without your leader, you know?" said forward JaKarr Sampson, who scored a team-high 21 points.
"After halftime, they kind of let it all hang out. I thought we were going to push ahead . . . Losing Cap is a big blow. He was an ambassador of the game. He loved the game of basketball. My heart was heavy all day."
"They were sad. They were really sad," said Hines, when asked how the players took the news. "Because Cap was one of those guys that watched every game or listened to it on the radio, and those guys knew that. ... They all said they'd say a prayer for him, and we'll try to play as hard as we can."
It wasn't the signature win St. John's was hoping for, to boost its NCAA Tournament résumé. But it may prove even more valuable down the road.
"It showed a glimpse of what we had inside of us, going on that quick run," Garrett said. "I think it could bring us together, closer as a family."
AP via NY Times // With Steve Lavin Out, St. John's Loses to Syracuse
Playing for the first time in seven games after his academic eligibility was restored, Southerland scored 13 points, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers in the second half as No. 9 Syracuse pulled away Sunday in a 77-58 home win over St. John's, which was without Coach Steve Lavin.
Southerland was 4 for 6 in the second half after missing all four of his shots in the first half.
"I was surprised he got going," Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said. "It's tough when you have a bad first half in your first game back. But he got it going."
Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician // The View From Courtside: Southerland's Return Carries Syracuse Past St. John's
Defensive Rebounding: Once again the Orange were outrebounded by an inferior opponent, this time 28-26. I know the 2-3 zone lends itself to giving up an extra board here and there, but I noticed several possessions where a St. John's player retrieved the ball without anyone from SU laying so much as a finger on him.
SU gave up 10 offensive rebounds to the Red Storm, who aren't exactly the most physically imposing team in the league. They're going to have to tighten that up.
Syracuse.com // Syracuse basketball vs St.John's: Brent Axe recap
St. John's had won six of their last seven games before facing Syracuse on Sunday afternoon.
A big reason why was the Red Storm was holding opposing teams at or under 40 percent shooting in those wins.
They could not continue that success vs Syracuse as the Orange shot 54% (29-54)vs the Red Storm. SU was 10-for-22 from three point range (45%).
It was Syracuse's second-best shooting performance of the season. (55% vs Canisius on December was the best).