Steve Lavin’s Comeback Starts Strong

Professional portrait of Steve Lavin, currentl...

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As a big sports fan I love this time of year.   Everything is active, especially here in New York.

Our pro football teams sit with identical 6-2 records as the season turns to its second of its three legs, including the post-season. We New Yorkers have every reason to envision one, if not both, of our home town teams earning their way to Dallas for the Super Bowl this February.  

Baseball has turned its attention to free agency and the makeover of teams for next season. We know the Yankees have money just begging to be spent, and our Mets have already made some very strong management moves that has to lift the spirits of disappointed fans going forward.

Both the Knicks and Nets are also improving and while neither team is blowing people away so far, there is hope for this season and next.  Just keep repeating the mantras “Carmello”  or “Prokhorov”, depending on which side of the Hudson your prefer.  Hockey….well, not my bag really but with three local teams, if you like to follow guys “shoot dat puck, score dat goal”, you have plenty of options among the Rangers, Devils and Islanders.

As fun as the pros are, what really makes this time of year special is the college action.  As a New Yorker….that’s some statement.

Other than the Ray Rice infused Rutgers Scarlet Knights success a few seasons back, college football holds little local excitement.   But nationally, college football is rockin right now.  The BCS ratings system makes for great debates about any team’s claim to be the nation’s best. Have you watched TCU play at all this year? D-O-M-I-N-A-N-T.  On both sides of the ball.  As the #3 ranked team in the BCS polls last week, they absolutely DESTROYED #5 ranked Utah. DESTROYED.  Yet poor TCU plays in the lowly Mountain West Conference and gets no love, nor credit, from the BCS committee. Its a little bit their own fault….they need to schedule more big name programs to show they can compete….but they can play with anyone from what I have seen.  I am personally rooting for Oregon to hold on to the #1 spot and really hope that Alabama trips up #2 Auburn (if Cam Newton’s father’s actions don’t KO them first) forcing the BCS to put TCU into a Championship Game matchup against the Ducks.    THAT will be one of those seminal moments….where the lowly outsider crashes the big party on the big stage….and has a chance to make a mockery of the entire closed-door BCS system. 

For us local fans, the real heat is on the college basketball scene.  One of my old favorite teams, St. John’s, made one of the most exciting moves this past off season when they hired one of my old favorite coaches, Steve Lavin, to become their new head coach.

I love comeback stories….and Steve Lavin is embarking on his, just like Conan O’Brien did this week. Lavin had been an analyst at ESPN for a while after a long and successful career at UCLA. This past week, I caught Steve on Mike Francesa‘s excellent WFAN show, “Mike’d Up“.  In a very insightful interview, we learned that in this,  his first year, Lavin and crew have signed one of the Top 5 recruiting classes to St. John’s next year.  That’s among all college basketball programs IN THE NATION. Yes, St. John’s.  In beautiful Queens. That folks, is salesmanship.

Steve Lavin is a realist who knows that the kids at St. John’s can play….and that they face some of the best teams in the country game in and game out as members of the Big East so his expectations are realistic for this coming season.   Steve Lavin also knows what kids want to hear……come and play in New York City….in Madison Square Garden…the home of legends…on national TV….against the best in the country.   Maybe there is another John R. Wooden Award winner in his group of recruits. Why not? St. John’s alums Chris Mullen and Walter Berry brought the honor back to Queens in 1985 1nd 1986, respectively.

We are going to see St. John’s return to the forefront in college basketball….maybe not this year or the next…..but its coming….and its gonna be electric.   As electric as it once was under Louie Carnesecca…when Mark Jackson,  Mullen,  Berry,  Bill Wennington and others suited up in the Red and White. 

There are some huge games this season both at Carnesecca Arena in Queens and the Garden.  Here’s the schedule…….  Come to a game…and look for me when you go.

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