“To be honest, the first time my alarm went off, I wanted to cry.” — St. John’s point guard Malik Boothe


New St. John’s coach Steve Lavin hasn’t just been all business on the recruiting circuit.  With the current squad Lavin has gone immediately to work to stamp out the laziness and laxness pervasive under the last two regimes–arguably the worst in the school’s storied history.  To change that culture, Lavin started early.  Literally.  He changed practice time from the very comfortable time of 4 PM to a military like 6 AM.  As we can see from the above quote by Malik Boothe, there may have been some tears among the 10 returning seniors who have yet to even remotely sniff an NCAA bid.

You know what?  They should’ve been crying all along the way the fans have for the last 12 years.  I still cry every time I see an ugly beard reminiscent of Mike Jarvis.  But Jarvis wouldn’t be qualified to carry the water for this squad, or its A Team of coaches which boasts coaching legend Gene Keady, in all, 3 former NBA assistants (including Keady who had a brief stint with the Toronto Raptors), local legend Maurice Hicks, and Northeast recruiting extroardinaire Tony Chiles.

Keady, running a grueling early practice recently, was said to have lambasted the team for poor floor spacing, and remarked that ‘if a grenade went off, it would kill all 5 guys.’  And we love it.  They are St. John’s, where the best will come.  Not to be coddled, but to win.  To be yelled at when necessary.  The Keady line is our favorite from a coach since this summer’s Hard Knocks when Jets’ special teams coach Mike Westhoff lamented when all the backup linebackers were out injured riding stationary bikes that they might not be much for football, but would make a “hell of a squad for the Tour de France.”

Lavin wasn’t about to play good cop to Keady’s bad cop either.  When discussing the returning players and last year’s team, Lavin said they “tied for 13th in the Big East.  There is no positive spin.”  Lavin, unhappy with the big men on the roster, or lack thereof, has been featuring an unbalanced, guard laden unit along with California’s 2010 Mr. Basketball, Lavin’s only recruit for the 2010-2011 class, Dwayne Polee Jr., who, from what we’re hearing, the university would be lucky if he sticks around for his freshman and sophomore years.  Polee looks set to fill it up.

Another California product, 6’9 forward Norvel Pelle, ranked 71st inthe 20111-2012 class, and 13th at his position by ESPN, would probably balance the court quite nicely for the Johnnies, and we think, would convert a lot of dunks off penetration from Nurideen Lindsey and D’Angelo Harrison next year, and from elite pass first point guard prospect Jevon Thomas, a Queens product–the 2nd Queens product to sign on with Lavin (Maurice Harkless, 2011 class)–who called St. John’s his “dream school”, choosing the Johnnies after attending both St. John’s and Villanova’s midnight madness.  Thomas is the first jewel in Lavin’s 2012-2013 incoming class.

As for Pelle, St. John’s still awaits his decision.  Eagerly.  He is the first big time interior player that the A Team has gotten into the mix for.



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