Tough week for the Johnnies on the court with back to back losses to Arizona and Texas A & M, two ranked teams, at MSG. At least the Johnnies were in both games, especially the A & M game, which they lost 58-57. In truth, we expected a loss to Sean Miller’s Arizona squad, one of the premiere outfits in the land. We thought St. John’s played pretty well against AZ, despite the loss. We’d have love love loved a win on Sunday though, but we understand the young lads will take their lumps early, with all the freshmen and two important sophomores just coming together, an ongoing process.
The team you see now is not the team you will see in January. So we are not worried at all about losses to good teams, not even at MSG. But we are worried about coach. Very disturbing that Steve Lavin didn’t coach the team in Tuesday night’s win over St. Francis at Carneseccsa. Three hours before game time, Lavin informed the school and the team that he would not be able to coach, ceding the bench to Mike Dunlap in the 63-48 win. We aren’t concerned about anything–not Jakarr Sampson, not the Big East falling apart, not Ricardo Gathers de-commit–except for Lavin’s health. Lavin could recruit eskimos in Hawaii, without health concerns. Predictably, St. John’s was murky when side stepping the issue of Lavin’s availability to the press, after the victory. So is the coach tired from a 2 day recruiting trip, or did he embark on one right after the game? ESPN and the NYDN issued conflicting reports, but in truth, The News’ version sounds more likely, that Lavin had been recruiting all day Monday and Tuesday, namely, re-recruiting lights out prospect Jakarr Sampson, and will likely spend the holiday hunkered down with family.
St. Francis was a nice win, with another big game from Maurice Harkless, and from D’Angelo Harrison, who had 21 points and shot 4 out of 5 from deep, decidedly not looking like the kid who can’t shoot straight, against albeit lesser competition. We’ll take another built in win on Sunday, or what should be, home against Northeastern, before next Thursday’s tilt in Lexington, which is likely a loss. An interesting matchup at Detroit follows that one, before the hotly awaited Fordham rematch, this year at the Garden, on December 17th.
Frankly, we don’t care too much about how these games shake out, except that one. Beating Fordham is an absolute must. And getting Coach Lavin back in a full capacity. No one could’ve liked that Gathers, when de-committing, mentioned the uncertainty concerning Lavin’s health, which obviously exists. Lavin will no doubt recruit an army to St. John’s, Sampson and Gathers not withstanding, but this will happen only if Lavin is perceived to be healthy.