By pretty much all accounts, St. John's is set to hire Steve Lavin as its new head coach, a day after the former UCLA coach had dinner with athletic director Chris Monasch to discuss the position. Finalizing the contract shouldn't be a problem — Lavin's looking for about the same money as they're offering — and a press conference could happen as early as tomorrow. Things are obviously serious: Lavin will have lunch today with Lou Carnesecca, the godfather of Red Storm basketball.
Lavin's already talking like someone preparing his press-conference remarks. From the Post:
"When I think of the St. John's program and the legendary coaches likes Coach [Joe] Lapchick and Coach [Lou] Carnesecca, it's humbling to be considered to be a part of that tradition," Lavin told The Post yesterday afternoon. "Tradition is the lifeblood of college basketball, and St. John's is one of those storied programs."
Regarding that last point, however, SMU coach Matt Doherty begs to differ. Appearing on "Mad Dog Radio" yesterday, Doherty ripped the program and its place in the college-basketball landscape. Said Doherty:
"Well, you know, I'm a New Yorker. My sister went there. My niece went there. It's not a good job. I mean, I'm just going to tell you straight up. St. John's has a little bit of an inflated feeling about themselves. It's not a good job. Paul Hewitt has a better job. Billy Donovan has a way better job. Rick Pitino. I think they took a little risk by going after big names and then all of a sudden momentum now is swinging against them so they're dropping down. I think it makes them look a little bit bad. But it's not a good job. Facility wise, yeah, there's some talent in New York but there's a lot of politics in New York that you have to address. And so it's not the job that the St. John's family thinks it is. And that's what they're facing right now, the reality."
We like that he prefaces his statement by saying that his niece went there. This is no joke, people: Even a guy whose niece went to St. John's thinks the program's gone downhill! He makes a point that St. John's isn't in a position right now to steal a superstar coach away from a top program, but we don't think you can fault them for swinging for the fences — approaching Hewitt, especially, was a perfectly reasonable move — especially since they're a lot closer to being relevant now than they were the last time they searched for a coach.