St. John’s Red Storm: Overcoming Adversity
It was a disappointing lull for St. John’s basketball early this millennium. With the violations stemming from Mike Jarvis’ reign there was a terrifying lack of interest around the school. After all, the Red Storm hadn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2002.
Then along came Steve Lavin, the former coach of UCLA. He was supposed to change all that and he did, rather quickly. In his first season as head coach, St. John’s made the tournament. They went 21-12 and were on their way to returning to the once high expectations present under Lou Carnesecca. Lavin had brought not only success on the court but success in the media: people were finally talking about St. John’s again and high school players were actually thinking about wanting to attend the university. Then something unforeseen and unfortunate hit. Coach Lavin was forced to leave the team to battle prostate cancer.
Without Lavin on the sidelines for most of the season, a freshmen-heavy squad stumbled. The impressive year put together by Moe Harkless was not enough to lead the headless Storm. They needed Lavin.
Now, a year later, a healthy Steve Lavin is back but Harkless, the conference Rookie of the Year, left for the NBA. It is looking like St. John’s is in for a long year. The Big East is always tough and especially with its alignment constantly shifting and changing, it will be hard for the Johnnies to make waves this year with such an inexperienced roster.
Yet the future is not all bad. With Lavin back and recovered, he is out recruiting again and has brought in a couple top 100 talents this year. Combined with the depth of last year’s class that will finally get a full season under Lavin’s tutelage, the Red Storm may yet reach their once proud basketball heights. It isn’t a guarantee Lavin can lead them to another tournament berth; it seems like a long shot at this point. However, more important for the outlook of the school is that St. John’s is being talked about and that is more than could be said about the team in years prior.