For Lavin & His Staff, It Must Be The Shoes...Or Sneakers | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Friday / June 21.
  • For Lavin & His Staff, It Must Be The Shoes…Or Sneakers

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    NEW YORK — Steve Lavin will be prowling the sidelines in the NCAA tournament this year, but don’t expect to see the St. John’s coach in dress shoes and a tie.

    After going 6-1 while wearing white Nike Air Force One “Uptowns,” Lavin and his staff plan to continue the non-traditional look for the foreseeable future.

    “The rest of my career I don’t anticipate ever going back to a tie or to dress shoes ever again,” Lavin said after his team stunned No. 4 Pittsburgh, 60-59, Saturday at Madison Square Garden on a last-second underhand layup by senior guard Dwight Hardy.

    Lavin and his coaches began wearing the sneakers against Duke Jan. 30 in honor of Coaches vs. Cancer, even as his special assistant Gene Keady called them “nurses’ shoes.”

    But after blowing out the then-No. 3 Blue Devils, 93-78, Lavin and company continued to wear them.

    St. John’s only loss of the “Sneaker Era” came to UCLA Feb. 5 at Pauley Pavillion.

    During the run, the Johnnies have beaten Duke, then-No. 10 UConn and now Pitt.

    On the season, St. John’s has beaten four Top 10 teams.

    During his tenure at UCLA and later at ESPN, Lavin came to be known for his sartorial spender, even rivaling Villanova coach Jay Wright in stature.

    But Lavin joked that he’s perfectly ready to  cede “Best Dressed Coach” honors  to Wright.

    “Jay is George Clooney, he’s my hero,” Lavin said. “I’m attracted to Jay Wright. My wife knows it, too.”

    But seriously, Lavin says he breathes better and feels more relaxed without shoes and a tie.

    Hey, who doesn’t?

    “It struck me after that [Duke] game in terms of comfort, with the shoes and without the tie, I thought I was doing a more effective job of teaching  just in terms of breath,” Lavin said.

    “It’s so basic but there isn’t anything more essential than breath and oxygen, and so I thought my decision making and clarity and everything was at a higher level when I didn’t have the tie on, and obviously I’d never coached a game without a tie on until that Duke basketball game, maybe some in Hawaii where you wear those funny flowered patterned shirts

    “So it’s not the record or good luck, but I think our staff agrees we’re much more comfortable in terms of breathing and then the shoes allow you to move a little better on the sideline

    “If you slip you’re not going to fall on your fanny with your Florsheims.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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