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.
When St. John’s travels to No. 1 Kentucky Thursday night as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge, they will be without head coach Steve Lavin.
Lavin continues to recuperate from prostate cancer surgery Oct. 6.
“I’m cancer free but now recognize I set myself back with a premature return to the sidelines,” Lavin told Andy Katz of ESPN.com Monday night.
The Johnnies face an uphill battle against Kentucky because they have only eight scholarship players — including one former walk-on. Yet Lavin beat the nation’s top-ranked team in four-consecutive years (2000-03) during his tenure at UCLA.
After sitting out the preseason and the team’s first game of the regular season, Lavin made his coaching debut Nov. 9 against Lehigh.
He went 2-2 in four games, including two at Carnesecca Arena and two at Madison Square Garden, losses to Arizona and Texas A&M.
Lavin was again absent from the sidelines last week when the Johnnies beat St. Francis and lost to Northeastern, with assistant Mike Dunlap running the show.
“I was hoping with each subsequent game that my stamina would improve but instead it regressed,” Lavin told ESPN.com. “It became clear that presently I have not recovered enough from surgery to lead the team through the toil of a game. After consulting with Dr Scardino we decided to modify my coaching duties.”
After the Kentucky game, the Johnnies visit Detroit Dec. 5. They then have a 12-day break before facing Fordham Dec. 17 at the GArden.
“The good news is being cancer free,” Lavin said. “That was the objective of the surgery. But it would not be prudent at this juncture to return to the sidelines and jeopardize my long term health. It’s not fair to the team if I coach in games when not yet having the necessary strength for competing at the highest level of college basketball.”
Photo: New York Post
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.