I am pleased to see excitement is rapidly creeping back into basketball at the Garden. With a strong possibility of the Knicks making the playoffs and on the verge of further distancing themselves from the Isiah Thomas nightmare, one man truly stands to benefit-Steve Lavin.
St.John's hoops has had to overcome the criminal regimes of the ultra-embarrasing Mike Jarvis and Fran Franscella. The mindless alllowance of violaton and rule-bending under their Rolexes almost destroyed a very storied program. I remember with great clarity the stir St.John's basketball once created. The Chris Mullin/Mark Jackson/Walter Berry days of battle in the infant stages of a great Big East Conference. Louie and John Thompson slugging it out a la Ali-Frazier.
Lavin has a unique opportunty to grab the lightening and ride the coat-tails of an advantageous recruiting chip that is NYC basketball. Look all up and down the Big East. Look at Kentucky, look at Duke. City players sprinkled all over the country who got away. Boggles the mind. Lavin will have at his disposal, the biggest stage in the country to lure some very gifted young cagers. He is sitting on the ground floor of a potential basketball powerhouse just waiting to erupt. I believe he is just the guy to bring Garden basketball back to prominence. I hope he can establish Madison Square Garden as the Redmen's permanent home floor and make it as tough a ticket in town as the pro teams in the greater New York area.(I still slip a lot and refer to them as the Redmen). The "RED STORM" would even allow the NCAA a chance to enjoy an even bigger boom by providing exposure to classic tilts yet to come.
Lavin must run a clean program thus allowing a new buzz to be created much like that crook Tarkanian had in Vegas back in the day. Only this would be legit. Make the uniform become a flag that indicates esteemed scholar-athletes and allow it to be a symbol of excellence in producing productive members of society. Get kids who want to recieve a first class education along with teaching them the finer points of an even finer game. I know its a bit of a reach to uproot the Queens connection, but this is a shot at creating a Monster.
A huge win vs UCONN tonight coupled with a landmark beatdown of Duke, reminds us all just how special big time basketball actually is in New York City. And how much bigger it can become. I look forward to seeing where it is heading. Lavin is a good fit with New York. A lot of Rick Pitino in him. I strongly think that Lavin will soon become a "hot commodity" around the basketball world both at the college and pro levels. I just hope the fine coach will realize that he is creating something more than a stepping stone job until something bigger opens up. Lavin will hopefully decifer for himself that a job at 2 Penn Plaza is as big as it gets in the sports world.
I honestly feel that head basketball coach at St.John's has the potential to be a Top 5 sports job. I really do. What 17 or 18 year old with good skills and a sound mind would not want to showcase his talents at the Mecca? Share a locker room with an upstart Knickerbocker team that is close to obtaining Carmelo Anthony and legitimize contender hopes along with the electricity of being in the building.
I am excited for the Redmen, I mean Red Storm. I feel I am witnessing a New Age in college basketball. Redmen or Red Storm? I'll just call it a Red Dawn