Lavin Out at St. John's; Statements From the President, AD and Lavin

   Statements from St. John's Athletic Director, President and Steve Lavin.

Chris Monasch, Director of Athletics


On the Steve Lavin Era

“Coach Lavin returned high expectations to our men’s basketball program and represented St. John’s in a positive way. We appreciate his commitment to the program and to our student-athletes over the past five years. Our student-athletes represented the University well, especially our five-member senior class who excelled on the court, inside the classroom and within the community.”


“We thank Coach Lavin for his leadership and all of his contributions to the University. He infused excitement back into the program, brought us to the postseason four times and recruited student-athletes who excelled on the court, inside the classroom and within the community.”


On the coaching search

“A national search is underway for a candidate who possesses the characteristics to give our program an opportunity to successfully compete at the national level. We will be aggressive in our search for a coach who has a track record of success, understands all the requirements of running a high major basketball program in New York City, including the media demands within this market. We are seeking someone who embraces the St. John’s mission and tradition, including the ability to attract the top talent both nationally and internationally.”


On the current and future student-athletes

“We are committed to our current and future student athletes, including those who have signed a National Letter of Intent. We will meet with our student-athletes individually to discuss this change and the future of the program, and any concerns they may have with the direction of the program.”


On the expectations for St. John’s basketball

“Our goal is to be competitive at the highest level of Division I. We expect to do that with student-athletes who achieve academically and enrich our University community.” 




Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President, St. John’s University


“I enjoyed celebrating our student-athletes’ accomplishments in my first year at St. John’s. We look forward to building on this foundation as we strive to continue the tradition of success that the St. John’s basketball program has achieved for more than 100 years.”


Steve Lavin


“In life change is inevitable, so I take the long view. I'm grateful for my time teaching at St. John’s University. I will take with me the lasting friendships forged during my tenure as Head Coach. I'm proud of our results both on and off the court - in particular our memorable runs to the NCAA tournament in 2011 and 2015. Most importantly, I take pride in our performance in the classroom having graduated our student athletes who will represent the institution in a first class manner." 




Fanta Report: Arizona and Wisconsin Were Tested; Kentucky Keeps Rolling

Pat Connaughton is the Key Player For Notre Dame vs. Kentucky/usatoday.com

by John Fanta

The most interesting game on Sweet 16 Thursday was the last one to tip off. While the West Regional Semifinal contest between 2-seed Arizona and 6-seed Xavier did not look like much on paper, the Musketeers gave the Wildcats everything they could handle and more. 

With just over seven minutes left to go on the clock, the Musketeers found themselves with a 53-49 edge. But, Arizona showed how important it is to possess experience at this time of year. Just last year, the Wildcats found themselves on the Sweet 16 stage, in which they won and took on Wisconsin before falling in the Elite 8. Saturday, the rematch is on, as Arizona’s T.J. McConnell led the charge in the 68-60 victory.

The key moment came with 4:19 on the clock. Arizona was up 55-54 with the ball and the shot clock running down. It was then that McConnell pulled up from deep and hit the triple to extend the lead to four. From there, the Wildcats’ veterans finished off the performance with an 8-for-8 effort from the free throw line. Arizona only needed one more field goal after McConnell’s three, which boosted them to the win. The point guard scored 17 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists. 

The Musketeers played as good of a game as they have this season, but Matt Stainbrook needed help, and he just didn’t get enough of it. Fellow starters James Farr and Trevon Blueitt had just two points apiece, with Blueitt shooting 1-for-6. The freshman, who has provided a spark at times, just could not find it. While Xavier’s 1-3-1 zone helped the Musketeers a ton, it just was not enough. Arizona only outrebounded Chris Mack’s team 33-31, but a big difference maker came from beyond the arc. Xavier only hit 3-of-17 treys. The Wildcats finished at the tin down the stretch and held the Musketeers to just three field goals in the final 10 minutes. 
While we knew the Wildcats had frontcourt play, it’s the orchestration of McConnell that they’ll need on Saturday to clinch the berth into the Final Four. 

Standing between Arizona and a Final Four berth is Bo Ryan, who went to his first Final Four last year. He leads top-seeded Wisconsin, which found itself in a rough spot at one point on Thursday night. With just under 11 minutes to play, Roy Williams’ North Carolina Tar Heels held a seven-point lead. That was when Bronson Koenig did what he’s been doing throughout the postseason – make momentum-shifting plays. The guard hit a three to cut the Tar Heels’ lead to 53-49, which sparked a 9-0 run. It was Kaminsky who would get the Badgers within one when he canned a huge triple with 6:42 left. Just three minutes later, in a 65-64 affair, Josh Gasser pulled up from deep after receiving the pass from Traevon Jackson and canned a massive three. The Badgers made all eight of their free throws in the final minute, beating UNC 79-72.

While UNC played extremely efficient basketball, only committing four turnovers, the Tar Heels were out-rebounded 35-28. 

We also saw that when Sam Dekker and Kaminsky are both clicking, it doesn’t matter how good you are. They’re one of the best duos in the nation. The two combined for 42 points and 18 boards. Combined with the fact that Marcus Paige scored just 12 points on four field goals, the Badgers did enough to win. But they need to do more Saturday. Koenig can’t go 2-for-9 facing McConnell. 

Early Pick: Arizona 74, Wisconsin 71

Notre Dame was physical. No, really. It wasn’t the Irish that we’ve come to know in the past decade. Now, ND is in its first Elite Eight since the program went in 1979 under Digger Phelps.

While the Irish lost the rebounding battle, 36-32, Brey’s team held Wichita State’s guards in check, and the credit goes to Jerian Grant, Steve Vasturia, and Demetrius Jackson, who guarded the Shockers for all 40 minutes. Ron Baker was held in check, shooting 2-of-10 and going for just nine points. Tekele Cotton also shot 2-of-10, scoring just six. Fred VanVleet went for 25, but was out-of-rhythm from the tip-off and the Shockers found themselves scrambling. They finished 26-of-65 (40%) on the night from the field. 

The key for the Irish is Pat Connaughton. He scored 16 points, but that’s clearly not the most important part of his contributions. ND needed to find another rebounding presence going into this season. Zach August was good, but he needed help when looking at the roster landscape of the Irish. Connaughton has battled from the start, and his 10 boards on Thursday were what Wichita State could not find, that kind of a boost. Not only that, but ND showed it could be physical. WSU loves to bring pressure. The Irish did not get pushed around on the offensive end of the floor. Connaughton and company went to the rim. Also, Grant only had nine. It means that much more that ND won by 11 in my opinion.

“Ugly”, does not describe the late game in Cleveland. Kentucky was as good as the Wildcats have been all season long. And West Virginia was as miserable as ever. 

The Wildcats started the game on an 18-2 run in the first eight minutes of the game. Aaron Harrison scored the game’s first 10 points, as UK outscored WVU in the first stanza, 44-18. Trey Lyles compiled 14 while Andrew Harrison put up 13.

In all, five scored in double-figures for the Wildcats. The Mountaineers had as many turnovers (13) as they had field goals. 

Early Pick: Connaughton’s been great on the glass for Notre Dame, giving the Irish a boost. But Brey’s team needs to shoot over 60 percent from the field, and even then, I don’t know how ND can do it. Kentucky 77, Notre Dame 64

Follow John Fanta on twitter @John_Fanta and email at john.fanta@student.shu.edu. 


Duke Rolls On With a Resounding Victory Against San Diego State - 2015 NCAA Tournament Third Round

Duke center Jahlil Okafor added three blocks to his 26 points against San Diego State.  (Neil Redmond/Associated Press)
By Brian Wilmer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Much of the talk on Selection Sunday centered around Duke and whether or not they would secure a top seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.  Based on their performance in their home state in the tourney’s opening weekend, the Blue Devils largely removed all doubt.

Freshman center Jahlil Okafor scored 26 points, joining two teammates to score 54 of Duke’s 68 points in a 68-49 third-round victory over eighth-seeded San Diego State in Time Warner Cable Arena on Sunday.