Realistic expectations. We all dare to dream. We are human, it comes along with the territory.
March is the month when college basketball takes center stage. The majority of us fill out our brackets, hoping we picked the right Cinderella and Champion. It is also this time of year when college basketball coaches get fired.
St. John’s and Steve Lavin mutually agreed to part ways after five seasons. Lavin went 81-55 during his tenure, which included two trips to the NCAA Tournament. He stabilized the program. He did not build the program back up. Even after some heralded recruiting classes, he was just not successful enough. So let’s get a dose of reality. The history of St. John’s basketball, quite frankly, is better than the future of St. John’s basketball. Whomever takes over as coach will have to deal with unrealistic expectations for the Red Storm.
Led by legends like Joe Lapchick, Frank McGuire and Lou Carnesecca, St. John's was once at the top of the college basketball world. Times have certainly changed, however, and expectations should as well.
The ‘New’ Big East does not compare at all to the ‘Old’ Big East Conference, just as the ‘New’ St. John’s does not compare to the ‘Old’ St. John’s . New York City does not produce the caliber of basketball player it once did. That hurts, for sure. When it does, said player often leaves for a better campus with better facilities that provide a different experience.
So how does St. John’s compete? Well, they need a long range plan. A plan that changes the culture and builds a program. In the past, players stayed home to play so their family could watch them play. With all the networks and all the coverage on television, any player can be seen and get exposure no matter where he decides to go. So you need to bring in a coach that does not just sell recruits on MSG or exposure or NYC. Quite simply, to get the 5-star recruits you need to sell them on something they truly care about: themselves.
Here is the message: “I will help you become a pro player and in turn, you will help us win.” The new coach must also focus on bringing in players that will stay for the duration. Limit the one and done player. St. John's needs to focus on sustained success and look at foundation players as well. Easier said then done, I know.
There are a number of openings around the country, at Texas, Alabama and DePaul. St. John's is not the only program looking for new direction. With that being said, we need to look at what the real expectations are for the Red Storm. They do not have great facilities. They have had marginal success. They have not been able to capture the imagination of this city for quite some time. The landscape of college basketball continues to change and evolve. With all that being noted, the Red Storm supporter needs to adjust as well.
This is not 1985. St. John's is a good job, not a great job. The new coach that now takes this job must not only build a program, but he must also deal with a fanbase that has expectations from 30 years ago.