Four minutes remaining in a close game seems like hardly the time for a coach to soothe his players and offer casual reminders to enjoy the moment.
After watching the Red Storm play “joyless basketball” over a stretch in the second half, though, that’s the approach adopted by Steve Lavin. The first-year coach opted for the calmness and serenity and it paid off Saturday against fourth-ranked Pittsburgh.
“You’ve got this place electrified, and you’re playing with your best friends. This is fun,” Lavin said.
Of course, those words turn to mush unless you have a clutch player like leading scorer Dwight Hardy, who came up with another late, game-winning play in the 60-59 upset.
“He’s the calmest out of everybody, just sitting there smiling and tells us we’re going to win the game and to stick with it,” Hardy said of Lavin.
The No. 25 Johnnies have stuck with it after a blowout loss at Georgetown on Jan. 26. They’ve won all six Big East games since, developing a smooth half-court offense in addition to an up-tempo attack.
“One of the traits that’s beginning to develop with our team is resiliency,” Lavin said. “There’s a resolve to problem-solving and using ingenuity ... to pull out victories against tough opponents.”