For St. John’s Red Storm coach Steve Lavin, it’s not just about winning, it is about overcoming every obstacle and teaching along the way. Just within the last year, Lavin has lost his best assistant coach to the NBA, dealt with losing his best player to the pros, and beat the living Sam Cadoodlebecks out of cancer. But not a single one of those things has kept the Johnnies coach from continuing his objective of making the Red Storm a national player again.
The latest issue to try to square off against Lavin is the illness of his father, Cappy Lavin. The father of the Red Storm coach is a San Francisco Bay Area legend. Cap is an author of 16 books, founder of the Bay Area writing project at UC-Berkley, and a member of the University of San Francisco Hall of Fame. He, like his son, is a cancer survivor who also escaped death via a heart attack. But now he has fallen ill and his son is trying to continue with his every day life despite his father’s illness.
Clearly the two life aficionados have a strong bond with one another. Here is Steve Lavin talking about his father:
“There have been times when I’ve spoken to my father and he’s questioned if he was a good father to me and brothers and sisters, or if he had a positive impact on others and I’ve thought to myself, ‘Are you kidding me?!’’
“I think about my father’s passions — being a husband and father, teaching, a burning desire to learn to question, a compassion for all people, art, basketball — and it makes sense why I went into coaching.’’
Lavin credits his father for the reason he went into coaching. Life lessons that he wanted to teach his players. Last night, Lavin got his chance. Early in the second half D’Angelo Harrison, the Johnnies’ best player, committed a turnover.
Being the biggest game of the Red Storm season, most coaches would have let Harrison continue to play, but Lavin saw it as a teaching moment. Harrison went to the pine for much of the second half, and despite the Connecticut Huskies cutting into the lead, Lavin did not bend and left him there for nearly eight minutes.
Harrison, who sat on the bench with a look of disappointment, was subbed back into the game and nailed a couple of clutch shots that helped the Red Storm hold off UConn.
Whether or not Harrison learned any life lessons are yet to be seen. Regardless, Lavin put a teaching moment for a student-athlete over the outcome of a very important basketball game. I don’t think another coach in the country would do so. I also don’t think there is another coach in the country who has overcome as much, did it with as much class and style, as Steve Lavin.
Joe covers the Big East for Rant Sports. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone