Sports Beat: Is Lavin’s Job in Jeopardy?

The return of the St. John’s University men’s basketball team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 should have been cause for rejoicing. The mood however was anything but ebullient on Sunday.
The Red Storm won over 20 games this year including a big one over Georgetown two weeks ago at Madison Square Garden. Just when it looked like the Johnnies were putting it all together at the right time, they were soundly beaten at Villanova in the Big East regular season finale.
The Storm then proceeded to be humiliated last Thursday in the first round of the Big East Tournament when they were blown out by the University of Providence Friars. That marked the fourth straight year that St. John’s had been eliminated in their opening game of the Big East Tournament which of course is played at Madison Square Garden, which along with Carnesecca Arena, is a home court for them.
The latest post-season fiasco for the Red Storm certainly did not please Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman. “I am supposed to be neutral, of course, but I have to admit that I am not happy with St. John’s,” she told me last Friday after the annual Big East conference about academia and athletics that was held in midtown Manhattan.
From an economic viewpoint, Ackerman would have been completely disingenuous has she responded any other way. New York is the nation’s biggest market and a strong Red Storm team means more attention for the Big East and bigger bucks when the next television contract is negotiated.
There were loud whispers that Red Storm head coach, Steve Lavin, who is heading into the last year of his contract, could be dismissed if St. John’s does not make it into the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Steve did not help his cause when he suspended team center Chris Obepka for a mysterious violation of team rules on Sunday. It’s not an official Red Storm season until a player gets suspended. Red Storm fans will recall how Lavin suspended current players D’Angelo Harrison and Rysheed Jordan in past years for reasons that still remain unknown.
Of course if the Red Storm can get by the San Diego State Aztecs  Fridaynight in Charlotte (the game will be televised in prime time on CBS) then all of this Sturm und Drang will be happily forgotten.
Cardozo High School wasn’t able to repeat as PSAL boys basketball champs this year as they lost to Wings Academy 50-46 at the Garden on Saturday. Considering that Wings had 6’11” Queens Village resident Jessie Govan playing for them, it’s a tribute to Cardozo that they kept things as close as they did. Govan will be at Georgetown in the fall where he’ll follow in the footsteps of Hoya centers Patrick Ewing and Roy Hibbert.
The Atlantic-10 Conference consists of smaller colleges than those that comprise say the Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 and the Southeast Conference. For the third straight year, the A-10 went head to head with the Big East in New York City. As the Big East Tourney was unfolding at Madison Square Garden, the A-10 was occurring at the Barclays Center.
The St. John’s Red Storm could have learned a few things about pride watching the Fordham Rams. While Fordham has former Christ the King star shooting guard Jon Severe they do not possess anything remotely close to St. John’s talent. Last Wednesday night Fordham beat George Mason University to advance in the A-10 Tournament. Their reward was to play the very next afternoon against a fresh Virginia Commonwealth University team who would go onto to win the championship on Sunday. Fordham was a heavy underdog but they certainly gave VCU all they could handle as they lost 63-57.
The A-10 was a fun tournament to watch as most of the games went down to the wire. From an economic standpoint it was great for New York City tourism. It seemed as if the entire city of Richmond showed up in downtown Brooklyn on Friday to watch its two teams, VCU and the University of Richmond, battle it out.
In last week’s USA Today Sports Weekly talented writer Howard Megdal profiled former Knicks great Patrick Ewing. The emphasis of his piece was on why he hasn’t been able to land a head coaching position with an NBA team despite years of dues-paying as an assistant coach. These days some of them most important duties for a head coach are talking to the media and shaking hands with big shot advertisers and season ticket holders. The understandable perception is that public relations is not exactly Ewing’s strong suit. He was not known for his amicability when he was a star player in both college and the NBA.
I have frequently written that the only thing that matters in spring training is avoiding injury. The Mets, who have a paucity of left-handed relief pitchers, announced last week that Josh Edgin would undergo Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm and would be lost for the season. Starting pitcher Zach Wheeler has been experiencing arm pain as well although the Mets are minimizing their concerns for now anyways.
Congratulations to the New York City Football Club for winning its maiden home game last Sunday at Yankee Stadium as they defeated a perennial Major League Soccer powerhouse, the New England Revolution 2-0. MLS Commissioner and Bayside High alum Don Garber has to be thrilled about that.
Lemonade has been an American staple beverage for generations but Long Island City entrepreneur Charmaine DaCosta feels that it’s time for the lemon’s less heralded citrus rival to get some attention as a liquid refreshment. Her new company, Limation (, has three flavors of bottled limeade: original, passion fruit, and lavender. Limeade is chock full of Vitamin C and anti-oxidants. It should be noted that it is not a low calorie drink as it contains pure can sugar. The flip side of that is that provides energy after a workout.
Panasonic is best known for its televisions and audio products but the company has also made a major investment in leather massage chairs, the kind that nearly all of us have enjoyed trying out in Brookstone of in those old Sharper Image stores in a mall. The company displayed its latest high-tech massage chairs to the press at the annual Rand Luxury Technology Show in Manhattan last week.

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