Clumsy Process Leads To Clumsy Hiring: St. John's Names Steve Lavin Head Coach

Leslie MonteiroSenior Analyst IMarch 31, 2010

St. John's thought big when it came to their coaching search.

The university wanted a name that would sell tickets and put eyeballs on the TV sets.

The process started with Florida's Billy Donovan. After Donovan rejected the offer, the school targeted Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt.

Hewitt almost took the job—until his family convinced him not to move to New York. They love the lifestyle in Atlanta.

It was hard to criticize St. John's for its approach. The school would be foolish not to even try to get either of them to coach on the world's biggest stage.

It's not like New York is Siberia.

If cynics are going to criticize them at all, call St. John's out for not having a proper plan in case those two rejected the offer, because that was the case when the university hired Steve Lavin yesterday.

It seemed like St. John's wanted to hire a celebrity rather than a coach who wins at a mid-major school. The university did not want to hire an assistant or coach from an obscure program.

It's clear the school did not put much thought process into selecting candidates past looking at their names.

This hiring simply does not make sense. Lavin has not coached in seven years. Just because he was doing games on TV doesn't mean he is familiar with what goes on in the college game.

St. John's will talk about his success at UCLA, but here's the problem with that.

UCLA fans and the Los Angeles media constantly criticized Lavin for his poor coaching skills and inability to have his team prepared. He was considered lazy at his job.

John Wooden did not endorse the job Lavin had done at UCLA. This should be a red flag.

He recruited well at UCLA, but then again, it's not hard to recruit anyone to go to a program with UCLA's prestige.

Lavin was not prepared for the job over there. He was hired in a tough situation, taking over after the recruiting scandal by then-UCLA coach Jim Harrick, who was fired at the time.

Lavin probably should have never been hired in the first place.

He should be better off from this experience, but one has to wonder why not many teams called for his services after his firing at UCLA.

It shouldn't take that long for him to get offers. We saw many failed coaches getting jobs at other universities.

Here's another reason to nitpick about this hire: He is not familiar with recruiting in the New York area. He has been known as a West Coast guy.

Recruiting players in New York has not been easy. Norm Roberts and Bobby Gonzalez found out the hard way—and that's why they are now unemployed as coaches.

Lavin needs to hire several assistant coaches to help him out and let them do their job. Getting those guys is going to be tough.

The new head coach wants Manhattan head coach Barry Rohrssen as his lead assistant and recruiter, but that's not happening.

Rohrssen wants to be a head coach despite his struggles at Manhattan. He's not one to go quit his job. No coach with dignity would do that.

Fred Hill would be fantastic, but despite his lame-duck status at Rutgers, he is not bailing out on them.

It will be interesting to see who Lavin hires. Good luck to him in getting that guy. That will determine whether he gets his players to stay at home and his success with the team in the long term.

St. John's interviewed Al Skinner. For whatever reason, the school did not like what it heard.

It's unfortunate. He would have been a better hire than Lavin. Better yet, Seton Hall should have hired Skinner over Kevin Willard.

Skinner fits what St. John's want. He knows how to win and how to recruit NYC kids.

Skinner achieved success at Boston College. That's remarkable when one looks at the tough conference his teams won in (the Big East and the ACC).

The former Boston College coach also knew to recruit kids from NYC to Boston. Anytime a coach can get AAU coaches to listen to him, he's won half the battle in recruiting.

ESPN 1050's blowhard host Brandon Tierney talked about how Skinner lacks pizazz. Is he kidding?

A coach does not need personality to win games. What he needs is competence to get kids to believe in him.

It's about substance, not style, and Skinner brings that.

Who knows how Lavin does here? It will be not be easy.

He spoke what everyone wanted to hear. That's all well and good, but Lavin's success will come when it comes to what players he will bring to St John's.

This was an interesting hire. It's surprising that Lavin was hired let alone considered.

It's hard to be excited about this.

It could be worse though. Mark Jackson could be speaking in the press conference yesterday.