- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Steve Lavin attended St. John’s basketball practice Tuesday, his first since undergoing prostate cancer surgery on Oct. 6.

Assistant coach Mike Dunlap has run the team in Lavin’s absence. The Red Storm won their season opener on Monday, beating William & Mary 74-59 in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.

The school said there is no definite timetable for his full-time return.

This is Lavin’s second season at St. John’s. He led the Red Storm to a 21-12 record and their first NCAA tournament bid since 2002.


Only one player from last season’s team returned but Lavin put together an impressive nine-man recruiting class. However, three of those players were ruled ineligible for the fall semester.

“I’m definitely feeling closer to full strength, and eager for a return to the sidelines,” Lavin said. “I’ve been pleased with the progress made by our young team. During this period of recuperating, Coach Dunlap and the staff have worked in an impressive, collaborative manner to prepare our team for the challenges ahead.”

Lavin has kept tabs on the Red Storm while he was away.

“I have been monitoring the team’s progress by watching DVDs of practices and games. I have also been in contact via iPhone, text and e-mail with our coaches, student-athletes and recruits,” he said. “Naturally we still have much to do in terms of implementing our system and style of play, but the effort from this team has been outstanding.”

St. John’s hosts Lehigh on Wednesday night. The Red Storm will play three of the top five teams in the AP’s preseason Top 25, six games against the top 10, eight against the top 20 and 11 against the top 25.