- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Steve Lavin is making a surprise return to the St. John’s bench, one month and three days after the coach had prostate cancer surgery.

Lavin, who had the operation Oct. 6, walked out to the court Wednesday night about a minute after the Red Storm ran out for pregame warmups before playing Lehigh in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.

The students behind each basket let out a huge cheer and started chanting the second-year coach’s name.

Assistant coach Mike Dunlap has run the team in Lavin’s absence. The Red Storm won their season opener Monday, beating William & Mary 74-59.

Lavin attended practice for the first time on Tuesday but the school said then there was no definite timetable for his full-time return.

He led the Red Storm to a 21-12 record last season and their first NCAA tournament bid since 2002.