Steve Lavin has gotten off to a pretty decent recruiting start at St. John's. He's not exactly reeling in Kentucky-level talent just yet, but he is making local headway, and that's objective No. 1 for any coach looking to lift the Red Storm out of its recent doldrums.
Recruiting is all about leveraging your advantages, and Lavin has two systemically built in. (To say nothing of his high profile and winning personality, which sounds sarcastic but isn't; Lavin seems like one of the true good guys in college hoops.) Those advantages are location (New York City) and location (Madison Square Garden). There isn't much to improve on the former -- fewer sirens, I guess? -- but Lavin is looking to make the latter even more enticing to prospective players.
How? By lobbying for St. John's the use the Knicks locker room. From the New York Post:
St. John's has used an auxiliary locker room in the past. Lavin chatted up Joel Fisher, the Garden's executive VP for Sports Properties at halftime of [Sunday's] U.S. national team tuneup against France. "I want the players to know that this is a special building in college basketball history," said Lavin. "We want to take playing here to the next level."
Lavin said he would like to put down a red St. John's carpet, install players nameplates above the lockers and use lush chairs. Fisher was excited about the idea and doesn't see a scheduling conflict with the Knicks.
It's a small thing in the big scheme. "Lush" chairs and a red carpet aren't going to build a quality hoops program by themselves. But if you consider it part of the overall plan -- making St. John's basketball seem like a New York fixture instead of an also-ran lucky enough to share one of the world's most famous arenas -- then this is a pretty good way to sell it.
It also helps that New York prospects will want to hang out in the Knicks locker room. That's just cool.