NEW YORK -- Steve Lavin is back, and his young team is off to a promising start.
After missing almost all of last season while recovering from prostate cancer, Lavin officially made his return to the sideline Tuesday afternoon. And the St. John's Red Storm won its regular-season opener against Detroit, 77-74 at Carnesecca Arena.
In his postgame news conference, Lavin was asked how he felt about his comeback. "I think so much of the way I feel is a result of your team and their energy, and feeding off of that synergy," Lavin said. "Similar to a parent -- if your children are lined in the right way and they seem well adjusted and they're contributing in a meaningful way, then you feel better as a parent. And as a coach, I feel good because this team found a way to get a gritty W."
It didn't look like that was going to happen in the first half after Detroit broke open a tie game with a 9-0 run and led 37-29 at intermission. St. John's still trailed 60-53 with under nine minutes remaining, when the Red Storm took over with a 14-2 run of their own to wrest control of the game.
Somewhat surprisingly, a St. John's team with three sophomores and two freshmen in the starting lineup was the poised group down the stretch. Detroit -- a team that made the NCAA tournament last season, with two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore in its starting five -- looked rattled, taking bad shots and turning the ball over.
"I think we showed a good, resilient spirit," Lavin said. "They could have easily gone quietly into the night -- when a veteran team like that gets a lead, you're curious how your team is gonna handle discouragement in the timeouts and on the floor and in their approach. And they found a way to stay together as a group and kind of solve some problems."
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