St. John's president, AD back Lavin

Steve Lavin coached the Red Storm to a 17-15 regular season record in his third year at St. John's. AP Photo/Michael Perez

St. John's president Rev. Donald Harrington and athletic director Chris Monasch delivered votes of confidence regarding their men's basketball coach, Steve Lavin, on Wednesday.

Harrington and Monasch both attended the news conference regarding the new Big East conference, and spoke with ESPNNewYork.com afterward.

"I'm very excited," Harrington said, when asked about the St. John's basketball program. "As I look at it, Coach Lavin has been with us three years -- last year he really was not able to coach for most of the time (due to prostate cancer). So we're in the postseason the two years he's been with us -- once in the NCAA, once in the NIT. Last night was an exciting win for a very young team, as we keep saying. So I am very, very optimistic and very pleased with what Steve and his staff are doing."

St. John's defeated Saint Joseph's in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, on a buzzer-beater by Sir'Dominic Pointer, in the first round of the NIT.

"Very excited about our future," Monasch said. "We've now gone to an NCAA tournament and an NIT in (Lavin's) three years. And this is really the second year of the rebuilding ... with a senior-laden class in his first year. But the achievement level of this team, with so many freshmen and sophomores, certainly bodes well for the future."

The Red Storm (17-15, 8-10) were in the mix for an NCAA tournament bid this season until losing their final five games leading up to Selection Sunday. Leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison did not play in the last four, after Lavin made the bold move of suspending Harrison for the rest of the season, for conduct detrimental to the team.

St. John's wound up in the NIT, as a No. 5 seed, and will next play at No. 1 seed Virginia either this coming Sunday or Monday -- the date and time have yet to be made official.

Next year the Red Storm will begin play in the new Big East, along with the six other members of the "Catholic 7," plus new additions Butler, Xavier and Creighton.

"I'm delighted," Harrington said, of the new conference. "I think St. John's is gonna be able to take the place we have to take in order to help this new conference truly excel. Because the New York anchor is important. And we just have to step up and do everything we can to make that work. And we're committed to do that."