Lavin, St. John's players are psyched

The anticipation for Steve Lavin's first season as head coach of St. John's continues to build, as the school hosted its annual basketball media day on campus Tuesday afternoon.

Lavin and all his new players were made available to speak with reporters, and everyone sounded very excited for the upcoming season, which begins at 2 a.m. ET on Nov. 16, when the Red Storm play at St. Mary's (Calif.) as part of ESPN's 24-hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.

"Well, it's been a couple weeks now practicing with the team, and we're encouraged by the progress," Lavin said in his opening remarks on Tuesday. "And yet, at the same time, we balance that with understanding that we have a really difficult schedule -- the most difficult schedule in terms of my career."

Besides the grueling 18-game Big East slate and the season opener at St. Mary's, St. John's also travels to Alaska for the Great Alaska Shootout over Thanksgiving weekend, hosts defending national champ Duke in January, and plays at UCLA (Lavin's former team) in February.

"As far as getting accustomed to how [the new coaches] want us to play. I think we've been working really hard," said senior point guard Malik Boothe, who started all 32 games last year. "We're ready for a special season."

St. John's will play one exhibition game prior to the start of the regular season -- Saturday night versus Westmont College at Carnesecca Arena. Tipoff is 7 p.m., and ESPNNewYork.com will be there.

Also, keep an eye out for ESPNNewYork.com's three-part St. John's season preview, which will be published on the website next week.