Steve Lavin not at St. John's festivities

NEW YORK -- St. John's basketball coach Steve Lavin, who underwent prostate cancer surgery on Oct. 6, did not attend the team's season-opening Red Storm Tip-Off event Friday night.

"He's well, he's getting better each and every day," said St. John's assistant coach Rico Hines, who spoke in Lavin's place following Midnight Madness. "We want him to rest as long as possible, (and) we're gonna hold down the fort for him."

Earlier this week, the school had promoted that Lavin would be in attendance and address the crowd. But Friday afternoon, St. John's announced via Twitter that Lavin would not be present as he continues his recovery.

The school said Lavin was resting at home in Manhattan on Friday night.

"Last week's surgery was a success," Lavin said in a statement released by St. John's. "Now my return to coaching duties will be dictated by the healing process. I'm under the expert care of Dr. Scardino at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and we are working closely to measure the daily progress being made during this vital recovery period.

"Naturally, I wish I was at Carnesecca Arena tonight to participate in the Tip-Off festivities with our team, and celebrate the start of the college basketball season with our loyal fans! Please know our players and staff appreciate your support. I will be watching from home with great pride! Go Johnnies!"

Lavin, 47, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in fall 2010, right before his first season at St. John's. Until last month, he and his doctors had chosen to closely monitor his condition without undergoing further treatment. But in late September, Lavin revealed that he would begin more aggressive treatment, either via surgery or radiation treatments. In the end, he elected to have surgery.

Following the surgery, the school announced that the procedure went as planned, there were no complications and Lavin is expected to return to full-time coaching duties after a recovery period.

"If I knew (when Lavin will return), I would tell you. ... He's gonna play it by ear," Hines said Friday night. "As he gets to feeling better, then we'll start putting more stuff on his plate."

Kieran Darcy is a reporter and columnist for ESPNNewYork.com.