Steve Lavin out after father's death

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Steve Lavin did not coach St. John's on Sunday in its 77-58 loss to No. 9 Syracuse following the death of his father.

Lavin was en route to San Francisco to be with his family. Assistant coach Rico Hines coached the team in his place.

Hines met with Lavin on Sunday morning, before Lavin headed to the airport.

"Obviously he was emotional. I could hear it in him," Hines said. "I wanted to give him space and just say, 'I'm here for you.' "

Albert "Cap" Lavin, 82, played basketball for the University of San Francisco in the 1950s, and is in the school's Hall of Fame.

His health had been deteriorating in recent weeks. Lavin flew home to San Francisco just last weekend, immediately following St. John's loss at Georgetown, to spend a couple days with him.

"We are grateful for the heartfelt encouragement, prayers and support received since our father's passing," Lavin said in a statement on Tuesday. "The thoughtful sentiments and caring messages we received via text, Twitter, e-mail and voicemail from friends, current players, former players, colleagues and college basketball fans have helped to give our family an emotional lift during a challenging time in our lives. Moving forward, it will now be the inspiring memories of my father that will serve as a catalyst to pursue better ways to navigate the 'bittersweet miracle that is life.' "

The St. John's players spent some time with Lavin's father in December, when St. John's played at San Francisco.

"They were sad. They were really sad," said Hines, when asked how the players took the news. "Because Cap was one of those guys that watched every game or listened to it on the radio, and those guys knew that. ... They all said they'd say a prayer for him, and we'll try to play as hard as we can."

Hines was in charge Sunday for the very first time -- he has never been a head coach before, at any level.

"It's a unique situation. I wish it didn't have to come like this," Hines said prior to the game. "We're just gonna go out and try to execute the game plan like we always do."

When Lavin will return to the team is still to be determined, according to a school spokesman.