Lavin eager to leave TV, return to coaching in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Steve Lavin was eager to quit college basketball broadcasting and return to coaching, even as it meant being in the same conference as Gonzaga and St.

Lavin, who was introduced Friday to San Diego as coach, has struggled for the better part of the past 15 seasons with not-so-tough teams always at the top of the West Coast Conference.

The 57-year-old Lavin, who was an NCAA Tournament regular as coach at UCLA and St. John’s, said he told his new team that he missed out on the college campus and the camaraderie with the players and staff.

“When you’re a broadcaster, you’re undefeated,” Lavin said at a campus news conference. “It’s wonderful, being undefeated, but it’s not the same experience. It has more meaning. So, almost like an extended sabbatical, I enjoyed my time in television but I want to get back to coaching eventually because I remember it.” comes.”

Lavin was hired after an extensive interview with Toreros athletic director Bill McGillis during the Final Four in New Orleans. The two flew to San Diego together on Wednesday night after the school announced the hiring.

McGillis said that USD players, who sat in the first two rows at the news conference, “are interested in competing at a championship level and I wanted to find a head coach who could bring the attributes to make that happen. Got a great head coach, a great leader who can help shape this program for the next decade.”

McGillis would not disclose the length of Lavin’s contract.

Lavin replaces Sam Scholl, who was fired on March 6 after Toreros’ 15-16 lead, his third consecutive defeat in his four-year tenure. San Diego has had just four winning seasons and one NCAA Tournament appearance — plus a point-shaving scandal — under three coaches since Brad Holland was fired in 2006–07 after going 18–14.

Holland, who played for four years at UCLA and then in the NBA, was USD 200–176 in 13 seasons. He was fired in part because the athletic administration wanted to be back like Gonzaga and went on to hire Zags assistant Bill Grier. USD won the conference tournament and went to the NCAA Tournament in Grier’s first season, but Grier had just one winning season in the next seven seasons.

Lamont Smith had a winning season in his three years as coach. Sholl was promoted to interim coach at the end of the 2017–18 season after Smith was placed on administrative leave following an arrest on suspicion of domestic violence. No charges were filed against Smith, who resigned.

Lavin brings out an impressive resume. He was 237–150 in 12 seasons with UCLA and St. John’s, including eight NCAA Tournaments and two NIT trips. His first team at UCLA reached the Elite 8 and the Bruins went to the Sweet 16 four times over the next five seasons. He missed the NCAA Tournament just once in seven seasons at Westwood.

John’s, he went to the NCAA twice and the NIT twice. He missed most of the 2011–12 season at St John’s after having surgery for prostate cancer.

Lavin said there is no magic formula other than working hard every day to catch Gonzaga and St.

“I have the mantra, hitting the rock with the hammer,” he said. “I have to coach this team separately from my St. John’s players and separate from my UCLA players.”

Lavin said he wanted to give the players “a fresh start, like a blank canvas because I’m a different coach than I was before. I told him today that the best way to honor Sam Scholl is to get the baton.” Carry it on.”

Lavin said the first step is to try to be among the top four teams in the WCC.

“Then you have a chance to win big. You study what the competition is doing if you’re in the top four in the league, and then we have to build our own rocket. If we’re going to do a mission to the stars, in space. Huh. “

McGillis said: “This is not a job for the faint of heart. … at the University of San Diego and there are no limits to this basketball program.

Lavin said it was hard for him to express how grateful he was, “and I don’t want to mess it up.”

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