April 22, 2010
QUEENS, N.Y. - St. John's fans will get the chance to see newly-appointed men's basketball coach Steve Lavin on the pitcher's mound in Queens before his Red Storm squad hits the hardwood next season. Lavin, named the 19th head basketball mentor in St. John's history in March, has been invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field on Monday, April 26, as the New York Mets face the Los Angeles Dodgers at 7:10 p.m. (SNY-TV). New York baseball and basketball fans can purchase tickets to the game by visiting www.nymets.com.
"New York's baseball and basketball tradition have always gone hand-in-hand. It is an honor to be invited to throw out the first pitch for one of my new hometown teams, as they take on one of my old hometown teams," said Lavin, the former UCLA coach and a native of San Francisco, Calif., who grew up an avid Giants fan and worked as a Candlestick Park usher during his college summers. "Also, I will be sure to consult with accomplished St. John's baseball coach Ed Blankmeyer on my pitching form, to make sure I represent the University well."
Two of the major New York City sports programs that call Queens "home," St. John's and the Mets share a special relationship. On March 29, 2009, the St. John's baseball team took on BIG EAST foe Georgetown in the first-ever game played at Citi Field, then the brand-new home of the Mets. A crowd of 22,397 attended the game, the seventh-largest all-time regular season crowd for an NCAA baseball contest. St. John's alum and former Mets reliever John Franco threw out the ceremonial first pitch, taking the mound in a Mets jacket before revealing a St. John's jersey. St. John's volleyball coach Joanne Persico sang the national anthem and Red Storm center fielder Brian Kemp stepped to the plate for the first at-bat in Citi Field history.
Lavin's coaching career was forged over 15 years in head and assistant roles at both UCLA and Purdue University. As the head coach at UCLA from the 1996-97 to 2002-03 seasons, Lavin amassed a career record of 145-78 (.650). He guided UCLA to six consecutive seasons of 21 wins or more, and to six consecutive NCAA tournaments (1996-2002). During Lavin's tenure as the head coach at UCLA, he was one of only two coaches in the country, along with Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, to lead his team to five NCAA regional semifinal games (Sweet 16s) in six years (`02, '01, '00, '98, '97).
One of the storied programs in the history of men's collegiate basketball, St. John's concluded the 2009-10 season as the seventh all-time winningest program in the NCAA Division I record book with 1,703 wins and 884 losses. The school's .658 winning percentage ranks ninth all-time in NCAA history, while St. John's 26 all-time NCAA Tournament appearances are tied for 20th. The program's 26 NIT appearances and five titles are also unprecedented. Helms Foundation national champions following the 1910-11 season, St. John's appeared in NCAA Final Fours in 1952 and 1985. The program boasts 11 consensus All-Americans, 59 NBA Draft choices and 45 players that have scored 1,000 career points or more.
The 2010-11 Red Storm squad returns five starters, 13 letterwinners and 94 percent of its scoring from a 2009-10 team that posted a 17-16 record. Fans can be a part of the 2010-11 St. John's hardwood campaign by visiting www.redstormsports.com and clicking on the "Tickets" link to reserve men's basketball season tickets.