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St. John’s without head coach Steve Lavin for tonight’s game at No. 12 Louisville

Feb 14, 2013, 9:15 AM EDT

Steve Lavin, D'Angelo Harrison AP

St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin will not be on the sidelines tonight when the Red Storm visit No. 12 Louisville, as he’s with family in northern California making funeral arrangements following the passing of his father, Cap.

Assistant coach Rico Hines, who led the Red Storm on Sunday at No. 6 Syracuse, takes the reins for the second consecutive game and faces the arduous task of not only matching coaching wits with Rick Pitino but getting a young St. John’s team over the hump in what has been a draining six-week stretch.

After winning five straight games the Red Storm have lost two of their last three, with a win over Connecticut sandwiched in between losses at Georgetown and Syracuse. Following tonight’s game St. John’s doesn’t play another game until February 20 against South Florida, which will give this young group much-needed time to not only recuperate physically but also mentally.

Louisville is five days removed from their quintuple-overtime loss at No. 21 Notre Dame, and given their ability to force turnovers St. John’s will need to take better care of the basketball than they did at Syracuse on Sunday (16 turnovers). With players such as D’Angelo Harrison and Jakarr Sampson the Red Storm are skilled enough to rebound, but the question is whether or not they have enough left in the tank emotionally to do so.

St. John’s released the following statement from Lavin on Tuesday:

“We are grateful for the heartfelt encouragement, prayers and support received since our father’s passing. 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’.”

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

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