When Steve Lavin takes the floor for the first time as head coach at St. John’s, he plans to have Gene Keady sitting alongside him.
In fact, Lavin intends to formally announce his mentor as '"executive assistant" as soon as next week.
“Well that’s news to me," Keady laughed. “I haven’t seen any papers or gotten a contract yet."
The fact is, Keady is coming. He’s just going to make Lavin suffer a little bit first.
Keady has a list of critical demands for Lavin, his one-time assistant: a driver, a free room at a posh hotel somewhere in New York, a "certain amount of money," and most importantly, someone who will take care of his beloved toy poodle, Queenie.
He’s not joking. Queenie is Keady’s last link to his late wife, Pat, so the dog’s care is of real importance.
Lavin said in his role Keady won’t be able to coach on the floor or recruit, but he’ll be around for games and practice preparation and as a sounding board -- Lavin’s own basketball Yoda, if you will.
Lavin also envisions eavesdropping on some great conversations between Keady, former St. John’s head coach Lou Carnesecca, and when he’s able to visit from the West Coast, Lavin’s dad, Cap, who played at the University of San Francisco in the 1950s.
“Can you imagine those stories?” Lavin said.
He chuckled at the mere thought of it.
“Oh, that will be like some old man soap opera,’’ he said.
Keady doesn’t need the job. The former Purdue coach, who will be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame next week, is quite content in his retirement. He just sold his house in Lafayette, Ind., and is building a smaller home; he’s got a nice little gig with the Big Ten Network; his other former assistant, Matt Painter, has a top-five program at Purdue right down the road.
He's also got places to go. On Wednesday, he was floating somewhere between Greenland and Halifax, enjoying a cruise with some friends.
But he’ll chuck all that and move to Manhattan for six months -- from October to April -- for one reason.
“If I can work with Steve Lavin, I’ll probably do it,’’ Keady said. “He’s pretty special to me. If I could repay him for helping me, that would be great. It’s a great opportunity to do something really special.’’