- Kieran Darcy, ESPN Staff Writer
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Steve Lavin was asked about St. John's recent struggles on the weekly Big East coaches conference call on Thursday. The Red Storm have lost three in a row and five of six, capped off by a very disappointing 64-49 loss at South Florida on Wednesday night.
"We are in the midst of a tough stretch -- a combination of road games and ranked teams, and last night was another example of just not being able to sustain the level of intensity and execution," Lavin said. "And some of that's due to our youth, and the fact we have a short bench.
"We just need to redouble the efforts, mindful that we have a young team."
Lavin, who has not coached the team in a game since mid-November as he continues to recuperate from prostate cancer surgery, gave no indication that he will return to the bench any time soon.
"It's the most difficult experience I've had in my coaching career," said Lavin of being away from the squad this season. "And yet what helps in dealing with that frustration is knowing that we have a first-rate staff that's uniquely positioned to help a team through a difficult situation like this, starting with Coach [Mike] Dunlap.
Lavin did bring up St. John's two Big East wins so far this season -- a blowout victory over Providence at Carnesecca Arena, and a two-point win at Cincinnati.
"That’s something that gives you a reference point for hope," Lavin said.
St. John's returns to action against Villanova on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.