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SportsColumnistsSteven Marcus

Marcus: Let's see; who WON'T the new St. John's coach be?

Who will be the next basketball coach at St. John's? It might be easier to identify whom it will not be.

1. Billy Donovan? The former Long Islander was thought to be the consensus choice, so why hasn't St. John's asked Florida for permission to speak with him? Has Donovan, as a friend suggested, sent word that he is not interested?

2. Rick Pitino? He was never in the running, but he's more likely headed to the NBA than another college job.

3. Paul Hewitt? The Georgia Tech coach, considered the No. 1 choice for the Red Storm before Norm Roberts was hired six years ago, remains at Georgia Tech with a contract extension. Somebody will have to pay a huge buyout to get him here.

4. Hofstra coach Tom Pecora? He was seen as a long shot when Roberts was let go. Now he's starting to look more formidable. But he might be headed for Fordham by the time St. John's realizes there isn't a candidate to match his local recruiting savvy, albeit without the national name recognition. And Pecora doesn't have an NCAA appearance under his belt - a qualification listed by St. John's. Perhaps it should reconsider.

5. Cornell's Steve Donahue? He suddenly has appeared on the radar with his Sweet 16 run in the NCAAs. That likely will come to an end this week against top-seeded Kentucky. But Donahue has no significant track record of recruiting scholarship athletes (the Ivy League is need-based financial aid) and the New York-area basketball community terms him "a Philly guy'' with respect to his perceived lack of knowledge regarding AAU teams and recruits. Still, the 47-year-old has a squeaky-clean image and would make a good initial impression on the SJU dais. They call that winning the press conference.

6. Seth Greenberg? The former Plainview resident has done a nice job at Virginia Tech, but the buzz factor seems to be missing. Someone at St. John's correctly pointed out that the new hire has to be exciting enough to gain the attention of a high school recruit who has been or will be visited by the likes of Jim Boeheim, Jay Wright and Jim Calhoun. And that's just from the Big East.

Lou Carnesecca provided some comic relief by saying "don't you dare!'' when asked if he is interested in taking his sweater out of mothballs and making a comeback at 85.

By the way, Carnesecca said that what has been described as his long-running feud with John Calipari had nothing to do with St. John's not going after the then-Memphis coach before Roberts' hiring. Kentucky's Calipari has not been mentioned this time around.

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