Foul Play

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I went yesterday afternoon to meet with my accountant Sol to go over the final figures for the 2015 tax year and to sign the various forms and checks and the fucking I got from New York State and the Internal Revenue Service was less vigorous than the one Saint John’s got Wednesday night on their alleged home court Madison Square Garden in a 101-93 first round BE tournament loss. Let’s skip the jokes and trenchant commentary and go directly to the box score:

FG percentage was even, 54 vs 55.

3 point percentage was even, 50 vs 50.

Rebounds were even, 28 vs 27.

Turnovers were about even, 17 vs 14.

What wasn’t even? Free throws. Marquette took 43 and Saint John’s 23. And that was the difference in the game. Marquette scored 20 points in the last seven minutes, on two field goals. Things were so egregious that the usually go-along get-along Gus Johnson described the officiating as “terrible” and wondered how Saint John’s was going to be able to play defense if they could not use their hands. Official lickspittle of the Big East Bill Raftery thought the refs did a swell job, but he hasn’t disagreed with a call since Nero was given a flagrant one for kicking his pregnant sister in the stomach. As for me, I flashed back to the rigorous rogerings Lou used to get regularly in the post season, and seeing that floor slapping dope Wojowhatever on the side line didn’t help … Speaking of Wojo, he’s so pinguid that his upper lip was beaded with sweat during the pregame interview and by the first TV time out his shirt was festooned with half-moons of perspiration that would have made Al Bundy blush. Hey stupid, it’s called antiperspirant, try it … Oh well. It’s not like they were going to make a run and there is some solace in the fact that they played hard when they could have rolled over. Wait till next year bums

PLAYERS: I figured yesterday afternoon that SJ would get the snot kicked out them yesterday night and so after meeting with Sol wrote some end of season stuff that I figured to post instead of the normal PLAYERS section I usually include. That follows. I did though want to note that Chris Jones had a spectacular 29 points and 7 rebounds and to shout out a hearty fuck you to one particular poster who spent much of the early season maintaining that Jones did not have the makings of a BE player. Seems that dope was wrong, once again. A person has to work pretty hard to know so little about so much. That or maybe he’s just very very stupid.

Final season grades, on a curve. A is outstanding, C is average, F blows.

Yawke: B Somebody had to get a good grade. For most of the season he held his own against guys bigger stronger and older than him – once again, he should still be in high school. Needs to develop a midrange jump shot and do some curls. The sky – which incidentally he can touch from a standing leap – is the limit.

Jones: C + Almost a B minus, just because no one expected anything of him. One rebound shy of four double doubles. Has only two moves, a jab step step-back jumper and a spin thing in the lane but seemingly they’re hard to defend. Not a world beater but hopefully he comes back for his senior year. This is a program that needs some continuity.

Johnson C+. By far the best offensive player on an offensively  challenged team. Got better as the year went on and the rust wore off. If he were white the Red and White Club would have been slobbering over his play instead of drooling on their sweaters. Not being white, he became their bete noire.

Sima C. He was probably a C + before his injury and a C minus afterwards, so I rounded. Not the defensive force or rebounder he seems he should be and his shot selection is atrocious and the shots themselves dangerous to anyone in the vicinity. Still, you can’t teach 6’11” and he’s only 19.

Ellison C. Was awful the first half of the season and merely atrocious the second half. Too confident for his own good. Hopefully over time his skills grow into his opinion of his skills. Has to learn to shoot, doesn’t defend anyone, and loafs back on defense after his frequent turnovers. OTOH nice size, good body, and a basketball pedigree. He is the advertisement for the old saw that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.

Mvouika C Was ill suited for the role he was thrust into, that of a Division One basketball player. Probably would have been a nice bench player on a good team – he shot nearly 40 percent from 3 and is a very good rebounder when he wants to be – although he wouldn’t have been on a good team. On the other hand he’s an awful defender and whines constantly. The faster he fades into the mists of my memory the better. Au revoir.

Alibegovic C-. Makes a great play one minute and an absurd one the next. Unfortunately there are more of the latter minutes than the former. If he’s going to be a stretch four he needs to learn to make threes and even if he’s not he needs to learn to rebound, there’s no point to being 6’10” otherwise. If the Freudenberg kid is any good I don’t see where his minutes come from next year as they seem to be the same player. His toadstool hairdo is one of the stupidest to ever adorn a SJU player, which is saying a lot. Still on schedule to graduate as the best white player at SJU since Bob Werdan.

Mussini C- The latest great white hope – one delusional racist called him the best shooter SJU had seen since Chris Mullin – went from a legend in November to an afterthought in February. He’s as tall as Frankie Alagia, as quick as Billy Singleton, jumps as high as Sean Muto and shoots threes as well as Avery Patterson. Doctor Frankenstein couldn’t work with those parts. He is though a freshman and he-a seems-a like-a he’s a nice-a boy. A good FT shooter, gets to the basket and has sneaky fast hands in the passing lane. Hopefully he works hard on his game in the off season and grows half a foot

Balamou C –. Tough call here as Felix got screwed out of a  year by Lavin, who only recruited him because he was Obekpa’s buddy anyway. Unfortunately for Felix I am not much of a sentimentalist. Got to the basket really well and threw some nice passes inside. Unfortunately he did everything else poorly and had the ugliest jump shot in Division One. Like Mvouika he was an appalling defender and a whiny little bitch and like Lavin’s other leftovers it’s a shame he got no floor time over the past several years because he seems like he could have developed into a nice player if his opportunist of a coach had given the opportunity.

Mullin C. Some would argue that this year was an incomplete but he did in fact coach and this was nothing more than an average coaching debut. I do agree that you can’t judge anything by the results he achieved this year. You could have sewn Pete Carill’s head onto John Wooden’s body and attached Schrewshrinksy’s whiskers and tail and nothing would have changed. It seemed to me mostly like Chris Mullin spent much of the year waiting around for players to arrive who were good enough at basketball to learn basketball from Chris Mullin. If scouting reports are to be believed, they are on the way. As to the rest of it, where he sat, and whether he crossed his legs and how much he talked or didn’t talk in the huddle, most of that came from rubes still enamored with dopey Steve Lavin and I have no time for the idiotic opinions of imbeciles like that. Chris Mullin has never failed at basketball before and it seems to me that he did not return to Saint John’s to start now. In his short tenure he has assembled a killer staff and a couple of good recruiting classes. Next year the basketball begins. As jaded as I am – and I am at this point so cynical that I don’t even trust my own skepticism – I remain pretty not pessimistic about things moving forward.

NOTES: Since this is the last of these till next year and maybe forever I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to once again call Steve Lavin a repulsive unctuous fuckhead. Because that never gets old. Last night Lavin, who last year described himself as “a poor conference tournament coach” after going 1-5 at Saint John’s in five years, sat at half court explaining what the coaches who did not get fired for being miserable cretinous failures would have to do to succeed where he repeatedly had not. A more self-aware individual would have felt chagrin or shame, but walking bobble head that he is Lavin sat there with a stupid self-satisfied grin balanced above his multiple pasta chins. So for the final time this year, a hearty fuck you to Steve Lavin, one of the worst human beings who ever lived … So yeah, that’s that: another losing basketball season closer to death. This is now my third or fourth year of writing these dopey things and looking back no, I don’t think at all that I’ve been wasting my time. I mean sure, I could have been applying my genius to curing cancer or working to effect world peace but where’s the satisfaction in that. There is none, because no one deserves anything, much less everything. Quite the contrary: my sincerest hope is that you all win the Powerball, just seconds before a nuclear war eradicates every vestige of life on earth just ahead of its destruction by an asteroid. LOL, just kidding, not all life, I hope the bugs survive. Because let’s face it: we are you and I meaningless carbon based life forms on a small rock hurtling through an infinite and uncaring universe, whose petty hopes and desires are a cosmic joke created by a god who doesn’t exist. So I cannot help but think that my time was just as well spent as anything else chronicling the pathetic doings of a sad sack basketball program that has not won anything ever, for a small group of readers, most of whom either didn’t understand what I was saying, or didn’t care, and maybe a couple who got the joke, and not just because I managed to remain pretty much shit faced the whole time. That in fact seems to me to be a life pretty well and fully lived. So thanks for reading and see you next year. Unless one of us has the good fortune to die.

 

Ma Newer

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My fellow Americans: our long national nightmare is over. Saint John’s lost their final regular season game 90-76 to Ed Cooley’s diseased head Saturday afternoon to bring the regular season to a merciful end. One more loss to Marquette remains and then we can get on to important business like the Kentucky Derby, which looms only eight Saturdays away …. Not much point to rehashing this. Saint John’s was down the as usual 20 or so at the break after as usual some guy no one has ever heard of had a career first half – I checked: his name is Jalen Lindsey and at one point he had 18 points while the entire Saint John’s team had 16, this on his way to a career high 30. Saint John’s made a brief run in the second half but was thwarted when the refs called three quick fouls in about seven seconds after it got within 13. The rest of it was only of interest to the dopes who took the 10 … By the numbers things were not as lopsided as the score would lead you to believe. Providence shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three, whereas Saint John’s shot 48 and 43. Saint John’s had more FG attempts (64-62), rebounds were even (34 each), turnovers about the same (14-10). The big difference was 3 pointers – PU took 30 and although it looked like they never missed they made only 13. And of course there was the free throw shooting, where SJU was 8 for 17, and that was after starting out 0 for 8 … Today was senior day and usually I’m a bit sad to see the oldsters go but this year they cannot get out fast enough. It was not so much that they stank, but how they went about doing it. In fairness to them they were all cast into roles for which they were not well prepared: contributors on a Big East basketball team. That is not really their fault, but as the kids are wont to say, it is what it is.

PLAYERS: Chris Jones had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the year. Several knowledgeable fan board posters have cited this as evidence that he is not good at scoring and rebounding and should be thrown over the side next year. I disagree … Durand Johnson had 15 points in his final collegiate game. Of the seniors he is the one I would not mind seeing come back next year, and not just because of his sporty headband … Ron Mvouika (6 points, 5 assists) did not lead the team in whining, as he does usually. That honor went to Felix Balamou. On one sequence he gave up a cheap touch foul to a Providence player on an alley-oop and immediately turned to yell at Federico Mussini, who was nowhere near the play. On another he threw a temper tantrum near the foul line directed at Alibegoceith, who was also nowhere near the play. I watched both several times and still have no idea what he was on about. Despite the screwing he took from Steve “there are more important things than winning” Lavin during his redshirt year I have no use for him and hope the door does not hit him on the way out … Speaking of Aligegowyth … Malik Ellison is an supremely confident player. It’s a shame that his skills do not match his opinion of his skills …. For those of you who have been wondering what Zendon Hamilton does, it seems pretty evident that he’s been tutoring Yankuba Sima on how to not pass out of the post. Because Sima does not see very many shots he does not like. If now Zendon can teach him to make them, we might have something here … Yawke had 7 points and 4 rebounds. I’m not going to say anything bad about him because he’s going to be a stud … Which of course brings us to the best shooter Saint John’s has seen since Chris Mullin, who was once again 0 for from three. Mussini ended the season 3 for 20 from three over his last five game and is at 30 percent for the year. For those of you scoring at home that percentage is .07 better than that achieved by the great three point shooter Anthony Glover (.29) over the course of his career and comprises  two thirds of the prowess displayed by three noted point marksman Rob Thomas (.40).  Former Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan Robert Byrd could not be reached for comment.

NOTES: I got nothing here except that Tarik Turner said “It makes it hard to put points on the board when you have empty possessions.” Which I’m not even going to dignify by pointing out how completely moronic that is. And also I’m not going to say anything about the repulsive Steve Lavin and Donny Marshall’s terrifying eyebrows gibbering and grunting like chimpanzees during the half time highlights. Because, to end the season as we began, fuck Steve Lavin.

 

DePaul’s Well That Ends

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GAME: Saint John’s lost to DePaul 85-73 Thursday night in Chicago in the battle for the BE basement, which barring a miracle they now have secured sole possession of. Congratulations team … For the first 10 minutes Saint John’s actually looked like a basketball team. They moved the ball better than they have all year and played the same sort of pretty good defense they’ve been playing for the past several weeks. Then they lost the thread and the bottom fell out. They were down 17 at half time and try as they might in the second half they just couldn’t get it under ten. When they got close someone would throw the ball into the stands or miss two free throws and DePaul would hit a three and it’d be sixteen again. On the bright side there’s still two games left to improve our CBI seeding … DePaul shot 50 percent from the floor and 22 of 27 from the FT line. Saint John’s shot 30 percent from the floor, missed 11 FTs and had 14 turnovers. That’s pretty much self explanatory. As an aside, ESPN recently changed the format of its basketball statistics page and like all changes created by gearheads on the internet it made things infinitely worse and more confusing than it used to be. Other than once again offering proof of Fun’s Theorem Number One – All new ideas are bad ideas – thanks for nothing … Interesting sequence in the second half: one of the referees moved Mullin back from the sideline near an out of bounds play by placing his hand flat on Mullin’s stomach and pushing. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that before and to put it mildly Mullin did not looked pleased. What I wrote in my notes was that Mullin “looked like he wanted to bend the guy over and fuck him” but that’s probably an exaggeration – I was making bubbles in a bottle of Bombay Sapphire by then, which isn’t good news for anyone except maybe my gastroenterologist, and is certainly not conducive to cogent commentary. He did stare at the back of the guy’s head for a while though and if the cameras weren’t on I’m pretty sure he would have pimp slapped the guy in to the next county, which is what he deserved.

PLAYERS: Mvouika had 20 points and 6 rebounds. A valued poster on the eminently readable Johnie Jungle site recently referred to Mvouika as “the worst defender to ever have donned a Saint John’s uniform” and he may well be right. But it would be interesting to see how good a defender he could be if he spent as much energy defending his man as he does complaining when he gets called for fouling the guy as he blows past him … Johnson was called for an odd technical when he screamed something as he turned to run back on defense after hitting a three. It looked like the same thing that happens half a dozen times a game. All I can figure is that whatever he said echoed throughout the arena, which was completely empty … Ellison had 12 points and 6 assists. If he’s going to continue to turn the ball over at the rate he does it would behoove him to start hustling back on defense when it happens, as opposed to loafing, which is what he does now … Yawke had 6 points and 6 rebounds, which is pretty good but seems disappointing after the effort he showed against Seton Hall … Sima had 8 points but only three rebounds and fouled out … Chris Jones (10 points 4 rebounds) was flagrantly fouled on a breakaway with SJU down 13 late in the second half. He missed both free throws and turned the ball over on the inbound leading to a DePaul basket. That’s about an 8-point swing. He also missed the first three of his career, the second one he’s taken … Balamou was one for 5 from the floor but had 7 assists … The best shooter Saint John’s has seen since Chris Mullin was 0-5 from the floor and is now 14 for 66 in his last nine games. David Duke could not be reached for comment …  Fucking Alibegovic, I go to all the trouble of learning to spell his name and all of a sudden he starts playing like a donkey.

RECAP: The repulsive Steve Lavin appeared in the studio wearing the sort of glasses bimbos wear when they want to look like intellectuals. The thing about bimbos is that they’re too stupid to realize that they’re not smart enough to fool anyone, especially once they open their mouths – unless their eyes are closed awaiting a big surprise obviously, then no one cares what they’re wearing. In the opening segment Lavin shared his opinion about storming the court – Sean Miller warned after a loss in Colorado that one of his players was going to punch someone the next time it happened – which opinion was as usual was cogent and well thought out: he said that “all it takes is one person to die” and storming would be banned. Which was so stupid that even the guy next to him was dumbfounded, he was like gee Lavs, do you really think it would really take someone actually dying for them to ban it or would maybe a maiming do. This same desk mate gave Lavin credit for recruiting both Yawke and Sima, this after earlier in the year when Lavin took credit for recruiting Mussini, who I notice he doesn’t take credit for recruiting anymore. Right after that they went to break with a highlight of Balamou making a lay up – it wasn’t hard to pick one, he only made one shot all night – and they referred to him as “your guy.” All of which means that Lavin has recruited better this year as a television announcer than he did the last two years he was an actual coach … Lavin appeared on Fatso’s show this week and rumor has it that he started weeping like a big girls’s blouse when he talked about Cap passing. Evidently he also mentioned that he had cancer – I hadn’t heard! – and made a bunch of other excuses as to why he sucks at coaching. I haven’t listened to it yet, I’m saving it, like you save that last bite of pickle so you can savor it at the end of a deluxe cheeseburger meal at a late night diner. Weeping on the radio, lulz.

 

 

I Know Nothing

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GAME: It’s a shame I quit smoking, because I always enjoyed a Camel after a vigorous fucking like the one Saint John’s received Sunday afternoon at the Madison Square, where they lost to Seton Hall 62-61. As usual I taped the game but figured things were not going well when Desi Rodriguez started trending on Twitter. And it turned out that Twitter – a communication platform that surreptitiously buries ideas with which it has philosophical disagreement – was for once not lying. Things started out poorly for SJU and Rodriguez was definitely trending: SJU was down 13-0, then 21-5, then by 18 and then by 14 at the half, by which point Rodriguez had already reached a career high in points. And then a remarkable thing happened: Saint John’s clawed back into it and what might have been one of the more memorable comebacks in recent memory was only thwarted when Isiah Whitehead was awarded two free throws for elbowing a Saint John’s player in the head during a scrum under the basket with 5 seconds left. It was a tough loss in a tough season, and although I am chagrined that in the aftermath a second scrum erupted at half court, I am not surprised that frustration turned to violence. Consider that of the points that Seton Hall scored in the last ten minutes of the half, 80 percent were free throws; they accomplished one field goal. Consider that Whitehead scored 10 points, despite being 1 for 12 from the floor: if everyone who went 1 for 12 from the floor was accorded the same deference Phil Greene would be the 3rd leading scorer in SJU history. Oh well. SJU will soon be well equipped enough that the referees won’t matter and I am comforted by a recent quote from Chris Mullin, who said that he is filing away every loss and that he fully expects to exact retribution. Kevin Willard had best gird his loins, if in fact rodents have loins …. To be honest this was not a game SJU should have won or even been in. They shot 40 percent from the floor and 20 percent from three and 10-24 from the free throw line and had 20 turnovers. That’s about 30 points give or take that they gave away … Tarik Turner – described for some reason by Tim Brando as “a Saint John’s great” at the game’s outset – was babbling about Seton Hall’s NCAA tournament chances. I’d give odds they’re out the first weekend and a fist fight erupts in the locker room afterwards. Takers?

PLAYERS: Yawke had 16 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks against an NCAA tournament front line. For those of you scoring at home, he should still be in high school … Mvouika had only 6 points but 8 rebounds, a bunch of those in a row at the beginning of the first half when SJ began its comeback … Durand Johnson had 9 points in 18 minutes but missed a crucial free throw at game’s end. To his credit it was he who allegedly tried to punch Whitehead’s nose during the handshake line. Hopefully he caught some skin … Federico Mussini – according to many knowledgeable fans the best shooter SJU has seen since Chris Mullin – had three points. At this rate it will only take him 800 more college games to move into first place on the all-time scoring list. Good luck Freddy … With Saint John’s up one with the ball with 30 seconds left putative point guard Malik Ellison bounced the ball off his own ankle out of bounds rather than call a time out. Not content with that he fouled Whitehead 40 feet from the basket to allow the game winning free throws. Fortunately freshman rarely get worse … Felix Balamou had a certifiable balls-in-your-face Sports Center dunk over some poor bastard who’s name I did not catch. Unfortunately when he wasn’t doing that he was air-balling free throws and crying to the referees … If the last play was drawn up to allow Sima to lose his dribble and then throw the ball in the general direction of the basket after the shot clock expired he had an excellent game. Otherwise not so much … Christian Jones played, as did Amar Alibegowick. The latter played worse. Much worse.

NOTES: I’ve been off the grid for a while and many thanks to those of you who’ve written inquiring after my well-being. The fact is that I was pretty bored with the whole enterprise. This year is essentially about waiting until next and unless you’re Sam Beckett there’s not a lot of fodder in waiting. Imagine walking into the DMV and seeing a line out the door and instead of resigning yourself to sitting around you tasked yourself with writing an endless series of essays about how slow the second hand was moving. Fuck that. I tried to answer most of your emails personally but even today they are still coming over the transom. In fact I got one today which I’d like to answer now.

Dear Fun. You are an excellent debater and nearly impossible to best in a fair competition based upon facts and logic. Do you have any advice for a world-be debater about to start his college career as a Blue Hen. Best, Jack Williams (not his real name.)

Dear Jack. Thanks for the kind words. To be a quality debater one must have a keen grasp of the subject matter, logic and rhetoric; the discipline to maintain a sense of perspective; and a sense of humor can’t hurt. A second approach is to stalk your opponent over the internet, post the personal details of his life in public, use a photograph of his mailbox as your avatar in a basketball forum, and casually mention that you know where his wife works, wink wink. Because it’s pretty hard to argue with logic like that. Best wishes, fun (not my real name).

… Another reader writes:

Fun, you often provide in the Notes section amusing anecdotes about the college that Saint John’s is playing but never about Saint John’s. What gives.

Dear reader, good point, an omission I’d to rectify now.

Vincent de Paul Lynch was born near Love Canal NY in 1927. In 1944 he lied about his age and joined the Navy to serve in World War II. After helping to defeat Hitler he was granted an honorable discharge and took advantage of the GI Bill to earn three Bachelor of Science Degrees, one each in biology, chemistry, and pharmacology. He went on to receive Masters and Doctorate degrees in Pharmacology and was named a professor at St. John’s University in 1958. In 1961 he was appointed Chair of the Department of Allied Sciences. Right around 1970 – about the time he founded the first degree program in toxicology in the US and with his much younger wife pregnant – Doctor Lynch was diagnosed with cancer. He took a semester sabbatical and after a number of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, returned to his teaching duties, having mentioned his health issues to no one, not even Bill Rafferty on national television every chance he got. He was named Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1972 and Chair of the SJU’s Institutional Review Board in 1974. He served in those positions until his cancer returned and killed him in 1984. He was 57. Among his other accomplishments, Dr. Lynch cofounded the Society of Forensic Toxicologists; was editor of the International Congress of Pharmacology; was editor of the Journal of Analytic Toxicology; and was a member of the Editorial Board of Research Communications in Substance Abuse. He served as Toxicological Examiner for the NYC Civil Service Commission from 1965 until his death; on the NY State Drug Abuse Control Commission, the NY State Senate Committee on Crime, the NY State Assembly Committee on Health, and the NY State Joint Legislative Committee on Drug Abuse. He served on various boards of directors, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Greater New York; Queens Children’s Hospital; the NY Metropolitan Transit Authority; the Nassau County Poison Control Center; the NYC Poison Control Center; and the NYC Department of Health. In between that he delivered hundreds of public lectures on substance abuse to students, community organizations, and law enforcement and published more than 50 scholarly articles and book chapters on subjects as diverse as inhalation therapy (you’re welcome asthma sufferers) , the effects of various toxicants, poison detection, myocardial infarction, cardiopulmonary dynamics, and serum cholesterol. All of which sounds to me like a life pretty well lived and that’s not even taking into account his greatest accomplishment: me. Because he was my father. He died 33 years ago this month, bequeathing to his son a box of musty books, the Irish gene, and a Mossberg over under 12 gauge I keep loaded by the front door to discourage bears, Jehovah Witnesses, and other unwanted guests. I mention this because there have been for several months now lies posted about Doctor Lynch in a Saint John’s basketball forum by a poster who has personal issues with your humble author. This poster lacks the rhetorical skills to defend his positions, the perspective to see that his behavior is despicable, and the sense of humor that would allow him to laugh at himself when he is shown to be ridiculous. And so instead he slanders the memory of a man dead lo these many years who dedicated his life to the university this poster allegedly loves. He thought by publishing this calumny to hurt my feelings. What he failed to consider is that I barely have feelings anymore and anyway I barely knew Doctor Lynch when he was alive: I was not a man when he died and probably am not still. Lacking perspective this poster thinks that by his alleged revelations he can diminish the contribution Dr. Lynch made to Saint John’s and to the community at large. What he fails to realize is that all he reveals are the deficiencies in his own character and all he diminishes is his own spirit . So to him, a heartfelt go fuck yourself, and get well soon … Ironically I was recently digitizing a bunch of cassette tapes I had lying around the basement before they turned to dust. One of them was an appearance by Doctor Lynch on an early morning call in show hosted by Bob Crane, aka Colonel Hogan of Stalag 13. It turns out that he and Crane had the same hobby: photography. Those of you familiar with Crane’s sordid death will know that in his case his love of photography derived from a fascination with pornography, promiscuity and voyeurism. I don’t know whether Doctor Lynch’s interest stemmed from the same perversions, but in retrospect I kind of hope so. And if it’s true that the apple does not fall far from the tree it’s nearly a certainty.

… And on that note

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seton Hell

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RECAP: A team of players who Steve Lavin thought were not good enough to play for him at Saint John’s defeated a team of players who are not good enough to play for Chris Mullin at Saint John’s 79-60 in New Jersey Wednesday night. With the latter ahead 18-10 about ten minutes in I turned to the long suffering missus fun and said “at least it looks like it’s going to be a game,” at which point Seton Hall went on a 24-8 run to close the half en route to outscoring Saint John’s by 27 the rest of the way. This was disappointing, but not as disappointing as what’s going to happen on Sunday, when Villanova comes to town. That should be a blood bath.

PLAYERS: Chris Jones led the team with 15 points and had 5 rebounds and 3 steals. That sounds like a pretty good night. It was not … Mvouika, in one of his rare displays of competency, was 3 of 4 from three … Yawke had 8 points and 10 rebounds which would have been pretty good had Angel Delgado not gone for 15 and 17. Four of six from the free throw line though, which was perhaps the one bright spot of the evening … Federico Mussini – who one astute observer recently called the best shooter Saint John’s has seen since Chris Mullin – is 16 for 45 from the floor over his last 4 games and is shooting 33 percent from three for the year. Oddly we did not last night hear half time commentator Steve Lavin give Steve Lavin credit for recruiting Mussini, as he did during the Syracuse game, which was about the last time it was not painful and depressing to watch Mussini play basketball. He and Durand Johnson were a combined 7 for 25 from the floor and they’re the ones who are supposed to be able to throw the ball through the round thing … Ali Alimakeawish had two turnovers and shot an air ball in the first two minutes of the game in route to a zero point, one rebound performance. If Steve Lavin credited himself with AA’s recruitment I did not catch it … Felix Balamou was one for eight from the floor …. Not to be outdone Malik Ellison was 2-9. One thing you can say about him is that he’s not shy. Another thing you can say is that he’s not good. Was credited with six assists, which is pretty remarkable considering Saint John’s only had 21 field goals … Both walk-ons played about half a dozen minutes midway through the second half, in tandem. Whether Mullin had a premonition or was trying to teach his players a lesson is unclear. The odd thing was that the team did not look any worse when they were in there.

NOTES: Now that Steve Lavin is not around to neglect the Saint John’s basketball program Kevin Willard isn’t going to have local players like Khadeem Carrington and Angel Delgado fall into his lap. Perhaps that’s why his eyes get beadier and beadier every time I see him. That may also be why he took it easy on Chris Mullin last night, resting his starters late, lest he face a series of vicious Sailor Ripley beatings down the line.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

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From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee;
For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee

RECAP: I woke up this morning pretty sure I wasn’t going to write anything about Saint John’s 10th straight loss, this one to Marquette 78-73 at Carnesecca Arena Sunday afternoon. Frankly I’m bored with this exercise: without Lavin here to fuel me I am like Ahab without Moby Dick. They lost another game, they’re going to lose a bunch more, next year will get here eventually. Frankly I was last night happier to see Tom Brady suck it than I would have been had Saint John’s won. It took some fan boi moron referring to Steve Lavin as a “magic wand” – some geniuses are using the occasion of the loss to rehash the ‘was Lavin a better coach than Norm debate,’ which no he wasn’t, he’s not a better coach than anyone, he sucks – to get me to produce even this dreck and only so I can point out what a complete and utter tool that guy is, Lavin is a magic wand, LOL. Hey Rocky, watch me pull a prostate out of my ass.

PLAYERS: Durand Johnson led the team in in points, steals, assists and had 5 rebounds. Imagine what he could do if he hustled … Mussini scored 19 points, all of them after Saint John’s was already down by 15 … Malik Ellison had 4 turnovers and 5 fouls and missed 4 shots, in only 18 minutes. That’s a little less than one screw up a minute. It’s a shame he didn’t suit up for Marquette, Saint John’s might have won … Yawke had 7 points and 8 rebounds, which would have been pretty good had not Ellenson gone for 16 and 18 … Balamou got pulled early after not closing on Duane Wilson who hit back to back three from the same spot early in the first half. He did not play much after that and who cares … Alibegowich once again see sawed back and forth between the sublime and ridiculous. For example early in the first half he had a put back that might well have been on ESPN’s top 10 and then on the very next possession threw a stupid lazy ¾ court pass that led to a Marquette break away … Mvouika and Jones were a combined 2-11 from the floor

NOTES: Some magic riffs, which this morning I can’t be arsed to flesh out.

– Wasn’t Rico Hines the real magic wand on that staff?

– The only time Lavin would say open sesame was when he went out for sushi after the game.

– Lavin was less Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and more aBRAcadaBRA, (because he had pasta titties)

– Keady’s incantation: By the Power of Grayskull

That’s gold Jerry, gold.

And now, hocus pocus:

 

Get to Steppin

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It occurred to me this morning as I sat down to reminisce about Saint John’s 9th straight loss to Butler Saturday afternoon how similarly situated Chris Mullin and I are. After the Georgetown loss Mullin said something to the effect of ‘what do you expect, look at our roster,’ which would be a strange way for an educator to describe his efforts to tutor his delicate charges, but not at all a strange way for a former NBA GM to explain his team’s moribund results, because he realizes that even a minimum level of competition requires a cohesive group of complementary players, which players Mullin does not yet have, which is why he’s sitting on the scorer’s table: he’s waiting for them to arrive. What does that have to do with me? Well, Mullin’s talents are wasted coaching these players and mine are wasted describing their play. And I don’t know how much more patience I have for it. Because unlike Mullin nobody’s paying me a couple of million a year to rehash this dreck … Saint John’s shot 33 percent from the floor, 20 percent from three, and 60 percent from the FT line. Do we need to know anything more than that? No … Last time out versus Georgetown the refs called 52 personal fouls. This time they called 46. What was interesting is that in the first half the first foul was not called until the 16:40 mark and in the second half the first foul was not called until the 15:40 mark. That means that the two teams combined to play about four pristine minutes at the beginning of each half, eight minutes total, in which no player on either team made illegal contact with any other player on the opposing team and then for the next 16 minutes they combined to commit a foul every 40 seconds. Anyone believe that? Me neither. What’s ironic is that amongst all that carnage and whistle blowing a brief SJ flurry in the second half was squelched when Mussini was all but tackled on a breakaway – he ended up under the stanchion with a Butler player laying on top of him – and nothing was called. Whereas if Alibegowitch had made that play they’d have suspended him for two games.

PLAYERS: Ron Mvoika was named in a pregame feature as a “Game Changer.” That designation turned out to be precipitous: he finished with 5 points … Alibegovic responded to his insertion into the starting line up by going 1 for 7 from the floor and scoring three points, all of those on one shot midway through the first half … Yawke had 8 rebounds and 4 blocks but was 1 for 7 from the free throw line … Mussini and Johnson combined for 26 points on 10 shots each and that includes a combined 10 for 10 from the FT line, meaning they otherwise scored a total of 16 points on 20 field goal attempts … If you had asked me after the game whether Felix Balamou had scored 13 points on 6 of 8 from the floor I would have said no. But evidently he did … Jones missed a couple of chippies and had only one rebound. And yet if I were Mullin I would have Jones playing the point guard over Malik Ellison, who had 4 turnovers and no points and fouled out in 15 minutes. I suppose the seasoning will help him the long run but personally I’d be quite happy to not see him on the floor again until next November

NOTES: I don’t know who’s scheduling these games but whoever it is might want to avoid the ones that are slated on memorial days, because these guys have enough problems on the road. A couple of games ago it was Al McGuire Day on Al McGuire court and this time there was a tearful pregame ceremony honoring some poor bastard who died of cancer. (Question: how come every time someone dies of cancer it’s said that they “battled” the disease? Doesn’t anyone just get diagnosed and give up? I gave up like 20 years ago and there’s nothing particularly wrong with me yet.) I mean sure, RIP and all that but Saint John’s has enough problems guarding the three point line, much less ghosts … The game was called by former first round NBA draft pick Dickey Simpkins, who was slightly less incoherent than Bill Walton with the added bonus that I didn’t have to see him in bicycle pants. Hashtag win win. Simpkins played eight years in the NBA and got two rings with Jordan’s Bulls, but didn’t contribute much: mostly he sat on the bench behind Bill Wennington, so how good he have been really. At 43 years old no one should be called Dicky, except perhaps former child stars like the great Dickie Roberts … Finally, speaking of cancer, it was revealed this week that former Saint John’s assistant coach Rico Hines was being divorced by his wife Tichina Arnold after she discovered sex tapes featuring her husband and more than 20 “Kim Kardashian wannabes” in flagrante and raw dog. Normally I’d leave such prurient material to fester in the sewer that is Daily News, but it occurs to me that since Hines and Arnold were married in 2012 all of this footage was likely filmed while Hines was on the Saint John’s payroll and might well explain at least in part the laughable results the former staff achieved. I know from bitter experience that snaking broads is an expensive and time-consuming process and if that’s what Hines was spending his time doing and Lavin was at Rao’s cutting up Keady’s food and wiping marinara from his chin that doesn’t leave a lot of time for hanging out in high school gymnasiums. And yet there are still rubes who defend that snake oil salesman and bemoan his passing from the scene. Go figure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovett or Listeth

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When he was borne to his grave they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone, for his dying hour was gloom.

RECAP: Saint John’s dropped their 8th straight 93-73 to Georgetown Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. The score though was deceiving, because if you believe as I do that the free throw is the most exciting play in college basketball and perhaps even in all of sports, then Wednesday night you spent most of the game on your edge of your seat, as the teams combined for 52 fouls and 55 free throws, which amounts to a clock stoppage every 46 seconds, not counting time outs, turnovers, and TV time outs. Which as you can imagine made for some exciting television …

<interlude>

One of last night’s referees, Mike Stephens, holds a full time civil service position in Providence – Director of Recreation no less – while at the same time earning close to $ 200K refereeing 90 college basketball games a year. In many cities holding a second job  that interferes with your full time employment is grounds for dismissal and in some cases, jail time. In a cesspool of corruption like Providence it earns you the key to the city, which was awarded to Stephens this past spring.

</interlude>

… The deficit was seven about midway through the first half when Saint John’s went on one of their patented scoring droughts – they managed only 12 points in the last 10 minutes of the half, during which time only Ablivickwith and Johnson made field goals and were down 17 at the break. Saint John’s was down 26 when John Thompson III took his starters out and 16 when he put them back in after a brief SJU flurry, as if the outcome was ever in doubt. Which it wasn’t … It’s hard to understand from looking at the box score just what went wrong. The officiating, although egregious, was reciprocally awful: 28 personal fouls and 33 free throws for the one, 24 and 32 for the other; turnovers were 14 to 11; each team had 14 assists and 32 rebounds; both had 54 field goal attempts and even the shooting percentages were roughly equivalent, free throws 81 to 75 and 3-pointer 41 to 39; only field goal percentage reveals a bit of an advantage, 52 to 39 (oddly Saint John’s shot 38.9 from both the floor and from three). And yet it was a slaughter. Mostly because whatever little SJ did well they did well in the second half when the game was already over … There is no safe harbor on the horizon: home and away with #23 Butler, at Seton Hall, at Xavier, home  versus Villanova and Marquette. I feel bad for DePaul though, Saint John’s gets them twice in February, when historically they’ve played their best ball.

PLAYERS: Mvouika led the team with 15 points. He scored all of them in the second half, when the game was already over. Congratulations Ron … Alibegowitch had 12 points in 21 minutes before fouling out. His aggression is appreciated on the team as currently composed but here’s hoping he does not become too enamored of being the team’s first offensive option … Mussini hit two 3’s four minutes into the first half and did not score again until four minutes were left in the game. He finished with 11 points: 3 for 10 from the floor and 2 for 9 from three … By comparison Durand Johnson, who finished with 10, was the model of efficiency: 3 for 9 from the floor and 2 of 4 from three … Balamou has perhaps the ugliest and most ridiculous jump shot in the history of college basketball. Six for six from the FT line, for which improvement I credit my calling him out in a recent essay, he’s only missed one since I scolded him … Jones had 4 points 4 rebounds and three assists, which would be a nice line from a seventh man. Unfortunately he’s the starting PF … Yawke missed a couple of chippies but considering how full his hands were single handedly defending Georgetown’s enormous front line, he gets a pass. PS Jessie Govan is the most terrifying player I’ve seen since Michael Graham … Malik Ellison was 1 for 5 from the floor with 2 assists and three turnovers. To the extent that Ellison is a freshman and a stop gap he also gets a pass but anyone who thinks that he’s the answer at point guard is delusional.

NOTES: Which brings us to Marcus Lovett. Speculation was rampant this week on various Saint John’s forums that the point guard of the future was planning on transferring. There seems to be no evidence that this is the case – at least there was no report of it in the press – and in fact the rumor itself traces back as far as I can tell to an offhand comment by a well-known forum troll who’s not even much of a Saint John’s fan. And yet the idea dominated the conversation this week. Self-important posters with moles and sources claimed that they had heard rumblings of the rumor themselves. Wise old sages counseled patience, as who knows what lurks in the hearts of teen aged boys. Proactive posters scoured Lovett’s twitter feed and Instagram account, looking for hidden meanings and reading emojis like hieroglyphics. And the usual hysterics felt faint and swooned on the divan, wondering how anyone could subject fans like themselves to such drama and where would it all end. All that was missing to make the spectacle complete was a poster called Tituba reporting that she and Lovett had been dancing in the woods with Old Scratch and Goodman Brown. On the face of it there seems to be no evidence that Lovett is or was contemplating leaving – although admittedly I haven’t yet analyzed his body language and facial expressions from the tape of last night’s game, which he viewed from behind the bench –  and objectively there would seem to be little reason to: next year he will be from day one the starting point guard on a team sorely in need of a point guard, playing in what I am continually assured is the best BB conference in the country, where he will learn basketball from two hall of famers, while living in the greatest city in the world, on a team and program that seem headed in the right direction. Seems like a no brainer. What strikes me is that Saint John’s fans have been down for so long and are so conditioned to disappointment that they create their own drama, so that even if the sky doesn’t fall they experience the frisson of doom that real catastrophe engenders. They are like a battered wife who burns dinner on the off chance her husband comes home from work in a good mood, because deep down she knows that she deserves a good beating.

Wojo Is Me

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Saint Johns dropped their 4th straight to start the Big East season 81-75 at Marquette Saturday afternoon. The last thing I want to be doing on Sunday morning afterwards is phoning in another one of these dopey essays. Because in the aftermath there isn’t really anything for me to complain about and let’s face kvetching is what I do best. During the previous regime when they lost or even when they didn’t I could always find fault in something Lavin did or didn’t do or his clothing or how much make up he wore or the stupid things he invariably said after the game and even if all that was unavailing Chris Obekpa would have grinned like an idiot after elbowing some poor defenseless bastard in the back of the head or Phil Greene would have shot 2 for 13 from the floor and I would have been off to the races. Now though none of the players who are even vaguely annoying are going to be here long enough to get annoyed at and Mullin can do whatever he wants – even read the newspaper during silent time outs late in the game – and sure they lost but what’s another loss or even 10 in the pantheon of futility that is SJ basketball. So I’ve got nothing except platitudes: good entertaining game, kids played hard, on to the next one … After a brief Marquette spurt to start the game Saint John’s outscored them by 15 or so to go into halftime up 8, which was the margin more or less about 8 minutes into the second half when SJU lost the thread. At that point the play by play reveals

Frederico Mussini turnover.

Frederico Mussini turnover.

Christian Jones turnover.

Christian Jones turnover.

Felix Balamou turnover

Durand Johnson turnover

in about a 4 minute period, punctuated only by a couple of free throws. By the end of it Marquette was up two and never looked back. To the extent that the box score is revealing it doesn’t really reveal anything. Other than Saint John’s 20 assists the only thing that jumps out is that SJ once again got the short end of the FT stick, 21-12, but context explains that that was the result of 10 straight free throws Marquette made in the last minute. And actually for most of the game the refs didn’t call hardly anything, which accrued to Saint John’s benefit. The only anomaly was two moving picks the refs called while Marquette was making their second half run, which were the only two they called the entire game. Which was a little odd point of emphasis wise.

PLAYERS: Yawke had a remarkable game against bigger, stronger, more highly-regarded front line: 9 points, 11 rebounds, 6 blocks and he even took a couple of charges. The bright side of Sima’s absence is that Yawke will get his minutes … Durand Johnson’s entry in the first half coincided with the run that led to Saint John’s 8-point half time lead. He led SJ with 18 points although 6 of those were two late threes of interest to no one but the guys who took the points … Mvouika had 13 points and five assists, his second straight game in double figures … Mussini had ten points but it took him 9 shots to get them and four turnovers as well. Good thing he doesn’t have a mohawk and tattoos, things might turn ugly …. Jones 6 points but only three rebounds. The more he plays, the less productive he is …. Balamou made the first 3 pointer of his career but missed the front end of a one and one late …. Alibegovic played 15 minutes that seemed like an eternity …. Ellison played a bunch of point guard. On the one hand having a 6’6” PG is a good thing. On the other hand, having Ellison as a point guard is not.

NOTES: Saturday at Marquette was Al McGuire Day, celebrated by an Al McGuire Day game on Al Mcguire Court. Everything was in place for Coach Wojo to achieve the defining loss of his career. But instead of climbing that mountain he managed a win, which will be remembered only as just another small step on his long journey to floor slapping mediocrity. Because Wojo is a dope. But not so much of one that I do not regret seeing him squander an opportunity like that, because life is short and only rarely do the stars so align.  Oh well.

X-Wray

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RECAP: Saint John’s lost to #10 Xavier 74-66 Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena for their third straight loss to start the Big East season. Oh and three is not good but lest we forget Steve Lavin’s 2013 team full of juniors started the Big East season 0-5 and righted the ship on their way to a glorious first round loss to Robert Morris in the NIT, so perhaps all is not yet lost. In any event I’m not going to start to worry until Mullin starts his redshirts and walk-ons, which was Lavin’s solution to his team’s woes … I took copious notes during the game but in light of morning they turn out to be none too helpful. I started out trying to track the comings and goings of the players relative to the score to see if Ellison really was the Jonah I perceived him to be but stopping and starting the DVR and scribbling notes became pretty cumbersome and not just because I was knocking back absinthe at a pretty good clip. So I’ll have to trust my memory, and we all know how unreliable recollections can be … Xavier led most of the way as you would expect the number ten team in the country to do against a bunch of freshmen, but Saint John’s made a game of it late before faltering. All in all it was an entertaining affair and at the risk of repeating myself them being competitive is about all a rational fan can hope for at this stage … Except for field goal percentage the numbers – 3 point shooting, rebounds, turnovers, assists – were about even. The difference was that Xavier’s guards – who were otherwise 8 of 20 from the floor and 3 for 8 from three – combined for 37 points, thanks mostly to the 20 free throws they were awarded, of which they made 18. At least a couple of those fouls were ridiculous calls on poor Amar Albiviowitz, who stood statuary under the basket while people scaled him like King Kong crawling up the Empire State Building. Unlike Fay Wray at least he took it like a man. I don’t like to whine about the refs but a differential of 11 free throws in a game that was within one point with two minutes left is a big deal. The differential is all the more puzzling because SJU took nearly 20 shots more than Xavier. Ordinarily one would not think that 40 percent more FG attempts would result in 30 percent fewer free throws, unless you’re playing dewk obviously … In other news Chris Mullin sat on scorer’s table again. I think like me Chris Mullin is just waiting for Chris Mullin to have enough players who are capable of learning basketball from Chris Mullin. If that’s the case he might as well wait on the scorer’s table as anywhere else.

PLAYERS: Mussini was on his way to another abysmal performance before he hit four threes in a 4 minute stretch  during Saint John’s late comeback. It was for a brief moment like being whisked back to that magical day in December of last year when Phil Greene had his 3 minute career versus Syracuse. Unfortunately on the very next play after the fourth one Mussini got a stupid technical that resulted in a 9-2 Xavier run that put the game away … Ron Mvouika emerged from his three week coma to score 19 points. He was only 5 for 14 from the floor and 2 of 8 from three but somebody’s got to shoot. In the first half he banked in a three as the shot clock expired, which is usually something only the other guys do … Speaking of shooting Durand Johnson took many bad shots, few of which went in, including none of his 8 threes. He did however lead the team in rebounds (5) and assists (3) and had a pretty thunderous tomahawk dunk in the first half that I watched a bunch of times … Alibeckowith played his usual game. One minute he makes a beautiful turnaround jumper on the baseline and the next kicks the ball out of bounds trying to take his guy off the dribble. When I think of the European vacation that resulted in Amar’s recruitment I’m reminded of David Puddy’s line “what do you think they have in the Gap in Rome that they don’t have here” … Sima had 5 rebounds in 11 minutes before injuring his hand and not returning. I appreciate his aggressiveness on the offensive end but every time he shoots the ball someone is in danger of decapitation … Ellison and Yawke played 20 minutes between them and scored 2 points. Yawke had an excuse: he didn’t take any shots. Ellison otoh was 1-5 … Felix Balamou was a 91 percent free throw shooter over his first two years at SJ. He is in his last two years a 66 percent FT shooter. Last night was no exception … Chris Jones had 4 points and 4 rebounds in nearly twice as many minutes as he has been playing previously. I will leave it to the great basketball minds among us to determine whether 4 rebounds in 28 minutes is more or less better than 10 rebounds in 18 minutes when you take into account intangibles that do not show up in the box score

NOTES: It’s amazing how much more prepared and engaged Steve Lavin is as a halftime analyst than he was as a head basketball coach. When he was on the sidelines at SJU he jumped around like an epileptic monkey in a track suit and prattled on incomprehensibly about condiments and super heroes and box stores. In the studio though he’s all this guy is 5 for 7 from inside the arc on Thursdays while the moon in in its third phase. It’s almost as if he takes being on TV seriously … Lou Carnesecca in attendance, looking no worse for wear after celebrating his 91st birthday late into the afternoon on Tuesday. Many happy returns on the day.