Play It Again Ram

It’s a measure of how bad things have been in Jamaica that Thursday’s 90-62 win over the hapless Fordham Rams was seen as payback. Because the case can be made that Fordham is the worst program in the modern history of college basketball and perhaps ever. They have a record of futility that is virtually unmatched – and this is in the A 10 mind you – and have been coached by a conga line of losers that runs the gamut from appalling mediocrity Tom Pecora to giant nothing-burger  Derek Whittenburg, whose most impressive basketball feat was an airball he shot in during the Reagan administration. All of which being said it was pretty pleasurable watching Mullin rub their faces in last year’s game and I taped it and later I’m going to watch it again … SJU jumped out to a 10 point first half lead and looked to be on their way to an early blow out when a combination of events – a loss of focus and the arrival on the court of the bench – let Fordham back in it, so that a made basket after Federico Mussini dribbled the ball off his foot got FU within three. Saint John’s though went on an 8-0 run to end the half and a 15-5 run to start the second (halftime adjustments baby!) and that was all she wrote … Regarding that run, one thing that this team has demonstrated early is that they can take a punch. They bounced back from a loss to Delaware State that could have been demoralizing with their best performance of the year versus Tulane. They lost an 8 point lead versus CSUN and went on to win easily without their point guard on the floor. And last night instead of rolling over when FU cut the lead to three they responded with a run of their own. It’s refreshing to see a team this young have so much poise. Because that’s something that usually takes years to learn … Even considering they were playing Fordham, SJ’s offensive output was prodigious: they shot 60 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three, were plus 20 rebounds, had 10 blocks and 24 assists on 32 made baskets. Once again the defense was atrocious – two giant Eastern European dorks hit 9 three pointers between them – but all in all there is not a lot for even a curmudgeon like me to complain about … Regarding the remarkable three point shooting, is it too soon to credit Mullin and Richmond for that? They are two of the greatest shots in the history of the game after all. Every time some dope dribbles the ball off his foot or misses a free throw a Greek chorus starts chanting that Mullin needs the aid of some washed up loser wizened sage like Tim Welch or Pete Gillen. So do we start crediting Mullin now when every little thing goes right? He’s got four guys shooting over 40 percent from three and Mussini’s over fifty. Is that the result of being coached up and being put in a position to succeed or are we still in the “anyone who thinks Mullin knows what he’s doing is kidding himself” stage. Are any of the little things they’re starting to do right the coach’s fault? Is their resilience a reflection of his own self confidence? I guess the question I’m asking is: is it possible that Chris Mullin knows something about basketball? Maybe it’s too soon to tell, but personally I’m starting to get the warm fuzzies, or at least as fuzzy as I get anyway – I’m starting to see what they’re supposed to be doing, even if they’re not doing it yet: the spacing and ball movement, the pick and roll and back door, the emphasis on the three. They’re still a few pieces short of the puzzle, but all of a sudden they’re starting to look like a basketball team and I think I’m starting to buy in. I guess we’ll know in a couple of months

PLAYERS: Shamorie “WTF” Ponds had a night so _______ that I’m not going to diminish it by picking an adjective to describe it. It was pretty _______ though: 26 points on 9-13 from the floor, 7 of 11 from three (one off the school record set by the legendary Avery Patterson), nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals. The most ______ thing about his game is not his ________ skill set, which is _________ – it’s how calm he is, and how poised, and how the game comes to him. Demeanor-wise he’s already a senior. I can’t imagine what he’s going to be in a couple of years … Mussini had another nice game, but not nice enough for me to eschew adjectives: 20 points in 20 minutes, including a remarkable full court dash and lay in to end the first half. He even drew a charge. Five turnovers is way too many, but I’ll let that slide. For now …. Missus Fun announced last night that Tariq Owens was her favorite player. After cross-examining her to make sure this was not a case of depraved jungle fever I acquiesced. I’m wondering whether Owens moribund start and resurgence of late is the result of his shaking off the cobwebs, having not played for several years, as opposed to incompetence, which was my original theory …. Ahmed had a quiet 12 and 6. Only two turnovers though and an assist, his 13th of the year. Contrary to popular slander, Ahmed is fourth on the team in assists, averaging 1.3 per game. As opposed to say Federico Mussini, who averages less than one …  Kassoum Yawke – who also averages more assists per game than Mussini – fouled out in 12 minutes. To be fair a couple of those were blocks that could have been charges and a couple were chippies. He did though finish with authority on a pick and roll early which was good to see …. Dennis Rodman Amar Alibegovith had eight rebounds in 18 minutes, doubling his total for the year. If this is a sign that he’s realizing that his only value to the team is down low – much like Sean Evans realized in Lavin’s Year Zero – that would be a welcome change. It might even be worth putting up with him clanking threes and bouncing the ball off his feet and decapitating opposing players, which things comprise his skill set now …. Malik Ellison started. In the first two minutes he threw a lazy cross court pass that was nearly intercepted, blew a layup and let a pass go off his fingertips out of bounds, after which he was immediately pulled. Good for Mullin. Other Ellison highlights included receiving a pass in the corner with his foot out of bounds and throwing the ball away on a break. He really is one of the dumber players I can remember … Speaking of highlights, Obergruppenfuhrer Freudenberg made the number three slot on ESPN’s top 10 plays by virtue of a block late in the second half. It was a fine block , but Yawke and Owens make three similar ones a game. Maybe because he’s white, who knows. Also he made the first three of his career. Congratulations Ricky …. Darien Williams also made ESPN: his sideline antics were featured during a piece on the game – a piece in which Shamorie Ponds was barely mentioned. Perhaps if Williams spent as much time working on his game as he does choreographing his end zone dance he wouldn’t suck at basketball and so could get a few minutes actually on the court, as did walk-on Elijah Holifield, who hit a garbage time three at the buzzer …. Sima did not start and barely played and seems to be out of favor for the time being.

NOTES: Really I got nothing. We play Fordham every year and so I’ve plowed that field fallow up to and including an essay about Captain Kangaroo. Donny Marshall and Rick Ackerman are no great shakes but they’re not so awful that they’re worth ranting about and Jim Jackson and whoever the other guy is in the studio at half time, while a little too convivial for me (to be fair Calvin Coolidge was a little too convivial for me) have the virtue of not being Steve Lavin. So I got bupkis …. Apologies to those of you who wrote complaining that my last recap was not adorned by a piece of eye candy at the top. (See Rule 5.) I can understand your disappointment: this is one of the few places on the internet where you can go to see near naked women. Truth is I spent more time than I care to admit looking for a suitably risqué version of Eve Plumb, but couldn’t find anything that wouldn’t have ended up with Chris Hansen showing up at my front door. Plumb gave an Oscar worthy performance as a prostitute with a heart of gold in the underrated 1976 classic Dawn Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, but there aren’t many stills on line, which is weird because you can watch the whole thing on you tube … And finally, yesterday was Tom Waits birthday. Most of you philistines have never heard of him but he is, as the kids say, the balls:

 

 

Ain’t No cSunshine

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RECAP: Despite the absence of starting point guard Marcus Lovett Saint John’s defeated Cal State Northridge 76-70 at Carnesecca Arena Monday night. With Lovett it’s a game you’d expect SJU to win – I’ve never heard of CSUN before but you have to figure that they didn’t schedule them in the preseason on campus if they were a powerhouse like, say, Delaware State. When I found out he wasn’t playing I said aloud “well they’re never going to win this,” which it turns out is one of those rare times I didn’t know what I was talking about. Because win they did and pretty easily, despite a scare in the second half when a relatively stable eight point lead evaporated and SJU found themselves down 62-61 with six minutes remaining. At which point they could have rolled over and no one but haters and Iona fans would have faulted them for it, missing as they were their most important if not their best player. Instead they grinded out the victory, just as Chris Mullin exhorted them to during a late televised timeout. That’s all coaching baby …. Statistically SJU was creditable: they shot close to 50 percent from the floor and from three, were plus five rebounds, and had an equal number of assists and turnovers. CSUN on the other hand was pretty atrocious: they were 2 for 14 from three and turned the ball over 17 times. What kept them in it was two things: free throws and Saint John’s really appalling defense, which allowed their opponent to get to the rim at will. I’ve faced stiffer resistance in a Bangkok brothel … Speaking of the officials, they were horrible, led by Brian O’Connell, who’s proof of the old adage I just made up that says never trust a man who spends more time doing his hair than his wife. And by that I don’t mean doing his wife, although I’m guessing BOC spends more time on his hair than on that as well. Forty three fouls in 40 minutes is carry the one more than a foul a minute, which is just too much and the first time it’s been called that way all year … Unless Mullin has a bunch of blue pinstripes in his locker he looked to be wearing the same suit he wore on Monday although to his credit he changed his shirt. Hopefully this does not devolve into a lucky sweater situation …. At 4 and 5 SJU is just about where you’d think they should be in early December. Best case scenario is they stole a game in the Bahamas and Delaware State obviously but they’d still be .500 plus or minus one. They better do something about the defense though because otherwise they’re going to get chewed up in conference play.

PLAYERS: A hack writer would say that Shamorie Ponds had a coming out party last night. I’m not going to say that, although he was pretty spectacular – 25 points, five assists, and only one turnover. The one sour note was an ill-advised blown dunk that might have gotten him on ESPN and instead was just a miss. On the bright side I don’t remember a true freshman playing like this for a long time. Omar Cook maybe …. Ahmed was 2-9 from the floor but 8-12 from the FT line. He finished with a near double double, 13 and 8, which is a nice line, although the five turnovers are a problem . He’s averaging 12 and 6 for the season, which led one astute observer to question whether his play thus far has been “detrimental” to the team. I’d point out to that genyious that David Russell averaged 15 and 7 as a senior, whereas Ahmed is seven games into his career …. Those boings you heard when Rico Mussini scored 9 points in a single minute in the first half were some of the first erections to emanate from the Red and White Club since Jimmy Carter was president. Unfortunately like the Red and Whites Mussini was flaccid the rest of he game – he scored 3 points in the other 39 minutes and turned the ball over four times … Signs of life from Yassoum Yawke, who had six points, five rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes … Another creditable effort from Owens – five points, seven rebounds, four blocks. Is he the new Costco? In one remarkable sequence he stole the ball in the back court, flushed a dunk on the ensuing break and then took a charge on the next defensive possession. It was an impressive 45 seconds. Unfortunately he’s being asked to play 28 minutes …. Speaking of unfortunate, Malik Ellison played 29 minutes in Lovett’s absence, the upshot of which is let’s hope Marcus gets back on the court real soon. Ellison’s best play of the evening was faking out whoever was screaming by double pumping a free throw …. Sima played 17 minutes, most of them pointless … Alibeowitch beat his personal best by fouling out in 13 minutes … Freudenberg played only 10 minutes, it just seemed longer

NOTES: California State University Northridge, aka CSUN, are the Matadors, coached by Reggie Theus. Theus was an all American at UNLV, a top 10 draft pick, and is the only player in NBA history to be top 50 all time in scoring and top 25 all time in assists (he averaged 19 points and six assists over 14 years in the league) who is not in the hall of fame. The only other shooting guard to meet those criteria is Jerry West, who got in on the first ballot. To put that in perspective there’s someone called Hortencia Marcari in the hall of fame who played for Brazil in the Pan American Games a couple of times; Mendy Rudolf and Earl Strom are in there and they’re referees – that’s like giving an Oscar to the guy who catered Citizen Kane; and Senda Abbott, who coached women’s basketball in the 19th century at a time when women were not permitted to dribble or steal the ball from their opponents, she’s in the hall of fame. Reggie Theus and his 20 ppg average playing the actual game of basketball, he’s on the outside looking in. Theus was a successful coach in his first go round at New Mexico State (despite the canard that successful players cannot make successful coaches) although not so much in the NBA where he coached for a couple of years or as yet at CSUN …. I find the Matadors an odd choice for a team name in these times and especially in California, the snowflake capital of the world. In the first place, you have a bunch of privileged white California residents usurping the cultural heritage of a poor Latino fighting to death a ferocious bull and in the second place you have a guy who stabs a poor defenseless bull to death for sport. Where’s PETA? Where’s LA RAZA? Where’s the outrage and solidarity from my LGBGTEIEEO brothers and sisters? Hopefully after they’ve coloring booked away their disappointment over the recent election they’ll get on this important issue …. Although only founded recently in 1952 CSUN has a lengthy list of notorious alumni, albeit many of them are vapid television personalities: Paula Abdul, Richard Dreyfuss, Jenna Elfman, Teri Garr, Phil Hartman, Helen Hunt, Evas Longoria and Mendes, Mouskateer drummer Cubby O’Brien, Eve “Jan” Plumb, and Debra Winger. Others include former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi; former Hawaii governor Linda Lingle; Doors drummer John Densmore and Police drummer Andy Summers; and the wonderful bassist Leland Sklar, whose career ran from the ridiculous – he played with such bubble gum acts such as Air Supply, David Cassidy, Peter Allen Jackson Browne, the Eagles and Neil Sedaka – to the sublime: he’s recorded with Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb, Warren Zevon, Billy Cobham Lee Ritenour and tenor alto (I never get tired of that one) saxophonist David Sanborn … Which brings us finally to CSUN graduate Lyman Bostock, an outfielder who hit .311 in four years in MLB in the 70’s before being murdered – mistakenly it turns out – by a jealous husband. His killer pled guilty by reason of insanity and having been adjudged sane seven months later was released to die peacefully in his sleep 35 years later. Who was is that said that justice is blind and juries stupid? Someone. Anyway, Bostock’s wiki page links to a page that lists MLB players who died during their careers. I was struck in perusing it how much things have changed in the 100 short years since the century turned. Most of the players listed as dying in the early part of the century passed from now defunct diseases – typhoid, typhus, influenza, tuberculosis – and from pathologies that tend to effect the lower classes – murder, suicide, cirrhosis. Whereas nowadays you have well to do healthy players dying accidental deaths, like Danny Frisella flipping his dune buggy and Thurman Munson flying his personal aircraft into a cornfield and Jose Fernandez drunk piloting his yacht into a dock. There’s a lesson here about something, civics maybe, or popular culture, but it’s too early in the morning for that. Here’s this instead

The Big Easy

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GAME: What a difference a week makes. On Monday evening after SJU’s embarrassing loss to Delaware State Chris Mullin was a lazy bum who lacked all understanding of basketball and fan forum discussions centered on how much Archie Miller’s buy out is and failing that whether Tom Pecora could be enticed to sit on the bench and offer Mullin the sort of wise counsel that allowed him to win nearly 9 games a year at Fordham. Saturday morning, after Saint John’s dismantled Tulane 95-75, Chris Mullin is a hard working basketball prodigy who deserves all the credit in the world for developing a game plan that put his players in a position to win and whose bench savvy ensured that they did. Of course and in FACT none of that is true. Chris Mullin is exactly the same person he was a week ago, when he said “If you’re looking for panic you’re looking in the wrong place.” (Exactly Chris, if you’re looking for panic read the fever dreams of the hysterical old women who post at Johnny Jungle and Redmen dot calm com.) And the players are exactly the same ones who humiliated themselves on Monday. They’re just a game older. Because this is what’s meant by the up and down in up and down season. Today we are a peacock – Monday we were a feather duster. This is life: there are good days and bad days and days in between. The secret to it all is to remain serene in the face of such vicissitudes. Or at least drunk …. I saw little point in rehashing the box score after the Delaware game and see just as little point this morning. Saint John’s hit 10 of their first 11 threes en route to a 30-15 lead in the best first half they’ve played in the Mullin era and probably going back beyond that. They shot 65 percent from three for the game, 55 percent from the field and 13 of 15 from the free throw line. They had 22 assists to 14 turnovers. They were plus 8 rebounding. On the offensive end Tulane wasn’t awful – they shot 44 percent from three themselves – but their defense was shall we say porous. But it was also one of those night where everyone on Saint John’s was somewhere between on and unconscious. More than the numbers what was striking was the energy with which they came out, on the road, after being humiliated three days ago, when they could have rolled over, and the ball movement, the likes of which we have not seen in a very long time. And in fact on the first possession of the game they were so intent on moving the ball that they didn’t even bother shooting – if the shot clock hadn’t expired they might still be passing it around this morning. Anyway if this is the system, count me in. If the guards stay healthy and they get a couple of players who can finish in the paint this is going to be something to see … First game of the season where Mullin wore a suit and a tie. Looked off the rack but still it was nice to see him taking basketball seriously for a change.

PLAYERS: Nearly all the smalls played well. Ahmed had 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and zero offensive fouls. He airballed a couple of threes but with a line like that you can live with it. Lovett 18 points and five assists. Ponds had 15 points – all threes, he’s shooting 40 percent for the year – and four assists. Mussini had his best game in quite a while or perhaps ever – 17 points, three rebounds, and only a handful of embarrassments on the defensive end. Even Ellison (seven points, four assists) wasn’t is usual atrocious self …. The bigs were another matter. Other than Baruq Owens, who acquitted himself reasonable well (eight points, six blocks), the bigs were more or less invisible. Sima has only two rebounds … Fredenburger – for whom the game is just too fast at present – had no points or assists in 13 minutes but 6 rebounds … Even Alibegowitch got into the act, making his first three of the year, after which he raised his hand in triumph, or maybe relief. Christian who? … Which brings us to Kassoum Yawke, who once again looked lost out there. Kid showed a world of potential last year and obviously it’s way too early to throw him under the bus but he seems to have lost whatever instincts he displayed last year that made him so much fun to watch. He was one for six from the floor – the five he missed were lay ups and chippies and the one he made was a circus shot he banked falling away from the basket that he shouldn’t have taken in the first place – and had three rebounds and one block. You know if he wanted to he could manage a dozen rebounds a game. Threat advisory scale: yellow.

NOTES: Tulane is coached by Brooklyn native Mike Dunleavy, a longtime NBA player who won an NBA championship as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and was later named NBA coach of the year while a Portland Trailblazer. Unfortunately that NBA experience has not translated to the college ranks where Dunleavy now sports a .14 winning percentage. If the comments this morning on the Ye Olde Green Wave Forum (I shit you not) are any indication, Dunleavy better get Pete Gillen on the phone stat, because the fans are none too pleased. For example poster GSx writes than Dunleavy was “completely outcoached” by Chris Mullin – evidently GSx does not read the SJU fan forums, he’d know that “anyone who thinks mullin knows what he is doing is lying to himself.” Poster Waverider wonders “ how much is talent and how much is coaching.” Pete Rache thinks Dunleavy “ completely ignored teaching defense,” while poster RJC laments that Dunleavy’s “experience is only in the pros.” Not one to mince words poster Wavemania declares that “Dunleavy is a loser” and hopes that Tim Welch Floyd is available, although he is willing to give the former NBA coach of the year “two years to turn it around.” NJ Wave wishes Tulane would press more, believes the problem is not lack of talent, and is losing patience with Dunleavy; Baywave believes “ coaches need to do better”; and Rororooter “would have hired a guy who had a proven college system, a system that could win with inferior talent.” (Pete Carill to the white courtesy telephone.) This is after Dunleavy has coached seven games. And the moral is: only the half-clever names have been changed. What I can’t understand is that none of them complained about the most heinous act of Dunleavy’s career: he spawned the repulsive Mike Dunleavy Jr, formerly of DooK university.

Mullin It Over

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RECAP: I didn’t sign up for this. And by this I mean humiliations like the 79-72 drubbing at the hand of the mighty Delaware State Hornets Tuesday night at Carnesecca Arena. Just a week ago we were feeling pretty good about playing competitively against a ranked Michigan State team. This morning we ‘re feeling bewildered by a loss to a team that hasn’t won a D1 tilt game all year. Who was it that said “a feather duster one day and a more bedraggled feather duster the next”? I don’t recall .. I’m all for patience. I understand that rebuilding a program takes time, that there’s a learning curve for a newly assembled staff, that building a talent base takes several years, that most players don’t show their true selves until their junior and senior years (see also Pointer, Dom) and that there are lumps and more lumps to be taken along the way. What I don’t understand is how submissive certain players on this team are to their destiny: no one save Bashir Ahmed seems troubled, much less raging against the dying of the light. That’s a problem .. That said this loss can be placed directly on the shoulders of a certain Chris Mullin. Not because he failed to hire an X and O guy, not because he didn’t employ the triangle and two, not because he failed to make halftime adjustments – the usual litany of complaints the myriad of fan forum CYO coaches roll out every time there’s a loss. No. What Mullin did was send his team a signal at the very beginning of the game that Delaware was a team that did not have to be taken seriously, which he did by sitting his best player, Marcus Lovett, and his only serviceable big man, Yankuba Sima, and instead starting Feddy Mussini and Malik Ellison, two players who on a real basketball team wouldn’t see the floor outside of garbage time. That bone headed maneuver set the tone for the lackadaisical effort that followed, and that’s all on the coach. I suppose should he and they learn that the other guy might take you seriously even if you don’t him, well that’s something … There doesn’t seem much point in rehashing what went on. On one side of the ball this team plays atrocious defense. On the one hand they have players like Yawke and Ponds and Lovett who are fundamentally unsound and on the other players like Mussini and Ellison and Alibegioch and the German who couldn’t cover a lectern. Hence Delaware State shooting 60 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three. On the other end they threw the ball around the perimeter randomly for a few seconds and then who ever had the ball when the music ended chucked up a three – they took 37 (!), of which they made 12, which is not very good. Part of that is necessity – the big men stink so there no point in giving them the ball – and part of it is immaturity, but part of it is the system, which relies on children to make the wise decisions of adults. That’s going to be a problem until we get a bunch of protégés in here and there do not seem to be any reinforcements on the horizon, at least this year. What might have helped this team is a big man with a mature body and good hands stationed at the foul line, as opposed to Yawke. Unfortunately that guy’s in Nevada. I hate to keep beating a dead horse but this team is Christian Jones away from being, I don’t know, mediocre .. Bright spots? Fourteen assists, seven steals, eight blocks, a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line .. It was hard to tell from the broadcast but it looked like Mullin skipped the handshake line and hustled himself off the court in embarrassment. If so, I’m glad he was embarrassed: he should be. On the other hand that is not the way to teach skills for life to your young charges, including the virtue of taking your beating like a man. I noticed hall of famer Mitch Richmond shaking hands with everybody like a gentleman. Which is how it should be

PLAYERS: Ahmed had 19 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in 20 minutes – three of those were offensive fouls – and was one of the few players who seemed to notice he was being humiliated. He also led both team in cognitive dissonance, as is evidence by his post-game observation that “We didn’t do a great job moving the ball around their zone … we needed to move the ball around more … we rushed … some of these shots weren’t good shots. We need to be more patient and find the right shots.” This from a guy who has 70 field goal attempts and four assists through seven games … Ponds had 15 points and 9 rebounds, one short of his first career double double … Lovett did not start. Why? I don’t know, but that better not happen again. Interestingly he played the remainder of the game without a rest. I thought Mullin might have been pulling a Bobby Kelly – starting the shitty white kid over the more talented minority to get a couple of free minutes out of the shitty white player before things got out of hand, but the shitty white kid played 30 minutes. Lovett finished with 13 points and 4 rebounds …. Speaking of the shitty white kid, Federico Mussini made a three early when it didn’t matter and then not another one until the game was out of reach – he made one three down 13 and the other down 15 to once again demonstrate his prowess as a garbage time dead eye shooter. On the defensive end he was brutally sodomized on nearly every possession. It was painful to watch … Regular readers are aware that I’m a yuge Yawke fan but Jesus this kid’s got to pull his head out of his ass. It looks to me like where last year he was playing purely on instinct and athleticism this year he’s thinking. If so, hey Yawke, stop thinking. He had seven blocks, which is great, but not if he displays the same bad habits as Chris Obekpa and I suspect if he was as interested in rebounding as he was in blocking shots he’d have had more than four rebounds … Malik Ellison once again stood obliviously staring up into the rafters while a teammates pass went whizzing by his head out of bounds. Third time I can remember this year. Might have the lowest basketball IQ (an apocryphal measure of basketball talent which does not exist) of any player since, I don’t know, pick one of the many incompetents we’ve had over the years, Abe Keita, Alpha Bangura, any moron will do … Sima played 20 minutes and had two rebounds. You’d think a seven footer could stand under the basket with his arms up in the air for 20 minutes and three balls would land in his hands by accident but even if they did in Sima’s case he’d fumble them out of bounds so nevermind … Alibegovicth played 5 minutes. In one remarkable sequence he missed a three, hustled down court to blow a defensive assignment that resulted in a layup and then hustled down to the other end to travel … Baruq Owens played four minutes. It’s a shame he stinks, we could use a big man

NOTES: There are no notes, this game didn’t deserve any, except to note [sic] that Delaware State is the alma mater of the legendary tenor sax trumpet player Clifford Brown. Brown died at the untimely age of 25 when his wife fell asleep at the wheel and shades of Jay Williams drove headfirst into a tree while Brown and piano player Richie Powell were asleep in the back seat en route to a gig. Ain’t that just like a broad. In normal times this would be an excuse for me to post a video of Brown but I know none of you philistines would listen to it and so instead here’s a long distance dedication to a certain passive aggressive fuckhead I know. As the host of Top of the Pops and knight of the realm Jimmy Saville said to any number of underage girls during his long entertainment career, fee free to suck my dick.

 

OD’ed

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GAME: I wasn’t going to write about Saint John’s third game in the Battle4Atlantis – considering the 9:30 Friday night start I almost didn’t bother watching – a 63-55 loss at the hands of the Old Dominion Monarchs, but Fidel Castro’s death has put me in such a good mood that I’m going to give it a whirl. So yes, SJU dropped its fourth straight. The loss itself followed an eerily similar pattern: SJU went up early, lost the lead, fell behind in the second half, and mounted a comeback that came up short – this one from 16 points down at the eight minute mark to down three on a Lovett three with a minute left. Before that spurt was 32 minutes of the ugliest basketball we’ve seen since a year ago this time. Consider: at half time SJU had been outrebounded by 12; they had 9 turnovers versus 8 field goals; they were 2 for 13 from three; they had gone seven minutes without a basket; they had seven free throw attempts to ODU’s 18 – and they were only down six points, which would have been three except Malik Einstein Ellison cleverly fouled the three point shooter at the buzzer. So neither of these teams put on a clinic. And at least Saint John’s has an excuse: they start two freshman, two sophomores and a JUCO and have a sixth man who instead of being on scholarship should be wandering the streets of Palermo with an organ and a monkey. This is not a recipe for success, and the result is – and it’s a result that should be evident to even the several fan forum morons who were this morning I shit you not calling on Chris Mullin to resign – what you saw over the past several days: missed defensive assignments, failure to box out, missed free throws and offensive impatience. Because these are mistakes young players make and to expect them to not make them six games into their college careers is insanity. The irony is that many of the most vociferous anti-Mullin voices come from supporters of the repulsive Stave Lavin, whose lackadaisical approach to recruiting is what got us into this mess in the first place. As for me, I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen over the past several days, even if I was discouraged by the results. Because there’s a lot of talent on this team. All they need to do is grow up … Odd too that after listening to Saint John’s fans whine since time immemorial about wanting to see up tempo full court basketball immediately upon seeing it they pine for the days of Bobby Kelly walking the ball up the court to set up Lou’s version of the four corner offense. Hey dopes: this is what up tempo basketball looks like. Is it perfect? Obviously not. Most of the players seem to think that having the green light means that shooting is mandatory. Presumably they’ll learn in time that it is not. But if you expect four guys who have played together six games to execute an NBA offense like Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley, well, you’re going to be disappointed.

PLAYERS: Lovett had another subpar effort – he managed only 16 points and four rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor …. Ponds: 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists …. Mussini managed 5 points in 21 minutes that featured a dead eye three that caromed off the side of the backboard. He hit his first (and only) three of the game in the second half with Saint John’s down 16, proving once again what an excellent shooter he is when the game is not on the line, He’s the best garbage time shooter I’ve seen since Jason Kapono … One of the problems with Mussini being so awful is that it means that Ellison has to play 20 minutes, which he did again yesterday, to little avail: one for five from the floor, one rebound, zero assists and the bonehead foul of the three point shooter, supra ….Safe to say that Bashir Ahmed has some anger issues: this is the third straight game he had to be restrained by team mates while jawing at an opponent. Hey Bashir, you know what’s good revenge? Making your free throws … Sima (4 points, three rebounds) and Yawke (three points three rebounds) got pushed around most of the night, leading to a 20 rebound deficit. Not their finest hour … Good thing the Christian Jones question was settled during the Baruch game otherwise I might wonder whether a 230 pound fifth year senior would have done us more good last night than Tariq Owens, who managed no field goals and six rebounds in 20 minutes …. Richard Wagner Fredenburger played which at this point I have no problem with because why not except once again I do not see the marvelous “gazelle” with a pure jump shot I was told was coming over the summer. I see more like Detlef Schrempf with a head injury … Alibegowith was so ridiculously bad in his 12 minute spurt – two fouls, zero points, rebounds, assists – that Mullin threw Darien Williams out there for a couple of minutes in the second half. He committed two fouls in one minute before being euthanized.

NOTES: There are no notes today. Instead let us all have a Cuba Libre (rum, cola, lime) and join those dancing in the streets of Miami: the mass murderer Fidel Castro is finally at long last dead. Despite full throated engagement in all the phantasmagories that terrify leftists about milquetoast reality TV star Donald Trump – concentration camps, torture , political murder, persecution of homosexuals, slavery, nuclear proliferation – Castro was for half a century lauded by the political left, even more so than the other genocidal lunatics they championed in the name of their beloved socialism: Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot. I think it was the beard and funny hat they liked so much. Anyway, Castro’s dead, it’s about time, have a drink and the adventurous among you can fire up a cigar

 

God Ram It

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GAME: If I’d know there was a consolation bracket in the Battle4Atlantis and that Saint John’s 75-69 Thanksgiving night loss to Virginia Commonwealth was going to be televised I’d not have recapped the MSU loss and done a twofer. Oh well, just one more thing for you people to give thanks for …. SJU started strong, hitting their first eight shots en route to an 18-5 lead and were on their way to a blow-out win when disaster struck: Malik Ellison entered the game. A few short minutes later the lead was down to four and although SJU managed to maintain a two point lead at halftime the writing was on the wall. VCU took the lead early in the second half and extended it to eleven, but just when you thought the roof was going to fall in SJU made a couple of plays and tied it up. They ran out of gas down the stretch though and made a bunch of stupid plays and took a bunch of stupid shots and missed a bunch of free throws which is just the sort of thing young teams do before they’ve learned how to win close games. On the bright side before you learn to win close game you have to lose a few so at least we got this one out of the way …. Turns out there’s yet another game tonight, this one against Old Dominion, who lost yesterday to Louisville in OT. That does not bode well. Optimists will note that Delaware State and Fordham and a bunch of cupcakes loom on the horizon. Onward and upward.

PLAYERS: It’s striking that the worst game of Marcus Lovett’s short college career – he dribbled the ball off his foot at midcourt before halftime, blew a dunk on a breakaway and missed a couple of free throws late – was three rebounds short of a double double … Shamorie Ponds had 14 points in the first half and was invisible thereafter … Yawke woke up and finally displayed the sort of energy he routinely showed last year. You’d like to see him score a little more – and he would if he’d hit his free throws – but 5 points, 5 rebounds and 6 blocks is nothing to sneeze at …. Sima was productive as well – 12 points and 7 rebounds – but I’d never have guessed he had those numbers without looking at the box score … It’s safe to say after five games that Batshit Bashir Ahmed is not a big fan of the assist. He is going to have to learn that the points his teammates score are as important as the ones he does and when he does he’ll be a better basketball player. Until then we’ll need to accept his step back threes and bull rushes to the basket because there’s no one on the bench who can score 13 points in 20 minutes ….. Division Two player of the year Tariq Owens had zero points in 11 minutes, but the good news is he managed to not foul out …. Mussini only played 12 minutes. Maybe they could use his alleged offense but his defense is so appalling that it’s probably a wash …. Richard Strauss Frudenberg played eight minutes and contributed slightly more than Williams and Alibegic, who didn’t play … Which brings us to Malik Ellison. Last year I wrote often about Ellison’s plus minus, which was so striking to me that I postulated that he was some sort of or Jonah. I think I was probably wrong. I think he really just has a terrifically low IQ, and I’m not even talking basketball IQ, I mean he looks dead behind his eyes like a great white shark. (Maybe Pervis was never nervous because he was too dumb to be scared?) Saint John’s was up 13 when he entered the game. On the first play he inbounded the ball to Lovett and ran up the court oblivious to the fact that Lovett had returned the ball to him, which bounced out of bounds. And it was downhill from there. He was especially egregious down the stretch, making nonsensical spin moves in the lane and hoisting up threes. If he’s the first option off the bench – and he seems to be – this year is going to be longer than even I thought.

NOTES: Several of you have written noting that I made an error in yesterday’s important blog post, confusing MSU’s appearance in the Holiday Festival in 1968 with Michigan’s in 1965. Good catch and thanks for taking time away from your families on Thanksgiving to set me straight. In my defense it was pretty early in the morning and so I was still sober. Trust me that’s a mistake I won’t make again. Anyway the 68 Holiday Festival win was against an MSU team that finished the season under .500 under Pete Newell protégé John Bennington, so that victory wasn’t the greatest in anyone’s history …. Speaking of Pete Newell, two of Steve Lavin’s prize recruits suited up for VCU last night: Samir Doughty and Ahmed Handy combined for three points in 29 minutes, we really missed the boat there …. Today is the first day of the Christmas season, aka Black Friday, a frenzied paean to capitalism that’s traditionally celebrated by shoppers being trampled to death in the parking lot at Target while trying to get an amazing deal on a flat screen TV. Black Friday is so called because it is thought to be the day that retailers books go from red to the black. Fans of irony will enjoy the fact that box store parking lots turn instead from black to red. Lest you think this tradition just other American abomination Black Friday is celebrated across the world, including in countries like India and Romania where you wouldn’t even think they have parking lots, or in the case of Romania, an economy.

 

Spartan Up

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RECAP: Saint John’s lost to the 24th ranked team in the country Wednesday night in the first round of the Battle for Atlantis by nine points, 72-63, and this morning on various SJU fan forums the knives are out for Chris Mullin. Some of that is of course just trolling by trolls and some is just shit posting by shit posters and some of it is just dummies being dumb; the kind that is borne of the sort of impatience that little children exhibit on Christmas Eve waiting for Santy Claus to come is the easiest to understand but is no less inexcusable. Because anyone who went into this year thinking that Saint John’s – of 351 Division One teams the 349th least experienced, with five players who have never played college basketball before, and four sophomores who were last year 1 and 17 in conference play – was not going to spend much of the year getting its brains kicked in delusional; anyone who thought they were going to go on the road and upset Tom Izzo is nuts; and anyone who thinks there is anything to be gleaned from Wednesday’s game about Chris Mullin’s basketball acumen or the direction of the basketball program at Saint John’s is a fool … So yes, SJU lost by nine. Once again they went up early – it was 17 to 9 SJU at one point – and once again the bottom fell out, this time in the form of a 2-14 scoring drought to end the half. They kept things close in the second half until a similar drought, this one 0-10, finished them. Take away Marcus Lovett and the rest of the team shot 29 percent from the floor (14 for 47); they were outrebounded by 20, 53-33; they had eight assists to 16 for MSU. All of which is going to beat absolutely no one, and certainly not the number 24 team in the country coached by one of the best coaches of his generation and there’s nothing Chris Mullin could have done about it, not even implementing the various brilliant suggestions bandied about this morning by the many arm genyiouses who once were assistant coaches in a CYO league in Valley Stream: short of building a working time machine there were no “halftime adjustments” that would help. Pressing would not help, playing zone would not help, running the great Federico Mussini off more screens would not help, the box and one or triangle and two or pentagram and zero would not help. What would help would be if all the players were six months or a year older and smarter and more experienced and 20 pounds heavier. That’s what would help. Because this what happens to young inexperienced basketball teams: they lose games, lots of them, and sometimes badly. As Saint John’s fans I’d have thought you all expert in losing but evidently it needs to be beaten into some of you a little more righteously. Which is why I’m here.

 

PLAYERS: Marcus Lovett again led all scorers, which I think it’s safe to say you can pencil that in for the rest of the year. Twenty points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds. He’s beginning to remind me of another Marcus, see if you can guess who I’m thinking of … The rest of these bums don’t even deserve mention, but it’s a holiday, so: Owens, Yawke, and Sima were a combined 3 for 15 from the floor with 9 rebounds in 62 minutes. Probably there would have been more minutes but Tariq “Baruch Slayer” Owens fouled out again, this time in 11 minutes. For those of you scoring at home that’s 11 more minutes than Christian Jones played last night for UNLV and he’s sidelined with an injury. In two games Owens has managed 10 fouls in 25 minutes of floor time. Some fan forum wag suggested he should foul less often, which I concur …. The other two are 600 minutes into their college careers and I usually don’t throw players over the side until they reach 700, so they better pick it up …. Ponds had 12 points but was invisible most of the night.  …. Malik Ellison’s entry into the game is usually the beginning of the end but last night it was only the end of the middle – that’s all Mo’s coaching baby! My expectations for Ellison are so low that I take his 3 points, 3 rebound, 4 foul 20 minutes as a step in the right direction …. Ahmed hit a couple of threes early, then got a couple of fouls, then got a couple of more fouls and then fouled out with a technical. They’ll need him to do better than 4 for 13 from the floor with one assist if they hope to win some league games. He did have 7 rebounds though … Mussini made a couple of threes but also got called for a couple of offensive fouls and was an embarrassment on the defensive end unless you confuse stumbling around flailing your limbs with a fine defensive effort in which case he was excellent…. But not as much of an embarrassment as Darien Williams, who committed a foul less than a second after entering the game and got burned half a dozen times in three minutes by Miles Bridges – the second freshman to beat SJU single handedly – before Mullin mercifully euthanized him …. Alibegovich probably should have played more, that’s how bad the front court was … All I heard over the summer was what a sweet stroke Richard Heydrich Freundenburgh had and what a graceful athlete he was an so on. He does not look graceful to me and when he shoots he looks like he’s having a seizure.

NOTES: Last night’s game was (ironically) only available on a station called Access, which is the brainchild of Mark Cuban – which is what happens when a moron has too much money – and Ryan Seacrest – which is what happens when a moron has too little talent. This I accessed [sic] through a free trial subscription to Sling TV, an internet based TV service, similarly owned. Although in the not too distant future generations who enjoy cheap on demand entertainment will wonder why television consumers let themselves get fucked for so long by the monster that is time warner – just as today’s television consumers cannot understand the concept of getting up off the couch to change to Channel 11 in time for a Honeymooners marathon – Sling and AXS TV do not seem to be the answer. The Sling TV interface is slow and clunky and the channel offerings in the basic package pedestrian. Like the rest of you I’ll be cancelling on Friday …. The game was called by Kenny Rice, Seth Davis and someone called Tom Walsh. Of Kenny Rice who inflicts himself on much of TV’s horse racing coverage the best thing that can be said is that he’s not Kenny Mayne. Seth Davis is ubiquitous on college basketball halftime and pregame coverage but since I usually fast forward through that dreck I have mostly avoided him before last night. Turns out he’s sort of a self-important know it all douche bag, which made sense once I wiki-ed him and found out he’s a graduate of DoOk university, which makes him just another in a conga line of self-important know it all douche bags that includes cigar store Indians Quinn Snyder, Mike Gminski and Jim Spanarkle , drunkards Bob Wetzel and Bucky Waters, Alaa Abdulakbar, Jay “Look Out for that Tree!” Williams, the repulsive Jay Bilas and Shane Battier’s furrowed head. A little known fact about Seth is that he’s the son of Lanny Davis, long time consigliere of the Clinton crime syndicate…. This was the third meeting between SJU and MSU, and the first MSU victory. Saint John’s rallied from 16 down to beat Cazzie Russel’s 2nd ranked Michigan State team in the 1965 Holiday festival in what is arguably the greatest victory in school history and then beat them again in December 1980, with Michigan half a dozen games removed from a national championship …. Today is Thanksgiving, I mention that only so as to work in the picture of Marilyn Monroe. Gobble gobble.

Gopher Broke

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RECAP: I try not to plow the same ground when writing these things but it bears repeating that it’s in no one’s best interest that I’m stumbling around looking for martini fixings at 9 PM on a Friday night. But stumbling around I was and for my trouble I was rewarded with the first disappointment of the young basketball season, a 92-86 road loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Things started off promisingly enough: Saint John’s was ahead 22-9 when the bottom fell out. They were outscored 32 to 9 to close out the half and never got Minnesota’s 10 point half time lead down to more than five or so the rest of the way. Not a bad loss and not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but it was certainly a winnable one that got away …. It’s still a little early in the year to be poring over the box score and anyway anyone with eyes could see that the difference in the game was Minnesota freshman Amir Coffey and his 30 points, which included 11 of 12 from the free throw line. Besides which the box score would not reveal this important stat: that too many players on this year’s team wear headbands. There’s like four of them. That’s way too many …. Michigan State up next, then six winnable games before Syracuse at the carrier Dome. That’d make us about 8-3 going into league games, which seems about right

PLAYERS: Lovett had 31 points and five assists in 38 minutes, a performance one knowledgeable Saint John’s fan described as “awful.” If so we could use three more awful players, we might make the NIT …. In his third college game Shamorie Ponds had 23 points and 8 rebounds in 39 minutes, including 5 of 9 from three. Looks to be a star in the making, get aboard the Ponds train now … Ahmed double doubled but still appears a bit uncomfortable in the offense. Notice I didn’t say anything about the defense … Yawke and Sima combined for 12 points and 13 rebounds, which would be a good night for either one of them but is disappointing if you consider them in tandem. Sima though was 5 of 6 from the free throw line …. After Tariq Owens grabbed 12 rebounds versus mighty Baruch College one well respected basketball analyst stated emphatically that the debate about whether Christian Jones might have helped the team this year was over. It’s a shame no one told Tariq Owens that before last night’s game, which he fouled out of in 14 minutes … And he was the best player off the bench. The rest of them scored zero points in 36 minutes, led by the best shooter Saint John’s has had since Chris Mullin, who scored zero points in 19 minutes. Mussini is now 2 for 10 from three since torching Bethune Cooke a couple of weeks ago and is shooting 19 of 68 from three since last January – take away the B-C game he’s 14 of 62, that’s 22 percent. At what point do people realize that he’s just not a very good basketball player. Probably not until he gets a tattoo. Or a tan …. I still believe that Malik Ellison is the sort of four year player that all good programs need, it’s just too bad this is only year two. Although I’d be happy to see him relegated to garbage minutes I don’t see how that’s going to happen, which means we’re going to be suffering through performances like last night, in which he missed six shots in eleven minutes …. Freudenberger and Alibegovix rounded out the incompetence by combining for zero points and one rebound but to be fair they only played six minutes between them

NOTES: Minnesota is coached by little Ricky Pitino, who as far as I have been able to determine through cursory internet research was not spawned as the result of his repulsive father’s congress with a stranger in a crowded restaurant in front of members of his coaching staff but through normal marital coitus with Mrs. Pitino. If I were Rick the elder though I might ask for a DNA test because little Ricky looks suspiciously like the actor Simon Helberg, aka Howard Wollowitz from the Big Bang Theory

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Uncanny, right? Hopefully that’s just a happy coincidence, if Missus Pitino was unfaithful to her husband that’d be worse than 9-11 …. I did a long and hilarious screed about the state of Minnesota the last time these two teams met (a nine point win in Lavin’s last year) but failed to note the many illustrious Golden Gophers graduates  – like the Bearcat another apocryphal animal, there’s no such thing as a golden gopher – including world class dope Tom Friedman, failed presidential candidates Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, alleged serial rapist Henry Fonda, Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan, and a bevy of television legends including Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert), Jennifer Marlowe (Burt Reynold’s heavy bag Loni Anderson), Gomez Adams (John Astin), David Michael Starsky Kenneth Richard “Hutch” Hutchinson (David Soul) and Napoleon Solo (Man from UNCLE Robert Vaughn, a notorious lefty who passed away from a broken heart last week at age 83) … Speaking of resting in peace the great Sharon Jones passed away from pancreatic cancer last night at the much too young age of 60. Take 3 minutes and 33 seconds and listen to this, you’ll be happy you did

 

Broom Goes the Dynamite

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GAME: The most striking thing about Saint John’s 77-61 victory over Binghamton University Monday night at Carnesecca Arena was the normalcy of it. It wasn’t like the preseason last year, with a bunch of newcomers and ne’er do wells stumbling around the court in a ballet of incompetence. And it wasn’t like under the previous regime, with Coach Tesla starting his walk-ons and teaching future felons important life lessons and shuffling players in and out randomly under the pretense of discovering just the right recipe for success in February. Instead we got a workmanlike victory by a bunch of good looking newcomers which was all the more enjoyable because there’s no pressure or expectations. Next year this time will be a different story: next year is when everyone expects Mo’s great leap forward. This year we or at least I can just relax and enjoy it … Once again there’s nothing to be learned from looking at the box score, except to note that SJU missed half their free throws, which that can’t continue. The next two games though will tell the tale: even though little Ricky Pitino is on his way to being run out of Minnesota on a rail the Gophers are a real Division One team and Izzo is one of the great coaches of his generation. It’s be interesting to see how everyone react facing real competition …. Missus fun credited me with the fact that Mullin’s hair is back to its normal gray from the Lucille Ball look he was sporting versus Bethune-Cooke, but that seems to me a bit of a stretch. In any event, crisis averted.

PLAYERS: You might have to go back to Erick Barkely to find a freshman guard with as well rounded a game as Marcus Lovett. D’Angelo Harrison didn’t have his handle and neither Daryl Hill nor Omar Cook had his jump shot. The only thing I don’t like about his game so far is his day glo sneakers and I could get over that. Add Shamorie Ponds into the mix and you have the best freshman back court at SJU since Elander Lewis and Marcus Broadnax. Just kidding, since ever. Between them they had last night 44 points (including 9 threes), 8 assists, 14 rebounds (10 by Ponds) and 4 steals. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself but it’s scary to think how good they’ll be in a couple of months, much less a couple of years … Where that leaves great white hope Federico Mussini – who managed a meager five points in 22 minutes on 2 of 7 from the floor – and Malik Ellison is hard to say. Ellison could get some minutes at the three if Ahmed doesn’t turn things around – he wouldn’t be the first JUCO to struggle with the transition to Division 1 – but Mussini is to slow and puny to be anything but a two guard and we already have two guards … Unlike the back court, roles and minutes in the front court are a little more unsettled. Neither Yawke, Owens or Sima have much of an offensive game but all three have good enough hands to benefit from the improved guard play. Forty or fifty minutes shared between their three heads and 15 fouls seems reasonable …. Richard Fredunberg invaded Poland scored his first points of the year. Congratulations Richard. For all the hype I heard about him in the off season so far to me the most remarkable thing about him is how much he looks like every Waffen SS officer I’ve ever seen watching Holocaust porn on the History Channel… That leaves Alibegovic and Darien Williams with garbage time minutes, which seems about right

NOTES: UB is in Broome County, which might have made for a bit of a gambol if it had been so named for making sweeping implements – like nearby Gloversville is for making gloves and the Collar city Troy for menswear – but unfortunately its named after a minor 18th century politician called John Broome about whom there was nothing remarkable at all. Neither is there anything remarkable about Vestal, where the university is located (trust me, there are no virgins in Vestal),  or in fact about most of the I-88 corridor, which although picturesque is essentially a desert with trees and water. The story goes that the only reason the highway to nowhere got built in the first place is because some forgotten NY politician had a summer home in northern Pennsylvania and needed a way to get there after he was through collecting bribes while the Senate was in session in Albany …. UB’s mascot is the bearcat, which although not as apocryphal as the gryphon might as well be. Neither a bear or a cat, it’s actually a sort of weasel and native to Indonesia. How UB settled on it I’ll never know, but there are in fact ten college teams that claim the bearcat as mascot, including recent SJU victim Baruch College, which makes even less sense because that’s in Gramercy Park. At least Binghamton is in an exotic upstate NY … Other than Fordham you’d be hard pressed to find a worse CBB program than UB. They’ve won a mere 25 games in the five years since former John Thompson assistant Coach Kevin Broadus and half a dozen school officials resigned in disgrace in the wake of a scholastic and recruiting scandal that ended with the sort of sanctions the NCAA reserves for corrupt programs that don’t impact their bottom line. To show you how bad things are, current coach Tommy Dempsey was 88 and 12 in three years as a D3 head coach and won 120 games in 7 years at Rider. At UB he’s 25 and 96 and if what I saw last night was any indication things are not going to get better any time soon.

Make Alibegovic Great Again

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HERE WE GO AGAIN: An old saw says that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And so here are we Saint John’s fans once again in November thinking optimistic thoughts about the program and here am I once again to dissuade you from them. I frankly am not looking forward to my task this year. When I started writing these things it was out of a sense of frustration with the fate of the only sports team that I follow with any sort of passion and a loathing for its awful coach, the repulsive Steve Lavin. But now Lavin is gone lo these many years and with him the stench of failure and of his players only one remains and in the meantime the prodigal son has returned and the fatted calf is slain and the pieces are in place and things frankly are looking up – or as far up as things look in Jamaica anyway. And so what’s a boy to do? Sure I’m a cynic but not so far gone that I’m going to trash Chris Mullin and honestly even the skeptic in me believes that happy days will be here sooner rather than later. Where that leaves this experiment I am not sure and for the time being I’ll proceed in good faith but I suspect a time is coming when I’ll be happy enough to just watch the games and leave the commentary to the many genyiouses who so generously share their wisdom on various SJU forums … About what to expect this year I have not too much to say having only seen now 80 minutes of basketball, which is not enough for even the most astute observer to form an opinion. I will admit though that what little I’ve seen leaves me cautiously pessimistic: the newcomers look all of them like the real thing, the returnees look bigger and stronger, the staff looks energetic and engaged and the recruiting is better than it’s been forever. It’s probably too soon for any of that to translate to success on the court – college basketball being one of the few endeavors in life where age often trumps beauty – but it would be nice to see this year when all things shake out double the win total from last year (~16), a mid pack finish in the Big East, and an NIT bid, which is not an outlandish expectation considering that Chris Mullin is the coach and New York the television market. But as I say almost every year in November, wait till next year bums … About this game I have little to say as well: they ate the cupcake and although it was delicious there are no lessons in the empty calories. We’ll have a pretty good idea of how things are going to be by Thanksgiving, once Tom Izzo gets through with us … On my television last night Mullin’s hair was the same color as Frank Costanza’s. Hopefully that was an aberration and not a dye job

PLAYERS: Speaking of the real thing, Marcus Lovett did not start, despite being the best player on the court last night. Was it just one of those things or was Coach Lavin Mullin trying to teach his young point guard an important life lesson. I don’t know but if the latter get the orange jumpsuit ready … Federico Mussini had 20 points in 18 minutes, gladdening the hearts of racists everywhere. I’d remind those people that last year Mussini made 30 percent of his total threes (16 of 56) in November versus D2 competition, so I wouldn’t get too excited just yet. To be fair to FM he looks bigger and firmer and more athletic than he did last year, although I’ve seen fence posts that look more athletic than he did last year and he still this year can’t cover a pillar … Tariq Owens continues to impress although he’s going to have to manage more than four puny rebounds to make anyone forget Christian Jones, who had 13 last night versus real D1 competition … Shamorie Ponds led all players with 26 minutes and looked not much like a freshman doing so …. Bashmir Ahmed on the other hand played only 18 and looked to be pressing … At first thought I was disappointed that fun fave Kassoum Yawke only played 20 minutes and didn’t do much of anything with them but then I remembered just how young he is and what a luxury it is to be able to bring gifted players along slowly, rather than just throwing them to the dogs … Sima had 11 points in 15 minutes, confounding those who are already predicting his transfer … Like Mussini Malik Ellison looks bigger and stronger this year and seems poised to take a step forward … Richard Fredenburg will have to do better than zero points in 23 minutes if he expects me to learn how to spell his name …. Speaking of spelling, Alibegovic had a nice put back immediately upon entering the game and did a nice job of waving his towel thereafter. Anything they get from him beyond that will be a bonus … Darien Williams spent garbage time looking like someone whose had a bunch of surgeries and hasn’t played ball in a couple of years.

NOTES: Friday was Veteran’s Day, a public holiday intended to memorialize those who have served in their nations military, even, presumably, Germans. To those volk folk we offer a humble and heart felt thanks. Veteran’s Day falls on November 11 because the first world war – that’d be the war to end all wars for those scoring at home – ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1919, when the Huns surrendered to the Allies in a railway car in the North of France. (Ever the kidder Hitler had the French surrender in the very same railway car 30 years later.) In the United States the holiday was first promulgated by then President Woodrow Wilson, who besides being generally acknowledged as the first political “progressive” was the worst president of the 20th century and is on the short list for the worst president ever: an unrepentant racist, Wilson segregated the federal government, firing most black government employees – like most progressives he thought blacks “an ignorant and inferior race” – and consigned those who remained to colored bathrooms; in his memoirs he described the Ku Klux Klan as a “great” organization designed to “preserve the white race” and segregation as “a great benefit” to the negro; not content with that legacy he presided over the creation of the Federal Reserve system, instituted the first federal income tax, jailed his political enemies for treason and gleefully passed while as governor of New Jersey a bill requiring compulsory sterilization of felons, the mentally ill, and the differently abled. Add that all up and he makes Jimmy Carter look like Pericles … Speaking of politics, Theo R_______ (not his real name) writes:

Fun, could you share your thoughts on the recent election? As a millennial and a progressive I’m devastated and could use some solace.

Well sure Theo, I’d be delighted.

Louis Brandeis wrote that the right most cherished by civilized men is the right to be left alone. By that he meant that the essence of liberty is the right to opt out: from people, from relationships, from community, from ultimately from civilization. And so although I have firm opinions about the body politic – my belief that humanity is a dung heap and history the story of those who were ambitious enough to scale it has me positioned politically just to the right of Caligula – I’ve never voted. And this election was no different. Instead of participating I’ve endeavored to arrange my life so that it’s unaffected by the vagaries of government. I have no children and few attachments and enough money to tithe the state and afford my vices and since I’m interested in practically nothing other than my own comfort it doesn’t much matter which partisan hacks are ravening at the public teat at any given moment. All I want is to be left alone and for the most part I’ve achieved that.

Which is why I was pretty surprised late Tuesday evening when I realized how extremely unhappy I was going to be if Hillary Clinton were elected president. It wasn’t just the idea of living in a country governed by a cheap pant-suited grifter who’s spent her adult life feeding at the public trough in the name of public service. It wasn’t even that she’s married to a serial rapist and has a daughter that looks like Mister Ed. No. It was much more than that. Because by failing to elect Donald J. Trump president of the United States my fellow Americans would be squandering the opportunity to make so very many people so very fucking miserable and opportunities like that only come around a couple of times in a lifetime.

Mind you, I’m not talking about just the public mortification facing the likes of appalling no talent blowhards like Cher and Alec Baldwin, corpulent fuckhead Michael Moore, no talent whores Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, obese cum dumpsters Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer, rug munchers Rosie O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow, banana nosed bozo Barbra Streisand, ignorant fucking slut Madonna, and various smug and sanctimonious left wing stooges like Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sean Penn, Ed Asner, Jane Fonda, Woody Harrelson, Jessica Lange, Norman Lear, Martin Sheen, and Oliver Stone. And neither do I mean the disappointment felt by herds of coddled youth of the stupidest generation who flooded the internet with hilarious heart wrenching videos of their weeping disappointment before fleeing to safe spaces where they could share their feelings with grief counselors and assuage their disappointment with play doh and coloring books.

(Fans of irony will relish the fact that these ministrations to the feelings of the current generation of delicate snowflakes occurred on the eve of a holiday dedicated to remembering the bravery their great grandparents displayed storming the beaches of Normandy and will swoon with delight at the idea of millennial comparisons of the disappointment they experienced on 11-9 to real events that happened on 9-11.)

No: it was much bigger than all that.

See, it all came to me right about 2:00 AM, watching DemonRat toadies Wolf Blitzer and Van Jones frantically trying to parse their way to a Clinton win in the electoral college: I suddenly flashed on Hitler in his bunker pushing nonexistent Panzer divisions across a map of Eastern Europe. And it came to me that come morning whole continents would erupt in a glorious symphony of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth: dog faced PM Angela Merkel and her Germanic hordes; Canadian Prime Minster Zoolander and the myriad citizens of his third world hamster in a wheel socialist shit hole; entire nations of stinky cowardly frogs, murderous Huns and Cossacks, pathetic impotent Swedes and Sprouts, various rag and towel heads; and lest we forget those one billion inscrutable Orientals who’ve been buying up our country for the past 20 years, all of them singing in one voice: we are the world, we are the disconsolate, waa! Because there’s only one thing that’s sweeter than the feeling that comes from good things happening to me and that’s other people’s fucking misery. So take solace Theo: you might not feel so good but there are many many other people who feel worse, and that’s always cause for celebration. And if you worry about all the concentration camp fantasmagories that terrify you about the new president just remember that nothing that he could ever imagine doing will ever reach the depths plumbed by Woodrow Wilson and they’re still naming public buildings after that guy. So god bless America and god bless President Donald J. Trump. Schwing!