Michael Graham, Crackers

GAME: Missus fun and I were out and about this afternoon and stopped in as we sometimes do to this little bar and grill in the middle of east buttfuck that for some reason produces the most delicious lobster rolls crab chowder you’ll ever taste. We sat down and ordered and having acclimated myself I heard over the jukebox blare of REO Speedwagon’s Greatest Hits something about coverage of the St John’s Georgetown game resuming after a commercial break: it turned out that we were sitting under a flat screen tuned to Fox Sports One. I thought for a second about asking them to change the channel but that far out in the country I don’t like to do anything other than overtip and so instead I called for the check and paid it in full and and we left, sans bisque. Had St John’s not defeated Georgetown 85-80 in the battle for 9th place at Madison Square Garden Saturday afternoon I would have been kicking myself, because the chowder is to die for. Since they did though and in a relatively thrilling fashion I’m happy to have forgone my lunch. Although this isn’t your vintage Georgetown team or even much of one – if John Thompson III were an apple he’d have fallen so far from the tree that you couldn’t tell what sort of fruit he was – if you’re an old school fan wins like this one and like the one over Syracuse are just a bit sweeter. Butler and Xavier might be St John’s current and threatening rivals but the mention of their name doesn’t produce the same sort of primitive visceral hatred that certain members of the old Big East do … So the game:

 

After a bit of back and forth and a Mullin time out St John’s took a commanding lead by virtue of a 17-point run midway through the first half that had everything to do with marvelous play by Federico Mussini, who hit back to back threes and scored 11 points in about five minutes. Just when they were on the verge of blowing things open – and after Mussini missed a technical free throw that opened the door – Georgetown went on a 17-point run of their own to take a one point lead into the half. St John’s could have folded then, or they could have folded in the first five minutes of the second half or they could have folded when Tariq Owens went to the locker room having rolled his ankle or they could have folded when Georgetown got within a basket on more than one occasion at game’s end. Instead they did not fold: credit their continuing growth and maturity; credit the home court advantage – they’ve now won four in a row at home; credit the presence of two hall of fame players on the sidelines. Credit whatever the hell you want. The fact is that St John’s has now won seven league games in one of the two or three best college basketball conferences in the country with what is approximately the least experienced team in the country – as opposed to the one game they won last year. I know that there are fans who were not happy with Mullin’s hiring and that those fans would rather St John’s lose than that their opinion of his hiring be proven wrong, but I think it’s pretty evident now that barring an unforeseen catastrophe next year – and no less an eminence than Seth Davis thinks St John’s prospects next year are rosy – those fans will have to learn to swallow. Or at least eat crow … Once again the referees were atrocious. They called 50 fouls in 40 minutes that resulted in 61 free throws that comprised 27 percent of the points scored. I might be able to overlook that, but what’s amazing about it is what they miss. In the first half Lovett was called for tripping a Georgetown player who was running down the court with his hand between Lovett’s legs: I’ve had third dates where I got less action. Ponds was called for a tripping foul by a referee running down the court with his back to the play. St John’s was denied a basket when a Georgetown player pulled the rim down and the ricochet sent the ball bounding into the stands: that one, the three guys whose job it is to see stuff just like that missed, whereas Mullin saw from 75 feet away. Which is the frustrating thing about it: the referees pretense that they are omniscient beings who notice every bump and jostle and stray hand would be a lot easier to believe if they didn’t miss the egregious obvious things, and they miss them every game. It’s not even vaguely an isolated event … I mentioned last time but will mention again: if you were to flip five bad losses this team had in the fall they’d be at about 18 wins and of their losses the worst would probably be Seton Hall on the road. They’d be a bubble NCAA team and at worst a lock for a favorable seed in the NIT. That doesn’t sound like much but a year and a half into a five year rebuild it really is … Two games left, a likely loss at Creighton and a give the points rematch versus Providence at home. Anyone who wouldn’t have signed up for that outcome in November is delusional.

PLAYERS: Despite the fact that Shamorie Pons

led all scorers with 24 points on 10 for 15 shooting I was all set to award the game ball to Federico Mussini – until he threw the ball away on an inbounds play under the basket with about a minute to go, at which point I was ready to ship him back to Palermo in stowage. Since they won that boneheaded play will fade into the annals of boneheadedry and we will instead choose to remember that Mussini scored 16 points on six shots in 22 minutes, including 11 points during St John’s 17-0 first half run … I spent the week defending Bashir Ahmed from all comers and he rewarded me by playing the worst first half he’s played since junior college. Thanks Bashir. He did though finish with 16 points and five rebounds, which is about what he’s been averaging since the first of the year and he had a huge block on a three in the corner to seal the victory … Lovett had 11 points and four assists but sat most of the second half late. He did though hit four huge free throws with under a minute left … Alibegovitch was pressed into service when Owens (four points, three blocks) rolled an ankle after a block under the basket. Before Owens injury AA had been his usual moribund self: he had a Lovett pass bounce off his chest on a two on one breakaway and airballed a finger roll, which you wouldn’t even think was possible. After Owens got hurt though something strange happened: Alibegowitch played competently. He provided yeoman’s defense against the terrifying Jesse Govan and with about two minutes left miraculously stole the ball and dunked it at the other end to give St John’s an eight point lead … Williams had six rebounds in 15 minutes … Yakwe had four fouls in 10 minutes and was not a factor. He does though seem to have stopped fumbling the ball every time it’s thrown to him, which is something of a positive, because sometimes catching the ball is the hardest part … I seem to have no notes about Malik Ellison except that he made four free throws late and the box score says he had six points, six rebounds and two assists but my impression is that he stunk for most of the game and might have done less damage had he been wearing black. If you disagree, email me at MalikEllisonIsNotBraindead@theweaselsdotcom

NOTES: Dopey Steve Lavin showed up in the studio at halftime sporting a weak imitation Don Johnson stubble that’s presumably designed to camouflage his rapidly multiplying chins. Note to dopey Steve Lavin: it’s not working. He rewarded devotees of his Norm Crosby-esque commentary by noting that Villanova is “surgical in taking care of the basketball in terms of ball security” … After some hulking Georgetown player was T’ed up for shouldering Darien Williams under the basket after a hard foul Donny Marshall said that that neither John Thompson nor his son would approved of that sort of rough play because “that’s not their kind of basketball.” That will come as a surprise to anyone who watched John Thompson the elder coach, because his teams comprised the dirtiest collection of thugs that ever donned a basketball uniform that did not say DOC on the back. He gave a scholarship to Michael Graham for god sake … I received a bit of push back via email this week about my characterization of a “well-known well-respected” poster as a “misanthrope.” One well-meaning poster even suggested that I delete that reference, which obviously is not happening. In the first place it was an anonymous reference to a screen name disguising the well-known poster’s identity, so no harm could come of it; in the second all 200 people who were going to read it already had by the time it would have been deleted; in the third the only reason this blog exists is so that I can say whatever I want without the sort of petty censorship to which I am routinely subjected in other venues; and finally consider the source, by which I mean me, who readers should take seriously at their own risk. But lest I had missed the point I went so far as to ask missus fun (before the chowder) if she thought I was out of line – and she spends half the time we spend in public kicking me under the table and the other half shooting me disapproving glances – and she said no, that she thought the term misanthrope something of a compliment, which is essentially what I said to my email correspondents: that one of the few things I find to like and admire about other people is their willingness to dislike people arbitrarily. My misgivings to the extent that I had any were that I used the wrong word – I should have said pessimist, because I meant to convey that there’s a sentiment common among long-suffering St John’s fans that something tragic is always around the corner: just this year there are rumors of half a dozen disgruntled players transferring – Lovett, Ponds, Yakwe and Ellison are unhappy; Missini, Alibagadounts and Freudenbeugh are in over their heads and have already booked flights back to the euro leagues; Chris Mullin’s house is on the market; and Mitch Richmond has one foot out the door and will be followed closely by Matt A. My own take on the sad sack St John’s basketball program is that things are bad enough without imagining abstract scenarios in which the sky is falling on the caving in roof. That was all I meant to say and to the extent that I said something else I misspoke. Frankly the word I worried about using when I used it was “ossified,” which is old time slang for inebriated, but since no one had a problem with that one I guess it’s fair to conclude that the misanthrope to whom I referred is a drunkard.

This week’s exchanges though got me to thinking about the nature of this project and the interactions that arise from it. Because let us be clear: although this is for you free entertainment, it’s not free for me. It costs me money to host this website and it costs me time and energy to write 30 sidesplitting essays a year and that doesn’t even take into account my bar tab. Complaining about it – and you would’t believe what people think to complain about – is like complaining about the quality of the cheese they give out as free samples at the grocery story: not only is it rude, but it’s not going to have any effect on the quality of the cheese, it’s just going to make the person handing out the cheese think you’re a cunt. Pro tip: if you don’t like cheese, don’t eat cheese. You’ll be happier and healthier for it. Trust me, I’m not thin-skinned and that’s not what this is about: there’s nothing the individual among you who despises me the most could think to say about me on your most miserable day that would not pale in comparison to the self-loathing I feel when I’m in a relatively good mood. And neither am I afraid of disagreement: there’s nothing I enjoy more than sharp elbows thrown in the marketplace of ideas. But to round the circle: why do you follow St John’s basketball if following St John’s basketball makes you anxious and depressed and prone to flights of fancy comprising phantasmagorical scenarios where tragedy strikes the program and sport you profess to love? If you don’t like eating cheese, why are you eating it? If you don’t like reading this, why are reading it? If the answer is because you like complaining about things that you think make you happy, then you need professional help and medication. Me, I like complaining, but only because I hate everything.

Regarding the emails I get, they’re essentially of two types. First there’s fan mail, which believe it or not I get occasionally: people taking time out of their busy lives to say that they enjoy what I write and to encourage it. This is at least rational. It’s like saying thanks for the fellatio after a professionally done blow job: it expresses consideration for the time and effort it’s taken the practitioner to perfect her art and to encourage her to practice it more often. Which equals more blow jobs. Which makes perfect sense.

What doesn’t make sense are the the malcontents. First there are people who write to say that they don’t enjoy reading my writing. One guy for example wrote a couple of months ago and said something to the effect that he read a couple of my pieces and that they didn’t hold his interest and that he wouldn’t be reading anymore and that I’m not as funny as I think I am. My initial response – besides how do you know how funny I think I am – was okay thanks, that makes you one of the seven and a half billion people on the planet who don’t read my blog. But why stop there? Why not tell me what movies you don’t watch and what books you don’t read and what restaurants you don’t frequent. I know it’s meant as an insult, but it’s a strange sort of insult: someone I didn’t know writing to inform me that he will no longer be doing something I didn’t know he was. Which on a scale of one to ten is somewhere short of devastating.

The other complaint is people fact-checking the jokes. Hey fun, you transcribed the score of the Marquette game or hey fun you said Michigan but it was really Michigan State. The only rational answer to which is: shut up. Why did the chicken cross the highway. Well in the first place it wasn’t a highway, a highway is a main road that connects two municipalities, what the chicken crossed was a boulevard and anyway it wasn’t a chicken it was a rooster. Zzzz. The fact is that jokes are not true or false, they’re funny or not funny. When Don Rickles calls someone a hockey puck you should either laugh or not laugh: if you complain that the insult is not true because hockey pucks are small rubber projectiles used in a sport played on ice with sticks whereas human being are not made of rubber, then either you’re at the wrong show or you don’t own a Fleshlight. Either way, you’re wasting your time, and mine.

Meat Marquette

RECAP: There’s not a lot to say about St John’s 93-71 loss to Marquette Tuesday night in Wisconsin and I’m just the guy not to say it. I might not have written anything at all this morning – the fiendish missus fun succeeded in infecting me with whatever hellish disease she brought in from the outside world, leaving me so weak I can barely manage the martini shaker – except that I wrote the notes section last night waiting for the game to start and that section has an expiration date so now I need to write the beginning. But it will be brief. And it will be brief because St John’s does not play well on the road. Considering their youth and that they have only three and a half players who don’t stink St John’s has done an admirable job of protecting their home court, where their only losses were to teams ranked in the top 25. The problem is that everyone else in the league does the same admirable job, even Marquette and floor slapping Billy Donovan with a head injury coach Steve Wojocxychchochochi. The thing about Marquette is – and why I really can’t feel too bad about last night’s loss – is that despite all their advantages – their athletic budget, their facilities, their fanbase, their recruiting – they’re never going to be any better than what they are now: a middle of the pack bubble team that gets bounced the first weekend when they every once in a while make the tournament, because Wojo is a mediocrity. He was a mediocre player who Schrewshrenski pity-hired as an assistant and who Marquette – which has an otherwise long and illustrious record of coaching hires – for some reason named as the heir to Al MgGuire, Rick Majerus, Mike Deane, Tom Crean and Buzz Williams. Which is kind of like Frank Sinatra settling on Mia Farrow after getting dumped by Ava Gardner and Lauren Bacall … So anyway here’s the story


As the picture suggests, St John’s hung tough for about 10 minutes, then folded like a cheap house of cards. MU shot 56 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three, were plus nine in rebounds and had 22 assists on 34 made baskets; part of that was that Marquette was just on, but if you give up 200 points over two games maybe it’s time for a little defensive soul searching. And if you’re going to give up 50 points a half then you can’t shoot 40 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three and 65 percent from the free throw line, which is what SJU shot last night. Obviously Mullin realizes this: he said last night of the team’s effort on the defensive end “It’s not good,” which might qualify as the understatement of the year and that when players go to the basket “don’t give him a kiss, knock him down.” I doubt Mullin’s St John’s teams are ever going to be lock down defenders, because defense was not a large part of his game, but there’s a big difference between giving up 80 points and 100. I don’t mind 80 and in fact would much rather watch Lovett and Ponds run up and down the court then Bobby Kelley and Frankie Alagia walk. But some things clearly need to be addressed … Three games left, two at home, both winnable and then hopefully a favorable draw in the BET, and by favorable I mean on the other side from Villanova, because I think SJU can hang with anyone but them at MSG. They’re not going to win three games in three days or whatever it is, but winning one would be nice and a sign of real progress
PLAYERS: Ahmed led all scorers with 21 points (7 of 14) and added five rebounds and two assists. He’s scored in double figures in every game but one since the new year, and in 12 in a row; over his last 5 games he’s averaging 17 points a game (on 50 percent shooting) and six rebounds. Too bad he’s such a greedy street baller, he might make something of himself … Ponds had 14 points, seven rebounds, and six assists and Lovett 17 points, five assists, four steals. Together with Ahmed that comes to 52 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists, and 8 steals, which is remarkable production from three guys a collective nine months into their college careers …. Yawke had seven points and five rebounds, which doesn’t seem like much but considering where he’s been that’s a nice line. All three of his field goals came on dives to the basket, which a month ago he would have kicked two of those out of bounds … Owens had four fouls, three rebounds and one block – that’s a total of two blocks over his last two games, so perhaps our Olive Oyl freshman has hit the wall – and oh yeah he took a three, which needless to say he missed it … Alibegowitch fouled out in 11 minutes but not before drilling his fourth three of the year. The Croatian sharpshooter is now at 21 percent for the year from three … Following up on his 20 point outburst versus Butler Mussini had no points in 16 minutes. Which is the same amount of points Elijah Holyfield had in one … Which brings us to Malik Ellison, since I’m not going to mention the German: in general Malik Ellison is a marginal player with a low basketball IQ and poor court awareness and last night he was worse than that. Among other things he threw a full court pass from the opposite foul line into the third row behind the opposing basket; threw a pointless no look pass to a Fox cameraman; clanked a three off the side of the backboard; fouled a three point shooter with 10 seconds left in the first half; and turned the ball over at game’s end on a breakaway versus MU’s walk-ons. I’d ask what he was thinking but if you look into his dead great white shark eyes you know he’s not thinking anything
NOTES: When I start writing these essays in the fall everything is fresh and new. It’s a new season and there are new players and new vistas and hope springs eternal. So I don’t have too much trouble producing a free 2000 word essay for 500 readers most of whom can’t stand me two or three times a week. (No, I don’t think I’m wasting my life, thanks for asking.) Come February though when the end is near – and there are only about four games left in the season and it’s only two months until the first Saturday in May – it becomes a bit of a slog and so as soon as the last one is written I look ahead to see if there’s something on the horizon to get the juices flowing for the next one, because let’s face it if you and I were five months into a romance that started in November I’d be sick of the sound of your voice by now and sleeping with your best friend. Last week when I looked ahead I saw that February 20th was Presidents Day and I thought great, I did MLK Day last month and this’ll be a nice bookend to that, because whereas MLK Day excludes from celebration every other civil rights icon from Crispus Attucks on down Presidents Day celebrates the life of every incompetent overweening scoundrel who ever took the oath of office, even Jimmy Carter. Which makes a nice counterpoint. So I wrote that essay, which is appended below, but in between something happened that I also found interesting and which I also wrote about. That essay, regarding St John’s ace recruiter Matt Abdulwhatevr, however quickly took a left turn and as my left turns often do ended with me ranting about slavery, the Bubonic Plague and Auschwitz. Which you might think, how did you get from an assistant coach at St Johns to the Holocaust and I have to tell you, it’s not that hard. Every day the voice in my head plays six degrees of separation, except instead of Kevin Bacon he uses Heinrich Himmler. Watch: Kevin Bacon –> the film JFK –> Khrushchev —> Stalin —> the Hitler Stalin pact —> jews being baked in ovens like Pop Tarts. See? Easy peasy. And I can do that all day and do. As amusing as my rant was though I thought to dial it back because it got a little long and let’s face it I can do man is the most pernicious species of vermin that nature has suffered to crawl across the face of the earth shtick in my sleep and most of you are sick of it. I did though want to touch on the assistant coach thing, but just a bit:

St John’s fan boards were hot this week with a rumor concerning Matt A’s possible defection for parts unknown. Things started innocuously enough. A well-meaning well-respected poster said the following, which as far as I can tell arose unbidden:

“Just thinking out loud, Matt A is close with Will Wade, VCU HC and other coaches who could be up for high major jobs this coming spring … We would be in some serious trouble if he moved on … the future of the program [is] directly tied to him. Maybe I worry too much.”

My immediate response to which was yeah, maybe you do worry too much, if I worried that much I’d never leave the house, because I’d be too busy hiding under the couch from the AIDS infected meteor that’s speeding directly towards my brain tumor.

This post – which as I said was relatively innocuous and which was perhaps just the ossified musing of a lonely misanthrope and lord knows I’ve just described my own career as a writer – spawned because I just counted 40 pages comprising 200 posts about how the St John’s basketball program hinges on the precarious allegiance of an assistant coach no one had ever heard of two years ago: not on the long and illustrious history of St Johns basketball from the Wonder Five forward; not on the legacy of Sonny Dove and Mel Davis and Walter Berry; it does not stand on the shoulders of giants Buck Freeman, Joe Lapchick, and Norm Roberts; it does not depend on the presence of the greatest player in St Johns history on the sidelines. No. It hinges on some chubby assistant coach whose name I couldn’t begin to spell. Except the A and the B obviously, I could get that far.

I say all that to cite this, which is from a NY Times article about Matt’s hiring as an assistant at his alma mater in the home town he professes to love, which I am continually assured is the greatest city on earth: “[Matt] grew up enamored of everything related to St. John’s”; he said of his hiring that “It’s surreal, it’s amazing. Words can’t describe it … [Mullin’s] an absolute legend.” Question: does that sound to you like someone who might uproot his young family after two years and follow Will “whoeverthefuckheis” Wade to whereverthefuck he’s going; and even if so, will that really doom the St Johns basketball program? Personally I don’t think so. I think a basketball program that survived Steve Lavin’s prostate can survive anything and to show you how sure I am I looked up how to spell his name: it’s A-B-D-E-L-M-A-S-S-I-H. And I will every time I mention his name spell it just like that. All I can figure is that St John’s has been a laughingstock for so long and its fans are so beaten down that they are conditioned to enjoy failure. They associate nostalgically with Saint John’s basketball, which has disappointed them their entire lives. So that when it seems like something good might be happening they reach for the bad because the pain makes them feels pleasure. It’s like cutting, there’s just less blood … So then there’s this, which short attention span readers can skip if they’re still awake:
Yesterday was Presidents Day, to commemorate which CSPAN polled a group of academics – an academic loosely defined is one whose credentials outstrip his wisdom – as to who were the greatest American presidents evah. If you needed proof of the failings of the US educational system and the group think that exists in academia – and if you need proof you’re blind so you’re not reading this anyway – you only need look at the list. Every democratic president in the 20th century is in the top 15 except Jimmy Carter – and he’s 25th, as opposed to what should be a preemptive 70th, considering that his foremost achievement in office was the hilariously named Operation Rice Bowl, which comprised crashing several helicopters into each other in the middle of a desert in a failed attempt to end the Iranian hostage crisis.

Franklin D Roosevelt, a patrician communist sympathizer who returned boatloads full of doomed German Jews back to Treblinka (I would have said Auschwitz but variety is the spice of life) and who appointed Ku Klux Klansman Hugo Black to the US Supreme Court is number three; Harry Truman, an actual member of the KKK, who incinerated hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians with nuclear weapons, is number six; John effing Kennedy, whose greatest accomplishment – besides an impressive scorecard that included Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Angie Dickinson and Gene Tierney – was getting his brains blown out by someone other than his long suffering cuckolded wife, is number eight; Lyndon Johnson, who urged democrats to hold their noses and vote for the 1965 civil rights act by telling them that “We’ll have those darkies voting for us for 200 years” is number 10, except he didn’t say darkies; Woodrow Wilson who resegregated the government and lobbied for antimiscegenation laws lest virile black men – he called blacks “an ignorant and inferior race” – defile the delicate flower of white womenhood was number 11, although to be fair he was incapacitated by a stroke and spent the last several years of his second term drooling on himself while his wife ran the country, so she deserves some credit; Barack Hussein Jugears is unfathomably number 12; and rounding out the top 15 is the satyr Bill Clinton, a creditably accused rapist who was impeached for masturbating on a fat girl.
Of course some of the rankings make sense. Franklin Pierce for example was an alcoholic who thought the movement to free the slaves was the greatest threat to the union since King George III, he came in at number 41; it will surprise absolutely no one who did not attend a public school that Pierce was a democrat. Andrew Johnson, a democrat impeached by republicans opposed to his plan to transfer jurisdiction over the civil rights of freed slaves to their former southern masters is 44th. James Buchanan, whose best political impulse was ambivalence toward the evils of slavery and the preservation of the union was last, surprise he’s another democrat. And the moral is: it’s not for nothing democrats are called the party of slavery and sedition.

Also not for nothing, my list:

1. George Washington: the father of our country defeated the Brits in the war for independence and retired to the life of a gentleman farmer when he was through; never told a lie

2. Abe Lincoln: preserved the union, freed the slaves, good size for a point guard

3. Ronald Reagan: destroyed the Soviet Union, the greatest existential threat to freedom in the history of the universe and banged more hot broads than that poseur JFK, including Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Doris Day, Joan Blondell and Lana Turner

4. Andrew Jackson: arguably the most important American historical figure besides the founding fathers; yeah he owned slaves and killed Injuns but so would I had I been born in Tennessee in 1767 and so would you

5. Thomas Jefferson: not much of a president but he wrote the declaration of independence and the constitution and that’s got to count for something; made jungle fever socially acceptable

If pressed for six man I’d pick William Henry Harrison, but only because he was president for only 31 days, which wasn’t enough time to do any serious damage to anything.

Ifs Ands And Butlers

 

GAME: Missus fun came down with something about a week ago – the flu, cholera, I’m not sure – and as I do whenever she brings disease into the house I exiled her to the servants quarters, donned a biohazard suit and locked myself away like they did from the plague in the Masque of the Red Death. They say that misery loves company but I don’t like misery and so other than shoving a bowl of soup under the door every couple of hours I left her to the fates and her immune system, because that I figure is her problem: we all die alone. The problem for me is that without her civilizing influence I tend to run amok, which is why I was sitting last night at midnight in my study, four windows open to the February air, wood stove blazing, with a freshly lit La Flor Dominicana and making bubbles in a bottle of Stoli: because there was no one there to shoot me disapproving looks intended to save me from myself. The problem for you is that my notes about the 110-86 beating St John’s took at the hands of the Butler Bulldogs Wednesday night in Indiana look like the lunatic ravings of an opium eater as transcribed by Michael J Fox. Most of it I literally can’t make out and what I can make out I wish I could not. The gist of it seems to be that St John’s did not play well and Butler did and that displeased me but that’s nothing I couldn’t have figured out by reading the box score.


To say that St John’s came out flat would be an understatement: Ahmed took a bad shot and then Lovett took one and in the meanwhile Butler scored on three straight possession off six rebounds. It was 7-0 when Mullin took a time out that didn’t help; it was 12-3 before St John’s made its first field goal five minutes in; it was 21-9 when Mullin was shown on camera asking his team to “maybe show up,” they having then shot two for nine from the floor and been outrebounded 13-3; it was 54-35 at half time; another 50 point half followed and 110 points is the most I can recall St John’s giving up in quite a while. Part of that was because Chris Holtmann left his starters in to the bitter end and it would have been poetic justice had one of them broken a fibula or something but it was just one of those nights where no good came of anything. Hopefully Mullin files it away and returns the beating at MSG in a couple of weeks … The numbers speak for themselves: Butler shot 55 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three versus 44 and 35 for St John’s; SJU got murdalized on the glass where Butler was plus 15; turnovers were even but St John’s had only two blocks – they average six … Another atrocious job by the referees, who called 55 fouls that resulted in 77 free throw attempts, which is about two a minute, which made the game two and a half hours long and as exciting as a colonoscopy … One thing my notes are clear about was welcome relief that I no longer had to suffer through another broadcast on CBS. Instead I tuned in Fox and heard Bill Rafferty calling the end of the Providence game and thought to myself self, this is how college basketball should be in February. And then to my delight the repulsive Steve Lavin was absent from the pregame – I guess like his contract at St John’s his contract at Fox does not require him to work weeknights. It turned out I was denied even that morsel of satisfaction, because instead of the B team – Spanarkle – or even the C team – Dickey Simpkins – the late game was called by someone called Jordan Cornette, whose Linked In page describes him as a “TV Personality.” It turns out the Jordan Cornette is the brother of the late Joel Cornette, a recent Butler grad who died of a coronary incident in the fall and whose casket was displayed at center court in Hinkle Field House. I mean what the hell? Last week Steve Lappas was slobbering over his successor during the Villanova game and now we get treated to impartial commentary by the dead guy’s brother. Maybe to even things out Malik Sealy’s orphaned children can call the next St John’s game. Of his brother Cornette said “I don’t want to personalize this broadcast” before personalizing the broadcast by dragging his brother’s corpse through the middle of it: he postulated that his brother would be pleased by Butler’s performance and noted that he found it “ironic” that he was calling the game from the court where his brother was memorialized. Whereas I find it “ironic” that a “TV personality” who graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in journalism doesn’t know the meaning of ironic, because there was nothing ironic about it. It was sad maybe, or melancholy, but only Alanis Morisette would find it ironic. Among Cornette’s other insightful observations were that Butler was “really running some clock” – with 12 minutes left in the first half; he said of Shamorie Ponds after his technical: “Shamorie Ponds, a six foot tall guy, I question his toughness … This is what I don’t like” – to which I appended in my notes, “Yeah well, he’s got more heart than your brother,” which in light of day seems a tad harsh but I found it hilarious at the time; and speaking of hilarious he said that Mussini was “called for a reach around,” not that there’s anything wrong with that … The loss dropped St John’s to eighth in the conference, tied with Providence at 6-8 with four games to go. Two and two is doable, meaning 8-10 in conference plus or minus. They’re a couple of winnable losses away from the NCAA bubble. Think about it: flip VCU, ODU, Delaware State, LIU, and Penn State – all games they probably win if they played them now instead of in the fall – and they’d be 17-10 with a better resume than Seton Hall, Marquette and Providence. Future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.

 

PLAYERS: To the extent there was a game ball it goes to – wait for it Monte, wait for it – Federico Mussini. Twenty points, 7-13 from the floor, four of seven from three, three rebounds and three assists including a neat no look to Owens. That’s two out of three in double figures for the Italian Rapscallion and I’m not even going to mention that both of those were losses … Ponds and Lovett had 33 points between them but were only 8 of 22 from the floor; nearly half their points came on free throws … Owens had eight points and six rebounds but only one block … Ahmed had 15 points before fouling out … Yawke finished strongly on a couple of rolls to the basket but two rebounds in 23 minutes just will not cut it … Speaking of not cutting it, Malik Ellison as an energy guy off the bench is worse than Malik Ellison as a starter: twice as many fouls as points in 12 minutes and yet another lazy cross court pass leading to a breakaway. How many times can you make the same stupid play. Tune in versus Marquette next Tuesday to find out … Alibegowitch fouled out in 14 minutes. I predict that he will learn the meaning of the term “box out” next year while working as a stock boy in a Serbian market where part of his job will be helping the old ladies carry groceries to their cars. If in fact people in Serbia have cars … Williams did not play and Feudenburgh may as well not have

 
NOTES: February 15th is Jour du Drapeau National du Canada, aka National Flag Day in Canada, the worst country in the world, a worse country even than France and France has an excuse: it’s full of french people, whereas Canadians are more like Americans who don’t know any better. On this day Canuckleheads emerge from their igloos, don their ceremonial touques and celebrate their cultural heritage by ingesting enormous quantities of seal blubber washed down with copious amounts of the piss that passes for beer in the great white north. If you’ve ever celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day in NYC – and what red blooded American hasn’t – it’s like that, but transplanted to a third world hamster in a wheel socialist shit-hole.

We of course all know what Canada’s flag looks like: it’s essentially a shrubbery, red. However it has not always been thus. In fact, before 1965 Canada had a pretty bad ass looking flag, a variation of the British Union Jack.

Cool beans, right? Its red white and blue and has dragons and harps and mythical monsters. In 1965 though, inspired by a bout of sour grapes nationalism led by then Prime Minister Lester Pearson, today’s well known maple leaf was adopted, but not before six months of acrimonious debate that led the country nearly to the brink of a civil war. As flags go one that pays homage to pancake syrup doesn’t seem like much but if you consider that ten percent of the nearly 3500 designs considered back then depicted various incarnations of a beaver – and not Pam Anderson’s glorious Canadian beaver either or Jessica Lucas’s – I mean an actual rodent with fur and buck teeth

– see the difference? – a national celebration of flapjacks isn’t necessarily the worst outcome. It’s still pretty bad though. I can understand the appeal of the animal: a giant grizzly bear like they have in California; or a snake that sinks its venomous fangs into your ankle if you tread on it; or a mighty lion like the one that graces the flags of Bermuda and Montenegro – they all portray a message of strength, resolve and ferocity. The logic behind the beaver though eludes me: if threatened I will gnaw through a tree trunk so that it falls on your head and afterwards I’ll beat you to death with my big flat tail is more likely to inspire laughter than terror. It turns out though that the beaver is not the worst idea for a national symbol if you consider that the Cayman Islands’ flag features a turtle and Croatia’s a goat and Moldova’s a cow and Saint Maarten’s a pelican and Turks and Caicos Islands’ a whelk. (“The whelk is nothing but a homosexual of the worst kind. This gay boy of the gastropods, this queer crustacean, this mincing mollusk, this screaming, prancing, limp-wristed queen of the deep makes me sick.”) It’s not even hipster meta irony like UC Santa Cruz’s banana slug mascot. It’s just dumb.

Anyway, although a despicable communist apologist Pearson was far from the worst Canadian prime minister – one need only look to current PM Justin Zoolander to see that – and for his sympathies he was – like several horrible US presidents – awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Pearson earned his for his role in mitigating the so called Suez Canal Crisis – a crisis in the middle east is what the left calls it when Israel defends itself against its genocidal neighbors. In being so honored Pearson joined an illustrious conga line of eleemosynaries that includes virulent racist Woodrow Wilson, mass murderer Yassar Arafat, antisemitic buffoon Jimmy Carter, inventor of the internet Al Gore, and Barack “I’m really good at killing people” Obama. For his efforts in the Middle East Pearson became known as the “father of peacekeeping,” peacekeeping being the term the UN uses as a colloquialism for the rape, pedophilia, child prostitution, and ethnic cleansing that have for 50 years accompanied its humanitarian activities in socialist paradises like Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia and Haiti. Which is not to say that Canada is or all Canadians are bad. My boon companion Redmannorth is a Canuck and besides him they gave us Second City Television, Doug and the Slugs, Neil Young, Gil Evans, Mark Steyn, and Ted Cruz. But on the other hand they produced a long list of horrors that starts with Samantha Bee and Peter Jennings and runs through Nickleback and Justin Bieber and ends with John Kenneth Galbraith and Malcolm Gladwell. Which let’s face it, that’s a lot to overcome, even for the country that produced Shannon Tweed

 

PIE ROTS

As faithful readers know, I’m something of a connoisseur of schadenfreude. Which is to say that there are few things in the world that make me happier than when bad things happen to other people. Which is why Saint John’s 78-70 defeat of the Seton Hall Pirates at Madison Square Garden was so much sweeter than the usual run of the mill win. Because for Seton Hall, on Selection Sunday, Saint John’s is going to be a bad loss. And if Seton Hall doesn’t make the tournament – as I fervently hope they do not, because fuck Seton Hall – then today will be a major reason why. To put my glee in perspective, I had a fin on a $60 horse today in the seventh at Aqueduct, a Finger Lakes shipper called Hey Jabber Jaw – lone speed baby! – and the thrill of that cha-ching pales in comparison to the joy I feel at the thought of Kevin Willard’s rat guts roiling on the long bus ride back to Jersey … As games go, this was not a particularly compelling one. Things were close for about the first ten minutes, at which point SJU went on a 20-6 run to lead by 10 points at half time and things would have been much closer had SJU not missed half a dozen lay ups. Things did not get much closer after that: I can’t be arsed to check but I think the lead in the second half was never less than seven, and that’s taking into account a 9-2 SH run about midway through the half. What was compelling was how Saint John’s won: they didn’t win as usual by shooting the lights out from three – they were 3-11. They won by playing defense, by controlling the tempo, by absorbing a punch, in short by doing all the little things that good teams do routinely when they win. I noted a bit ago and will note again: despite their youth this team is starting to gel. You can see them getting better and you can feel them getting better; and you can see and feel Mullin becoming a head coach. To the extent that Saint John’s basketball is thrilling – which is easily as thrilling as a 14 thousand dollar claimer at Aqueduct in February – this is it. I don’t mean that it doesn’t get any better than this – because next year will be better than this – but at this point in time and at this point in the process, we are you and I a couple of glorious seconds short of ejaculation. It’s like Hannibal Smith used to say: I love it when a plan comes together …

 

Some points high and low from the box score: both teams shot about 40 percent from the floor; SH shot 40 percent from three, versus 25 percent for SJU; Seton Hall turned the ball over 19 times, versus 8 for SJU; Seton Hall shot 65 percent from the free throw line – nine misses in an eight point game, haha – as opposed to 19-21 for Saint John’s, those two misses by Lovett and Missini, who are usually money; it wasn’t evident to me watching the game but SH was plus 12 rebounding, didn’t matter, don’t care … Other than his decision to inexplicably take the air out of the ball late in the second half when he should have put his foot on Kevin Willard’s throat and torn his jugular out with his teeth, another well-coached game by Mullin. As goofy as he may have looked sitting on the scorer’s table last year at this time, that’s the opposite of how good he looks this year on the sidelines: in control of his team and himself. Speaking of schadenfreude, its a bit too soon to call all the Mullin haterz to the carpet, but that time is coming: in short order there will be a shit ton of crow for Mullin doubters to eat and I will personally shove each and every black fucking bird down each and every throat. Because seeing Mullin finding himself on the sidelines is marvelous … I’ve expended many words this year shitting on the officiating but today the officiating did not suck. I don’t mean that the officials could see or were not stupid or understood the rules of basketball. Heaven forfend, because they missed a shit ton of calls. But today they did not interfere with the game: they did not destroy its rhythm or integrity by calling too many fouls; they did not play favorites by penalizing one team at the expense of the other; in other words, other than that they were there, you could not tell they were there, which is how it should be. It did not even bother me that Angel Delgado was permitted to stand in the lane long enough to grow roots: I tortured Missus Fun by continually rewinding the game and counting how many three second violations ADG committed, which was half a dozen, with four of them comprising five seconds each time – with that sort of advantage no wonder he leads the conference in rebounding … SJU Is now sixth in the conference – not in something, actually sixth place in the conference, in Mullin’s second year. They have six wins, as many as Marquette and more than Seton Hall and Georgetown and Providence. They’ve won four out of their last seven. Other than two losing streaks where they lost nine of nine they’re 12 and 5. I find this wonderful and hilarious. If you don’t you should find another team to root for.

PLAYERS: Marcus Lovett once again did not start but my did he finish: 19 points, six assists, and five rebounds … Tariq Owens double doubled: ten points and 12 rebounds to go along with 4 blocks. I don’t recall an SJU player ever having a triple double but he’s a candidate. On one remarkable sequence he blocked a shot at one end and followed up a missed shot with a dunk on the other. If it doesn’t make ESPN’s top ten then something is amiss at ESPN … Ahmed pressed a bit but had 11 points and eight rebounds, disappointing fans who think he stinks. Had a marvelous no look pass on break that led to a Missini lay in … Ponds had 17, a bunch of it acrobatically in traffic. Made a spin move in traffic in the first half that should be in a museum … Yakwe had eight points and three assists, but also three blocks and drew three charges. To the extent hat Delgado was not a factor he was not a factor because of Yawke … Amar Aligegowish emerged from the primordial muck to have a not shitty game: he made a couple of lay ups – one on a spectacular no look from Lovett – and hit a big three that swished right as I was yelling at him for taking it … Missini made a couple of plays but was mostly ineffectual. In one sequence he missed a three, flubbed a rebound on the other end and allowed his man a three, which was about a nine point turn around .. Ellison committed three fouls in five minutes and was pulled after throwing one of his patented lazy half court passes that led to a SH fast break. Mullin said he injured his thumb, but I hope he didn’t play in the second half because he sucks, which he does … Darien Williams did not play because he has a walking boot on his shoulder and Fruedenbrgh didn’t play because he stinks.

NOTES: Last week I ragged on the CBS coverage to no end. Today it did not suck. In fact, other than he first appearance of Wally Scerbiaks’ terrifying eyebrows I quite enjoyed the it. Doug Gottlieb – who as a radio host makes those morons on Mike and Mike look like Bertrand Russel and Alfred North Whitehead – was eloquent and well informed. About the rest of them the less said the better … As I mentioned last week I received an email, the gist of which was that I’d softened my stance on Fedrerico Mussini in the face of his (the reader’s) and other’s criticism that I was prejudiced against Italians – can you imagine in this day and age, a jew broad, prejudiced against italians – noting that I had even taken to spelling Mussini correctly, as opposed to my preferred Missini. That of course is twaddle. In the first place I don’t hate Italians – I mean sure I hate some Italians, my family for instance, but not all of them, how can you hate a race nationality that turned out Sophia Loren and Claudia Cardinale for god sake – and in the second it should be evident by now that I don’t give a shit what you people think. But as pari-mutuel fans of the ALL button know the most important place is the third: in his last several games Missini- not today but in general – has played limited minutes adequately, which is about all you can expect from a short skinny less than talented dago. (Interestingly although dago is often employed as a slur against Italians its etymology suggests that it’s a variation on the Portuguese surname Diego.) It did get me to thinking though about how few Italians have made their mark in basketball. There are any number of great Italian baseball players, inter alia Steve Balboni, Rocco Baldelli, Kurt Bevacqua (of whom self hating Italian Tommy Lasorda said “he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a fucking boat”), Buddy Biancalana, John Boccabella, Jim Fregosi, Pete Incaviglia, Cookie Lavagetto, Lee Mazzilli, Tiger great Don Mossi, and Mike Pagliarulo. Just kidding, those guys stunk. But Sal Bando, Yogi Berra, Craig Biggio, Ralph Branca, Roy Campanella, Tony Conigliaro, Joe DiMaggio, Tony Lazzeri, Sal Maglie, Rico Petrocelli, Mike Piazza, and Phil Rizzuto, they didn’t stink. So it’s not that eye-ties are terrible athletes. And in fact some were great athletes: Willie Mosconi was Italian; so was Charles Atlas; so was Rocky Marciano; so was Brian Boitano. They’re a little thin in football, but Marc Bavaro, Daryl Lamonica, Mike Lucci, Dan Marino, Dan Pastorini, Tony Siragusa, and Adam Vinatieri are nothing to sneeze at. So it strikes me as a bit odd that there are so few great Italain basketball players, the best of which was arguably Diana Taurasi and if not him her then probably former NBA rookie of the year Ernie DiGregorio, who stil holds the single game NBA assist mark at 25. After him things drop off precipitously: you’ve got Saint John’s own mix breed Jayson Williams, Villanova alum Bill Melchionni – Melchionni played on two of the most talented basketball teams ever assembled: in 1967 he played with Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, and Chet Walker on the 76ers and in 1974 he won an ABA championship with Julius Erving, Larry Kenon, John Williamson, and Billy Paultz – and beyond them the Vinny Del Nigros and John Gianellis of the world. I mean, the French are the worst nationality on the planet and they produced Bob Cousy and Tony Parker. Look at for example the list of the top Irish American basketball players and you can leave aside the Al and Frank McGuire and the brothers Mcyntyre and even Bobby Kelley and still have this starting six: John Stockton, black Irish Jason Kidd, Chris Mullin, Rick Barry, Kevin McHale, and Bill Walton, and after that you can bring former Saint Johhn’s coach Matt Doherty off the bench. That’s a pretty good basketball team and although they wouldn’t beat Magic, Michael, Julius, LeBron and Wilt, it’d be a pretty entertaining game, and maybe even competetive. Where Italians have made their basketball mark is as coaches: Geno Auriemma, John Calipari, P.J Carlesimo, Louie, Mike D’Antoni, Tom Izzo, Rollie Massimino, Thad Matta, Dick Motta, Rick Pitino and Jim Valvano were all wops. What does this all mean, other than that since basketball is a game Irish excel at evidently you can play it shit faced? I’m not sure, but I only have 2000 words to write, and that was a thousand and morals are extra.

Villain: Nova

If you’d asked me late Saturday night whether I was going to get up early Sunday morning and write something about Villanova’s 92-79 demolition of Saint John’s in Philadelphia I wouldn’t have answered because I was passed out, but had I been conscious I’d have said no, I’m taking a well deserved mental health day, it’s bad enough that I had to sit through that, I’m certainly not going to rise bright and early to rehash it. But here I am all the same. That I am is I suppose partly the fault of the same Puritan ethic that makes me such a workmanlike drinker and partly that I have a few things rattling around in my head that will continue to do so until they’re committed to paper … About the game there is not much to say. Villanova went up big early and stayed there. The end.

Considering that Villanova is a top five  team it was a pretty ugly game. The teams combined to shoot 19 of 51 from three; there were 39 turnovers, 23 of them Nova’s; the refs – who were once again atrocious, I don’t know what home for the blind they’re finding these dopes in but they’re starting to get on my nerves, each crew is worse than the last – called 48 fouls, which resulted in 42 free throw attempts, 27 for Villanova, of which they made 25, which was a quarter of their points, and which free throw discrepancy of 14 was eerily close to the difference in the final score. I’m not saying that Saint John’s lost because of the referees, that would be moronic: they lost because they played horribly. The point is that if they hadn’t played horribly they still would have lost, because of the officiating. Babbling idiot Steve Lappas said something about Nova’s free throw shooting over the course of the season – Nova has made more free throws than their opponents have attempted or something, I don’t recall exactly and my notes are pretty incoherent – but the gist of it was that the free throw discrepancy was the result of some basketball skill on Villanova’s part, which earth to Lappas, no it isn’t. It’s the result of Jay Wright getting the benefit of the doubt on every call, just like Mike Schrewshenshy gets the benefit of the doubt on every call. The fact is that if the refs wanted to they could call a foul on every drive to the basket, because there’s always contact. They just don’t always. For example, last night Bashir Ahmed took 17 shots, many of those in traffic in the lane: he shot zero free throws. Josh Hart took the same number of shots from roughly the same place on the floor and shot 10 free throws. Here, look, Ahmed’s on the left, Hart’s on the right:


Am I supposed to believe that the guy on the right got fouled half the time he took the ball to the basket and the guy on the left got fouled not one single time? Not one hand grazed his arm, not one body bumped into his ever so slightly? Because I don’t believe that. Do I believe that there’s an organized conspiracy among referees to blow Nova and Jay Wright, the same way they blow dook? Not really, although it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that there was because stranger things have happened. What’s more likely is that like dook Nova receives at every turn gushing attention from the media, and Jay Wright receives gushing attention from the media – I mean Jesus the next time I hear about what a great dresser he is I’m going to scream, he dresses like an undertaker with a credit line at Brooks Brothers – and that all that gushing filters its way into the heads of referees – which less face it these guys aren’t rocket scientists to begin with, Jim Burr was a referee and he was so dumb I can’t understand how he got out of bed in the morning without breaking a bone – and when the time comes to decide who did what to whom they decide that the Villanova player made the correct play because they play for Villanova. It’s confirmation bias. You even hear it among Saint John’s fans, how Villanova is the program Saint John’s should emulate and how “classy” Jay Wright is and how proud they are of Villanova’s success because Saint John’s gets to bask in its glow. I have a different take: fuck Villanova and fuck Jay Wright and fuck their success. I hope they never win another game and Jay Wright ends up drunk and living in a box mumbling Can’t-Stand-Ya Can’t-Stand-Ya… I was briefly excited during the pre game when it was announced that Saint John’s had made a change in their starting line up. It’s about time I thought, sit Malik Ellison down, move Ahmed to the three and Yawke to the four and start Owens, he’s going to foul out in 20 minutes anyway, why not the first 20. Instead, for at least the second time this year Mullin sat Marcus Lovett for some minor disciplinary infraction. The other one was one of the OOC losses, maybe LIU, I can’t be arsed to check. This to me does not seem to be an efficacious method of training the young mind of a student athlete. In the first place, it doesn’t work. If it worked he wouldn’t have been late a second time. In the second place it penalizes persons other than the perpetrator of the offense: his team mates suffer, the fans suffer, the school suffers, ultimately the sport suffers and worst of all I suffer and I suffer enough alfuckingready. If he’s late to a meeting make him run the stairs or waterboard him or attach electrodes to his genitals, I don’t care. Not playing your best player that doesn’t make you a fair and firm disciplinarian, that makes you a bad coach. That whiny pussy Grayson Allen tried to cripple half a dozen people and Schrewshrenski had to be shamed into sitting him down for 20 minutes and Schreshrenski is ever classier than Jay Wright. Hopefully in the future Mullin follows that example, maybe he’ll end up with an American Express commercial and SJU will finally start getting some calls … Saint John’s has a week off to prepare for next Saturday’s game against Seton Hall, or as I like to think of it, the Battle for Seventh Place. If they’re going to have any hopes of a CBI bid I make this one a must win.

 

PLAYERS: This will be short and sweet. Despite his benching Lovett led SJU with 23 points and added six assists, four steals and three rebounds. That’s why he should be playing, because he’s good at basketball … Ahmed had 15 points and seven rebounds, his ninth straight game in double figures … Ponds had 15 points but didn’t score until there were 15 minutes left in the game and it didn’t matter anymore … Building on his marvelous performance against Marquette, Yakwe had a rebound, a block and took a charge in the first minute. Unfortunately he played another 22 minutes after that, during which time his resurgence was less evident … Mussini made three threes but airballed one of his misses and was once again schooled by Donte Diwhatever, who I still can’t believe didn’t go to dook, because he seems like their sort of smug douche bag … Owens and Williams combined for seven points and six rebounds, which would be pretty good if they were one player and he was the third player off the bench … Speaking of the third player off the bench it should be Malik Ellison, who had five points in 22 minutes  … Alibegowith played what might be the most futile six minutes of college basketball I’ve seen since Abe Keita was getting paid under the table … Fruedenburg hit a three, his sixth of the year. The German wunderkind is now at 18 percent for the year.

 
NOTES: Last night’s coverage on CBS was so atrocious that it made me pine for Fox Sports and Steve Lavin and I’m not even kidding. Play by play guy Andrew Catalan was a plodding sports host on a local affiliate up here: the most noteworthy thing about him is his ridiculous red toupee. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to have a former Villanova head coach call a Villanova game, but it wasn’t a good idea: it’s hard enough listening to that rat face Lappas when he’s neutral and last night he was slobbering over Jay Wright from the opening tip. The half time panel comprised Seth Davis, who’s appalling; John Rothstein, who has all the warmth and sincerity of an Albanian kidney broker; NBA flop Brendan Haywood sporting a pair of glasses that’s supposed to make him look thoughtful but don’t; and some broad whose name I didn’t catch and who wasn’t even good-looking. I almost said that good looking but that would have been an insult to broads who aren’t even that good looking … I had an interesting exchange this week with an irate reader about Federico Mussini which led to a hilarious gambol which I mean to share but not I think today, as this is running long and some readers complain when I run long, to which criticism of my verbosity I pay close heed because having a short attention span is a sign of high intelligence and high intelligence is the demo I’m aiming for, so I’m going to save that. Something for the rest of you to look forward to.

Bare Marquette

RECAP: Other than picking the Derby winner or seeing Tom Brady snap a fibula if there’s anything sweeter than watching dwekies fail at basketball I don’t know what it is and Saint John’s 82-76 win over Marquette at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night was no exception. Sure Marquette isn’t the evil empire per se but the presence on the sidelines of floor slapping dope Steve Wojowhatever makes it close enough and especially the way the last couple of years at Saint John’s have gone. The look of bewilderment and impotence on Wojo’s face as his team’s post season hopes swirled down the toilet wasn’t priceless, but it was easily worth a sawbuck and the outcome finds me in such a good mood this morning that I’m barely able to work up the bile necessary to write one of these things and probably if I hadn’t drunk enough gin last night to kill a less hardy man probably wouldn’t bother, but why waste a good hangover … So where was I oh yeah Saint John’s defeated Marquette 82-76 at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. It was their fifth conference win of the season – their fifth – and moved them into sixth place – sixth – in the Big East, ahead of Georgetown, Providence, and Seton Hall and only a half game behind Marquette. I noted after it might have been the Villanova game that Saint John’s was starting to put it together but that it was hard to tell because they had been playing a couple of weeks worth of ranked teams. At the risk of injuring myself patting myself on the back too vigorously I think it’s fair to say that that assessment was correct: they beat Providence in Providence and played Xavier tough and last night spanked Marquette on their home court the way a good team should. Dopey Steve Lavin always talked about getting his team to play its best ball in February, which in his case was just an excuse for his team’s lousy play the other 11 months of the year. This year I think it might be happening, a case of the freshmen maturing and the team coming together and Mullin getting his coaching legs under him. That having been said no doubt Nova beats them by 40 on Saturday. In event it’s welcome and if I didn’t feel like dying I might even be in what passes for me as a good mood …


If you didn’t know the outcome you’d think that Saint John’s was the thin blue line above, because that’s how lots of their games go: they keep it close for a while, go down big, make a feeble aborted comeback and come up short. Last night the opposite happened. Saint John’s went into the locker room up eight by virtue of a 10-2 run late in the first half and except for an 8-0 Marquette run early in the second the outcome was never really in doubt. Offensively Saint John’s did what they do more or less: they shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three, albeit 17 assists on 32 made baskets is a bit more than usual. What made the difference last night was rebounding and defense. It wasn’t just the obvious stuff, like Ponds and Lovett making Marquette’s guards look foolish by stripping them of the ball half a dozen times at midcourt. It was the effort and the little things they usually don’t do: fighting through screens and boxing out and, you know, stuff that good basketball teams do. Speaking of defense, since Saint John’s allowed DePaul to shoot 15 of 16 from the free throw line a couple of weeks ago their opponents are 56 of 93, which is about 60 percent. Credit to whoever’s been working with the kids on that in practice, probably Saint Jean … Mullin coached I thought a marvelous game. He waited a minute or two longer than I would have to call a timeout in the second half – Marquette had gotten to within five when he finally called one but maybe he was waiting to see if they could fix things on their own. Other than that I had no complaints and especially not about the two white lummoxes not seeing the floor: neither Alibegowitch or Freudenburgh played, which is fine by me. Amar is hopeless and the German is still a couple of steps slow. People talk a little bit of shit about the fact that Mullin’s less than articulate in the huddle, which yeah he is, but for the most part if the difference between winning a game and losing it is a couple of minutes worth of sideline exhortation then you’re not doing your job the rest of the week. I mention this because FS2 – horrible picture by the way, it reminded me of watching porn on my Commodore 64 – cut to Wojo during a time out yesterday when he said this, verbatim:

We won that last four minutes by eight points. You know why? Because we’re competing. We’re competing. No. We were not playing scared. We’re competing. Compete for this last eight minutes.

So to recap: they’re competitive because they’re competing. And this guy went to Dook, the finest Ivy League school in the entire ACC. Remember that next time Mullin mumbles something incoherent … Next up Villanova away. Gird your loins.

PLAYERS: JUCO bust Bashir Ahmed who needs to be benched until he learns to play basketball the white right way had easily the best game of his brief college career: 23 points and six rebounds, including a huge one in traffic with about two minutes left. He was aggressive but for the most part under control. Nice to see because he plays really hard … Also nice to see Kassoum Yakwe, who for the first time this year looked like the player he was going to be this year last year at about this time. (Read it again, it makes perfect sense.) He fumbled one pass but the rest of them he caught and finished. Add to that six rebounds and yeoman defense on Marquette’s big front line and you have a pretty good day at the office. Hopefully this was the start of his resurgence and not an anomaly … Ponds and Lovett had between them 35 points, 10 assists, and seven steals – most of the latter around midcourt, where as I mentioned they made Marquette’s guards look silly. Ponds had seven rebounds as well …. Tariq Owens: 11 rebounds in 20 minutes … Malik Ellison took his rightful place in the offense: behind nearly everyone else. When he doesn’t try to do too much he looks like he’s doing more than he is, which is almost enough … Mussini [sic] hit a couple of threes. On the first he head faked the MU player aside, set his feet and swished it. Very pretty, I watched it a bunch of times. His other one came late in the second half when MU got within seven. If he does that every game I’ll have to find another dead horse to beat … Williams played 10 uneventful minutes and no one else played any

 
NOTES: When I switched the game on last night around nine Missus Fun said something about me not having my notebook that I use to write my “little blog,” which sometimes she has to get her digs in and I let her because believe it or not I can sometimes be something of a long day. So we got to talking about my little blog and she asked why I don’t reply to the comments that people leave – which are generally favorable – and I said for the same reason you don’t thank construction workers when they whistle at you on the street, it’s unseemly, and that anyway what little conversation these gambols provoke take place in fan forums and have less to do with my incredible basketball insight and more to do with what picture I stick at the top of the page. This week for example I wrote three of these and the only thing anyone wanted to talk about was why last time I used a photo of Lisa Whelchel from the Facts of Life instead of Phoebe Cates, who the guy who banged Mindy Cohn banged in Fast Times. The answer’s simple: I already used Phoebe Cates (many times, believe me) and anyway sometimes I feel like a blonde. To her credit Missus Fun stayed awake for most of that conversation and almost the entire game, so that I didn’t have to implement my new draconian no snoring during basketball regimen, but since I know now that she’s a fan, she’s forewarned.

God, Xavier, The Queens

Xavier defeated Saint John’s 82-77 Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden, a game marred by what appeared to be a serious injury to Edmond Sumner and what was definitely a severe injury to the game of basketball inflicted by Ed Driscoll and his crew of referees, who made the game virtually unwatchable, except perhaps to aficionados of middle age male tit jiggle. Because they got a lot of camera time … Saint John’s came out flat and were lucky to be down seven at the half: they were 2 for 12 from three, had eight turnovers and were outrebounded by ten. The only reason they weren’t down more was that Xavier, an alleged top 25 team, was just as bad: they had ten turnovers and were one for nine from three. Xavier extended their lead to 15 early in the second half and just when it looked like it was going to turn into a laugher Saint John’s decided to play some basketball: they went on a couple of eight point runs that got them to within a basket a couple of times, but just couldn’t get over the hump. One time Lovett took a dumb shot and another time Ellison took one and collectively they missed a bunch of crunch time free throws. That Saint John’s resurgence coincided with Sumner’s injury isn’t lost on me, it’s just that being ever the optimist – my glass is half full, of hemlock – I prefer to emphasize the positive. That being the case I’d put this somewhere between a pretty good loss and a moral victory: other than Sumner – who is, or at least was, an NBA talent – Xavier starts five seniors; and at the risk of being morbid, what the second half showed is that take away Sumner and Saint John’s underclassmen are every bit as good as Xavier seniors. How’s that for a silver lining … Once again the picture tells the tale:

 

SJU got close in the second half but as is often is the case when a team makes a big come back the energy expended getting them within range exhausts the reserves they need to finish the job. Oh well. Hopefully they learned that not lazing their way to a double digit deficit is harder than putting forth the effort to keep it a bit closer. The big number from the box score is rebounds: Xavier was plus 20, which essentially game over. You often hear that rebounding is an effort stat and it is to an extent, but it’s also a size stat: Denis Rodman wouldn’t be in the hall of fame if he was 5’2″. Xavier doesn’t start anyone smaller than 6’5″ and Saint John’s doesn’t start anyone taller than 6’7″ and SJ’s big men weigh about as much as Xavier’s guards and that’s a lot to overcome by a vague appeals to effort. None of Saint John’s big men – particularly Yakwe but none of them – are good rebounders: some of that is effort, sure, but some of it’s instinct and some of it’s footwork and some of it’s positioning, all of which comprise experience, which Saint John’s bigs don’t have. It didn’t help that Saint John’s shot 20 percent from three – and in fact during most of the second half run they stopped shooting threes altogether – and neither did turning the ball over 13 times and missing eight free throws … This recap wouldn’t be complete without me heaping oppobrium of the referees – who were terrible, they made Jim Burr and Tim Higgins look like King Solomon and Learned Hand – and kudos to Donny Marshall’s terrifying eyebrows for calling them out for it repeatedly during the broadcast. In 40 minutes they called 57 fouls, which resulted in 66 free throw attempts, which accounted for 57 points, roughly a third of the points scored in total. It would have been more but the teams missed 17 free throws combined. And it wasn’t just the number of calls, it was their randomness. What was a foul on one end was a play-on on the other and for every phantom infraction called there were two that should have been. There were a couple of bad ones I jotted down – Missini being mugged by three players after stealing the ball at midcourt and Owens getting one while retrieving a ball otherwise stolen cleanly – but the epitome of the crew’s sheer shitiosity is that at the end of the game, when Saint John’s was trying to foul, they didn’t call one. Ahmed nearly had to decapitate his man to get that dope Driscoll to blow his whistle. It was really an atrocious and embarrassing display. On a side note, a couple of weeks ago versus Xavier the refs called 47 fouls, which resulted in 57 free throws. Over 80 minutes versus Xavier that’s 104 fouls, 123 free throw attempts, and 86 made free throws. I don’t know what that is, but it’s not basketball … Fox had a quick shot of Mullin leaning on the scorer’s table late in the second half. (MJ Maher could not be reached for comment.) He looked at the end pretty disgusted and I can’t blame him … Ten and 13, tied for sixth in conference, Marquette up next, take the points

 
PLAYERS: Ponds led all scorers with 23 points, which might have been more had Malik Ellison passed him the ball every once in a while. Oh for six from three but 11-13 from the free throw line which makes him 19 of 21 over his last two games … Lovett had a quiet 11 points and five assists. Uncharacteristically missed two free throws late … Ahmed had 11 points including three threes but sat during most of the second half run. Seems to have dyed the top of his head a lovely shade of Lucille Ball, which should delight the red and white club no end. All he needs now are a couple of tattoos to complete the tableau … Owens had seven points, six rebounds and four blocks – three of them pretty spectacular at the rim – before fouling out. Once again had to be pulled away while woofing over a fallen opponent. Do I detect an anger management issue? … Williams (nine points, three rebounds) provided a welcome inside presence during the second half run. It was his foul that sent Sumner to the locker room but it wasn’t much of one: Sumner seems to have just landed awkwardly. They showed the replay several times but I only watched it once, because legs aren’t supposed to bend that way … Missini played a nice five minutes in the first half: he had a step back jumper, a three and a mid court steal for a breakaway. Unfortunately he clanked a couple of threes in the second half when they might have mattered … Malik Ellison had seven points and six assists which might seem pretty good if you hadn’t watched the game. Unfortunately I did. He was two of eight from the floor, zero of three from three – he seems to be cocking the ball behind his ear now a la George Gervin, which is the only thing about his game reminiscent of Gervin’s – and three of five from the free throw line, which 60 percent raised his average because he’s a lousy free throw shooter. He took a couple of really egregiously bad shots during Saint John’s aborted comeback: he either imagines himself Kobe Bryant or has worse court vision than Ray Charles … Yakwe was the victim of a couple of terrible calls and mostly sat with four fouls … Fruedenburcg played which was bad, but he played instead of Alibagowith, which is good

 
NOTES: Since this nonsense has been going on for three years now I’ve been going back and reading my prior posts to make sure I’m not plowing the same field twice and also to see if there’s any low hanging fruit I missed, because 30 recaps is a lot of recaps and even I run out of interesting things to say every once in a while. Looking back at Xavier this morning I saw that I’ve never done a famous alumni list which got me excited for a moment but then when I googled it I remembered why: Xavier’s most famous alumni is Jim Bunning. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Jim Bunning – he won 200 games over 17 years; was second only to Walter Johnson in strike outs when he retired; threw a perfect game; threw a no hitter in each league; and once got out of an inning by striking out the side on nine pitches; and after that served a couple of terms in the US senate. But that’s not much of a legacy for a university that’s been around since 1840. In fact other than him and crybaby John Boehner, left wing hack Gary Wills and a couple of basketball players (Brian Grant, Lionel Chalmers, James Posey, David West) I’ve never heard of any of the rest of these dopes, the most noteworthy of whom are the actor Robert Romanus, who is “perhaps best known for his role … as Natalie Green’s boyfriend Snake on The Facts of Life”; Rhine McLin, Mayor of Dayton (although a Xavier grad she also holds an associate’s degree in mortuary science from Cincinnati College); and Laura Esselman, a former contestant known as Red Velvet on a television called The Bachelor, who don’t bother googling, if she was hot her picture’d be up top and I wouldn’t have had to spend 20 minutes looking for stills of a Facts of Life porn parody. So to recap: the most illustrious graduates of Xavier University in nearly 200 years are a baseball player and a second rate actor famous for taking Mindy Cohn’s virginity. Compared to that Saint John’s is the Sorbonne … Xavier is also notable for having two sports mascots. Their original mascot was the musketeer, an early sort of soldier armed with a firearm, as made famous by Alexandre Dumas in his serial The Three Musketeers. This makes sense: like Redskins and Braves musketeers were manly men who defeated their enemies on the field of battle, just as sports fans hope their teams will defeat their opponents on the field of play. In 1985 though, someone called Sally Watson, then spirit squad coordinator – I mistakenly joined the spirit squad in college after misreading their poster as the spirits squad and quickly resigned after learning that they did something other than getting shitfaced at basketball games – decided that the musketeers “scared little children” and so designed a second mascot, the Blue Blob. As its name suggests, the blue blob is an amorphous globule of blue fluff with cartoon eyes and a big fluffy white nose. As its name doesn’t suggest the blue blob has a 22 inch tongue, which “hangs out inside its mouth until the person uses his or her arm to operate it, licking children.” Yes you read that right: Xavier replaced as its mascot a character upon which Walt Disney based his Mouseketeers with a giant blue monster that performs fellatio on children. This is I suppose progress, although of what sort remains a mystery.

Friar Suck

Saint John’s defeated Ed Cooley’s diseased head 91-86 in Providence Wednesday night. In the aftermath of which I am not making up any of the following: it was Saint John’s fourth conference win of the year, two of which were on the road; the win left Saint John’s in sole possession of sixth place in the best basketball conference in America; Saint John’s is in conference as many games behind #10 Creighton and #16 Xavier as they are ahead of Georgetown and Providence; and they have only three fewer conference losses than Villanova, the defending national champion and current #1 team in the country. With 10 games left in the season Saint John’s has two more wins than they had all of last year and had they won a couple of gimmes in November they’d be sitting at 13-9 – which is just where ratface Kevin Willard is, and he’s been at Seton Hall for seven years. Not bad for the least experienced team in the country coached by a guy who’s in desperate need of X and O help from washed up nobodies like Tom Pecora … Wednesday’s game really comprised three mini games: the first half, in which Saint John’s defeated Providence 46-37, courtesy of ten PU turnovers and half a dozen missed free throws; the first seven minutes or so of the second half, where Providence outscored Saint John’s 22-7 on their way to a six point lead, this courtesy of a vintage display of Saint John’s ineptitude; and then the final ten minutes or so – after Mullin used his third and final timeout to calm things down – which was easily the most exciting ten minutes of basketball Saint John’s fans have seen in quite a long time, up to and including scoring the last six point of the game. Yes, the defense was atrocious and yes there were some questionable shots and bonehead plays. So what. They went up and down the court and traded punches and it was fun to watch. It wasn’t Hoosiers and no doubt some of the he-doesn’t-play-basketball-the-white-right-way crowd might have gotten overexcited and soiled their nappies and had to have a lie down afterwards, but it was about the most enjoyable ten minutes I’ve spent since my honeymoon night. And like that night Missus Fun slept her way through most of it. Her loss …. Usually when I post this graphic it’s to show how bad things got. This one shows how close things were

 
As does the box score. Saint John’s shot 50 percent from the floor, PU 60 percent; Saint John’s shot 47 percent from three, PU 40 percent; rebounds were more or less even (SJU +3), as were turnovers (PU +2), as were assists (PU +5). Oddly for a game with such prodigious offensive output the game was won and lost at the free throw line, where Saint John’s was a stellar 17 of 19 and PU a putrid 18 of 27 – and Diallo and Holt were a perfect 10 of 10, meaning the rest of them were 8 of 17. Speaking of defense, over the past two games Saint John’s opponents are 32 of 52 from the free throw line … I talked a couple of recaps ago about how enjoyable it is to see Mullin engaged and energetic on the sidelines as he grows into his role as head coach. Last night was no exception. Despite some questionable personnel decisions – like having Alibagodonuts and Missini on the court at the same time and having Oppengruppenfuhrer Freudenburgh on the court at all – Mullin did a good job of keeping his players heads in the game and deserves special credit for calling his final timeout with about 15 minutes to go, when things were in danger of falling apart completely. It was a risky move and it took huge balls and it paid off. As he said in the post-game press conference, what’s the use of having a time out at the end of a game you lose by 20. Mullin incidentally is now 8-1 this year when leading at halftime, which need I say it: that’s all adjustments baby.

 
PLAYERS: Lovett led all scorers with 26 points and together with Ponds (22 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals) accounted for half of Saint John’s points. Of course they also accounted for half of Saint John’s 17 turnovers but they won so who cares. Lovett made huge plays late in both halves: at the end of the first he nailed a 35 foot three and at the end of the second saved a ball going out of bounds by throwing it over his head and halfway down court where it was retrieved by Ponds. For his part Ponds made six free throws in six attempts in the last minute, accounting for SJU’s last six points. Onions …. Ellison had 15 points and 6 rebounds. Took the ball to the basket impressively several times – he’ll be even more impressive when he learns to finish and make more than half of his free throws. Threw one of his patented lazy half court passes in the first half, which led to a PU layup, after which he was immediately pulled …. Ahmed (15 points) fouled out when he committed a curious intentional foul in the back court with a minute and a half remaining and Saint John’s up one. My lip reading isn’t expert but in the aftermath he seemed to be saying that he heard Mullin yelling at him to foul and so he fouled. Which if that’s what happened that makes him a good soldier and Mullin a bad general. It seems more likely that Mullin was jawing at the officials about some foul that was called or not called – he pretty much is on them from the opening whistle – and some wires got crossed … Darien Williams didn’t do much in the box score but was involved in three plays late that pretty much sealed the deal: in the first he pulled Tariq Owens away from a PU player after a block under the basket and shh-ed him like a librarian, saving what might have escalated into a technical; in the second he clanked a jump hook so badly that it got stuck in between the rim and the backboard and Saint John’s retained possession on the arrow; and in the final seconds he inadvertently blocked the potential game winner on the baseline, with his elbow …. Owens didn’t do much but had a huge block at the rim with 45 seconds left. He was fortunate he didn’t get T’ed up for looming over the fallen PU player and jawing at him. Earlier he was called for goaltending when he stuck his hand up through the rim to block a shot. Before Wilt Chamberlain that play was legal; much like the NBA widening the free throw lane, making that play illegal was one of a number of rule changes made by basketball authorities to stop Wilt Chamberlain from being so good at basketball … Yawke was pulled about 30 seconds into the game for loafing after a loose ball. He barely returned and contributed little … For some reason Freduenbrh played 11 minutes. All I can figure is that Mullin can write that off on his taxes … I’m wont to say that Missini (three points) can’t guard a pillar or a stanchion or a lectern, which is true. This is as opposed to Alibeghwitch (0000100010) who is a less effective defender than a pillar or a stanchion or a lectern.

 
NOTES: This is the second game in a row where color man Tarik Turner was not aggressively stupid or annoying. Keep up the good work Tarik. I thought Ashton Kutchner Justin Kutcher screamed a bit too much and was a bit of a Providence homer – he’s from New England and went to Boston College, so maybe, although I only mention it so I could stick a Mila Kunis photo at the top of the page … Usually when Saint John’s plays Providence I can get a paragraph out of the back of Ed Cooley’s head, because what the fuck is that and why doesn’t he mitigate it with some Rogaine or a wig or some Chia hair, but even I can’t go to that well anymore. Fortunately he wore a white vest with a white shirt and matching yellow tie and pocket square so I can describe him as looking like a polar bear with hepatitis. Other than that I got nothing.

Blimey

RECAP: Steve Lavin was such an atrocious coach that every once in a while you still catch a whiff of the stench of his failure. Sunday afternoon that smell took the form of three Seton Hall upperclassmen who Lavin couldn’t be bothered recruiting because he was too busy being played for a fool by Isaiahs Whitehead and Briscoe: Brooklyn’s Khadeen Carrington, Bennie Blanco Desi Rodriguez from the Bronx and Angelo Delgado – he’s not from anywhere, he has his own zip code – combined for 42 points, 24 rebounds and 12 assists in Seton Hall’s 86-73 defeat of Saint John’s in New Jersey. The final margin makes it seem like it might have been a game: for those of you who were lucky enough to have missed it, it wasn’t. Seton Hall went up early and stayed there and made Saint John’s look foolish in the process. To the extent that there was a bright side and there wasn’t much of one it’s that once Seton Hall punched their teeth in Saint John’s didn’t curl up in a ball and allow Seton Hall to kick them in the head and stomach until their legs got tired, which is what happened a couple of weeks ago versus Georgetown. Instead, Saint John’s got to its feet and threw a few feeble punches, which, okay they didn’t land, but at least they didn’t stay down. That’s progress. The fact is that they were just out talented and especially out muscled and there’s nothing to be done about that, at least not this year, when some nights the only lesson they’ll learn is how to take their beatings like men … Once again the graphic shows exactly what went on, saving me the trouble of describing it and you the trouble of reading about it

If you were to look only at the Saint John’s side of the box score things don’t seem too bad: 40 percent from the floor, 30 percent from three, 33 rebounds, 10 assists, only nine turnovers, that isn’t awful. But compared to Seton Hall’s numbers – 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three, and 20 assists on 32 made baskets and 45 rebounds (+ 12) – they are. If like me you’re no great fan of the Pirates and their rat faced coach Kevin Willard you’ll be pleased to note that they shot 14 of 25 from the free throw line wherefrom they are now at 60 percent from the year, which poor shooting will hopefully bite them in the ass at some point, preferably in the Big East tournament. Colorman Len Elmore kept mentioning their tournament chances but he must have been reading last year’s game notes because this year their chances appear to be zero.

PLAYERS: Only two Saint John’s players bothered to show up, Marcus Lovett, who had an acrobatic 22 points and Bashir Ahmed, a bust who finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds, including a four-point play early. Get him out of there!! … Shamorie Ponds was 3 for 11 from the field and is 15 of 45 from the floor over his last four games. Knowledgeable Saint John’s fans who’ve scoured his Snaptagram account claim that his recent run of poor play has led him to consider transferring, which if these gossipy old biddies are to be believed makes him about the ninth player who’ll leave the program at season’s end. Personally I don’t follow any pubescent boys social media accounts (except for Harry Styles obviously, he’s dreamy) so I can’t confirm …. Those thuds you heard yesterday afternoon were the bodies of people hurling themselves off the Malik Ellison bandwagon , which they had jumped on after his 20 point performance against DePaul. On the bright side yesterday neither Rich Ackerman nor Len Elmore mentioned his parentage, which is the first time that’s happened in a year and a half … Together Saint John’s front line of Yawke, Owens, Williams and Alibegowtch had 14 points and 9 rebounds. Whereas SH’s front line of Angelo Delgado had 21 points and 20 rebounds …. Missini’s only points came on one of his heroic dagger threes late in the second half that pulled Saint John’s with 17. Unfortunately his teammates were unable to capitalize on the huge swing in momentum and the lead soon drifted back up to 18.

NOTES: I’d be remiss if I failed to mention this week’s big event: Spice Girl Geri Halliwell had her second child, a girl. Just kidding, it was a boy. No, just kidding again. Of course I’m talking about the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. Although I wouldn’t describe myself as a Trump supporter – I’m more of a set the whole thing on fire and sit across the street drinking a six pack watching it burn supporter – I certainly understand the anyone other than who’s there now impulse that got him elected: having been bequeathed a republic we are now subjects of an corrupt oligarchy; once free citizens the minutia of our lives – from what kind of light bulbs we use to what sort of toilet we shit in – is controlled by a cadre of unelected clerks and bureaucrats whose seeming sole goal in life is to maintain their ravenous suckling at the public teat. In more civilized times these sort of people had their heads guillotined and mounted on stakes as a warning to other would-be tyrants, but these times are far from civilized. So I’ll take what I can get, especially if it includes a thumb jabbed deep in the eye of my alleged masters and betters. As fat slob Michael Moore said, this was the greatest fuck you in the history of fuck yous, and it was to aficionados of fuck yous as satisfying as Michael Moore finds his third breakfast.

Odds are that Trump is not the answer to the restoration of the republic – why should he succeed where Ben Franklin and Samuel Adams failed? And besides, the problem with political nihilism – besides that it postulates that there are no right questions, much less answers – is that nature abhors a vacuum, which means that every time you throw the bums out another crew of bums appears to take their place; history, his and ours, suggests that he will turn out to be just that. But so far he says the right things: that you and I are free citizens of the greatest and richest country in the history of mankind; that our liberties are under assault by fascists in the name of the greater good; that US blood and treasure should be expended to enable US citizens to pursue life, liberty, and property; and that the ideas underlying the expansion of liberty should rule the body politic.

Do I believe all that? Fuck yeah. Do I believe that he believes it? Fuck no. Probably he doesn’t believe in anything, other than his own vanities – he’s a child of privilege who parlayed his gifts into a career as a vapid celebrity. It’s fair to say that he is a shallow man. But also to be fair probably no more shallow than any other man who sought to be the most powerful man in the world: Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, these are not well adjusted individuals. And unlike that crew Trump is not a sociopath: he’s a game show host. Which is why I don’t share the phantasmagorical fears of the left, who after two months of ameliorating their disappointment with coloring books and stuffed animals emerged briefly from beneath their couches to throw a public temper tantrum in our nation’s capital where, dressed up in Halloween costumes and led by downtrodden dissidents like Katie Perry and Madonna Ciccone they spoke truth to power by setting fire to park benches and limousines. Well, they needn’t have bothered. Donald Trump is as likely to rob you of your civil liberties as Wink Martindale is to kidnap your children and chain them up in the basement as his personal sex slaves.

It goes without saying that as a libertarian I’m delighted to see the hind quarters of President Jugears and his cadre of Stalinist cronies: they have done incalculable damage to the republic and to our rights and liberties. I wish I could say that we’ve seen the last of him in public life, but his type never go away: they too much crave the spotlight. I cannot for the life of me fathom why someone with so much contempt for a nation and its citizens would want to govern them, much less bask in their adulation, but it seems his life blood. Which is something I’ve noticed about democratic presidents: they never go away. Jimmy Carter’s still plaguing us, and the satyr Bill Clinton – odd how the Clinton crime family foundation shut its doors just this week on the heels of Hillary’s defeat isn’t it, move along, nothing here to see – and Obama has already announced his plans to spend his retirement hectoring us for our unamerican behavior, presumably between rounds of golf and writing his third autobiography – Winston Churchill and Otto Von Bismarck got by with one – and vacuuming in huge sums of corporate cash. Whereas Reagan disappeared to his ranch with Nancy, and George Bush the younger retired graciously, and Bush senior you only heard from once a year when he jumped out of an airplane on his birthday. I think it’s because republican presidents had lives before politics that they went back to, whereas for democrats politics is the only life they know. They’re like those strip mall stores that are always having going out of business sales but never actually do. Well, for this week at least, everything that must go did.

My Kind of Down

RECAP: Saint John’s defeated DePaul 78-68 Monday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena on Felipe Lopez bobble head day. It was a game they should have won – because DePaul is awful – and that they needed to win, coming into as they were on a four game losing streak and no gimmes on the horizon: of their next eight games five are on the road and three are against ranked teams and they may well be 3 and 12 ish come the end of February, so gird your loins. If there’s a bright side to all this it’s that I might have been right again, as usual. Regular readers will recall that after the Villanova game I postulated that Saint John’s was getting better but that it was hard to tell because of the competition they’d been facing. The way they won against DePaul might have been evidence of that: it was the first time in a while that Saint John’s imposed their will physically and mentally and where they looked almost as if they were toying with their opponent. It was the kind of effort you’d expect to see against Delaware State say or LIU – teams Saint John’s “should” beat and beat handily. Of course it could just be that DePaul stinks and there’s nothing to be learned either way, not even from a picture


If you looked at the box score you’d think the game was closer than it was: both teams shot forty ish from the floor; DePaul was plus six rebounds; and were 15 of 16 from the free throw line, where Saint John’s shot 65 percent (16 of 25). The difference was three point shooting – Saint John’s was 12 of 22 – and much of that the result of crisp and efficient ball movement: Saint John’s had 18 assists on 25 made baskets … One of the few enjoyable things about this year so far has been watching Mullin learn to become a head coach: he’s gone from last year wearing shorts and sitting on the scorer’s table and deferring to his assistants on the bench – I thought at the time that these things were no big deal and think so still but perception is often reality – to a guy in a suit and tie who’s clearly in charge of what’s happening on the court and fully engaged in the process. Yesterday there wasn’t a lot to do but at least he didn’t screw it up: he shortened the rotation appropriately and pulled guys when they messed up and ran a play here and there that actually worked. I know a lot of fans think the head coach’s job is to draw up epiphanic white board Xs and Os on the fly but that’s really the thing of bad sports novels by tortured dwarves like Mike Lupica. The fact is that if the coach has to do that during the game it’s because he hasn’t prepared his team adequately during the 20 or 40 hours he has them to himself during the week. So anyway Mullin has now increased last year win total by 10 percent and has increased his league wins by a whopping 300 percent. Three hundred percent! Imagine if your Roth IRA increased by 300 percent in a year, you’d blow your broker and at least give him a handy. So congratulations Chris, it seems your job is safe for a another month

PLAYERS: Malik Ellison had what was easily the best game of his career: 23 points and four assists, including 5 of 6 from three and even 4 of 4 from the free throw line, where’s he’s otherwise been awful … Everyone’s favorite whipping boy Bashir Ahmed had 14 points, and seven rebounds and three assists. Unfortunately he was 7 of 13 from the free throw line, where he’s at 65 percent for the year. I’ve never understood it when players who are obviously hungry for points don’t bother to learn how to collect the free ones … Ponds got hot late and finished with 14 points, including a couple of confident and very welcome threes. Among his six assists was a nifty behind the back pass to Ahmed on the break … Owens was one rebound shy of a double double, Williams made both his field goal attempts and Yawke took his man off the dribble and finished with a dunk. Stitch the three of them together and you’d have one pretty above average basketball player … Lovett was pretty much missing in action: three points and three assists. On the bright side he didn’t force anything and from what I could glean from careful examination of his facial expressions and body language it does not appear that his poor performance will cause him to transfer …. After all this time people write still wondering why I am so mean to poor Federico Missini: The answer’s quite simple: he stinks. And the truth is I wish he didn’t, because if he was better I wouldn’t have to spend so much time coming up with creative ways of describing his shortcomings. The good news is that on Saturday Missini played so adequately (eight points, three rebounds, two assists) that this morning I don’t have to. And what’s more I’m going to say something nice: they ran a play for him at the end of the first half and he got open and made the three, which that hasn’t happened in a long while …. The rest of them didn’t play, not even in garbage time, coach’s decision. I can’t say that I blame him

NOTES: Saturday was Martin Luther King Day, which frankly has always struck me as an odd holiday. Not because I’m a right wing troglodyte – although I am – and not because I think the struggle for civil rights is unworthy of commemoration – of course it is – and certainly not because Doctor King, martyred in the struggle for freedom, is unworthy of celebration. And not even because other than than genocidal Italian lunatic Chris Columbus he’s the only individual the US honors with his own holiday – and Columbus day isn’t even a real holiday anymore and neither is Saint Patrick’s. None of that. But what this holiday does – and I think unfairly – is ignore the sacrifices that so many other people made in the cause of freedom: starting with the five or ten million Africans murdered in the diaspora, to the half million woke white men who lost their lives in the civil war, to various individuals who dedicated their lives and sometimes gave them in the same way Doctor King did: Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and even king hell crazy loon John Brown, who was hanged by the neck until very very dead after the raid at Harper’s Ferry. Nobody asked but I’d be much happier with a Civil Rights Day that celebrated the struggle for everybody’s freedom – blacks, women, LQBGTQWERTIES, everyone – and especially our liberties, with which we would have been endowed by our creator, if we in fact had a creator, which probably we don’t.

<digression>
Although I have to admit that recently I’ve been having doubts about my atheism, the religion to which I converted at the age of 12 or so, having been before that raised a papist. It seems to me that if this infinite universe is one of an infinite number of infinite universes as physicists postulate then there’s bound to be one created by a god. I just find it hard to believe it’s this one. I frankly find it easier to believe that we’re a neglected fish tank or perhaps characters in a children’s video game 10,000 years in the future than to believe that this mess was created knowingly by an omniscient merciful being. Fortunately I decided a while back that the examined life is not worth living, which eschewing of philosophy leaves me more time to watch television.
</digression>

Anyway I don’t see that celebration of our collective rights and liberties coming to pass. Because we live today in an Orwellian dystopia in which a rapacious government works relentlessly to diminish our freedoms and personal autonomy, all in the name of public good, which fuck the public good. Because at the bottom of the slippery slope of utilitarianism is the rice paddy in which your children and grandchildren will be toiling to meet the quota imposed upon them as part of a five-year plan to increase agricultural production by 7.8 percent developed by some over achieving Harvard douche bag as an outgrowth of his slash her interest in the Cambodian economy that he slash she came to while getting his slash her post doctorate degree. You might think I’m making that up but there is in fact a dissertation entitled and I’m not making this up: Pol Pot Pie: Indigenous Cooking and Khmer Rouge: a survey of the literature. Okay, I did make that up. But I didn’t make these up:

Perceptions of Canadian Meeting Professionals of Environmentally Responsible Hotel Practices

Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus

Impact of wet underwear on thermoregulatory responses and thermal comfort in the cold

Sword swallowing and its side effects

Pressures produced when penguins pooh – calculations on avian defecation

Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage

Digital rectal massage, finally one we can use. Anyway, to cut to the chase, if you have kids, they’re fucked: they’re going to be slaves and they’re not even going to know it. They’re going to get up in the morning and go to work and every day donate 40 percent of their time, energy, labor and lives to a government, one of which we were once citizens, but are now subjects …. After one of my recent essays I reader wrote saying that what I had produced was very depressing. Shurg, that’s what happens when your inner monologue makes Pink Flamingos look like It’s a Wonderful Life. You can complain all you want but you people couldn’t spend 20 minutes in my head. Anyway for that reader I end on a cheery note about the slave trade: the European slave trade started more or less with Henry the Navigator in the 15th century. It was run for four hundred years in approximate order by the Portuguese, then the Spanish, then the Germans, then the Dutch and then finally the English, all under the auspices of papal authority. The practice generally was to sail down the western coast of Africa, trade trinkets and rum to African chieftains for their already enlaved peoples and then transport those slaves to the New World to work in the sugar cane field: white indentured servants, while ubiquitous, died too quickly, not being accustomed to the heat. Of the 10 million or so humans enslaved over those 400 years, 7 million were transported to Brazil, 2 million to Cuba, and a scant 500,000 to the United States: most US slaves were – as Jimmy the Greek astutely noted – bred domestically. So to recap: the slave trade comprised Hispanics purchasing black slaves from black slaveholders and transporting them to South America, where they were worked to death by Latino landowners. Which means that when the US gets around to finally paying reparations Gisele Bündchen is going to owe Pele a whole lot of Tom Brady’s money. Happy civil rights day.