Category Archives: Fordham

Play It Again Ram

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

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

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



God Ram It


RECAP: I have to say, I halfway enjoyed that game. And not just because the harvest is in. No. And not because of the score obviously. No. Because Wednesday night the lowly Fordham Rams defeated Saint John’s 73-57 at Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx. That certainly wasn’t enjoyable: Saint John’s was awful, except for about five minutes in the first half the game sucked, the on-line feed was blurry and the announcers were atrocious, although to their credit they were still better than Bill Walton. But I enjoyed the game nonetheless. Maybe it was the atmosphere: NYC college basketball in a band box gym and in this corner an underdog with a chip on their shoulder and their rapid snarling fans. It was for a bit reminiscent of the good old days. Speaking of the fans, I halfway expected them to storm the court like they did the last time they won and was almost disappointed when they didn’t. Despite it being the preseason they were louder than pretty much any CA crowd ever: I suppose if you’ve had one winning season since the Reagan administration even beating a program as moribund as Saint John’s is cause for celebration … So like I said it was not much of a game. Fordham went out to a quick 6 point lead that led to a quick  Mullin time-out – and might I say what a pleasure it is to watch even a simple thing like a time out being called when a simple time out should be called. Saint John’s got back in it briefly and played FU even for a couple of minutes until it all went quickly down rose hill. Fordham ended the half on a 25-8 run and didn’t look back. To the extent that there was a moral victory, SJU played them even in the second half 32 to 32. There are no moral victories though, at least not against Fordham … Saint John’s shot 40 percent from the floor and 18 percent from three. Which was not surprising: on offense they failed to move the ball and when they did they moved it off their feet out of bounds, turning the ball over 19 times – 12 times in the first half. Fordham didn’t shoot particularly well despite the fact that SJU barely bothered to play defense but they made enough when it mattered, led by 48 year old Ryan Rhoomes (26 points and 12 rebounds) and Jon Severe, neither of whom were good enough to play for Steve Lavin. Altogether it was an abysmal performance about which the less remembered the better … Mullin had some words for Fordham’s coach – don’t know the guy’s name, can’t be arsed to look it up – first mocking him for taking an ostentatious time out up 20 with 2 minutes left and then later jawing at the guy during the handshake line for leaving his starters in right to the end of the game. On the one hand, Mullin should worry about coaching his own team and learn to take it like a man. On the other hand I kind of like the fact that Mullin wanted to backhand the guy and will undoubtedly lay some sort of Joe Pesci go home and get your fucking shine box beat down on him in the near future, which gives me something to look forward to.

PLAYERS: This SJ team really could have used Rysheed Jordan, and not only because basketball is hard game to play without a PG. Which SJU does not have, because Mussini isn’t one. He had no points, no assists and three TOs in the first half, after which half the game was over. Welcome to the A-10 son. It’s a shame that Mvouika (an efficient 9 points) can’t dribble, because he would be the natural choice to play at the one. The only other candidate is Durand Johnson, but even if he was twice as good at that as he has been at doing anything else he’d still be awful. It’s a little early to start ripping Johnson as the biggest transfer flop since Curtis Redding but it’d be nice if he got it going – if he could raise his production from say 1-8 to 2-7 he’d be in Phil Greene territory, except unlike Greene he gets the occasional rebound … Felix Balamou has the makings of the perfect 6th man: he brings both offensive and defensive energy off the bench. It’s unfortunate that (a) the roster is so poorly constructed that he’s the featured offensive player and (b) that the guy who constructed the roster couldn’t find any playing time for him the previous three years, because he could have used the experience. Oh well, what’s one young man’s life ruined more or less when you look at the big picture because some things are more important than winning. I thought Felix looked better earlier in the season when they were posting him up, but they seem to have gone away from that now, no idea why. As opposed to the Felix takes his man off the dribble from the top of the key offensive set, with which I’m less comfortable … Sima had no points and got pushed around by the bigger stronger player. Can you spell weight room … Jones had 11 points and 5 rebounds but is alternatively impressive and invisible. Banked in a FT which is always nice to see … Ablivitowhich missed his only three but made a nice move to the basket and dunked albeit in garbage time. He is a frustrating player: sometimes he almost looks competent and other times like John Hemphill with a head injury .. Kassoum Yawke was impressive in his debut to the extent that he did not look overwhelmed by the college game. I was going to say he reminded me of Shelton Jones, but because he’s a lefty I’ll dub him the next David Russell.

NOTES The game was not on regular TV, but fortunately the A-10 network carried it – otherwise you would have been deprived of my trenchant commentary. Thank goodness Fordham belongs to a conference that allows fans to watch the games if they cannot attend in person. Hopefully someday SJU moves to a major conference so that its fans are afforded the same opportunity … Evidently Steve Lavin provided the halftime commentary on the SJU women’s game on Fox Sports One. That seems like a good place for him, at least until there’s an opening on The View … I didn’t catch the names of the Rams announcers on the A-10 feed. Which is a shame, because they were awful and I’d like to mock them personally. (Turns out it’s and The animosity they felt toward SJU was palpable, which is understandable, considering that Fordham  is a perennial laughingstock playing in the shadow of one of the most successful programs in college basketball history. The one guy, Watts, yelled “oh my god …holy lord” after a nothing special dunk in the second half, which I’ve been less excited while having an orgasm. His Twitter profile proudly proclaims that he’s “Jesuit educated,” although he must have missed the bit about taking His name in vain. And speaking of orgasms, the Bogusch guy noted that a big factor in Fordham’s first half run was that “there was a Severe spurt.” Peter North to the white courtesy telephone … The problem with playing the same cupcakes every year — in Russia, sometime cupcake eats you! — is that by year three I’ve run out of fun and interesting anecdotes with which to amuse and beguile my readers. I have already for example pointed out in previous missives that Fordham is just about the worst college basketball program in the country and that its coaches going back to Digger Phelps comprise a conga line of the worst and most incompetent hacks in college basketball history, from the utterly appalling mediocrity that is Tom Pecora to Derek Whittenburg, whose greatest and most important basketball moment was an airball he shot in 1983. I’ve pointed out the rich tradition of Fordham academics and even did a bit of a riff about its most illustrious graduate Bob Keeshan and his best pal Mister Greenjeans. So other than this I got nothing.