Category Archives: bing crosby

Ram Tough


GAME: It was another laugher Sunday afternoon at the Garden as Saint John’s defeated Fordham 74-53 in what is for some reason still referred to as the Holiday Festival. For those of you youngsters out there the Holiday Festival used to be a prestigious and exciting Christmas time college basketball tournament that featured the likes of Bob Cousy, Jimmy Walker, Mel Davis and Cazzie Russell. Now it involves neither a holiday or a festival and features the likes of Fordham, perhaps the worst program in college basketball history. On the bright side Saint John’s won and overcame a bit of adversity in doing so, outscoring Fordham by 20 points after Chris Obekpa fouled out late in the first half. On the not so bright side it was Fordham, so who cares . Saint John’s came out a little flat – it was almost as if they expected Fordham to roll over in the face of a ranked opponent and so spent the first 10 minutes lackadaisically chucking up threes and generally goofing around. Credit where due a Lavin time out at around the 12 minute mark sparked an 11-0 run, after which the outcome was not much in doubt. With Obekpa out of the game Saint John’s went small and pressed full court, which flummoxed Fordham into a timidity that resulted in 22 turnovers and twice as many missed shots as they made. Saint John’s OTOH shot 50 percent from the floor and a respectable 33 percent from three and 70 percent from the line. And once again Saint John’s free throw defense was exemplary: they held Fordham to 60 percent from the line … At 8 and 1 Saint John’s is beginning to develop a bit of an attitude, which I find a bit troubling. In the first place it’s December and in the second this is a group that has not accomplished anything, ever. It would be a shame if come March this team ended up looking back and saying oh well, at least we beat Syracuse, which is why I’m hoping Saint Mary’s puts a hell of a scare in them next Friday.

PLAYERS: You might find it hard to believe but there are posters on various Saint John’s fan forums who consider themselves to be knowledgeable basketball fans who think that Jamal Branch is better at basketball than Rysheed Jordan. I know, hilarious right? But it’s true. And when you point out to them that besides his obvious awfulness Branch has managed 2 points and 1 rebound in his last 40 minutes of play they say, oh yeah, like statistics tell the whole story and append eye rolling emoticons because if you’re an imbecile graphics trump statistics, logic and rhetoric. So I will leave it to those portentous gasbags to explain why Jordan’s 24 point 4 rebound performance wasn’t that really good. I was pretty impressed, but then I’m a rube …Harrison had 22 and passed the great George Johnson on the SJU all-time scoring list. Black hole Zendon Hamilton up next … Dom Pointer had a couple of dunks and 5 rebounds but was otherwise nothing to write home about … Phil Greene reverted to his usual 3 for 12 clank-fest, which suggests that his recent hot streak was an outlier … Which brings us to Chris Obekpa, who was ejected after nearly throwing a Fordham player to the floor and then jawing at the referee afterwards. I think Obekpa was upset because after assaulting his opponent he threw his hands up in the air in the universal I-dint-do-nothing signal but was T’ed up anyway. This is not the first time Obekpa has demonstrated immature and untoward behavior on the court and I am hopeful that Coach Lavin recognizes that Obekpa has anger issues and suspends him for his own good for the rest of the season so that he can seek counseling without the distraction of basketball because some things are more important than winning. Ha, just kidding of course, Lavin is coaching for a contract extension, he wouldn’t suspend Obekpa if they found a couple of nun’s heads rolling around in the back seat of a car he stole from a crippled Gulf War veteran … Speaking of awful things, Jamal Branch had another two point performance. He also managed the play of the game in the first minute when he went up to snatch a rebound with authority, missed it, and had the ball bounce off his head out of bounds. I LOL’ed, and then rewound the game and LOL’ed again …The rest of the scrubs and walk-ons got shuffled in and out in the wake of Obekpa’s departure and collectively showed little or nothing.

NOTES: I owe an apology to Tarik Turner. It is clear after today’s game that he is not the worst colormoron in college basketball. That honor obviously belongs to Ron Thompson, son of the John Thompson, and proof of the old adage that the apple sometimes falls so far from the tree that you don’t even know what kind of fruit fell from which kind of tree. Thompson – who was 9 and 22 in his one year as a D1 coach, so you know he knows basketball – babbled like a nincompoop from the opening tip; when he wasn’t repeating himself ad nauseum over and over again saying the same things more than once and then saying them again he was spouting irrelevancies and inanities, to the extent that I became physically angry and would have turned the sound off if I were not hoping to be rewarded with some imbecilities to share with my regular readers. And I was. For example, with Fordham down 22 and 10 minutes remaining Thompson opined that “the clock was starting to become Fordham’s enemy” and then with Fordham still down 22 with three minutes left noted that the game was “a little out of reach.” Yes Ronnie, and Mila Kunis is a little out of my league … Except for basketball, Fordham is the school Saint John’s wishes it was: a selective Catholic university with a rich intellectual tradition and a wealth of influential alumni and faculty; the latter include Geraldine Ferraro, former CIA director Bill Casey, G Gordon Liddy, Denzel Washington, Alan Alda, the novelist Dom DeLillo, Vince Lombardi, Marshall McLuhan, Vin Scully and Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo. Whereas probably the most well-known Saint John’s alumnus is former governor Mario Cuomo, who was so impressed by his education that he sent both his sons – current Governor Andrew and journalist Chris – to Fordham …. Unfortunately for Fordham they do have a basketball program and unfortunately for the basketball program it’s coached by Tom Pecora, a mediocrity whose name pops up every time there’s a coaching opening at Saint John’s and whose hiring is one of the few bullets that Saint John’s has managed to dodge over the years. But as awful as Pecora is – and he’s 37 and 89 at Fordham – he’s not close to the worst coach Fordham has had. Before Pecora was Jared Grasso, 1-22. Before Grasso Derek Whittenburg – whose most important basketball accomplishment was an airball in the 1983 NCAA championship game – was 69 and 112. Before Whittenburg Bob Hill was 36 and 78. Before Hill Nick Macarchuk was 161 and 192. That’s 304-493 until you get to Tom Penders, the last Fordham coach to have a winning record, barely, at 125 and 114. And in fact the only coach to have a successful career at Fordham since John Bach retired with 482 wins in 1968 was Digger Phelps, who won 26 games in his only year there in 1971 and then got the hell out. Bonus fact: backup point guard on Phelps team was Peter PJ Carlesimo … Captain Kangaroo’s sidekick was Mr. Greenjeans, portrayed by Hugh “Lumpy” Brannum, a jazz vocalist who at one point performed in a band led by Bob Crosby, brother of Bing Crosby, a graduate of Gonzaga whose career was celebrated in an earlier recap. A long standing rumor falsely postulated that Brannum was the father of musical genius Frank Zappa, based upon Zappa’s authorship of Mr. Green Genes and Son of Mister Green Genes. The former of is included here for your enjoyment and edification.


Road to Utopia


I don’t doubt that the moral victory brigade is out this morning in force on various Saint John’s fan forums and perhaps not without reason: despite being undermanned, undersized and playing without their only big man for much of the second half, SJU overcame a 6 minute scoring drought and a 15 point deficit and were at the end only a couple of boneheaded plays away from stealing a victory against the 10th ranked team in the country. On the other hand, they didn’t and they lost, and so Saint John’s is now oh for one in games that might matter on selection Sunday, and by the end of next week will likely be oh and two after they lose to New York’s team at the Carrier Dome and with not a lot of chances to make it up afterwards. After five games this group reminds me of the 2011 team, hard-nosed players whose resilience trumps Lavin’s incompetence and whose experience plays to his only strength: cheerleading. With Chris Obekpa on the floor they can keep it respectable with every second-rate program in the country. Without him they probably can’t keep it respectable with anyone …. By the numbers SJU was once again abysmal: they shot 30 percent from the floor, 30 percent from three, 60 percent from the free throw line, and turned it over 14 times. Lest that were not enough, three of the wonder five fouled out: the only starter not in foul trouble was Phil Greene, who doesn’t even pretend to guard his man anymore. If Gonzaga had not been equally awful – they missed 10 threes and 10 FTs – it would not have been as close as it was. For their part Gonzaga looked surprised by SJU quickness and athleticism early and never seemed to get on track, assuming they have one. I don’t watch enough college BB anymore to have an informed opinion, but I wasn’t impressed. Pangos showed flashes of being a mediocre white guard and other than Sabonis their big men were slightly less agile than golems. If this is the tenth best team in the country maybe Saint John’s can make the tournament … Recognizing the significance of the game, Lavin wore his lucky red sweat suit under what is apparently the only suit he owns. The longsuffering Mrs. Fun opined that he looked like a mental patient and said that she’d change subway cars if someone entered hers done up like that. Maybe it’s because I know what a buffoon he is but Lavin does not seem to me dangerous and instead looks to be wearing something that Morty Seinfeld might to judge a shuffleboard tournament at Del Boca Vista. The good news is that between his suits and Obekpa’s pants I might not have to hear about Lavin’s prostate again unless the unthinkable happens and we lose three in a row … Once again the officiating was awful. The main culprit was Pat Driscoll, who through dint of this week’s hard work has cracked the FunList of the top 3 worst referees in college basketball, replacing drunkard emeritus Tim Higgins. Among his other gaffes Driscoll T’ed up a GU player for pulling his hand out of Dom Pointer’s grasp and in a crucial situation late awarded the ball to Gonzaga despite it having bounced off the GU players leg 5 feet from Driscoll’s face; I can only conclude that he momentarily thought he was watching a soccer game and awarded the ball to the player closest to it. The call was reversed after video review, which frankly I didn’t even know they had in college basketball, wtf. Anyway, this level of incompetence bodes well for his seeming goal of scaling the mountain of suck that is Jim Burr. Driscoll is incidentally a longtime municipal employee in Syracuse, where he currently earns $ 110,000 per year as director of “Say Yes to Education,” which sounds like a shit salad of three appalling things: sociology, pedagogy and civil service.

PLAYERS: Phil Greene came out shooting and continued shooting and for a refreshing change half of them went in, including his first three of the year. Congratulations Phil … Dom Pointer was once again a human wrecking ball and ended with another near double double. Got away with his second flagrant foul of the year when he attempted to cripple Kevin Pangos with SJU down three late. Eventually his recklessness will come back to bite SJU in the ass. We can only hope it’s not at a critical point in the post season NIT semi finals … Harrison had an off night but managed 15 points and 5 rebounds … Jordan had 18 points but 9 turnovers to go with only one assist. Through his last two games he’s 13 for 23 from the FT line, which is not very good … Last year Chris Obekpa regularly got punked by bigger stronger front lines. Against Gonzaga he cleverly fouled out before that could happen. He committed three fouls in six minutes between the end of the first half and the beginning of the second and fouled out three minutes after Lavin put him back in, finishing with one point and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes …. Those who have been clamoring for Jamal Branch to play more got what they wished for: zero points in 21 minutes … walk on Miles Stewart logged more minutes, points and rebounds than Christian Jones, erstwhile replacement for Jakarr Sampson.  I’ve been trying to figure out who Jones reminds me of and it turns out it’s Eric King, which is a shame for Christian Jones.

NOTES: Gonzaga is the program SJU pretends to be: a small Catholic college that competes in Division One basketball on a national level. This was the fifth meeting between the two schools. In 2000 Saint John’s, a 2 seed and ranked ninth in the country, suffered a 82-76 first round NCAA tournament loss . In 2001 Saint John’s lost 68-58 in the Alaska Shootout. In 2011 Saint John’s, ranked #18 in the country, lost in the NCAA tournament to unranked Gonzaga 86-71. On the positive side of the ledger Saint John’s defeated Gonzaga 97-69, in 1960, which is only 60 years ago, so suck it Zags … Gonzaga alumni include Bing Crosby, who despite his wholesome image was an abusive mobbed up alcoholic degenerate gambler. When not beating the shit out of various Mrs. Crosbys he cheated on them with a bevy of Hollywood beauties, including Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Ingrid Stevens and the delectable Yvonne Craig, whose Batgirl costume was responsible for a severe bout of dehydration I suffered in my childhood. An excellent father, Crosby sired 5 children, only 40 percent of whom blew their brains out. There’s a rumor floating around the internets that Bing had himself fixed towards the end of his life, allegedly to keep his voice up to snuff but that the castration was actually his way of preventing sexual urges he had for men, which as a good Jesuit he found, er, distasteful. He needn’t have been so worried: Gonzaga is named for Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron saint of plague and AIDS victims … Crosby made with Bob Hope a series of seven Road picture – Road to Bali, Road to Singapore, and so on – in which the two played bumbling conmen whose wacky schemes got them into hot water from which they extricated themselves through zany hijinks. (An eighth was planned but Crosby died while the Road to the Fountain of Youth was in preproduction. Lulz.) Somewhere in my files is a film treatment for Road to Golgotha, in which the two scheme to defraud a Jerusalem Pharisee; when the plan backfires they end up being crucified on either side of the baby Jesus on Good Friday, Crosby smoking his trademark pipe and Hope wisecracking to the camera. Dorothy Lamour played the prostitute Mary Magdalene. In the Crosby Hope versions only Crosby got the girl. In mine, everyone did.