RECAP: Recap? More like recrap, amirite? Seriously, what can I write about Saint John’s 48-44 victory over Niagara Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena that I haven’t already scraped off the bottom of my shoe. To the extent that the two teams played basketball, they played it poorly. Thus it was not so much a game of runs as it was of droughts: first Niagara didn’t score for 6 minutes and SJU went up seven; then SJU didn’t score for 6 minutes and Niagara pulled within two. They went futilely back and forth like that until the end: SJU was up 10 with 5 minutes left and Niagara was down 3 with 40 seconds left. Christian Jones made two free throws to seal it, which was fitting, as he had clanked several earlier to let Niagara back in it … As you might expect, both teams were awful by the numbers. SJU shot 33 percent from the floor, 17 percent from three and 50 percent from the FT line. Not to be outsucked Niagara shot 25 percent from the floor, 16 percent from 3 and 54 percent from the line. The teams combined for over 100 rebounds – there were more rebounds in this game than points scored, there’s something you don’t see every day – 35 turnovers, 37 fouls, and 20 missed free throws … Next up Syracuse, which I expect to be a slaughter reminiscent of the time Germany played Poland in World War II. Maybe Boeheim takes it easy on Mullin for old time sake and calls off the dogs early – or maybe he gives him a bad beat down for his own good. Either way it’s not going to be pretty.
PLAYERS: Yawke had 5 points 5 blocks and 5 rebounds in limited minutes – it was two of those blocks in the second half that keyed the Niagara drought that gave SJU its insurmountable lead. If I’m Mullin, he’s my starting three. Of course, if I’m Mullin he never quits drinking and his basketball career’s over in like 1987, so there’s that … Mussini (11 points, 5 turnovers) is now 7 -30 from the floor and 3 for 17 from three over his last three games. Rumor has it that Marcus LoVett may soon be eligible after all, which is good news for Mussini if true … Balamou was 2 for 9 from the floor and had 5 turnovers. Again, it’s a shame his career was ruined by Lavin, he could have been a nice player. Nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when he turned the ball over taking the ball to the basket with 7 seconds left rather than dribbling out the clock. To his credit Mullin cursed him out during the handshake line …. Chris Jones (10 points and 7 rebounds) is turning into the sort of lunch bucket player SJU hasn’t had since who, Billy Singleton? …. Sima was in foul trouble most of the game … Johnson had two nice assists and a three pointer early and I remember thinking okay, here’s the first team all BE player knowledgeable fanboy posters told me I was getting during the off season. And then he didn’t play the rest of the game … Mvouika with 8 rebounds … I have been for the past several games paying special attention to watching Amar Ablivicowitch play. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’m starting to formulate the germ of an idea that he might be on his way to becoming a halfway competent basketball player. Wednesday he was his usual moribund self: he nearly broke the back board with a three point attempt and had another one blocked and turned the ball over by running the baseline when trying to inbound the ball and dribbled the ball off his foot and made half a dozen other bonehead plays, but ever the contrarian I might be jumping on the Alibandwagon Ⓡ, now that everyone else has jumped off.
Notes: I had pretty much nothing here, but fortunately Steve Lavin and his clown car showed up in the studio at halftime. Lavin was his usual self, meaning that he alternated between spouting vacuous platitudes and sitting with his hands folded sporting a smug self-satisfied grin. Inter alia he noted: that Chris Mullin had done “a nice job piecing together a roster,” but failed to note that the reason that the roster needed to be pieced together was because Chris Mullin’s predecessor was an incompetent buffoon; that there are only three Vincentian schools in the country (SJ, Niagara and DePaul), which were separated by “six degrees of separation,” demonstrating that he understands neither the phrase six degrees of separation or math; and predicted a Saint John’s upset over Syracuse this weekend, which proves he doesn’t understand basketball, but we already knew that. At least he wore a suit and a tie – I wonder whether that’s in his contract or if he does it as a sign of respect to his employer and coworkers … In doing a bit of reading in hopes of dredging up some arcane information with which to pad out this section I ran across Karel Soucek, a Canadian who successfully plunged over the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel in 1984. Not too much of a news story there: various lunatics have thrown themselves over the Falls at various times in various contrivances with varying success. But this guy Soucek, he tried to recreate his stunt at the Astrodome, as part of a daredevil show. The idea was that he’d drop in a barrel from the roof of the Dome into a tank of water, 180 feet below. Evel Knievel – a madman who once tried to jump over a canyon on a modified bicycle – thought it was the most insane thing he’d ever seen and tried to dissuade Soucek from attempting it. Undeterred Soucek dropped, except the barrel hit the edge of the tank and Soucek died, in front of 35,000 paid admissions. It’s a shame the marketing department at Saint John’s doesn’t have the same sort of vision as do their counterparts in Houston, because that’s just the sort of entertainment that would put asses in the seats at Carnesecca. Even I would show up for that .