Category Archives: Syracuse


That pitter patter you heard Wednesday night after Saint John’s improbable 93-60 demolition of New York’s team at the Carrier Dome was not the premature roof-top clatter of Santa and eight tiny reindeer bearing a sled containing toys for all the good girls and boys. No. What it was was the sound of a pack of rats clambering back up the gang plank of the vessel they’d spent the last seven days deserting in a lurid and embarrassing the-ship-be-sinking circle jerk the likes of which we had not seen since year five of the Norm Roberts regime. When they weren’t posting pictures of the Titanic and creating from whole cloth phantasmagorical scenarios wherein every Saint John’s player on the roster save Elijah Holifield got hardship transfers to Rutgers they were firing off angry emails to the new university president threatening to withhold their annual $ 50 donations until things were put right again, tax right offs be damned. And then last night happened and suddenly Chris Mullin knows something about basketball and maybe even Mitch Richmond too and let’s not forget the young phenom Greg Saint Jean who designed the system that for two years now has dismantled Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone and all is right with the world and god bless us everyone as we all go happily to the grave. Because to truly appreciate sports you must either be top of the world ma or clutching your pearls and taking to the divan with the vapors – there can be no middle ground. All kidding aside there are Frenchmen I’d rather have in a foxhole with me than some of the alleged fans who post in various SJU forums. Which lack of middle ground is why there is this morning giddiness on the one hand and why on the other there’s still a few diehard haters and Lavin toadies and Iona fans who were not impressed by this fluke; to the extent that they point out that this is not a vintage Boeheim effort I agree but on the third hand beating even a shitty Orange team is better than loosing [sic] to LIU, can we at least find some common ground there? The irony is that both camps are bound to be disappointed, because this is what happens with young teams: some nights they bring it and some nights they leave it home. When they turn the corner and bring it every night, that’s when things will begin to get interesting. Undoubtedly we’re not there yet but you have to start somewhere …. Rereading that it was probably a bit over the top but it felt good and I’m not changing a word. If anyone asks tell them it was meta commentary …. This was the first game in a long while against a real opponent where Saint John’s put their foot on the victim’s throat early and went on to tear out the windpipe. They went into halftime up ten aided by some pretty good three point shooting and some atrocious and sometimes comical play by Syracuse that included 10 turnovers, most of them unforced. Syracuse got two quick baskets to start the half and my notes read quite clearly “and then the roof caved in,” which I and every other fan who’s watched this team blow leads in their last couple of games expected except it didn’t – Saint John’s scored six straight points and eight of ten led by of all people Kassoum Yawke, who had two FGs and an assist before hall of fame coach Boeheim used his final TO of the game with 17 minutes left. There followed a remarkable sequence: Syracuse was fouled and made one of two free throws, then they got the rebound and got fouled and missed both free throws and then they got the rebound and made a two and then missed a free throw and got the rebound and missed a field goal. I mean look at this


16:52             Foul on Kassoum Yakwe. 47 – 35

16:52             John Gillon made Free Throw.   47 – 36

16:52             John Gillon missed Free Throw. 47 – 36

16:52             Tyler Lydon Offensive Rebound.           47 – 36

16:51             Foul on Kassoum Yakwe. 47 – 36

16:51             Tyler Lydon missed Free Throw.            47 – 36

16:51             Syracuse Deadball Team Rebound.      47 – 36

16:51             Tyler Lydon missed Free Throw.            47 – 36

16:51             DaJuan Coleman Offensive Rebound.  47 – 36

16:50             Andrew White III missed Jumper.         47 – 36

16:50             Andrew White III Offensive Rebound. 47 – 36

16:50             Andrew White III made Two Point Tip Shot.  47 – 38

16:50             Foul on Bashir Ahmed.     47 – 38

16:50             Andrew White III missed Free Throw. 47 – 38

16:50             Tyler Lydon Offensive Rebound.           47 – 38

16:48             Frank Howard missed Jumper.  47 – 38

16:48             Andrew White III Offensive Rebound. 47 – 38

16:48             John Gillon missed Three Point Jumper.


Syracuse took nine shots and got seven rebounds in FOUR SECONDS and the score went from Saint John’s plus 12 to Saint John’s plus nine. And that just broke their spirit. Saint John’s went on to outscore them 24 – 10 over the next five minutes and by 24 over the remainder of the game including a sequence of punks and dunks and alley oops the likes of which Saint John’s fans have not seen, well, maybe ever … Usually when I say there’s no point in looking at the box score it’s because Saint John’s was so awful but this time it’s because their opponent was: Syracuse shot 30 percent from the floor, 16 percent from three, 50 percent from the foul line and had 19 turnovers and 24 fouls. Saint John’s shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three and had a mind boggling 27 assists (that’s 15 percent of their season total) versus only nine turnovers. The only shit lining on the silver cloud is that they were 13 for 25 from the free throw line, which isn’t very good even if you factor in the walk-ons, who missed all their tries …. This was the 4th time this season Saint John’s has gone over 90 points, which some years it used to take them two games to do. One wag recently complained that what Mullin was bringing to the table was “not redmen basketball” to which I say halle-fucking-lujah. I’ve watched redmen basketball for 40 years. I want to watch winning basketball for a change … So the preseason is over and now the real games begin and where are we heading into conference play? I don’t know. On the plus side we’d be hard pressed to lose any that we’re supposed to win –  mainly because we’re not supposed to win very many – and on the other hand we have the talent to steal a couple when the other guy isn’t looking. On the minus side there are going to be those days when they just don’t show up and those days where they do show up but they show up as freshmen making dumb freshmen mistakes. Hopefully they play hard and stay healthy and steal enough wins to get a CBI bid and then wait till next year bums except next year might really be next year this time.

PLAYERS: Usually I do these profiles in the order in which the players played from best to worst which is why it’s so surprising that the first player up is Malik Ellison, who scored 16 points and added 6 rebounds and 5 assists in 31 minutes. Over his last two games Ellison is 8 for 11 from three, which if he shot even half that well you could overlook all the boneheaded things he does. He has the makings of a nice complimentary player although you get the impression by watching him that he thinks himself more than that. That will be a bridge to be crossed once and if his skills grow to match his opinion of his skills … Shamorie Ponds had 21 points – including a couple of threes he took from Rochester – six rebounds and seven assists … Batshit Ahmed, prior to last night a “bust” who “should be benched” had 20 points, 5 rebounds and three assists versus a single turnover. One astute observer (okay it was me) had observed earlier this week how much more effective he’d be posted up inside or on or about the foul line, where he wouldn’t have to dribble to get near the basket, dribbling not being his strong suit. You’re welcome  … Marcus Lovett, decried by some as a “shoot first” guard had nine assists and six rebounds versus only six shots. At one point came precariously close to letting a ball roll out of bounds in the back court while he was adjusting his shorts …. Yawke seems to be getting his sea legs under him after an atrocious start to the season: seven points and eight rebounds including a thunderous dunk where he took off just short of the free throw line … Freudeburgh made a couple of threes early and was pretty quiet after that but baby steps. Speaking of steps he nearly looked the fool when he grabbed a rebound and raced down court (for data sets where “raced” is defined generously) to euro step his way past the four SU players between him and the basket but fortunately he got fouled while fumbling the ball out of bounds and it was the other guy who was beclowned …. Four blocks and four rebounds for Tariq Owens, who managed not to foul out …Williams, Holifield and someone called J Cole got some run during garbage time …. Conspicuously absent and not missed one iota was Wally Pipp Federico Missini. If he is ill as has been rumored we wish him a speedy recovery. If he does recover speedily it will be the first thing he’s done speedily since he first donned a Saint John’s uniform.

NOTES: I’ve beaten Syracuse into the ground over the past several years and so would be left with no anecdotes with which to beguile my readers were it not for the serial malapropisms of color man Mike Gminski, a former college all American at DOoK University and subsequently an NBA first round draft pick. Those of you who are as old as dirt will remember that Gminski was the starting center on the number one DoOk Blue Devil team that lost twice to Saint John’s in the 78-79 season, first in the consolation game of the Holiday Festival and later in the Black Sunday defeat in the NCAA tournament, where Gminski got punked by chronic underachiever Wayne McCoy. Gminski went on to a respectable NBA career, as opposed to the conga line of buffoons first round draft picks Doook has sent the NBA subsequently: Jay Bilas, Mark Alarie, Alaa Abdulallahakbar, Antonio Lang, Grant “Golly I seem to have snapped another bone” Hill, Cherokee Parks, Chris Carrawell, Shelden “Forceps Head” Williams, Jay “Look out for that tree” Williams, Josh McRoberts, Daniel Ewing and however many Plumlee brothers mother Plumlee squirted out and that’s not even the full list. Anyway Gminski called Saint John’s a “high school coaching job” when he described asking Mullin whether he would have coached anywhere else than Saint John’s, claimed that Saint John’s was coming off a 46 point loss to Penn State (it was 16 although it might have seemed like more) and in what may be the single stupidest sports analogy ever uttered stated that “waiting to take over from [Jim Boeheim] is like waiting for Castro to die,” which it is if Boeheim has a prison complex beneath the Carrier Dome where he tortures and murders his political opponents in the name of a failed and discredited ideology that was responsible for the deaths of 100 million people in the 20th century and also if Boeheim had to die rather than just retire to Florida with his hot wife and spend his days drinking Mai Tais and fishing off his deck … Speaking of DoOk Grayson Allen – the poster child for the sort of smug entitled white piece of shit scumbag fuck heads that are treasured by Mike Schrewshrenski – for the third time in recent memory attempted to cripple an opposing player by sweeping the leg. Let’s go to the video tape:

So to recap: Allen attempts to seriously injure an opponent, acts like he was fouled while doing so, talks shit to the opponent afterwards and whines like a little bitch when he’s T’ed up for his behavior. Coach Rat face – who you may recall last year lectured Oregon’s Dillon Brooks on good sportsmanship after Brooks made a three late in Duke’s NCAA tournament loss – called Allen’s behavior “unacceptable” and “inexcusable” but also has no plans to discipline him beyond the couple of minutes he sat him down afterwards, which doesn’t seem like the appropriate punishment for something that’s inexcuseable, an adjective meaning too awful to be tolerated. If Ratty won’t do anything I’d hope the ACC steps in and metes out the proper retribution, which would be that he be taken to the place from whence he came and there be kept in close confinement until next Thursday and upon that day that he be taken to the place of execution and there hanged by the neck until dead. And may God have mercy upon his soul.




Excuse Me


RECAP: It seems like more but it was only a year ago that self-proclaimed king of February Steve Lavin had the signature victory of his SJU career, in his fifth and final December as head coach. Chris Mullin took the same magic carpet ride up Signature Victory Mountain on the second Sunday in his first December, when his Red Storm put something of a vicious beating on the 13-point favorite Syracuse Orange at Madison Square Garden Sunday afternoon. Last year Phil Greene, until then moribund .28 career three point shooter – he was 80 for 283 five games into his senior year – awoke from his three year coma and scored 11 straight points to put the Orange away late, much to the delight of the long suffering Saint John’s faithful. This year’s breakout performance was by just as improbable a suspect, but it led to a victory that at least one long-time fan found more satisfying, perhaps because one of our own was on the sidelines. Personally I don’t share the animus many SJU fans feel toward Syracuse. I mean, sure, they’ve kicked the shit out of SJ for years, but the way I see it everybody has to take a beating sometime, and if you have to, why not at the hands of a hall of fame curmudgeon like Jim Boeheim. As opposed to say Jeff Neubauer. But for now at least, Saint John’s is once again New York’s team. Merry Christmas … The game was actually over pretty early. Saint John’s went on a run midway through the first half and were up 9 at halftime, 40-31. Syracuse didn’t get within seven the rest of the way. Every time they looked to make a game of it they were repulsed. On offense SJU played a double high post that flummoxed the 3-2 and on defense Syracuse stunk on offense: they shot 35 percent from the floor, 20 percent from three, and 19-31 from the FT line. SJU on the other hand shot 50 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three, and had 51 rebounds and 22 assists, this from a team that scored 48 points versus Niagara on Wednesday. It helped that Syracuse didn’t press most of the game. Because when they did it was ugly … Mullin was dapper in a suit and tie for his first appearance at MSG, but then I suspect he always dresses up when he goes to church. It seems evident to me that he’s growing into the job and is going to be as good at this as he was at everything else.

PLAYERS:  I noted last recap that I had developed a sneaking suspicion that Amar A-L-I-B-E-G-O-V-I-C was starting to resemble a basketball player. To say that Sunday reinforced that impression would be an understatement: he scored 7 points off the bench in the first half to spur SJU to their lead and finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds; he was 3 of 4 from three, including one from the M in Madison Square Garden. Whether he can sustain it is another question, but better Phil Greene for a day than schmuck for a lifetime … Mussini had 17 points, including 5 -7 from three. He had a rough postgame interview though … Speaking of Phil Greene, Durand Johnson had 15 points on 6-16 shooting. Except if PG4 had 7 rebounds and 4 assists you’d throw him a parade … Sima had 9 points and 8 rebounds and was aggressive in the high post, albeit he threw a bunch of lazy passes … Yawke reminds me either of a left handed Malik Sealy or a shorter Walter Berry, I haven’t put my finger on it yet. He’s not as polished as Sealy was as a freshman or as imposing as Berry, but if he develops even a midrange jump shot he’s going to be a difficult proposition … Mvouika had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Currently he’s 4th in the BE in 3 point shooting at 46 percent … Christian Jones did nothing worth me even looking to see what Christian Jones did … Balawho? Felix tried one of his crazy drives to the basket and was not seen again. I didn’t miss him.

NOTES: The broadcast featuring Bill Rafferty was a delight, marred only by the appearance of Steve Lavin as in stupido studio guest. Attention was brought to the fact that Lavin had last week ‘predicted’ a SJU victory (perhaps Khadim Ndiaye appeared to him in a dream), for which I mocked him, for which he must be given begrudging credit, even though it’s a chickenshit prediction: if the underdog wins you’re a genius and if they lose no body mentions it. Also chickenshit, Lavin took credit for recruiting Federico Mussini, this after Mullin in the postgame interview gave special credit to Lou for his help in that regard, whose efforts Lavin dismissed because he’s, you know, so classy. He also he said the Big East is better this year than last, which of course it is, he’s no longer coaching in it. … This week saw the passing of Adolph “Dolph” Shayes, who was remarkable not only because no one names their kid Adolph anymore after that bit of unpleasantness in Germany in the last century. Nor was it merely because he was a Jewish basketball player who achieved success at the highest levels – a select list that includes coaches Reds Auerbach and Holtzman and Larry Brown, criminal mastermind Doug Gottlieb, Bernard King’s bff Ernie Grunfeld, Amar’e Stoudemire (huh?) and former SJU target Sylven Landesberg … It’s tempting, every time one of these old white players dies, to say to yourself well sure, but how would he have fared in today’s game, which includes negroes and other minorities. And the answer is probably not as well as he did 70 years ago. Because if you figure that all the bad white players in a particular segregated league were replaced by really good minority players, the good white players who were left would have fared worse. But on the other hand reprobates like e.g. Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle would have had the benefit of trainers and drugs and other modern therapies to ameliorate their degeneracies, leading to longer more productive careers. And conversely all the really good minority players would no longer be playing against the bad minority players who populated the bottom half of their segregated league. So it seem to me to be all a bit of a wash. Ruth might not have hit .356 for his career if he had to face Satchell Paige and Smokey Joe Williams every four days, but he wouldn’t have hit .256 either … So if Dolph Shayes played in the 60s or 70s he might not have retired second all-time in scoring and third all-time in rebounding, but he probably would have been pretty good nonetheless. Against the players that were available to play against while he was playing, Shayes in high school won a borough championship in his native Bronx; went to the FF as a 16 year old freshman at NYU; and was the 4th pick in the NBA draft. He was a 12 time NBA all-star. His team made the playoffs 15 of his 16 years in the NBA. He won a championship with the Syracuse Nationals in 1955. In his career he scored more points that Earl Monroe, Rick Barry and Dave Bing, had more rebounds that Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Elgin Baylor and more assists than Dave Debusschere, Billy Cunningham and Sam Jones. After his playing days he went on to be named as NBA coach of the year in 1963, when his 76ers lost to Bill Russell’s Celtics in the NBA finals. So all in all, nice job and RIP … Speaking of cross generational differences, this week the delicate progressive flowers at SUNY Albany were once again afforded the opportunity to alleviate the stress associated with their final exams by cavorting with therapy dogs, which are paid for by your tax dollars. It’s a shame their great grandparents were not afforded the same opportunity when they were storming the beaches at Normandy, otherwise the Nazis might not have won World War II. That’s apropos of nothing, except I saw it in the paper this morning and thought jesus what a load of pussies … And finally from the where are they now file, former SJU guard Max Hooper is lighting it up at Oakland University, where he’s averaging 14 ppg and shooting nearly 50 percent from three. When he recruited Hooper Steve Lavin reported that he was the best shooter he’s ever coached since Jason Kapono, so his success three years later at a mid major comes as no surprise to anyone. What might is that Hooper’s attempted zero 2-point field goals this year and only six 2-pt field goals in three years in Division One. Now that, my friends, is a role player.