GAME: There’s a temptation after a game like Friday’s humiliating 73-51 home loss to recent Division I convert Incarnate Word to say well, Saint John’s played poorly, could happen to anyone, chalk up the el and get ready for the next one. Which is true, but it’s unfortunately the same thing Syracuse was saying about Saint John’s after their win last weekend. Because that’s what you say when you lose a game you expected to win. After the Syracuse game Mullin told his players that when they do things the right way they can beat anyone in the country. Hopefully after last night he told them that this is what happens when you don’t do things the right way: anyone in the country can beat you … On offense Saint John’s SJ didn’t look too bad, at least not by the numbers: they shot 40 percent from the floor and from three; rebounds were more or less even; they had 13 assists and 6 blocks. The bad news was they turned the ball over 15 times and were 7 of 13 from the FT line, many of those misses comprising the front end of one and ones while IW was pulling away. The defense was another story: IW shot only 40 percent from the floor but 45 percent from behind the three point line – from whence SJU allowed them to shoot without a care in the world – and 14 of 15 from the FT line … All in all a pretty humiliating loss for a team some thought might have turned the corner. Which if they did they did they just ran over a pedestrian in the crosswalk. The only good news so far this week is that the semester’s over and a decision on M Lovett is allegedly nigh. Because this team could use a point guard.
PLAYERS: Durand Johnson led the team in points (15) and rebounds (6) and Sima had 11 points and 5 rebounds. So much for the players who played marginally well … Take out the Syracuse game and Mussini (7 points) is shooting 4 for 21 from three this December … Albiveckowich had 6 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes but was 1-5 from the FT line … Chris Jones had 2 points in 26 minutes … Mvouika was similarly futile: no points in 16 minutes. Strange that an offensively challenged team can’t get him some looks: he’s shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor and is fourth in the BE in three point shooting. But he had less attempts than anyone and as many as Malik Ellison, who had four turnovers in 11 minutes in his first game since November 16. He turned the ball over 4 times in that game as well. It’s too early for that to be called a pattern, but it’s definitely a tendency.
NOTES: Speaking of bad losses, there was a fan board exchange this week wherein a poster noted that he was bringing his kid to his first Saint John’s game, to which I replied (presciently it turned out): “May I be the first to welcome your son to a lifetime of disappointment.” Which in turn set me to thinking about my own wretched youth and all the angst that Saint John’s has caused me through the years. I’ve been considering lately as I commence the slow slide into the grave how my life might have been different if e.g. I’d rooted for the Yankees and Cowboys and Celtics rather than Saint John’s and the Detroit Lions and the Republican Party. Consider the effect of these NCAA tournament results on the young psyche, and remember, these were Lou’s good teams.
March 14, 1982, at Nassau Coliseum: Alabama – who a year earlier beat SJU in the NIT at
Carnesecca Arena Alumni Hall – beat SJU 69-68 in a game in which Alabama shot 37 free throws, scoring 40 percent of their points from the line. Saint John’s starting five had 21 fouls between them and Mullin fouled out, which how is that even possible, he never covered anybody. Kevin Williams scored five points in nine minutes compared to Bobby Kelly’s two in 37 and Jeff Allen scored 10 points on 5-5 from the floor, versus zero points from Wennington in 20 minutes.
In 1983 Lou lost to Vern Fleming’s Georgia in the first round, 70-67. Kevin Williams had 12 pts in 20 minutes vs zero for Bobby Kelly.
March 15, 1984: Saint John’s lost to Temple in the first round when Terrance Stanbury buried a 40 foot jump shot after Mullin missed the front end of a one and one. Team featured twin point guards (Moses and Jackson) and towers (Allen and Wennington).
1985, loss to Georgetown, understandable, although I would have pounded the ball into Berry.
1986, loss to Auburn, Saint John’s has no answer for Chuck Pearson.
March 15, 1987: Saint John’s lost to DePaul when Dallas Comegys committed a lane violation after trying to brick a FT off the back rim at the end of regulation, except the lane violation wasn’t called and NYC native Rod Strickland hit a buzzer beater off the rebound to send the game to OT, where in a stunning turn of events Saint John’s lost.
In 1988, a first round lost to the Vern Maxwell/Dwayne Schintzius version of Florida, 62-59. Florida shot 17 free throws to SJ’s 8. Mercifully I have no independent recollection of this game.
In 1989 Lou won the NIT, woo hoo, which NIT banner proudly adorns the walls of Carnesecca Arena
Alumni Hall to this day. Although the team featured freshman Malik Sealy, this era commenced what knowledgeable fans such as myself refer to as the Muto years.
March 18, 1990. Lou lost to eventual national champion Duke 76-72. The game turned late in the second half when near-cripple Billy Singleton cleanly stole the ball at half court but was called for a foul and then a double technical when he bounced the ball in frustration. SJ was up six when the foul was called and the game was even when play resumed. SJU never recovered. The repulsive Christian Laettner – other than Bill Walton the greatest white college basketball player I ever saw, better even than Mullin – was 0 for 7 from the field and had six points. In a stunning turn Duke was awarded 32 free throws, to 15 for Saint John’s.
In 1991 Lou beat #1 Ohio State but lost again to DewK in the regionals. DooK shot 28 FTs to SJ’s 6.
In 1992 Sean Muto and Malik Sealy’s senior year, SJ lost to Tulane, in the game that convinced Lou to hang up his sweater.
Now, that might not rise to the heights of despair suffered by fans of say the Buffalo Bills or Minnesota Vikings, but only because Saint John’s never reached as many championship games as those guys. Our hopes were always dashed much earlier. So to that guy, whoever he was, consider buying your kid some cute Duke rompers this Christmas, and maybe some Patriots sheets to lay his head on at night. And to the kid, good luck, you’re going to need it.