Category Archives: Butler

Ifs Ands And Butlers

 

GAME: Missus fun came down with something about a week ago – the flu, cholera, I’m not sure – and as I do whenever she brings disease into the house I exiled her to the servants quarters, donned a biohazard suit and locked myself away like they did from the plague in the Masque of the Red Death. They say that misery loves company but I don’t like misery and so other than shoving a bowl of soup under the door every couple of hours I left her to the fates and her immune system, because that I figure is her problem: we all die alone. The problem for me is that without her civilizing influence I tend to run amok, which is why I was sitting last night at midnight in my study, four windows open to the February air, wood stove blazing, with a freshly lit La Flor Dominicana and making bubbles in a bottle of Stoli: because there was no one there to shoot me disapproving looks intended to save me from myself. The problem for you is that my notes about the 110-86 beating St John’s took at the hands of the Butler Bulldogs Wednesday night in Indiana look like the lunatic ravings of an opium eater as transcribed by Michael J Fox. Most of it I literally can’t make out and what I can make out I wish I could not. The gist of it seems to be that St John’s did not play well and Butler did and that displeased me but that’s nothing I couldn’t have figured out by reading the box score.


To say that St John’s came out flat would be an understatement: Ahmed took a bad shot and then Lovett took one and in the meanwhile Butler scored on three straight possession off six rebounds. It was 7-0 when Mullin took a time out that didn’t help; it was 12-3 before St John’s made its first field goal five minutes in; it was 21-9 when Mullin was shown on camera asking his team to “maybe show up,” they having then shot two for nine from the floor and been outrebounded 13-3; it was 54-35 at half time; another 50 point half followed and 110 points is the most I can recall St John’s giving up in quite a while. Part of that was because Chris Holtmann left his starters in to the bitter end and it would have been poetic justice had one of them broken a fibula or something but it was just one of those nights where no good came of anything. Hopefully Mullin files it away and returns the beating at MSG in a couple of weeks … The numbers speak for themselves: Butler shot 55 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three versus 44 and 35 for St John’s; SJU got murdalized on the glass where Butler was plus 15; turnovers were even but St John’s had only two blocks – they average six … Another atrocious job by the referees, who called 55 fouls that resulted in 77 free throw attempts, which is about two a minute, which made the game two and a half hours long and as exciting as a colonoscopy … One thing my notes are clear about was welcome relief that I no longer had to suffer through another broadcast on CBS. Instead I tuned in Fox and heard Bill Rafferty calling the end of the Providence game and thought to myself self, this is how college basketball should be in February. And then to my delight the repulsive Steve Lavin was absent from the pregame – I guess like his contract at St John’s his contract at Fox does not require him to work weeknights. It turned out I was denied even that morsel of satisfaction, because instead of the B team – Spanarkle – or even the C team – Dickey Simpkins – the late game was called by someone called Jordan Cornette, whose Linked In page describes him as a “TV Personality.” It turns out the Jordan Cornette is the brother of the late Joel Cornette, a recent Butler grad who died of a coronary incident in the fall and whose casket was displayed at center court in Hinkle Field House. I mean what the hell? Last week Steve Lappas was slobbering over his successor during the Villanova game and now we get treated to impartial commentary by the dead guy’s brother. Maybe to even things out Malik Sealy’s orphaned children can call the next St John’s game. Of his brother Cornette said “I don’t want to personalize this broadcast” before personalizing the broadcast by dragging his brother’s corpse through the middle of it: he postulated that his brother would be pleased by Butler’s performance and noted that he found it “ironic” that he was calling the game from the court where his brother was memorialized. Whereas I find it “ironic” that a “TV personality” who graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in journalism doesn’t know the meaning of ironic, because there was nothing ironic about it. It was sad maybe, or melancholy, but only Alanis Morisette would find it ironic. Among Cornette’s other insightful observations were that Butler was “really running some clock” – with 12 minutes left in the first half; he said of Shamorie Ponds after his technical: “Shamorie Ponds, a six foot tall guy, I question his toughness … This is what I don’t like” – to which I appended in my notes, “Yeah well, he’s got more heart than your brother,” which in light of day seems a tad harsh but I found it hilarious at the time; and speaking of hilarious he said that Mussini was “called for a reach around,” not that there’s anything wrong with that … The loss dropped St John’s to eighth in the conference, tied with Providence at 6-8 with four games to go. Two and two is doable, meaning 8-10 in conference plus or minus. They’re a couple of winnable losses away from the NCAA bubble. Think about it: flip VCU, ODU, Delaware State, LIU, and Penn State – all games they probably win if they played them now instead of in the fall – and they’d be 17-10 with a better resume than Seton Hall, Marquette and Providence. Future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.

 

PLAYERS: To the extent there was a game ball it goes to – wait for it Monte, wait for it – Federico Mussini. Twenty points, 7-13 from the floor, four of seven from three, three rebounds and three assists including a neat no look to Owens. That’s two out of three in double figures for the Italian Rapscallion and I’m not even going to mention that both of those were losses … Ponds and Lovett had 33 points between them but were only 8 of 22 from the floor; nearly half their points came on free throws … Owens had eight points and six rebounds but only one block … Ahmed had 15 points before fouling out … Yawke finished strongly on a couple of rolls to the basket but two rebounds in 23 minutes just will not cut it … Speaking of not cutting it, Malik Ellison as an energy guy off the bench is worse than Malik Ellison as a starter: twice as many fouls as points in 12 minutes and yet another lazy cross court pass leading to a breakaway. How many times can you make the same stupid play. Tune in versus Marquette next Tuesday to find out … Alibegowitch fouled out in 14 minutes. I predict that he will learn the meaning of the term “box out” next year while working as a stock boy in a Serbian market where part of his job will be helping the old ladies carry groceries to their cars. If in fact people in Serbia have cars … Williams did not play and Feudenburgh may as well not have

 
NOTES: February 15th is Jour du Drapeau National du Canada, aka National Flag Day in Canada, the worst country in the world, a worse country even than France and France has an excuse: it’s full of french people, whereas Canadians are more like Americans who don’t know any better. On this day Canuckleheads emerge from their igloos, don their ceremonial touques and celebrate their cultural heritage by ingesting enormous quantities of seal blubber washed down with copious amounts of the piss that passes for beer in the great white north. If you’ve ever celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day in NYC – and what red blooded American hasn’t – it’s like that, but transplanted to a third world hamster in a wheel socialist shit-hole.

We of course all know what Canada’s flag looks like: it’s essentially a shrubbery, red. However it has not always been thus. In fact, before 1965 Canada had a pretty bad ass looking flag, a variation of the British Union Jack.

Cool beans, right? Its red white and blue and has dragons and harps and mythical monsters. In 1965 though, inspired by a bout of sour grapes nationalism led by then Prime Minister Lester Pearson, today’s well known maple leaf was adopted, but not before six months of acrimonious debate that led the country nearly to the brink of a civil war. As flags go one that pays homage to pancake syrup doesn’t seem like much but if you consider that ten percent of the nearly 3500 designs considered back then depicted various incarnations of a beaver – and not Pam Anderson’s glorious Canadian beaver either or Jessica Lucas’s – I mean an actual rodent with fur and buck teeth

– see the difference? – a national celebration of flapjacks isn’t necessarily the worst outcome. It’s still pretty bad though. I can understand the appeal of the animal: a giant grizzly bear like they have in California; or a snake that sinks its venomous fangs into your ankle if you tread on it; or a mighty lion like the one that graces the flags of Bermuda and Montenegro – they all portray a message of strength, resolve and ferocity. The logic behind the beaver though eludes me: if threatened I will gnaw through a tree trunk so that it falls on your head and afterwards I’ll beat you to death with my big flat tail is more likely to inspire laughter than terror. It turns out though that the beaver is not the worst idea for a national symbol if you consider that the Cayman Islands’ flag features a turtle and Croatia’s a goat and Moldova’s a cow and Saint Maarten’s a pelican and Turks and Caicos Islands’ a whelk. (“The whelk is nothing but a homosexual of the worst kind. This gay boy of the gastropods, this queer crustacean, this mincing mollusk, this screaming, prancing, limp-wristed queen of the deep makes me sick.”) It’s not even hipster meta irony like UC Santa Cruz’s banana slug mascot. It’s just dumb.

Anyway, although a despicable communist apologist Pearson was far from the worst Canadian prime minister – one need only look to current PM Justin Zoolander to see that – and for his sympathies he was – like several horrible US presidents – awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Pearson earned his for his role in mitigating the so called Suez Canal Crisis – a crisis in the middle east is what the left calls it when Israel defends itself against its genocidal neighbors. In being so honored Pearson joined an illustrious conga line of eleemosynaries that includes virulent racist Woodrow Wilson, mass murderer Yassar Arafat, antisemitic buffoon Jimmy Carter, inventor of the internet Al Gore, and Barack “I’m really good at killing people” Obama. For his efforts in the Middle East Pearson became known as the “father of peacekeeping,” peacekeeping being the term the UN uses as a colloquialism for the rape, pedophilia, child prostitution, and ethnic cleansing that have for 50 years accompanied its humanitarian activities in socialist paradises like Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia and Haiti. Which is not to say that Canada is or all Canadians are bad. My boon companion Redmannorth is a Canuck and besides him they gave us Second City Television, Doug and the Slugs, Neil Young, Gil Evans, Mark Steyn, and Ted Cruz. But on the other hand they produced a long list of horrors that starts with Samantha Bee and Peter Jennings and runs through Nickleback and Justin Bieber and ends with John Kenneth Galbraith and Malcolm Gladwell. Which let’s face it, that’s a lot to overcome, even for the country that produced Shannon Tweed

 

Arrivederci By Subtraction

As much fun as was Saint John’s win over Syracuse last week beating Butler 76-73 at Carnesecca Arena Thursday night was better: it was a league game at home in front of an energized crowd against a ranked opponent in a tilt game that could have gone either way. Outside of March college basketball does not get any better than this. I frankly had so much fun that I don’t even feel like writing about it, I just want to watch it again and probably will during happy hour, which at my house on Friday starts about 11 AM est … The game itself went back and forth – I almost said it was a nip and tuck affair which if I ever start writing like that someone please shoot me. For most of it Butler was up by a couple of baskets and they were actually ahead by ten with 10 minutes left. But each time it looked like things were slipping away somebody made a play – mostly it was Shamorie Ponds but credit also to Coach Mullin, who called three good time outs to stop the bleeding which his team responded, which is pretty good for someone who’s a horrible coach who doesn’t know anything about basketball …. The box score is pretty ordinary: Saint John’s shot 54 percent from the floor, Butler 46; Saint John’s took only 16 threes (that’s right only) and made just four but Butler was an atrocious 6 for 25; rebounds were even at 31; Saint John’s turned the ball over 16 times but had only three in the last ten minutes, as opposed to Butler, who had 6 of their thirteen when it counted with the game on the line in the same span in the second half of the second half. As I often do after a SJU win I popped into the losers fan forum and read the game thread. This morning over in the Dawg Kennel or whatever stupid name they call themselves they’re – besides calling Saint John’s “thugs” and “street ballers,” I mean just drop the N bomb already – they were whining about the free throw discrepancy – which was seven. That’s right, they’re this morning bitching about how they got screwed by seven lousy free throws and how that might affect their chances of getting a number 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. You can’t make this shit up. From what I saw last night if Butler is the 13th ranked team in the country well then I’m a monkey’s uncle I don’t know as much about basketball as I pretend

PLAYERS: Shamorie Ponds had a Big East coming out party 26 points, seven rebounds, two steals, 2 blocks and was 6 of 6 from the free throw line. I read somewhere that there were 12 NBA scouts at the game, hopefully it was not to watch him …. Bashir Ahmed had 19 points, 5 rebounds and three steals. He’s 13 of 23 with ten rebounds over his last two. Where’s that dope who said he’s a bust who needs to be benched, I’d like to rub his face in that … Lovett did not start again, not sure why. 10 points including 6 of 6 from the free line … Malik Ellison did start and did not play well:  Contributed 5 turnovers and airballed his only three … Yawke seems over whatever funk he was in early in the season. He finished impressively on a couple of pick and rolls, which is about all you can ask … Darien Williams played 22 minutes, the most he has all year. Displayed a nice little jump hook, which let’s face it immediately makes him our best big man … Owens had no points and 2 rebounds in 20 minutes … The two euro-dorks played 16 minutes between them and managed 2 points and one rebound. Alibegovitz committed a career best no personal fouls, which I suppose is good but really the frequency and violence of his fouls is the only thing he brings to the table, so why stop now …. The team is now two and oh without Wally Pippini Federico Missini. Nuff said. If and when he comes back he should sit on the bench until April at which time they should put him on the first gondola back to Palermo or maybe the girl’s team needs a designated three point threat who’s not very good at shooting. His banishment won’t make the Sons of Italy happy, but I’m not here to make you happy, I’m here to rub your noses in your mistakes and disappointments. In this case it’s the mistakes and disappointments of anyone who thinks Missini is a basketball player.

NOTES: Last night’s game marked the season’s first appearance of Tarik Turner. Usually he’s awful but if he was last night the game was so good I didn’t notice. He even went so far as to make a good point when he compared Ponds to 6’1”, 170 pound Nick Van Exel, a lefty guard who led Cincinnati to the Final Four and went on to become an NBA all-star. Turner’s partner Brian Custer kept repeating that Saint John’s had not defeated a team as highly ranked as Butler since Chris Mullin was playing in 1983, which I kept thinking to myself that can’t possibly be right until I figured out that he meant at the Lou, which makes sense because why would you play highly ranked teams in a gym that seats 5000 people. Brian Custer by the way is a prostate cancer survivor, which you wouldn’t know because he didn’t mention it once during the entire broadcast … Speaking of Lavin I watched a couple of minutes of that bulbous headed moron during the halftime festivities and was rewarded when he praised some point guard’s “decision making or judgment.” Decision making or judgment, what a maroon …. Other than that I got nothing. I have in past recaps done Butler University, legendary Coach Hinkle, Hoosiers (both the name and the movie), Jeeves Lurch and other Butlers, Indiana the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan and even a bit of a gambol about my favorite mass murderer Carl Panzram (“I wish the entire human race had one neck and I had my hands around it!”). If you’re starved for fun go back and read that stuff, I did yesterday and it still holds up. PS Panzram’s papers recently were digitized and are now on line if anyone’s interested, it’s really marvelous stuff:

http://scua2.sdsu.edu/findingaids/index.php?p=digitallibrary/digitalcontent&id=912

 

Get to Steppin

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It occurred to me this morning as I sat down to reminisce about Saint John’s 9th straight loss to Butler Saturday afternoon how similarly situated Chris Mullin and I are. After the Georgetown loss Mullin said something to the effect of ‘what do you expect, look at our roster,’ which would be a strange way for an educator to describe his efforts to tutor his delicate charges, but not at all a strange way for a former NBA GM to explain his team’s moribund results, because he realizes that even a minimum level of competition requires a cohesive group of complementary players, which players Mullin does not yet have, which is why he’s sitting on the scorer’s table: he’s waiting for them to arrive. What does that have to do with me? Well, Mullin’s talents are wasted coaching these players and mine are wasted describing their play. And I don’t know how much more patience I have for it. Because unlike Mullin nobody’s paying me a couple of million a year to rehash this dreck … Saint John’s shot 33 percent from the floor, 20 percent from three, and 60 percent from the FT line. Do we need to know anything more than that? No … Last time out versus Georgetown the refs called 52 personal fouls. This time they called 46. What was interesting is that in the first half the first foul was not called until the 16:40 mark and in the second half the first foul was not called until the 15:40 mark. That means that the two teams combined to play about four pristine minutes at the beginning of each half, eight minutes total, in which no player on either team made illegal contact with any other player on the opposing team and then for the next 16 minutes they combined to commit a foul every 40 seconds. Anyone believe that? Me neither. What’s ironic is that amongst all that carnage and whistle blowing a brief SJ flurry in the second half was squelched when Mussini was all but tackled on a breakaway – he ended up under the stanchion with a Butler player laying on top of him – and nothing was called. Whereas if Alibegowitch had made that play they’d have suspended him for two games.

PLAYERS: Ron Mvoika was named in a pregame feature as a “Game Changer.” That designation turned out to be precipitous: he finished with 5 points … Alibegovic responded to his insertion into the starting line up by going 1 for 7 from the floor and scoring three points, all of those on one shot midway through the first half … Yawke had 8 rebounds and 4 blocks but was 1 for 7 from the free throw line … Mussini and Johnson combined for 26 points on 10 shots each and that includes a combined 10 for 10 from the FT line, meaning they otherwise scored a total of 16 points on 20 field goal attempts … If you had asked me after the game whether Felix Balamou had scored 13 points on 6 of 8 from the floor I would have said no. But evidently he did … Jones missed a couple of chippies and had only one rebound. And yet if I were Mullin I would have Jones playing the point guard over Malik Ellison, who had 4 turnovers and no points and fouled out in 15 minutes. I suppose the seasoning will help him the long run but personally I’d be quite happy to not see him on the floor again until next November

NOTES: I don’t know who’s scheduling these games but whoever it is might want to avoid the ones that are slated on memorial days, because these guys have enough problems on the road. A couple of games ago it was Al McGuire Day on Al McGuire court and this time there was a tearful pregame ceremony honoring some poor bastard who died of cancer. (Question: how come every time someone dies of cancer it’s said that they “battled” the disease? Doesn’t anyone just get diagnosed and give up? I gave up like 20 years ago and there’s nothing particularly wrong with me yet.) I mean sure, RIP and all that but Saint John’s has enough problems guarding the three point line, much less ghosts … The game was called by former first round NBA draft pick Dickey Simpkins, who was slightly less incoherent than Bill Walton with the added bonus that I didn’t have to see him in bicycle pants. Hashtag win win. Simpkins played eight years in the NBA and got two rings with Jordan’s Bulls, but didn’t contribute much: mostly he sat on the bench behind Bill Wennington, so how good he have been really. At 43 years old no one should be called Dicky, except perhaps former child stars like the great Dickie Roberts … Finally, speaking of cancer, it was revealed this week that former Saint John’s assistant coach Rico Hines was being divorced by his wife Tichina Arnold after she discovered sex tapes featuring her husband and more than 20 “Kim Kardashian wannabes” in flagrante and raw dog. Normally I’d leave such prurient material to fester in the sewer that is Daily News, but it occurs to me that since Hines and Arnold were married in 2012 all of this footage was likely filmed while Hines was on the Saint John’s payroll and might well explain at least in part the laughable results the former staff achieved. I know from bitter experience that snaking broads is an expensive and time-consuming process and if that’s what Hines was spending his time doing and Lavin was at Rao’s cutting up Keady’s food and wiping marinara from his chin that doesn’t leave a lot of time for hanging out in high school gymnasiums. And yet there are still rubes who defend that snake oil salesman and bemoan his passing from the scene. Go figure.