Category Archives: saint john’s

Mailing It In

St John’s dropped another one Wednesday night, this time to #11 Xavier on the road. Once again it was a good game and once again that’s at this point all you can hope for. St John’s actually led with with seven minutes left and were within one at the five minute mark, at which point they ran out of gas: Xavier scored 11 straight to go up eight and that was that. Oh and seven isn’t pretty and last place is last place and you are what your record says you are. I get that. But if the record is all you see you’re missing a lot. You’re missing some marvelous individual effort – Ponds last game and Simon last night – and some mental toughness by an undermanned team that’s showing some amazing resiliency. If the season’s lost – and yeah it is and yeah that’s on Mullin – at least you can enjoy that. If enjoyment’s what you’re looking for. There’s a large contingent of SJ fans who aren’t looking for that. They don’t want to have fun. They just like to complain. I mean sure, there’s certainly a lot to complain about, but constant repetitive whining is deadly dull and pointless. Not to mention the ridiculous spectacle of a bunch of chubby clerks and middle managers who haven’t seen their own dicks in five years challenging Chris Mullin to resign to prove his manhood. News flash for those dopes. In the first place quitting is not a sign of manliness, quite the opposite. In the second, Mullin’s not going anywhere. He’s coach until he doesn’t want to be coach anymore and I suspect that every loss increases his resolve to stay and succeed. Whether he can is an open question, but to demand that he go gently into the good night is profoundly absurd. Pro. Foundly. And in the third if you think the vast knowledge of basketball you’ve gleaned coaching third grade girl’s CYO would aid Mullin in his understanding of Xs and Os and use of timeouts and when to employ the triangle and two, you should write it all down and send it to him, I’m sure he’d be grateful for the assistance … Simon, who I was assured this week would have a hard time cracking the starting rotation at Rhode Island, had 28 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and only two turnovers in 38 minutes. Rhode Island must be very good. Ponds and Clark scored in double figures but Ponds needed a lot of shots to get his and I AM MARVIN CLARK had one rebound, as SJ once again got killed on the boards. Owens had seven points, six rebounds and four blocks, which would have been good had not some Turkish golem called Kerem Kanter lit him up for 22 and 13. Ahmed got pulled after a boneheaded defensive lapse and thereafter barely returned, which I appreciate Mullin trying to teach him a lesson, but the lesson could have been shorter. Trimble was the recipient of Ahmed’s minutes and once again I was relatively impressed. He made his threes and hit his free throws and didn’t otherwise embarrass himself. As opposed to Yakwe and Aliobegowitz … I’ve spent a bit of time this year kvetching about the referees but last nights crew – I don’t think I’ve ever seen them before – didn’t suck that badly. Xavier got the benefit of the doubt on a bunch of calls – as you’d expect the #11 team to on their home floor – but mostly things were even. I wasn’t pleased when Simon was given a technical for hanging on the rim five seconds into the game and was less pleased when JP Mascara – if there’s a dirtier more easily detestable player in the Big East him I’ve yet to see, he makes Grayson Allen look normal, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him bite someone – hung on the rim longer later and was called for bupkis. There was also an interesting turn when the refs first called a foul on Ahmed when he and JP got tangled under the basket and then after an interminable review to determine whether Ahmed’s foul was a flagrant one they waved the whole thing off, having decided that no foul had occurred. Oops, sorry. The sooner they get the refs off the floor and have them call the games from a sky box the better. … The game was on CBS, which meant (a) that I had to buy CBS Sports for the night, because evidently its a premium channel (b) that the game started at about 8:50 est, which is way past my liver’s bedtime and (c) that I had to watch things unfold in real time, meaning no fast forwarding through commercials or halftime, which on CBS is particularly awful, featuring as it does the unctuous Jon Rothstien, who has all the charm and wit of a Serbian sex trafficker. At least on Fox I get to hear stupid Steve Lavin do his Irwin Corey imitation

… AND NOW IT’S STORY TIME:

My mailbox got knocked over yesterday morning, the second straight year this’s happened. My house is situated on a county road towards the bottom of a hill that descends from the Rensselaer  Plateau. The speed limit’s 30 but nobody does 30. Grandmas routinely do 45 and crazy people do 60. So anyway you come down the hill heading west and right before my house there’s a little jog south, 10 or maybe 15 degrees, but on snowy days like yesterday before the road’s been plowed it can be tricky to navigate. In both cases the driver was a young male in some crappy car (yesterday was an 89 Plymouth Horizon) going too fast who misses the turn, swerves to avoid the telephone pole left of the driveway, over corrects, turns sideways and slides over the mailbox and into the 100 year old silver maple on the front lawn. Contrary to my normal behavior – I can sometimes be pretty impatient believe it or not – I tend to take these things in stride. Because accidents happen. So we got young John’s car out of the culvert where it ended up and I got a crow bar and pried his right front fender back to where the car was driveable and sent young John on his way home to the other side of the river. It turned out he’d been visiting his boyfriend when the storm started and stayed the night and so was unfamiliar with the road. Young John gave me his number and said he’d be happy to pay for the damage but I expect I’ll never hear from him again. Here’s the scene of the crime.

I bring this up because just yesterday on a popular SJ fan forum someone brought up that very same mailbox. Which requires some slight back story. Now I frequent these fan forums and I’d be the first to tell you that I behave like an asshole. People call me a bully, but it’s not quite that. What it quite is is that I’m smarter than most people, and better educated, and better read, and write better, and let’s face it I’m pretty funny. So I don’t lose too many arguments and even when I do I get in a few good ones. But that’s not bullying. Like if we went bowling, and you beat me all the time, that doesn’t make you a bully, that just makes you a good bowler. My perspective is: if you don’t want me to point out that you said something stupid, stop saying stupid things. Some people take my behavior in stride. Oh they think, that’s just that dopey fun being dopey fun, and it’s water off a duck’s back. Some people though, being thick of skull and thin of skin, plan their revenge. One particular imbecile about a year ago – and mind you this is a grown ass man with a family and children and a job and a mortgage – decided that the proper response to sharp elbows thrown in the marketplace of ideas was to discover personal facts about me and post them in that forum – he doxed me, I think the kids call it. This particular imbecile figured out where I live – it’s not double naught spy stuff, you just need to go to whois – and went so far as to use a picture of my mailbox that he copied from google earth as his forum avatar. Which, whatever, I know where I live and so do a lot of other people and I’m in the phone book and Martindale Hubble and lawyers dot com and any number of places besides. The digital age has its benefits but privacy is not among them. However when this particular imbecile said something to the effect of ‘I know where your wife works’ I decided he was a sociopath. I mean good grief, my wife – besides being something of a looker – she’s a fucking saint. I don’t take veiled threats to her well being lightly and so I resolved to no longer truck with this particular pompous gasbag. Because only a psychopath responds to a little good-natured ribbing by what I took to be a threat to harm – or at least involve – my family.

Well just yesterday some other dope, let’s call him imbecile number two, in response to some innocuous comment I made about recruiting, said “Where’s that darn mailbox? Maybe, I should dig up the pic, bitch ass.” (Yes, he said bitch ass. Evidently I’m also a f’in punk.) The very same mailbox that was just hours earlier demolished! I mean what are the odds? What are the odds that imbecile number two was privy to my year ago intercourse with imbecile number one, remembered it, and responded with the same sort of petulant childish behavior involving my precious and newly defunct mail box. It’s like they’re the same person. Except I know they’re not, one guy, uses many, more commas, than the other, guy, and you can’t fake that sort of poor, syntax. Anyway I told that guy that I live at 91 Elliot Road in the Greenbush and he was welcome to come by any time although he should mind the Akitas, they’re pretty high strung and haven’t had much exercise since an unfortunate incident with a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the fall. Should he I’ll be happy to extend to him the same courtesies I did to young Jonathan, up to and including using a crow bar should it come to that. You’re all invited as well. Happy hour starts around noon. I’ll supply the booze but you have to bring your own snacks.

The whole thing’s worth a listen but for those of you with short attention spans can skip ahead to the 1:30 mark

Master Baiting

I talked over the last couple of recaps about the emotions the season has engendered, first hope, then anger, then disquiet. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve reached nirvana, having achieved in one short week the same sort of Zen state I had when Norm was coaching, when I knew that almost everything that could go wrong was going to and that very little of what might turn out right would. Which is why despite being on the short end of the score I very much enjoyed watching St John’s lose 78-71 to #1 Villanova Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Because a good game well played is at this point all you can ask for. I mean sure, did I curse the referees when down six late Shamorie Ponds was called for a foul when a Villanova player climbed up his back and fell on top of him? Of course I did and Pat Driscoll should be ashamed of himself. Did I curse that albino freak Dante Di whatever every time time he made a three? Of course I did. But here’s the thing: if you have no expectations you can’t be disappointed and so I wasn’t. Onward and downward and it’s only a couple of months to the Derby … Speaking of the shitty referees, St John’s was once again on the short end of the free throw differential, and once again by just about the margin of victory. It’s getting harder and harder to believe that this is coincidence. Consider: Shamorie Ponds took 28 shots, most of them in traffic going to the basket. He took eight free throws. Albino boy (“the moors did so much fucking with Sicilian women … that they changed the bloodlines forever”) took 11 shots, 9 of them threes, and he took six free throws. Look:

Is that possible? Sure, if you’re skeptical enough almost everything’s possible. Is it probable? Let’s say it’s pretty unlikely. Now introduce the sort of bias that allowed Villanova to play an entire game earlier this year without committing a single foul. All of a sudden it seems inevitable …. Games against Villanova allow St John’s fans to wax eloquent about Jay Wright – or I like to think of him, Mike Schrewshrensky II – and what might have been, how classy he is and what a great dresser and so on. My own opinion is fuck Jay Wright, he’s a cunt. In the first place rest assured that if he had come to Jamaica, the Bermuda triangle of coaching, he’d have self destructed as spectacularly as all the other sure fire winners this school has chewed up and spit out. And as to the rest of it, he swears at the refs with impunity, dresses like a dance instructor at a Miami Beach Arthur Murray Studio, and if I were him I’d get that mole under my eye looked at, because if it gets any bigger its going to need its own zip code. Fuck Jay Wright, I hope he gets hit by a bus … No point in rehashing the box score. Ponds was spectacular, everyone else not so much. Yakwe had a couple three nice pick and rolls early – he managed to catch the ball and gathered himself and finished but wasn’t seen from much again. Trimble seems to have shaken off his mini shooting slump and is a sneaky good rebounder. The rest of them were somewhere between awful (Alibegowitz) and ineffectual (Simon) … … The game was shown for some reason on the Fox Business Network, and their coverage was about as good as would be the daily market round up if it was hosted by that bald dope Tony Kornheiser. I don’t know if any of you paid attention to the scroll at the bottom but if it was to be believed Saturday was a busy night in the NFL. The scroll reported these games as on going:

Arizona – Seattle
Carolina – Seattle
Minnesota – Seattle
Carolina – New Orleans
San Francisco – Carolina
San Francisco – Los Angeles
Minnesota – New Orleans

Each was tied zero zero in the first quarter except Minnesota – New Orleans. That one was a burn burner that the Saints led 6-2, the game featuring evidently four safetys .. And finally the elephant in the room. Conspicuously absent from the bench was Marcus Lovett, and good riddance. There’s a lot to complain about this year but if this is the aftermath of the Lovett situation, then this isn’t one of them: Sure Marcus, of course you can keep your scholarship and take advantage of the school’s facilities but don’t come around the team, because you’re not part of it, because you’re a quitter. Just the right balance of of christian charity and contempt. It’s too bad Marcus doesn’t have, say, Andre Stanley’s heart, he might actually have had a chance to play in the NBA. Speaking of the apple not falling far from the tree, Marcus’s father, also called Marcus, was a stand out basketball player at NAIA basketball dynasty Oklahoma City University before leaving the team in midseason, although in senior’s case he flunked out. Evidently he managed to meet the university’s rigid academic standards – the sports teams had at that time a 27 percent graduation rate – when taking electives such as Fishing and Angling, Beginning Volleyball, Beginning Golf, Intramural and Recreation Programs and Walking and Jogging (three As, a B and a C), but faltered with his core requirements. At which point he did what every red blooded American does when confronted with his own shortcomings: claiming that he was being discriminated against, he sued the university, during the course of which suit it was revealed that Marcus Sr. has an IQ of 91 (which is towards the low end of average) and suffers from attention deficit disorder. The latter perhaps explains why Marcus Jr has attended five different schools in seven academic years and the former why his father isn’t smart enough to realize how badly he’s mismanaged his son’s career.

Patrick, You Win

 

I was trying to think of just the right word to describe my feelings watching St John’s lose 69-66 to Georgetown Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. During the DePaul game I was angry; last night I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t sad either. I wasn’t embarrassed as some fans are when their team loses. And basketball can’t demoralize me, I’ve been demoralized since I was 14. The closest I can come is dispirited, meaning to have lost enthusiasm. It’s kind of how I feel around Candlemas, January having turned to February, months of cold and snow having come and gone and still yet needing half my wood and half my hay, because there’s still a long way till spring. It’s just, I don’t know, yuck. Because I’m watching another basketball season swirl down the toilet, as so many have swirled down the toilet before, and with no doubt many more swirling down the toilets to come. The good news is that I may have to watch the games, but I don’t have to write about them. I don’t have to rehash the mistakes and blunders and missed opportunities. I don’t have to and I’m not going to … Certainly the blame for what’s gone on this season falls on the shoulders of coach Chris Mullin. The problem isn’t – as so many gym teachers and CYO coaches would have you believe – Xs and Os and when and where time outs are called and what are ephemerally called halftime adjustments. The problem is the roster. Besides being left short handed by Lovett’s absence, the players just aren’t good enough. Ponds and Simon are bona fide big east players who’d probably start on any other team in the conference. Ahmed and Clark and Owens are okay, but each has flaws in his game. The rest are charitably not very good: Trimble’s a freshman, Yakwe is, well, who knows what’s up with Yakwe, and Alibegovic is garbage. Even with Lovett the talent is comparable to Georgetown and DePaul and Georgetown and DePaul stink. The players individual shortcomings are not all exactly Mullin’s fault, but not having enough serviceable bodies who aren’t garbage time players, that is his fault. Best case he realizes that they don’t have 10-day contracts in college basketball and learns from his mistake. Because despite the absurd calls to arms you hear – email President what’s his name and make dissatisfaction known! Fill up his mailbox and make your voices heard! Good grief, shut up.  – Mullin’s not going anywhere. He’s coach for as long as he wants to be coach, unless the big donors turn on him, and they never will. You guys who go to the games and splurge on lobster rolls gourmet hot dogs, they don’t care about what you think. That should be obvious by now …   There’s a lot of chatter about Marcus Lovett on various fan boards – and it’s rightfully a topic of conversation. It ranges from the uncharitable – they should pull his scholarship unless he plays – to the incredulous: how can he think he’s going to go from sitting on the bench of a 10-win team to a professional contract. Well, the fact is he is: he’ll go play in Europe or Turkey or somewhere and probably have a good career and make millions of tax free dollars and bang exotic women in far off locales. That said – and I don’t know how badly he’s hurt and I hope it’s not too badly – I think it’s fair to question his heart, just a little bit. Because he doesn’t seem to upset watching his alleged “family” get their heads kicked in night after night. I guess what I’m saying is he might not be who you want in the fox hole with you. You know who you want in the fox hole with you? This guy, because he’s got bigger balls.

 

 

Technical Knockout

St John’s suffered an improbable 75-70 loss to the number 23 Seton Hall Pirates New Year’s Eve in New Jersey. It wasn’t improbable because they lost – even the most optimistic fan could only hoped to have stolen a road win – but because they lost not nearly as badly as they should have with their two best players in street clothes. (Although in Lovett’s case I’m not sure what street, he looked like he was dressed for Mardi Gras.) I certainly didn’t expect them to win – I wouldn’t have expected it even if they were at full strength. I didn’t even expect them to keep it close. And so I sat down (or let’s be honest, laid down) with minimal expectations: I was hoping it wasn’t too bad a rout and even when SJ went up by nine points halfway through the first half I was expecting disaster to strike at any moment. Which it did: Seton Hall ended the half on a 38-19 run to take a ten point lead into the locker room. (Into the locker room, good grief, what a hack.) Which considering what they were facing and how awful they’d looked during the second half versus Providence, no one could have expected them to make a game of it, which they ended up doing. Seton Hall extended their lead to 15 midway through the second when SJ went on a 15-2 run to bring it within three. At which point I might even have sat up briefly, I don’t remember. I do remember though that down three after a questionable no call on Ahmed under the basket Coach Mullin got an ill-timed technical – it was ill-timed whether he deserved it or not and I didn’t think he did, you don’t call a foul like that at that point in the game; Seton Hall graduate Jerry Carino who covers Seton Hall basketball for a Jersey paper said it was deserved, although he also said he “didn’t hear” what Mullin said, so if he didn’t hear what what said it’s difficult to understand how he could judge whether it was deserved, and that Myles Powell missed both FTs lends credence to my skepticism, because unlike beat reporters covering their alma maters the ball doesn’t lie – which interrupted whatever momentum St John’s comeback had generated. A missed free throw here, a missed three there and St John’s drops to oh and two in the conference with a likely loss to Creighton looming. Let’s hope that the back court returns soon, because otherwise it’s going to be a long winter … By the numbers the game was more or less even. St John’s shot 46 percent from the floor to SH’s 42; St John’s shot 50 percent from three to SH’s 44; ST John’s shot 64 percent from the FT line, which stinks, but SH shot 60 percent; SH was plus eight rebounds and plus three assists but turned the ball over 17 times. The big difference was free throws: despite missing four of every 10 they took SH ended up making three more FTs than SJ attempted, the total differential being seven, which is a five point game seems something of a big deal. About which a bit more more below … I’d be remiss if I didn’t start the new year out with a gratuitous slap at dopey Steve Lavin. Although in this case it’s not that gratuitous, as two players the keen judge of talent Lavin thought couldn’t help St John’s – Kadeem Carrington and Desi Rodrigez (an in game bio of Rodriguez noted that his favorite band was Green Day, which as Mrs Fun said no one’s favorite band should be Green Day, especially anyone called Desi from the Bronx) – combined for 47 points and 15 rebounds. Credit rat face Kevin Willard: he was in filthy gyms in the Bronx and Brooklyn recruiting those guys while Lavin and his double chins were scouring the French Riviera for Marco Bourgault and Amar Alibgowitz, two of the best shooters he’s seen since Jason Kapono. Coach Lavs: the gift that keeps on giving.

PLAYERS: Justin Simon had 15 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds and five steals while playing a full 40 minutes at the point. He did though miss the front end of a one and one with 40 seconds late and St John’s down three … Tariq Owens had 19 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks which is not the most remarkable thing he did last night. The most remarkable thing he did was play 39 minutes without fouling out. He also made a couple of threes, which if he starts hitting threes he’s going to be a very interesting player … Marvin Clark – who did foul out, for the fourth time this year – had 18 points … Ahmed had sixteen point and four rebounds, including three of four from three … Yakwe and Trimble played 40 minutes between them and had two points, four rebounds and four turnovers, which combined doesn’t even comprise one mediocre performance … Alibegowitz played five minutes, averaging a missed shot, a foul, no points, no rebounds and no assists every 2 minutes.

NOTES: New Year’s Eve brings our annual death pool round up. Gone this year were actors Johns Hurt and Heard; Sam Shepard, who banged Jessica Lange before plastic surgery turned her into a hideous gargoyle; Moores Mary Tyler and Roger; Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Adam West, Martin Landau, Frank Vincent, Harry Dean Stanton, Robert “Benson” Guillaume, John “Higgins” Hillerman, and Chuck Low, a major in the US army who went on to appear in a number of Martin Scorsese films, most notably as Morrie in Goodfellas; dead musicians included Walter Becker, Glen Campbell, Chuck Berry Tom Petty, Chris Cornell, Fats Domino, Greg Allman and being charitable because it’s the holiday season David Cassidy; comedians Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Charlie Murphy and Dick Gregory; the only other columnist in NY worth reading other than me, Jimmy Breslin; former heavy weight champion Jake LaMotta; and miscellaneous celebrities Della Reese, the Honorable Joseph Wapner, former CIA agent Chuck Barris, the sybarite Hugh Hefner, Monty Hall, Erin “Joanie” Moran; and sneaking in just under the wire Rose Marie, who like as not pushed someone over the finish line. Congratulations winners … I wrote last time about a particular type of fan – the sky is falling type – and this time I’m going to write about another. I’m not going to make this a habit – let’s face it if I spent all my time chronicling your collective shortcomings I’d end up typing with Ray McKegney’s gnarled hands – but this story has a moral, as opposed to my usual cheap mindless viciousness.

The ones I’m talking about here are fans who claim to have secret insight into the way the program is run. Understand I’m not talking about good-natured fellows like everyone’s favorite poster P___________ , who seems to be a well meaning fellow with legitimate access to the program who shares what he hears in a good-natured way and adds a for-what-it’s-worth at the end. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about fans who make vague allegations and allusions to rumors they claim to have heard about some bombshell that’s about to explode, secret info about this player or that situation, which player or situation they have the inside dope on but can’t really be too specific about because if they were they’d burn their deep-throat source, who at great risk to him (or her) self and career has given the dope an inside scoop, probably in code and using a series of drop boxes. Whereas in reality mostly these guys are just sad wankers with no sources and no information. I’d ask why people behave like this but I know the answer: they lack self esteem. Some have micro penises; some are Iona fans; some are Iona fans with micro penises. Just like the chicken littles I don’t begrudge them the way they go about their hobbies, just as I trust they don’t begrudge me the way I go about mine, one of which is pointing out other people’s shortcomings in an attempt to make myself look better by comparison. Which is what I’m doing here except that this story has as I said something of a moral. But first the story:

A poster this week in a well read St John’s fan forum posted as follows. He said in reference to Chris Mullin that

The reports on him that the refs file on him after each game are not pretty. Also, the fact in year 3 he does not even know their first names are not helping his situation.

Which is quite a remarkable assertion on a number of levels: first this poster claims he is conversant with official sounding “reports” that are filed by referees with presumably some referee-ing authority; that these reports are unflattering to Mullin; that the attitudes toward Mullin reflected in the reports affect the outcomes of games; and further that Mullin is penalized for not fraternizing with the referees and conversely that other coaches who do fraternize with the referees benefit therefrom. (Which if true might explain how Villanova played an entire game earlier this year without a single foul being called against them.)

Now what can we conclude from this. It could be that the guy is just a sad plonker with a micro penis, that there are no reports, or in the alternative that maybe there are reports but he hasn’t seen them: that is, that he just made the whole thing up. That’d be sad, but in this case that’s the best case. The worst case is that there are reports, that he’s privy to them – presumably such things are confidential – and that he’s correct: that there’s an on going conspiracy among Big East referees to rig the outcome of college basketball games against coaches they dislike personally. If that’s the case I’d hope this poster informs the league offices, and the NCAA and the FBI. Because these crooked referees aren’t harming just Chris Mullin: they’re harming the league and their employers and the NCAA, the student athletes whose games they’re adjudging, the fans who pay to watch the games and ultimately college athletics itself. Its one thing to have an incompetent like Tim Higgins make bad calls because he’s hung over, or to have an incompetent like Jim Burr make bad calls because he’s hung over and dumb as a rock. It’s quite another to engage in a systematic conspiracy to defraud a sizable number of innocents and in doing so to affect the outcome of a sporting event upon which people wager. Which is quite possibly a felony under federal law and if this guy knows about it and doesn’t report it, that’s a felony too, misprision of felony as defined by 18 USCS § 4, which carries a max penalty of three years in the federal penitentiary. Advice to that poster: don’t drop the soap.

But we’ll never know, Because when I asked this poster for details on his lurid assertions – what exactly these reports comprise, how he access to them and so on he merely said “referees talk” and then refused to address the situation further. Which is par for the sad plonker course.

But I bring that up not to mock this dumb slob but to note that in St John’s five point loss to Seton Hall the Hall took twice as many free throws as St John’s (23 to 11) and made twice as many FT’s as St John’s (14 to 7); that St John’s was called for three technical fouls – one on the bench for god knows what, one on Mullin for jawing at the refs – which not for nothing but I used to sit behind Louie in Alumni Hall as a young impressionable lad and for a number of years thought that St John’s back court comprised two guards, one named FUCKING and the other BULLSHIT – and one on Tariq Owens for stepping to a Seton Hall player who’d just shoved a SJ player in the chest.

Which FT disparity I’d find highly suspect on the best of nights. But then I’m a bit of a paranoid. I do leave you with this however: this is a shot comparison between Kadeem Carrington and Bashir Ahmed. Carrington took 13 shots, 10 of them threes, for which he was awarded eight free throws. Bashir Ahmed took 14 shots, 10 of them moving toward the basket in his usual bull in a china shop fashion. Which for his effort he was awarded two free throws.

Which you have to admit is passing strange.

 

 

Out of the Friar

At first I wasn’t going to write about St John’s 94-72 loss to Ed Cooley’s diseased head on Thursday night at Carnesecca Arena. Not out of fatigue or disgust but more or less indifference: St John’s threw in a clunker of a second half – the worst half they’ve played this year and perhaps the only really bad one – and there’s not a lot of joy to be found in rehashing it. The loss dropped St John’s to 10-3 for the season and into a tie for second place in the Big East, one game behind #1 Villanova and #6 Xavier.

But what I was struck by and what I’m going to write about briefly – so if you’re looking for a normal recap look elsewhere – is the reaction to the loss and specifically the reaction of a certain type of fan: the type who reacts to every data point on the continuum as if it’s epiphanic, as opposed to mundane. And (royal) you know exactly what I’m talking about.

These are the fans who see only three kinds of games: must wins, cupcakes and guaranteed losses. These are the fans who were just 24 hours ago checking plane schedules to Nashville – Lunardi currently has St John’s playing there in March as an 11 seed – and using all the tricks they’ve learned coaching 3rd grade girl’s CYO basketball to devise a diabolical scheme to nullify the height advantage the Seminoles (that’s a racists name right there btw) should 7’4″ freshman Christ Koumadje come back from his foot injury. These same fans who this morning, after watching a bad half of basketball – and it was a bad half, no doubt: poor defense, poor shooting, poor decision making – are describing the game as a disaster (at first I thought a nail bomb had eviscerated the dance team at half time, whew) and humiliating and an embarrassment (they will no doubt this morning have mothballed their St John’s gear lest someone see them wearing it on the subway and be forced to cast themselves onto the third rail in shame)  and dashing off emails to university president doctor Conrado Gempesaw beseeching him to reach out to recently dismissed Louisville coach Rick Pitino to gauge his interest in returning to his hometown to save the day, their sources having assured them that Pitino would be interested and it can’t hurt that Mrs. Pitino still has family on Long Island, where she was born and raised, having never cared for the backwaters of Kentucky.

My own hope, such as it is, is that this game serves as a reminder to a young team that has been beating worse teams based purely on a differential in talent that when two teams of equal talent meet the one that works harder wins.

Anyway I’ve been trying to think up the perfect word to describe the behavior of this sort of fan. Mercurial comes pretty close but it doesn’t convey the right sense of emotional instability; infantile implies temporal immaturity, whereas most of these fans are grown men with jobs and homes and wives and children and grandchildren. The word I keep coming back to is faggotry hysteric: they are like middle aged Victorian women repairing to the fainting couch with smelling salts and complaining of undefined female troubles – something to with their uteruses probably, let’s face it nobody really understand what goes on down there – the only known cure for which is clitoral stimulation and a long lie down on the divan.

Now I know that most of you think I’m pretty smug and arrogant – and I am, and those are two of my more endearing qualities – but I’m also full of a degree of crippling self loathing and doubt that would leave most of you unable to get out of bed in the morning. I am at this point so cynical that I don’t even trust my own skepticism anymore and most of the time I don’t know what the hell I’m doing or why. And so it occurred to me, naturally, that maybe it’s me. Maybe I don’t understand what being a sport fan is supposed to be. I certainly don’t follow any sport besides college basketball. I can’t remember for example the last time I sat through an entire baseball game or watched an NBA game; I watch the Lions play on Thanksgiving unless Babes in Toyland is on and then I only flip over during commercials. But that’s really it. I’m not saying that’s good or bad or better or worse, I’m just saying I have other hobbies. Which is what these things are, hobbies. And so I thought sports – like other hobbies – was supposed to be enjoyable and entertaining, a distraction from the fact that we’ll all soon enough be dead in the cold cold ground, forgotten by our friends and families in boneyards overgrown with weeds and our remains being rendered to soil by worms and weevils.

Understand, I don’t think my hobbies are good and yours are bad: I have this moronic blog; I play in a wildly unsuccessful band that sells records almost exclusively to angst ridden pock marked teens in the former East Germany; I bet my hard earned money on dumb four legged animals ridden around in circles by South American midgets; I write long absurdist letters to local government functionaries, insulting them personally and ridiculing their job performance; and I drink, I drink a lot. These things are, all of them, quite stupid. (Note, the, commas.) But the difference between me and a certain type of sports fan seems to be that I enjoy my hobbies. Whereas you (royal) seem to be happy only when you’re miserable. You imagine the worst so that when the worst occurs – and it always does in college basketball, only one team finishes the season with a winning streak that matters – you’re prepared for it. And I think that’s sad.

For your sake I’m looking forward to the day when this program is not so hapless that you are condemned to forever look for a black lining in every silver cloud. A day where disaster doesn’t loom around every corner, where the sky isn’t continually falling on the ship which isn’t forever sinking. Not because I begrudge you your hobbies or the way you go about them or your opinions or your thoughts, but because what it will say about the state of the program, which, unfortunately, I love. (Because it’s all about me.) Nova fans, Creighton fans, Xavier fans, and dare I say dewk fans, Kansas fans, Kentucky fans, they don’t see every unremarkable event as the equivalent of the Titanic careening into a looming volcanic iceberg infected with the bubonic plague. They see blips on the horizon: every once in a while a fluffy cloud briefly obscures an otherwise beautiful sunrise. That is what I wish for you this holiday season: that if you can’t always enjoy the result you can at least learn to love the process.

Feliz Navidad.

===

Dear Ms. M________

On Monday December 26 I came to the E___ G________ town offices to pay my property taxes. Normally I wouldn’t venture near your offices but I was hoping to take advantage of the tax write-off before the new IRS code goes into effect on January 1. When I arrived a patron was already at the window and so I maintained a respectful distance – lest I invade that taxpayer’s privacy – busying myself reading the very interesting notices on the bulletin board facing your office. Only when he left and my turn came did I approach the counter. While I was there a second patron entered. Being it turned out known to you this patron was immediately directed to the counter, where he and you and your staff engaged in a loud, boisterous and excruciatingly boring conversation about who knew whom and whose sister went to school with whose uncle and whose nephews knew whose daughters and where everyone’s respective family vacationed in Florida. This was none of it of the slightest interest to me, the person in the midst of writing the town a check for nearly $ 5000. It occurred to me to ask how large a check I would have to write to get someone’s undivided attention for the five minutes I was going to be there, but I didn’t: that would have been rude.

But that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because while I was at the counter my check book out was out and my tax bill was on display, meaning that should he have had a mind to your loud mouthed buddy could have been privy to inter alia my name, my checking account information, my phone number, my address, the assessed value of my home, my tax account number and my tax liability – which amount he commented on, when you mentioned the specific amount I owed aloud, this was when you refused to accept a check for .21 cents more than my tax bill, which amount I had rounded up, and made me write another one, because accepting the first one would have entailed you making a change to your tax ledger, which change you would have found an inconvenience, earning as you do only $125,000 a year, and being subjected to such rigorous tasks as filing and alphabetizing – all of which information I suspect your office has a duty to keep confidential. Which duty you in my opinion breached.

If this is your standard operating procedure – entailing as it does the willy-nilly display of taxpayer information to the public – it might be something you want to reconsider. The public library more carefully safeguards the titles of the books I check out than seemingly does your office the details of my personal financial affairs. And I pay the library in dimes.

Your pal

S____

Something About Mary

GAME: St John’s ended its preseason schedule Wednesday afternoon with a 77-73 over the trademark rival St. Joseph’s Hawks at Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino. It was an ugly game of the sort in which St John’s seems to thrive, one wherein their peculiar composition – they are oddly sized and freakishly athletic – can overwhelm less talented opponents. It’s somewhat ironic that at least part of Mullin’s system – Mullin being perhaps the most elegant player ever to grace a St John’s uniform – is designed to create chaos, although to paraphrase José Saramago perhaps this chaos is order I haven’t yet deciphered. In any event this was another game they could have lost and that last year they would have lost and the heartening thing about it is that they won not because of their basketball prowess but because of their mindset. At the risk of using a hack phrase that I’d condemn if used by someone else, they refused to lose …

Usually when I look at the box score after the game – some people believe that there’s nothing to be learned from box scores and statistics, that their eyewitness observations trump facts and numbers: those people are idiots – it reinforces my impressions of what I’ve just seen. Yesterday though was an anomaly. I thought for example that St Joe’s had shot the ball pretty well and especially from three: they did not. Both teams shot around 40 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three (St Joe’s at 27 percent was actually slightly worse than St John’s at 31). Neither did I notice the free throw disparity. I actually thought St John’s was getting hosed by an awful crew of officials – and the refs were awful, even the usually obsequious Tim Welsh noticed: he said “the officials have been a little sleepy,” compared the officiating to last weekend’s Steeler-Pat game and noted that “the refs were “getting worse as the game progresses” – whereas St John’s shot 28 free throws to St Joe’s 10, a disparity which like last game’s would have annoyed me were St John’s on the other end of it, although like last game you can’t expect to take a bunch of free throws if your offense consists of chucking up off balance threes. I thought that St Joe’s moved the ball well and that St John’s didn’t particularly, but St John’s had more assists that St Joe’s, who only had 13 on 29 made baskets. Despite giving up 73 points – they’ve only allowed 70 points four times this season – I thought the defense was again pretty good; the numbers at least bare that out, St Joe’s having turned the ball over 20 times … The win puts St John’s at 10-2 with only one OOC game remaining – a likely loss to the hated dewk blue devils. Only a delusional fan would be displeased: two losses to teams with two losses between them – one of those in the top five and the other receiving votes in the coaches poll – and most of those on neutral courts. It could be much worse and has been and will be once again and in the meanwhile I’m happy to enjoy it while it lasts. Ten and two, 15th in the country in RPI, 24th in strength of schedule, 30th in points allowed per game is pretty good, and despite things not being perfect – and they’re not, any idiot can see that, which is what makes the constant drumbeat of doom pounded by alleged fans so tiresome, comprising as it does the tedious restatement of obvious facts without a scintilla of wit or insight – I’m happy. Because you can’t lose the national championship in December. You have to wait for March for that. So I’m biding my disappointment lest it spurt out prematurely: being older now it takes me a while to be disappointed a second time.

PLAYERS: Ponds had another off night: 28 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals … I predicted last time that Tariq Owens (seven points, seven rebounds, five blocks) would triple double sooner or later. Justin Simon nearly beat him to it: 11 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists … Ahmed had 16 points including a couple three diabolical moves to the basket and five rebounds … Clark was once again in foul trouble: eight points and three rebounds … Yawke (4 points) had some nice aggressive moves around the basket but zero rebounds (out of 84 possible) in 20 minutes seems technically impossible. It’s almost like he’s trying to not rebound because if he stood on the court with his hands in the air randomness suggests one would land there as a matter of course … Trimble was four of seven from three in his first two games and 4 of 24 (16 percent) since, including one of five last night. The good news is that he can’t be that bad, I shoot better than that … Alibeowitz DNP … Personally I’m loving this short rotation, it requires much less typing

NOTES: St Joseph’s University in Philadelphia is named for Joseph, the putative father of the baby Jesus, and allegedly a descendant of David and Solomon. If catholic lore is to be believed – and of course it is – Joseph was 90 when he married Mary, his second wife, who later conceived, his age perhaps explaining why Mary remained a virgin throughout the ordeal

I’m the queerest young fellow that ever you heard.
My mother’s a Jew,
my father’s a bird.
If ever you think I amn’t divine
you’ll have to drink water that I’ve turned from wine

Despite behavior that would have disqualified him from serving as senator from the great state of Alabama, Pope Pius IX declared Joseph patron of the universal church, in which position he still serves … St Joe’s and John’s share some obvious parallels: they’re both Catholic institutions, albeit the Joes are Jesuits – the superior form – and the John’s Vincentian; they share an identical acronym, which the Joes usurped based upon their slightly preeminent founding; both were formerly basketball powers; and even their mascots are the same: both are birds, although the Johns are for some reason named after a weather pattern … St Joseph’s alumni include former NJ governor William T. Cahill; hall of famer Jack Ramsey, who coached inter alia Wilt Chamberlain, Chet Walker, Billy Cunnigham, Hal Greer, Bob McAdoo, the terrifying Maurice Lucas, Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler, Ernie DiGregorio, and Reggie Miller; coach Paul Westhead; 2004 Naismith College Player of the Year Jameer Nelson; sportscaster Jack Whitiker; fun fave Joe Queenan; and Vince Papale, inspiration for Disney movie Invincible … I received a bit of push back after my last recap, a correspondent complaining about a joke I’d made. What could it have been I thought? The tasteless reference to the alleged rape of poor Rose McGowan? The tasteless Parkinson’s joke? The joke at the expense of ugly old Ruth Gordon? The one about Jim Valvano having cancer? Ed Cooley’s diseased head? A Scotsman being disemboweled? The various racial epitaphs? No. Evidently that poster is fine with racism, misogyny and mindless mean spiritedness. What set off this reader was my alleged comparison of “a color commentator’s performance to the murder of her mother by her father … waaaay beyond the pale. Completely tasteless and unnecessary.” Well. In the first place, this guy must be new, because being offensive is my stock in trade. In the second, only a very uncareful writer (or reader) would think that that was the comparison I made: I compared the color commentator’s performance to the murderer’s performance, both of which were shoddy: not even I could have gotten that dope acquitted. The last time I got this sort of push back is when disgusted with Steve Lavin’s constant references to his dead father I wrote a bit of a monkeyshine about digging up Cap, reanimating his corpse and murdering him, which led to a secret vote to have me banned from a website on which that particular drollery had not even been posted.

In fairness to myself I made the same joke about my own parents and in fairness to my family my sister laughed, she also having the sense of humor my correspondent lacks … Finally a happy birthday to Frank Zappa, born this day in 1940. He died lo these many years ago in 1993, which is why he is not celebrating his 77th birthday today, by which death contemporary music is much impoverished.

Gael Force

St John’s defeated Iona 69-59 Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in a moribund renewal of what for some reason is still called the Holiday Festival. Brian Custer referred to the two schools as rivals, an odd choice of word considering that they haven’t played since 1995, the last game being one of the losses that precipitated Brian Mahoney being run out of town on a rail. And it’s not only the temporal dislocation that belies that characterization; these teams are not rivals because the disparity in talent between the Big East and the MAAC is just so vast, even between the bottom of the Big East and the top of the MAAC. I mean sure, every once in a while a MAAC team is going to jump up and beat somebody and maybe every once in a while there’s going to be MAAC team that has a surprising year, but that’s the exception. I live upstate in close proximity to Siena College, one of the better MAAC programs; they’re ubiquitous in the local news and the games are televised and even I go to one every once in a while. And the thing is, when two MAAC teams play there’s a parity in their awfulness that disguises how bad the basketball really is. It’s only when you see them play an actual D1 school that the shoddiness of their effort becomes apparent. And that might be especially true this year: MAAC teams are a combined 44-67; only one team, the mighty Rider Broncs, has a winning record. Which means bottom line that even though the game was tied at halftime the outcome was never really in doubt. Play the game 100 times and St John’s wins 99, because Iona is awful.

 

As the picture shows, St John’s won and pretty easily and this despite the fact that they played down to their opposition. Neither team shot the ball well (34 vs 37 percent); St John’s missed all 12 of its threes (you’d think that was impossible) but Iona, incredibly, ended up being worse: they made only 10 of 32, which accounted for more than half their points. That’s about how many threes dook takes a game and Dook has a system designed for that and the players to execute it. I haven’t seen much of Iona but they seem to have neither. The good news for St John’s is that once again won the game on the defensive end: they held another opponent under 61 points (that’s eight of ten for those of you scoring at home), forced 16 turnovers (although forced might be generous, at least a couple were Iona gifts) and blocked 10 shots. If St John’s was on the short end of a similar free throw disparity (they took 27 to Iona’s ten) I might have whined about it, but considering where and how Iona shot the ball it’s not worth mentioning, and especially since Iona shot only 50 percent from the free throw line … St John’s sits at 9-2, their two losses coming to ASU and MU, who’ve lost two games between them. With an RPI of 20 it’s conceivable that they receive some votes in the AP poll this week, which would be a remarkable thing, considering where they started a couple of short years ago. I don’t think they’re a top 25 team by any stretch, but they might be in the top 50 and some idiots have been voting for Georgetown so anything’s possible. I’d credit the staff but having been assured that Mullin and Mitch Richmond don’t know too much about basketball it must just be luck. It’s a shame Mike Rice or some similar basketball Tesla isn’t on the bench to help them out, this sleeping giant of a program might go places.

PLAYERS: Everyone’s favorite whipping boy Bashir Ahmed doubled doubled and had zero turnovers, leading one fan board genius to lament that he “shudders every time Ahmed touches the ball.” I suggest that poster get himself checked for Parkinson’s, because Ahmed played pretty well, especially at the beginning of the game, before Mullin sat him for a long stretch in the first half for some reason: I think it might have been so that Justin Simon could pick up a three fouls. In one remarkable sequence Ahmed had five straight offensive rebounds – albeit they were all of his own misses – and has 30 rebounds over his past three games. I know fans like to bitch about his turnovers and general blockheadedness but what I worry about is his FT shooting, which I guarantee will come back to bite St John’s in the ass at some point this year. You can’t play his game and shoot 50 percent from the line, but he does. You’d think a player who’s as interested as he is in scoring would want to pick up the free ones … Owens had 12 points, six blocks, and six rebounds and made six of six free throws. Sooner or later he’s going to triple double. Hopefully sooner … Justin Simon had 15 points, seven rebounds and four steals before fouling out. He was for some reason trending on twitter (usually when I see someone trending on Twitter I assume they’re dead or that they’ve raped Rose McGowan), this despite the enormous fucking the Steelers got from the referees in the late NFL. Simon was trending above even Tom Brady in the rankings. I’m not a Steeler fan by any stretch – I don’t follow professional football, I’m a Detroit Lions fan – but come on, that was a ridiculous call … Ponds had 16 points, five rebounds, and four steals. He did however miss a bunch more threes: he’s shooting 20 percent for the year – that’s Phil Greene territory – and is 5 of his last 29. On the bright side imagine what sort of numbers he’s going to put up when he stops playing with his head up his ass … Clark a quiet 12 and five, Yakwe played only 15 minutes, Trimble once again serviceable in ML’s absence and Alibegowitz remains a bad Steve Lavin joke

NOTES: Speaking of Brian Mahoney and rivalries it occurred to me the other day what a deleterious effect another Bronx school – Manhattan College – has had on St John’s basketball: Mahoney coached there and later Fran Fraschilla and Barry Rohrssen. You’d be hard to name someone not named Harrington who’s done more damage to the program than those three guys … I’m often amazed when I sit down to write these things where the day takes me. In my notes I have scrawled something about colormoron Sarah Kustok: she said 45 seconds into the game that something was happening  “so far,” which is like saying during the opening credits that you really enjoyed the movie. So I looked up this Sarah person and it turns out her father murdered her mother a couple of years ago. Evidently he shot his sleeping wife in the head with the gun he bought her as an anniversary present (better I suppose that a vacuum cleaner) and then claimed she committed suicide. Much like his daughter does with game commentary however he botched the job – he waited several hours to call the police during which time he cleaned the scene and fired the remaining bullets into the chiffarobe  – he said he didn’t trust himself not to join his wife, not being able to live without her, but obviously as a way to explain the powder residue on his hands – and so now sits in the penitentiary … For a prestigious roman catholic university founded in 1940 by the Congregation of Christian Brothers, Iona College (acceptance rate: 87 percent) has a pretty shitty on-line presence. Their wikipedia page is a scant 18 inches long, a full half of that taken up by descriptions of their various residence halls: they must have some nice bathrooms. That might have something to do with the paucity of achievement by Iona alums, the most notable of whom are hall of fame basketball player Richie Guerin; the actor Bud Cort, famous for rogering Ruth Gordon in “Harold and Maude”

(Gordon wasn’t much to look at when she was younger: along with her husband Garson Kanin she was half of one of the more hideous couples in Hollywood history

I can’t imagine banging the desiccated version); American Pie composer Don McLean, who on and off attended nearly every university on the east coast of the US, including night school at Iona; and John Gilchrist, AKA Mikey in the get Mikey to eat it he’ll eat anything commercials for Life cereal that were ubiquitous when fun was watching cartoons on Saturday morning. I mean off the top of my head I can name three men named Gail, all of whom are more well known than those Gaels: Gail Goodrich, Gale Sayers, and Gayle Gordon, all three of whom, oddly, (note the proper use of the comma) spell their names differently. The Gaels basketball wiki is no better: it fails to mention Jim “Big C” Valvano, who coached there for five years in the 70s before fleeing to North Carolina State, or Jeff Ruland, who attended Iona under Valvano and later coached there after a 13-year NBA career. (Other coaches include habitual drunkard Tim Welsh, rat faced Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, and Pat Kennedy, the one who wasn’t married to Peter Lawford.) Iona’s current coach is Tim Cluess, one of four Cluess brothers to have played basketball at St John’s under Lou Carnesecca. After a remarkable career as a LI high school coach Cluess moved on to the college ranks, where he’s amassed a 265-105 record, including 11 straight years of more than 20 wins. Why he’s still at Iona is anyone’s guess, considering that any number arguably less successful MAAC coaches – Paul Hewitt, Louis Orr, Fran McCaffery, Steve Lappas, Fran Fraschilla, Bobby Gonzalez, Kennedy, Welsh, Willard, Kevin Bannon, and Ed Cooley’s diseased head – have moved on to greater D1 things. Cluess’s name comes up whenever there’s an opening at SJU, and frankly we could do worse and have … Iona’s sports team are called the Gails Gaels, Gael being a reference to fierce medieval blue faced Scottish warriors of the sort portrayed by Mel Gibson in Braveheart, which in this case have morphed into belligerent Hibernians spoiling for a drunken St Patrick’s Day fight.

The great Gaels of Ireland
the men that God made mad
all their wars are merry
all their songs are sad

which is almost a Dennis Leary song but not quite (it’s GK Chesterton), if for no other reason that it’s not stolen from Bill Hicks. In these politically correct times it’s a perverse sort of white privilege that allows for pejorative references to primitive Caucasian savages – Fighting Irish, Gaels, Vikings, Hilltoppers, Cornhuskers – to pass unremarked upon, whereas references to primitive non white savages requires cultural flagellation and government intrusion. I suppose they’ll come a day when all men are judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, when put upon micks and sheep shaggers and frogs and wogs and lint heads are accorded the same respect as are Warriors, Braves, Indians, and Blackhawks. Until then remember: white lives matter.

 

Once Upon a Time, in the West

For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest these: it might have been. What might have been yesterday, had St John’s beaten the sixteenth ranked Arizona State Sun Devils at the Staples Center Friday night – instead of losing 82-70, which is what they did – is that St John’s would’ve probably gotten a few votes in next week’s AP poll. That doesn’t seem like a lot, a few votes in December, but considering where they were this time last December – at 5-6, just having lost to LIU – or god forbid the year before – on the cusp of a 17 game losing streak – that would have been a real sign of progress. Instead they lost a game they might have won had not Justin Simon, having previously tried to throw the CSU game away with a boneheaded pass at half court, and having previously tried to give the Grand Canyon game away with three or four ill-advised in-bounds passes, finally achieved his goal: with St John’s having rallied from a 15 point first half deficit to within one point with about three minutes left Simon threw a pointless pass that sailed over Ponds head into the third row, from which pointless pass SJU never recovered: ASU scored the next 12 points, to SJU’s none. The picture tells the tale.

The bright spot I suppose is that despite how poorly they played on offense – they shot 40 percent from the floor, 30 percent from three and missed nine of 22 free throws – they got back into the game on the defensive end. Considering how porous the defense was last year that’s pretty remarkable, and bodes well for the future, especially when the back court shoots nine for 38, like they did last night … There’s no point rehashing the Grand Canyon State game except to note that St John’s has now held seven opponents to under 61 points – last year they gave up nearly 80, and this year they’re 35th in the country at 64 ppg. I frankly don’t remember too much about the game and my notes look like they were transcribed by Michael J Fox during an earthquake – it started at 11 PM, so I might have had a cocktail – except that Dan Majerle looked like an egg plant … All in all they acquitted themselves pretty well on the trip, playing in a different time zone in front of hostile crowds and without Marcus Lovett. The next two games are at home and presumably Lovett’ll be back. With St Joe’s and Iona having a combined record of 7-8 it’s possible that St John’s can start league play with 10 wins and a top 30 ish RPI. It’s a shame they don’t have a legit big man, because they might turn out to be a pretty good team.

PLAYERS: I don’t want to say anything bad about Shamorie Ponds, but I’m constrained to point out that he’s currently shooting 21 percent from three, which is worse than Alibeowitz. I know that won’t continue – he shot nearly 40 percent last year – but it is worrisome, sophomore slumps being a thing. The good news is that it doesn’t affect the other aspects of his play – last night he had 7 rebounds and assists and three steals – and doesn’t seem to be in his head either … As bad as Tariq Owens was against GCSU – and he was so awful that I remember it – he came back nicely against ASU, scoring a career high 17 points … Marvin Clark had 18 points and seven rebounds and is currently shooting 52 percent from three … Not to be outdone Goat of the game Justin Simon is shooting 66 percent from three. But Jesus the turnovers. It’s unbelievable he was touted as a point guard, he can barely dribble and maybe it’s rust, but again, worrisome … Ahmed did not have a stellar west coast trip – he shot 4 for 20 and committed nine fouls – but he did have 18 rebounds in those two games. The bad news is that he’s essentially the same player he was last year, which means you have to take the bad with the good … Trimble didn’t embarrass himself in Lovett’s absence … Yawke played a mere 16 minutes in two games and Alibeoqitz played 11. Yakwe looked to have turned a corner a couple of games ago, this trip not so much.

NOTES: I watched the game on something called FUBU and was treated to the mellifluous tones of Steve Lavin. Those of you hoping that I’m going to rip him will be disappointed, because he’s not a bad color guy, the requirements of the job – babbling on inanely without saying anything of importance – playing as they do to his strengths. Last night was no exception: he talked about tickling the twine and sharing the sugar and “having the hot hand like a microwave” which Earth to Lavin, microwaves don’t have hands … Before the basketball season started I went back and read my recaps from the previous two years and came away thinking that what I’d read was the best NY sports commentary since Damon Runyon. That might sound a wee egotistical, and maybe it is, but not that egotistical, because it’s not a very high bar: most sport writing sucks. In fact as a general rule the more well known a sports writer is the more likely he is to be a completely talentless hack. Tony Kornheiser for example, sucks. Jowly Bob Ryan, spending his golden years waxing eloquent about the majesty of Tom Brady, he sucks. Balloon headed abomination Mitch Albom: sucks. And just to show that I’m neither a racist nor a misogynist, Jemele Hill sucks too. And so on down the list. Mostly they all suck. There’s probably a bunch of reasons why this is but mostly it boils down to one thing: sports are stupid, and if you spend all your time thinking about stupid things you’ll become stupid too. The fact is that the average sports writer has no greater insight into sports than any vaguely informed mook on the street – imagine if your doctor knew as much about medicine as the average bus driver – and because many of them majored in journalism, they’re shit writers to boot.

I might be a little biased towards my home town, but NY sport writers are the worst. I remember exactly where I was when the appalling Dick Young died: I was in a bar day drinking and high fived the stranger next to me. I remember hate fucking reading Steve Serby’s stupid columns over and over, the ones where he’d repeat a stupid catch phrase every couple of paragraphs – blah blah blah blah CATCH PHRASE blah blah blah blah CATCH PHRASE – which he probably thought of as literary style, which it is, in the same way that if you put shit on tuna fish sandwich it’s mayonnaise. And I defy you to name a worse writer or human being than tortured dwarf Mike Lupica – worse than Steve Lavin even – who I could watch get the Dominick Santoro treatment while eating a shrimp cocktail and not spill a morsel. (Because he’s a dwarf and shrimp is small, geddit?) Not content with being the worst sport writer in America, Lupica has parleyed his Sunday column of vapid thoughts …. about Derek Jeter … separated by ellipses …. from inane musings …. about Bill Parcells …. into a career as – wait for it – a writer of children’s books, books about little runts like himself turning the tables on the big strong bullies and winning the big game. Hooray! Which is fitting, because he sucks and children’s books are perhaps the one literary form that’s lower than sports writing.

Kid’s books used to be written by pedophiles as a form of twisted Victorian pornography – see also JM Barrie and Lewis Caroll – but nowadays mostly are churned out by vapid celebrities as a way of making a cheap buck imparting the important life lessons they’ve learned on the road to fame and fortune. Everyone of them it seems has written a kid’s book, from Madonna (How to Fellate a Hispanic Producer The English Rose), to Keith Richard (The Story of My First Guitar); Hillary Clinton (It Takes a Village to Raise a Village Idiot), her horse faced daughter Chelsea, Bruce Springsteen, Terrell Owens, Spike Lee, George Foreman, Brooke Shields, Sharon Osborne, Billy Joel, Tina Louise, Jamie Lee Curtis. Everyone. When bloated drunken murderer Ted Kennedy wasn’t raping waitresses even he wrote a children’s book (My Senator and Me). In fact I defy you to name a celebrity who hasn’t written a children’s book. Pro tip, you can’t.

Can you imagine being so desperate for intellectual affirmation that you’d sit down at your computer and pump out 200 words a day about a giant talking cucumber that makes friends with a lesbian walrus and saves a turtle from drowning while learning a valuable lesson about tolerance. I’d blow my fucking brains out first. Which is why – like sports writing – most children’s books are shit. Sports writing sucks because the people doing the writing are idiots writing for idiots. Children’s books suck because they’re full of romanticized lies and nonsense and written for idiots by people who wouldn’t know real life if real life crawled up into their colons and died there.

Fact: if you live in a NYC high rise with a monkey called George George is eventually going to get so curious that he rips your face off and eats your genitalia. Because he’s a fucking monkey and that’s what monkeys do. In real life that cute little waif Madeline, bravely wandering the streets of Paris? She’d end up raped by a Persian and her body thrown in the Seine. Am I supposed to believe that any self respecting evil witch with an army of flying monkeys and orcs is going to be done in by a pre-pubescent Kansas farm girl? I think not. In the children’s classic Mr Popper’s Penguins – along with Nausea a fun fave as a tad – Popper receives a penguin (don’t ask) that has so many penguin babies that Popper is forced to take the penguins on the vaudeville circuit to make ends meet except things go awry and he gets arrested and after being gang raped in prison, dies of AIDS. Okay, I made that last part up, but its much more realistic than the real ending, wherein he decides to set the penguins free and so is invited to go to on an expedition with Admiral Drake the North Pole. (The story does have a happy ending though, because the trip takes about two years, meaning Popper doesn’t have to see his insufferable wife and kids for that long.) And I’m not going to mention Harry Potter, the insipid brainchild of a UK welfare slag written in prose that makes Stephen King’s look like Cormac McCarthy: it’s utter garbage. The Little Engine That Could purports to teach children that if they want something bad enough – “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” – they can achieve it. Yeah, no they can’t. Most endeavors end in failure, degradation and despair. In real life the way you get ahead is to cheat and lie and steal and failing that you have to watch Harvey Weinstein shower and then after your tits start to sag you churn out some shitty kid lit.

My favorite children’s book story though is the story of Molly Bang. Molly is a real person, like Hillary Clinton a graduate of Wellesley who went on to get a a PhD in literature from Harvard. She wrote, in 1983, a children’s book called Ten, Nine, Eight, which is a countdown from ten to one by a little girl getting ready for bed. This book is considered a classic and is on the NY Public libraries list of 100 greatest children’s books: “Ten soft toes are washed and warm. Nine soft friends in a quiet room. Eight square window panes in the falling snow.” That’s as far as I got but I assume the next one is “seven Oxycontin chased with a gallon of vodka and a nice lie down in the bathtub” But that’s not the interesting part of the Molly Bang story. The interesting part is that Bang wrote in 1996 a book called Goose, which in 2016 won the Phoenix Picture Book Award: it was named by the Children’s Literature Association as the best English-language children’s book that had not previously won a book award. And so we come full circle: in a world where every little special snowflake gets a gold star for participation, the adults who encourage the children to remain forever children give themselves their own participation trophies. Hooray!

There is one children’s book that doesn’t suck, and that’s because it’s not a children’s book: Yertle the Turtle. Yertle tells the story of a turtle who acts like a cunt and gets his comeuppance, the moral being don’t act like a cunt. Which is all anybody really needs to know. I have my own idea for a great children’s book, one that imparts similar life lessons, because children are the future. Here it is. There’s this cute little Muslim bunny rabbit called Allah Snuggles who befriends a talking Jewish carrot called Schlomupagus. Snuggles found Schlomo alive in a pile of rubble, the only survivor of a blast caused when Snuggles good friend Fluffy – an adorable jihadist puppet come to life – detonated an explosive vest in a Beirut marketplace. The two new friends set off on a long and arduous journey to bring peace to the middle east, but just when they reach Palestine things go awry and the two are separated: Snuggles gets lost in the desert and is raped and murdered by a tribe of Bedouins and Schlomo is deported to Auschwitz where he dies in the gas chambers. The working title is Kurds and Slay.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking fun, that was fascinating (and hilarious), but what does it have to do with basketball. And the answer is nothing. Because basketball is a sport and sports are stupid and you can write about them for so long before you become stupid too. What I’m trying to do here instead is explain what good writing is, and what it isn’t. And to that end I’m going to impart a very important rule to help you along the way. The rule is, when you write, don’t use too many commas. Because, when you use, too many commas, you sound like, a stuttering, fuck, with brain trauma, and reading your prose, is like watching, a three legged dog, try to climb the stairs: eventually you start rooting for the stairs. And rule two, try not to be too boring, and rule three, don’t go on too long, which last one I’m still working on.

Broken Heart

GAME: St John’s put a 35-point beating on Sacred Heart University Saturday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena. On the one hand it was a game you’d expect them to win by 35 but on the other the last two years happened, when they lost to Old Dominion and LIU and Incarnate Word and Fordham and NJIT, so I’d think that long-suffering St John’s fans would be wary of thinking too many teams gimmes.  But they’re not. Sacred Heart kept it close during the first half by virtue of some otherworldly three point shooting. After though what I presume was a rousing win-one-for-the-big-Indian halftime speech – Joe Lapchick’s statue was unveiled before the game – and some ingenious half time adjustments, St John’s put Sacred Heart away quickly and never looked back.

You’d think it’d be hard to say something negative after a game that St John’s won by 35, shot 55 percent from the floor, held their 6th opponent of the year under 61 points, were plus eight rebounds, had 15 steals, eight blocks, and forced 25 turnovers, but St John’s fans are nothing if not resilient, and so there was some grumbling this morning on various St John’s forums, the gist of which was sure they beat Sacred Heart by 35 but they’re supposed to beat Sacred Heart by 35 and now they have to move forward without Marcus Lovett, who twisted his ankle this week in practice. To which I say: last year the team was 2-5 after seven games, this year they’re 7-1 after eight. Last year they were 302nd in scoring defense at nearly 80 points a game and this year they’re 24th, at 60 ppg. That constitutes improvement by any standard. That a couple of the wins were over just the sort of cupcakes that Lou Carnesecca used to feast upon on his yearly trek to a first round NCAA tournament loss – e.g. the year they went to the final four the pre season comprised Lafayette, St Bonaventure, Fordham, Davidson, Rutgers, Niagara, and Old Dominion – well, last year this time they’d given up 80 points in a loss to Delaware State. So I’ll be happy with this. Because you can only beat the teams you play and you can only beat them one at a time. It’s like what Coach Lavs said after one of his signature wins over mighty Fordham: “Focus on the path of incremental progress, because that’s what ultimately positions a team to do something special come March. Focusing on growth doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s proved to be the most effective approach to enhance the percentages or probabilities of playing your best basketball in the postseason.” Percentages or probabilities, what a maroon … A two game west coast swing looms on the horizon. Assuming a split they’ll be about 8-2 going into Marco Baldi’s Superbowl and Christmas all rolled into one, aka Iona at MSG in the Holiday Festival. Anyone who wouldn’t have signed up for 9-2 after 11 games raise your hands. After someone reads this to you obviously, because you’re gym teacher stupid.

PLAYERS: In the absence of Marcus Lovett Shamorie Ponds handled most of the point guard duties and handled them quite well, finishing with 22 points and 7 rebounds. More importantly he looked to have gotten his swag back: he threw a behind the back pass that was so good that even dopey Amar Alibegowitz was able to finish on the break and then later a through the legs pass to Trimble for a three on another … Tariq Owens double doubled (12 points, 11 rebounds) and threw down a sport center top 10 dunk on a poorly thrown lob … Simon once again stuffed the stat sheet: 14 points, six assists, three steals and three rebounds  … Ahmed had 13 points on 5 of 7 from the floor: it’s amazing how good he looks when he lets the game come to him as opposed to how he usually plays … first vaguely good game by the wildly over estimated Marvin Clark, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds … Yawke had 5 plus rebounds for the third time in four games, which doesn’t sound like much but at least he’s been looking interested lately. He also drew a couple of offensive fouls, which I don’t know if that’s much of a skill, but he’s good for a couple a game … Trimble played 22 minutes in Lovett’s absence and didn’t embarrass himself except a couple of time on defense … Alibegowitz wasn’t as awful as he might have been

NOTES: Sacred Heart is behind BU the second largest catholic university in New England, which perhaps explains why they’re on the schedule instead of say Yeshiva. The university was founded in 1963 so there’s not a lot about it to say. Famous alums include unfunny comedian Kevin Nealon, the actor John Ratzenberger (aka Cliff Klavin) and Lydia Hearst, a “fashion model, actress, and lifestyle blogger,” she being the daughter of Patricia “Tania” Hearst, which makes her heir to the 35 billion dollar fortune earned by her grandfather, the publisher William Randolph Hearst, the inspiration for Citizen Kane. Speaking of unfunny comedians, Hearst recently married the abominable Chris Hartwick …. Michael Rappaport showed up during the broadcast for an interminable appearance, about which I’m not going to say anything, because I like Michael Rappaport … Speaking of the gift that keeps on giving, it was discovered this week that a serial killer plaguing the Tampa area was formerly a member of the St John’s basketball team under – you guessed it – the repulsive Steve Lavin. It turning out that one of Lavin’s walk-ons savagely murdered more people than the late Charlie Manson should come as no surprise to anyone who’s followed his career, Coach Lavs being a bit of a sociopath himself. Obviously the fact that Lavin once mentored a player who turned out to be a mass murderer doesn’t make him equally guilty of the crime, but it does call into question his self serving some-things-are-more-important-than-winning mantra – and that’s leaving aside the fact that Lavin did very little in the way of winning. Because just like Mike Jarhead, a similarly sanctimonious nincompoop, Lavin prided himself on his role as a teacher and molder of men’s character. Jarvis wrote a book called skills for life and Lavin – when he’s not playing the role of halftime bobblehead – gives motivational speeches to groups of impressionable young men. No doubt that he mentored a mass murderer doesn’t come up in conversation. Relative to which – because I’m nothing but scrupulously fair – I’ve gone back looked at Lavin’s recruits, 17 of whom made it to campus. They are Dwayne Polee, Mo Harkless, Nurideen Lindsey, God’s Gift Gazunheit, Phil Greene, Amir Garrett, Dom Pointer, D’angelo Harrison, Jakarr Sampson, Jamal Branch, Chris Obekpa, Marco Bourgault, Christian Jones, Felix Balamou, Rysheed Jordan, Orlando Sanchez, Max Hooper, Amar Alimakeawish and Joey de la Rosa. You have in there two sociopaths – Jordan and Obekpa – one bona fide NBA player (Harkless, who fell into Lavin’s lap and got off it as soon as possible), two guys who had an NBA cup of coffee (Pointer and Sampson), a professional baseball player (Garrett), one great college player (Harrison), one charitably speaking average college player (PG 1V) and eleven mediocrities and nobodies (Polee, Lindsey, Gift, Branch, Bourgault, Jones, Balamou, Sanchez, Hooper, Alibegowtiz and de la Rosa). Which carry the one means that Lavin recruited twice as many attempted murderers as he did great college players; the same number of attempted murderers as players who were the best shooters he’s seen since Jason Kapono (Hooper and Bourgault); and as many transfers (7) as graduates, those seven graduates being only three fewer than the number of victims of Lavin’s serial killer. Say what you will about the Jarvae – and I have, both he and Lavin have me blocked on Twitter – at least his recruits confined themselves to petty thievery, drug dealing and sexual assault. So I think it fair that at least some of the stink rubs off on Lavin and especially because you know that if one of his walk-ons won a Nobel Prize Lavin would be standing in the front row with a big smile and shining eyes, clapping enthusiastically, and that afterwards he’d be available to the media. Whereas I don’t expect to see him at this kid’s trial as a character witness. The university otoh is another story. Serial killers come from all walks of life and social strata and any number of them were educated and some highly so. Ted Kaczynski the Unabomber graduated from Harvard and received a PhD from the University of Michigan; Ted Bundy – who kept the severed heads of his victims in his refrigerator – graduated from the University of Washington and later attended law school in Utah; the rapist slash murderer Michael Ross received a degree from Cornell; clown killer John Wayne Gacy graduated from Northwestern Business College; Dennis “BTK” Rader (BTK stands for bind torture kill) received an undergraduate degree in criminal justice from Wichita State; the Dating Game Killer – he appeared on the show during his spree – Rodney Alcala earned a degree in fine arts from UCLA and was attending NYU film school with another rapist – Roman Polanksi – when he was arrested for the sex slaying of an 8 year old California girl; former Oakland Raider and St Louis Cardinal Roger Rozier graduated from UC Berkeley before joining a black supremacist cult and murdering seven whites as part of an initiation ritual – turn about being fair play he was then himself murdered after testifying against the cult; Ed Kemper – who at 6’9″ 240 pounds could help St St John’s in the front court this year – was attending Santa Clara Community College when he murdered his mother and sodomized her severed head; Michael Swango MD murdered 60 plus patients after graduating from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine; and Doctor Herman Webster Mudgett, aka HH Holmes, murdered god knows how many people in the specially constructed murder palace that he operated in Chicago during the world’s fair of 1893. Are you going to blame Harvard for Ted Kaczynski? I think not, no more than you’d blame the university for how godawful Barack Obama turned out.

Knights On Bald Mountain

Nowadays I rarely get mad enough during basketball games to scream at the television but I made an exception during St John’s 46-43 victory over Central Florida in the consolation bracket of the Advocare tournament Sunday afternoon. I screamed at Bashir Ahmed when he threw an ill-considered full court pass to Kassoum Yawke, who has a hard enough time catching the ball when you hand it to him. I screamed at Marvin Clark when he took the  ball end to end on a break instead of giving it up to one of the guards, and then  screamed at him again when he did it again. And I screamed at Justin Simon when he almost gave the game away by nearly turning the ball over at half court with a minute left. But mostly I screamed at the referees. Consider: UCF did not score a point in the first 10 minutes; they did not make a field goal until seven minutes were left in the first half, a half in which they managed four field goals total; they made a mere 14 field goals the entire game, had 15 shots blocked, turned the ball over 21 times and had their best player foul out three quarters of the way through the second half. And yet they came within a clam’s hair of winning by virtue of the the 14 of 23 free throws they made – good thing they sucked at FT shooting huh? –  in a seemingly unending parade to the line. And meanwhile St John’s didn’t shoot a free throw until there were 13 minutes left in the second half and ended up with a total of eight, half of those in the last five minutes. Things got so bad that at one point a referee collapsed, exhausted from the strain of whistling fouls against SJU. (Just kidding, he got head butted by one of UCF’s players, which resulted in a St John’s foul.) Being uncharacteristically sober it took me a bit to figure out what was going on, but then the light bulb went off: former dookie Johnny Dawkins was on the sidelines, that was why UCF was getting the benefit of every call. That was why for example Tarko Fall could grab a rebound under the basket, stumble halfway across the court and end up laying on his back near the sideline where he was awarded a time out: it wasn’t because he’s learned the secret of teleportation or because he’s the most supernaturally coordinated golem in the history of golems, it’s because his head coach attended the best Ivy league school in the ACC. It all became clear: St John’s was getting rogered, just like they got rogered in 1990, when dook shot 32 free throws to SJU’s 15 in a 4-point first round NCAA tournament loss, and just like they did in 1991, when dewk shot 28 free throws to SJ’s six. It wasn’t merely bad basketball, or blind and biased referees: it was part of a vast shadowy conspiracy of karmic forces that has existed for more than 50 years. In which case there’s nothing to do be done about it, so you might as well scream into the darkness. (Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, Villanova just played an entire game without committing a single foul. Last year when they didn’t commit a foul in a half against St John’s I called that loaves and fishes territory. No fouls in an entire game means Jay Wright has moved on to raising Lazarus from the dead). Which whining about the refs is not to say that SJ played well. They did not. They were putrid: they shot 25 percent from the floor and 7 for 27 from three and committed 22 turnovers. But I don’t care. In a four point game where 80 points were scored total UCF shot 400 percent as many FTs as SJ and scored a third of their points from the line: they made as many FTs as they did baskets. Some guy called C Brown on UCF took six shots that resulted in 13 free throws, and meanwhile Lovett, Ahmed and Ponds took 40 shots between them and got fouled twice. Not buying it, not at all. The refs were horseshit … About the previous three games there’s not a lot to say. SJ made a nice comeback against Oregon State, but Oregon State stinks so there’s not a lot of there there. The Missouri game was a bit of a disappointment, because they had them and let them go. Although the difference in the score at game’s end was eight the real difference was fourteen: 14 more FT’s for Missouri – they made eight more than SJ took – and they had 14 more rebounds than St John’s and they made 14 threes. That’s more fourteens than Roy Moore’s had. Still, six and one after seven games is about as good a start as any non-delusional fans – and there are a lot of you –  could expect, because even if they’d beaten MU they’d have had their heads handed to them by West Virginia. The big tournament take away for me is the defense, i.e., that they’re actually playing some. And that’s a big deal. Because if you play defense you can win games you shouldn’t, just like the one they won today … There’s five games left before the real ones begin: assume a loss to Arizona State and that they beat snot out of the the cream puffs (Sacred Heart and Iona); even if they lose a game they probably could win against Grand Canyon or St Joe’s, that’s nine wins, which is just about where you’d expect them to be in December: halfway to a favorable seed in the NIT.

NOTES: Advocare was sponsored by the sinking ship ESPN, meaning that I was spared the presence of the repulsive Steve Lavin and dimwitted Tarik Turner; the bad news is that I was subjected to unending streams of ill-informed nonsense by the conga line of failed coaches that ESPN foists off as alleged experts: Dan Dakich, Seth Greenburg, Dino Gaudio, Mark Adams and Bob Valvano have between them 1500 coaching losses, three NCAA tournament appearances, and the combined  charm of a convention of Albanian marriage brokers. The worst offender though this week was former SJU coach Fran Fraschilla, who noted during the game that we were watching bad basketball and “probably bad coaching” – which is a remarkable statement coming from someone whose own once promising career exploded more spectacularly than anyone not named Bobby Gonzalez. What Fran failed to note was the atrocious announcing: an indication of the kind of day Fran had was that when a Marcus Lovett jumper lodged itself between the rim and the backboard Fran went on a 30 second dissertation about how that shot was “an indication of the kind of night Shamorie Ponds is having.” In one short sentence he got the player wrong, and the time of day, and drew the wrong conclusion from what he’d just watched twice, but other than that made some fine points. On the bright side he didn’t pull his cock and balls out and start shaking them in anyone’s face, so there’s that … And finally the elephant in the room. Many of you have written over the past week, the gist of which was hey fun, what gives? Where’s my recap. The short answer is that I couldn’t be bothered and the longer one that it’s all part of the master plan: like Saint John’s in the first half of many of its games I’m starting slowly and conserving my energy for the second, when games are won. In point of fact Molloy was a glorified exhibition against a nursing college – Lou used to joke about playing the little sisters of the poor but it took Chris Mullin to actually pull it off. What was I supposed to write about? How to make jello? How to jerk off doctors in the linen closet? (Hint: use jello). I couldn’t have been less interested. Still, one astute poster in the interminable game thread at one well trafficked fan board – you’d think they were playing for the national championship the way these dopes analyze the excruciating minutia of every possession – termed the win “a disgrace,” evidently because SJ only won by 29, after having sat their two best players for the last 10 minutes of the second half. No doubt the same poster would have complained if Lovett and Ponds were in at the end, lest they get injured. Because some people are only happy when they’re unhappy.  Re the Advocare tournament, I wrote three recaps in three days during last year’s preseason tournament, after which I said to myself, self, if I’d known they were going to play three games in three days I’d have written one recap comprising all three games, which is exactly what I did this year, having this year cleverly looked at the schedule beforehand, as opposed to last year, when I was drunk. Not that I’m not drunk now obviously, but at least I looked at the schedule. And I actually did some research into the schools we played, just in case. The Oregon Beavers were a treasure trove, beaver being along with area 51, axe wound, baby cannon, badly packed kebab, beef curtains, broad faced chicken, clowns pocket, furburger, front-butt, meat curtains, minge, muff, Sarah’s saddlebag, sausage wallet, shame cave, smiling dolphin, stench trench, stink box, tinkleflower, tuna purse, twinkle cavern, Valarie’s stinkhole, yippee bog, and yogurt factory a synonym for the female private parts. It turns out that in days of old it was thought that venereal disease was spread by contact with the pubic hairs of prostitutes, who in turn shaved their nether regions and wore instead vaginal toupees, called merkins, made from beaver pelts. Today of course most women shave themselves bald as a matter of course, snow flake millennial males evidently being sexually aroused by the Barbie dolls with which they grew up playing. Me, I’ll take a hirsute 80’s porn bush any day of the week. De gustibus non disputandum est. And Missouri, the Tigers, was the alma mater of Tom Berenger, Sheryl Crow, Jon Hamm, Robert Loggia, Brad Pitt, George C. Scott, Tennesee Williams, Art Shamsky, and Ed Sanders, founder of the Fugs, whose The Family (The Story of Charles Manson’s Dune Buggy Attack Battalion) is the sine qua non of Manson porn, poor Charlie having shuffled off the mortal coil in a synchronistical bit of good fortune this past week. RIP Charlie.