GAME: If I’d know there was a consolation bracket in the Battle4Atlantis and that Saint John’s 75-69 Thanksgiving night loss to Virginia Commonwealth was going to be televised I’d not have recapped the MSU loss and done a twofer. Oh well, just one more thing for you people to give thanks for …. SJU started strong, hitting their first eight shots en route to an 18-5 lead and were on their way to a blow-out win when disaster struck: Malik Ellison entered the game. A few short minutes later the lead was down to four and although SJU managed to maintain a two point lead at halftime the writing was on the wall. VCU took the lead early in the second half and extended it to eleven, but just when you thought the roof was going to fall in SJU made a couple of plays and tied it up. They ran out of gas down the stretch though and made a bunch of stupid plays and took a bunch of stupid shots and missed a bunch of free throws which is just the sort of thing young teams do before they’ve learned how to win close games. On the bright side before you learn to win close game you have to lose a few so at least we got this one out of the way …. Turns out there’s yet another game tonight, this one against Old Dominion, who lost yesterday to Louisville in OT. That does not bode well. Optimists will note that Delaware State and Fordham and a bunch of cupcakes loom on the horizon. Onward and upward.
PLAYERS: It’s striking that the worst game of Marcus Lovett’s short college career – he dribbled the ball off his foot at midcourt before halftime, blew a dunk on a breakaway and missed a couple of free throws late – was three rebounds short of a double double … Shamorie Ponds had 14 points in the first half and was invisible thereafter … Yawke woke up and finally displayed the sort of energy he routinely showed last year. You’d like to see him score a little more – and he would if he’d hit his free throws – but 5 points, 5 rebounds and 6 blocks is nothing to sneeze at …. Sima was productive as well – 12 points and 7 rebounds – but I’d never have guessed he had those numbers without looking at the box score … It’s safe to say after five games that
Batshit Bashir Ahmed is not a big fan of the assist. He is going to have to learn that the points his teammates score are as important as the ones he does and when he does he’ll be a better basketball player. Until then we’ll need to accept his step back threes and bull rushes to the basket because there’s no one on the bench who can score 13 points in 20 minutes ….. Division Two player of the year Tariq Owens had zero points in 11 minutes, but the good news is he managed to not foul out …. Mussini only played 12 minutes. Maybe they could use his alleged offense but his defense is so appalling that it’s probably a wash …. Richard Strauss Frudenberg played eight minutes and contributed slightly more than Williams and Alibegic, who didn’t play … Which brings us to Malik Ellison. Last year I wrote often about Ellison’s plus minus, which was so striking to me that I postulated that he was some sort of or Jonah. I think I was probably wrong. I think he really just has a terrifically low IQ, and I’m not even talking basketball IQ, I mean he looks dead behind his eyes like a great white shark. (Maybe Pervis was never nervous because he was too dumb to be scared?) Saint John’s was up 13 when he entered the game. On the first play he inbounded the ball to Lovett and ran up the court oblivious to the fact that Lovett had returned the ball to him, which bounced out of bounds. And it was downhill from there. He was especially egregious down the stretch, making nonsensical spin moves in the lane and hoisting up threes. If he’s the first option off the bench – and he seems to be – this year is going to be longer than even I thought.
NOTES: Several of you have written noting that I made an error in yesterday’s important blog post, confusing MSU’s appearance in the Holiday Festival in 1968 with Michigan’s in 1965. Good catch and thanks for taking time away from your families on Thanksgiving to set me straight. In my defense it was pretty early in the morning and so I was still sober. Trust me that’s a mistake I won’t make again. Anyway the 68 Holiday Festival win was against an MSU team that finished the season under .500 under Pete Newell protégé John Bennington, so that victory wasn’t the greatest in anyone’s history …. Speaking of Pete Newell, two of Steve Lavin’s prize recruits suited up for VCU last night: Samir Doughty and Ahmed Handy combined for three points in 29 minutes, we really missed the boat there …. Today is the first day of the Christmas season, aka Black Friday, a frenzied paean to capitalism that’s traditionally celebrated by shoppers being trampled to death in the parking lot at Target while trying to get an amazing deal on a flat screen TV. Black Friday is so called because it is thought to be the day that retailers books go from red to the black. Fans of irony will enjoy the fact that box store parking lots turn instead from black to red. Lest you think this tradition just other American abomination Black Friday is celebrated across the world, including in countries like India and Romania where you wouldn’t even think they have parking lots, or in the case of Romania, an economy.