RECAP: I didn’t sign up for this. And by this I mean humiliations like the 79-72 drubbing at the hand of the mighty Delaware State Hornets Tuesday night at Carnesecca Arena. Just a week ago we were feeling pretty good about playing competitively against a ranked Michigan State team. This morning we ‘re feeling bewildered by a loss to a team that hasn’t won a D1
tilt game all year. Who was it that said “a feather duster one day and a more bedraggled feather duster the next”? I don’t recall .. I’m all for patience. I understand that rebuilding a program takes time, that there’s a learning curve for a newly assembled staff, that building a talent base takes several years, that most players don’t show their true selves until their junior and senior years (see also Pointer, Dom) and that there are lumps and more lumps to be taken along the way. What I don’t understand is how submissive certain players on this team are to their destiny: no one save Bashir Ahmed seems troubled, much less raging against the dying of the light. That’s a problem .. That said this loss can be placed directly on the shoulders of a certain Chris Mullin. Not because he failed to hire an X and O guy, not because he didn’t employ the triangle and two, not because he failed to make halftime adjustments – the usual litany of complaints the myriad of fan forum CYO coaches roll out every time there’s a loss. No. What Mullin did was send his team a signal at the very beginning of the game that Delaware was a team that did not have to be taken seriously, which he did by sitting his best player, Marcus Lovett, and his only serviceable big man, Yankuba Sima, and instead starting Feddy Mussini and Malik Ellison, two players who on a real basketball team wouldn’t see the floor outside of garbage time. That bone headed maneuver set the tone for the lackadaisical effort that followed, and that’s all on the coach. I suppose should he and they learn that the other guy might take you seriously even if you don’t him, well that’s something … There doesn’t seem much point in rehashing what went on. On one side of the ball this team plays atrocious defense. On the one hand they have players like Yawke and Ponds and Lovett who are fundamentally unsound and on the other players like Mussini and Ellison and Alibegioch and the German who couldn’t cover a lectern. Hence Delaware State shooting 60 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three. On the other end they threw the ball around the perimeter randomly for a few seconds and then who ever had the ball when the music ended chucked up a three – they took 37 (!), of which they made 12, which is not very good. Part of that is necessity – the big men stink so there no point in giving them the ball – and part of it is immaturity, but part of it is the system, which relies on children to make the wise decisions of adults. That’s going to be a problem until we get a bunch of protégés in here and there do not seem to be any reinforcements on the horizon, at least this year. What might have helped this team is a big man with a mature body and good hands stationed at the foul line, as opposed to Yawke. Unfortunately that guy’s in Nevada. I hate to keep beating a dead horse but this team is Christian Jones away from being, I don’t know, mediocre .. Bright spots? Fourteen assists, seven steals, eight blocks, a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line .. It was hard to tell from the broadcast but it looked like Mullin skipped the handshake line and hustled himself off the court in embarrassment. If so, I’m glad he was embarrassed: he should be. On the other hand that is not the way to teach skills for life to your young charges, including the virtue of taking your beating like a man. I noticed hall of famer Mitch Richmond shaking hands with everybody like a gentleman. Which is how it should be
PLAYERS: Ahmed had 19 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in 20 minutes – three of those were offensive fouls – and was one of the few players who seemed to notice he was being humiliated. He also led both team in cognitive dissonance, as is evidence by his post-game observation that “We didn’t do a great job moving the ball around their zone … we needed to move the ball around more … we rushed … some of these shots weren’t good shots. We need to be more patient and find the right shots.” This from a guy who has 70 field goal attempts and four assists through seven games … Ponds had 15 points and 9 rebounds, one short of his first career double double … Lovett did not start. Why? I don’t know, but that better not happen again. Interestingly he played the remainder of the game without a rest. I thought Mullin might have been pulling a Bobby Kelly – starting the shitty white kid over the more talented minority to get a couple of free minutes out of the shitty white player before things got out of hand, but the shitty white kid played 30 minutes. Lovett finished with 13 points and 4 rebounds …. Speaking of the shitty white kid, Federico Mussini made a three early when it didn’t matter and then not another one until the game was out of reach – he made one three down 13 and the other down 15 to once again demonstrate his prowess as a garbage time dead eye shooter. On the defensive end he was brutally sodomized on nearly every possession. It was painful to watch … Regular readers are aware that I’m a yuge Yawke fan but Jesus this kid’s got to pull his head out of his ass. It looks to me like where last year he was playing purely on instinct and athleticism this year he’s thinking. If so, hey Yawke, stop thinking. He had seven blocks, which is great, but not if he displays the same bad habits as Chris Obekpa and I suspect if he was as interested in rebounding as he was in blocking shots he’d have had more than four rebounds … Malik Ellison once again stood obliviously staring up into the rafters while a teammates pass went whizzing by his head out of bounds. Third time I can remember this year. Might have the lowest basketball IQ (an apocryphal measure of basketball talent which does not exist) of any player since, I don’t know, pick one of the many incompetents we’ve had over the years, Abe Keita, Alpha Bangura, any moron will do … Sima played 20 minutes and had two rebounds. You’d think a seven footer could stand under the basket with his arms up in the air for 20 minutes and three balls would land in his hands by accident but even if they did in Sima’s case he’d fumble them out of bounds so nevermind … Alibegovicth played 5 minutes. In one remarkable sequence he missed a three, hustled down court to blow a defensive assignment that resulted in a layup and then hustled down to the other end to travel … Baruq Owens played four minutes. It’s a shame he stinks, we could use a big man
NOTES: There are no notes, this game didn’t deserve any, except to note [sic] that Delaware State is the alma mater of the legendary
tenor sax trumpet player Clifford Brown. Brown died at the untimely age of 25 when his wife fell asleep at the wheel and shades of Jay Williams drove headfirst into a tree while Brown and piano player Richie Powell were asleep in the back seat en route to a gig. Ain’t that just like a broad. In normal times this would be an excuse for me to post a video of Brown but I know none of you philistines would listen to it and so instead here’s a long distance dedication to a certain passive aggressive fuckhead I know. As the host of Top of the Pops and knight of the realm Jimmy Saville said to any number of underage girls during his long entertainment career, fee free to suck my dick.