When Saint John’s lost to Delaware State a couple of weeks ago I was surprised. When they lost to LIU a week ago I was disappointed. Sunday afternoon, when Saint John’s lost 92-76 to the Penn State Kiddie Fuckers at alleged home court Madison Square Garden in what is for some reason still called the Holiday Festival was the first time since the repulsive Steve Lavin was head coach that I can recall being disgusted … Things started out promisingly enough: Saint John’s took the same 7-point lead they did last week again LIU before the falling sky hit an iceberg and burst into flames. Penn State went on a 35-5 run to end the half – a display babbling idiot Ron Thompson called the “best nine minutes of college basketball” he’d ever seen, which means only that he didn’t watch the Kentucky North Carolina game yesterday – and led by 23 at the half. Despite some brilliant halftime adjustments by coach Mullin that allowed Saint John’s to outscore Penn State by nearly 20 percent in the second half Saint John’s never got closer than 16, and that after a 12 to 2 run …. There does not seem to be much point in mentioning the box score but I will anyway: Saint John’s shot 37 percent from the floor and committed 21 turnovers and that wasn’t even the problem. The problem is the defense, which once again was atrocious. When unguarded shooters were not burying 13 of 23 threes they were blowing by their defenders for drive and dumps: it was very hard to watch and almost embarrassing and I don’t embarrass easily. Suffice it to say that no one covers anyone. The ones who seem capable of playing defense – Owens, Yawke, Ponds, Lovett, Ahmed – don’t seem to be trying very hard and the other ones – Ellison, Mussini and Freudenburhger – are hopelessly slow, uncoordinated and lacking in awareness. It’s a difficult situation and one that needs remedying. Freshmen in general are horrible defenders and being charitable Mullin didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about defense in college or the pros. He’d best start thinking about it soon, because this season is suddenly beginning to look bleak.
PLAYERS: When the best player on the floor is Malik Ellison, well, let’s just say that that’s not a recipe for success. Probably everyone wants to talk about his career high 22 points. I want to point out that for the second time this year he received a pass in the corner with his feet out of bounds. How can you perform well on the court when you don’t even know where the court is … Tariq Owens had a double-double in 22 minutes before fouling out for the fourth time this year … Signs of life from Kassoum Yawke: eight points, seven rebounds, three assists. In an article in the NY Post this morning Yawke opined that he was overthinking things, which if he read this blog he would have known that a month ago when I opined the same thing … Shamorie Ponds had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists but was a dreadful 3 of 17 from the floor … Lovett had six turnovers in his first game back … Ahmed had five turnovers and doesn’t have that excuse. Forced things a bunch of times and was generally awful … Freudenbrheger had five points, which would have been more had he not had a couple of threes go in and out. His presence on the floor is either a sign of desperation or an indication that Mullin is playing the long game. Because he’s not ready for prime time … Federico Mussini shot an air ball and that was about the best thing he did all day… I thought Darrien Williams might get some run after his showing last week but he played only four minutes
NOTES: Penn State are the Nittany Lions, Nittany being a reference to Mount Nittany, a local Pennsylvania landmark that overlooks the Penn State campus bathroom when Jerry Sandusky raped many little boys during his long and illustrious career as an educator. I mention that only to point out that Nittany rhymes with Britney, which gives me an excuse for the picture which adorns this post. You’re welcome Desco … Unremarked upon in Saint John’s fan forums – where this Sunday morning I was treated to an amusing essay the gist of which was that negroes who play in the NBA go broke because they spend too much money tricking out their Escalades – was Rollie Massimino, who on Wednesday won the 800th game of his illustrious career when the Keiser University Seahawks defeated Trinity Baptist University 77-47, making the 82 year-old Massimino only the third active college basketball coach with 800 wins, Mike Scherwrenky and Jim Boeheim being the other two. And what a long strange trip it’s been. Massimino first coached at Stony Brook – the Seawolves, which almost brings him full circle but not quite – in 1969. Despite having no college coaching experience and being a Rutgers graduate he had immediate success, going 34 and 14 in two years before moving on to Villanova University after a year as an assistant to former Piston coach Chuck Daly, then at Pennsylvania University. Massimino won 300 plus games at Villanova in 19 years, including an improbable national championship in 1985, the year Saint John’s made its only final four in the modern era and its first since Democrats elected former Ku Klux Klan member Harry Truman president of the United States. It turns out that that championship was the apex of Massimino’s career – and the glory from that dimmed somewhat when it was revealed later that most of Massimino’s players were degenerate junkies who were snorting cocaine in the locker room at halftime. Massimino resigned from Villanova in 1992 to take the head coaching job at UNLV, where he was a respectable 35-21, but was fired after it was discovered that – in an ironic turn – Massimino was receiving payments under the table from the university president. After Nevada Massimino turned up at Cleveland State where he was a moribund 90 and 113 and where once again his players ran amok, forcing Massimino to resign amidst allegations of drug abuse, criminal behavior and academic fraud. In 2006 after a three year hiatus Massimino took the coaching job at Kaiser – then Northwood University, the Timberwolves, not the Seawolves – where his record stands at 245 and 61: he’s won 30 games three times, never lost more than 9 games in a season and made the NAIA tournament every year, including a loss a few years back in the national championship to powerhouse the Oregon Institute of Technology Hustlin’ Owls. Congratulations Rollie …. Speaking of Jim Boeheim, I took a few minutes to read Syracuse’s fan forum after yesterday’s home loss to Georgetown. The consensus among the delusional fans there is that college basketball has passed Boeheim by – this would be the same Boeheim who went to the final four last year and the elite eight a year before that and four sweet sixteens in the last five years – and that the only person who can save SU’s program from oblivion is Jay Wright, although Billy Donovan might be able to and also Greg Marshall. Since Wright isn’t going anywhere and Donovan is in the NBA and Greg Marshall earns three million dollars a year – which is nearly 20 percent of the budget of Wichita’s entire athletic department – it seems that once JB leaves after next year Syracuse will finally receive its well-deserved and long due comeuppance, once again leaving Saint John’s as New York’s team. Or possibly LIU, depending on ow things shake out. But at least the crown will be vacant at long last, which is something to look forward to on this otherwise sad afternoon.