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.