Category Archives: providence

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


This Space Available

St John’s lost to Ed Cooley’s diseased head Saturday afternoon 86-75 and thus endeth the St John’s regular season. In toto it was about what I expected – and unless you’re irrational it should be about what you expected as well, from a team nine months removed from an abysmal eight-win season and comprising nine underclassmen and five first year players and a coaching staff still searching for its sea legs. If you expected more than that then you’re more optimistic than am I, but then most people are more optimistic than I am: as an infant I distinctly remember thinking that my mother’s breasts were half empty. Just kidding, she didn’t breast feed me, that bitch. Oh dear, this turned ugly quickly. Probably I should start again but I’m not going to and fuck her anyway. So yes, the season: 13 wins is a bit fewer than I thought – I figured 15 or so – but as I noted two weeks ago if you flipped a couple of the atrocious losses – Delaware and Penn State primarily – this would be about a .500 team and a low NIT seed;  if you flipped five or so games that the November team lost that the February team might not this would be a bubble team. Consider: if you look back at the OOC conference schedule three of the losses look none too bad in retrospect:

Road loss to 23-7 Minnesota, a projected 6 seed
Road loss to 19-11 Michigan State, a projected 8 seed
Road loss to 23-7 VCU , a projected 9 seed

And two of the losses are understandable, if you eschew the ‘we should beat them because we are St John’s’ mentality

Road loss to 19-10 ODU
Road loss to 21-12 LIU

That’s five not too bad losses. In addition to those, seven losses were to ranked BE ranked teams: Villanova, Xavier and Creighton twice, and Butler once. Which makes carry the one 12 understandable losses of 18. Of the remainder of the league games today’s home loss to Providence – a bubble team on a winning streak – was arguably the worst. And on the other side of the coin are some good wins: at Syracuse, a projected 10 seed; home versus #13 Butler; at Providence; home versus Marquette, a projected 11 seed; and home versus Seton Hall, a projected 10 seed.

I’m no pollyanna but to me this represents real progress and especially considering the starting point. Next year of course is where the rubber meets the road: assuming no defections St John’s will have one of the top back courts in the country, finally some upperclassmen (even if they’re not very good), some well needed reinforcements in the form of Clark and Simon and hopefully a big body grad transfer and a staff that has had enough time to figure out the competition and the process. I am a Chris Mullin fan but absent extraordinary circumstances if they win 13 game next year I’ll be leading the chorus calling for his head: because St John’s has taken two steps forward. If they take a step back they might as well dismantle the basketball program and I’ll start a blog about curling, eh? But I don’t think they will. I think next year they take another step forward because as I’ve maintained all along, Chris Mullin has never failed at basketball before and he didn’t come to St John’s to start failing now …  To the extent that today’s game deserves discussion – and it doesn’t – St John’s shot 37 percent from the floor and 17 percent from three and were minus 11 rebounding and turned the ball over 14 times. I suspect that they know that today’s game didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things or at least that’s what I told myself. The defense was appalling – I keep refreshing ESPN’s page so I could post a capture of the shot chart because Providence’s offense comprised an unending line of uncontested lay ups, but because ESPN sucks balls you’ll have to take my word for it: Providence’s offense comprised an unending line of uncontested lay ups. Usually I don’t have a lot of patience for fans who think that the outcome of the game would have been different had St John’s only employed the triangle and two or the box and one or the pentagram and none but today I don’t see where any harm might have come from switching to a zone to have seen whether it might thwarted the conga line of lay-ups that the man to man rewarded PU with but whatever. The only thing St John’s didn’t suck at was free throw shooting and the officials were so appalling that even that is tainted by association: both teams were in the bonus halfway into the first half; John Gaffney and company called 52 fouls in 40 minutes that resulted in 67 free throws. Note to stupid John Gaffney: if I wanted to spend my afternoon listening to people blow things I’d hang around in the Port Authority bus terminal men’s room. Fuck you and your fucking whistle.

PLAYERS: Left to my own devices I’d have given the game ball to Bashir Ahmed: he had 17 points and seven rebounds and three blocks and for most of the game looked like the only player on the court who gave a fuck about what was happening. But Shamorie Ponds scored 29 points and passed the great tattooed negro D’Angelo Harrison to become the top freshman scorer in St John’s history so I gave it to him instead. We are you and I fortunate that Ponds is not two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier because if he was he’d be a lottery pick … Lovett had 12 points but most of them were when the game was over . Did not start the second half for some reason and did not look happy about it to the extent that I’m expert at facial expressions and body language. Embarrassed a PU player by bouncing the ball off his ass on an inbounds play for a basket … Ellison scored no points in 23 minutes which seems impossible unless you are familiar with his body of work. Those of you who had the under relative to his throwing yet another stupid lazy pass that was intercepted leading to a lay in for the bad guys, pay the man on the way out … Federico “Crunch time” Missini hit a three in the second half to cut PU’s lead to 17 or something but was otherwise oh fer the game … Yakwe once again was less horrible than he has been most of the rest of the year … Alibagofsandwiches played minutes that were not as offensive than his usual minutes, which makes three games a row … Darien Williams fouled out in nine minutes, barely defeating Tariq Owens, who fouled out in ten.

NOTES: Besides being the worst point guard in recent St John’s history, Tarik Turner talks too much. Please to be shutting the fuck up Tarik. But to Tarik’s credit he was no where near as appalling as booth mate Alex Faust, whose self written biography describes himself as “the voice of Northeastern University men’s basketball,” which is not what I want written on my tombstone, which is going to read ARE WE THERE YET in all caps. Because you’re all well educated you’ll know that the original Faust sold his soul to the devil in exchange for worldly riches, which I assume Alex Faust might have because he’s on TVG despite being dumb as a fucking rock.

Friar Suck

Saint John’s defeated Ed Cooley’s diseased head 91-86 in Providence Wednesday night. In the aftermath of which I am not making up any of the following: it was Saint John’s fourth conference win of the year, two of which were on the road; the win left Saint John’s in sole possession of sixth place in the best basketball conference in America; Saint John’s is in conference as many games behind #10 Creighton and #16 Xavier as they are ahead of Georgetown and Providence; and they have only three fewer conference losses than Villanova, the defending national champion and current #1 team in the country. With 10 games left in the season Saint John’s has two more wins than they had all of last year and had they won a couple of gimmes in November they’d be sitting at 13-9 – which is just where ratface Kevin Willard is, and he’s been at Seton Hall for seven years. Not bad for the least experienced team in the country coached by a guy who’s in desperate need of X and O help from washed up nobodies like Tom Pecora … Wednesday’s game really comprised three mini games: the first half, in which Saint John’s defeated Providence 46-37, courtesy of ten PU turnovers and half a dozen missed free throws; the first seven minutes or so of the second half, where Providence outscored Saint John’s 22-7 on their way to a six point lead, this courtesy of a vintage display of Saint John’s ineptitude; and then the final ten minutes or so – after Mullin used his third and final timeout to calm things down – which was easily the most exciting ten minutes of basketball Saint John’s fans have seen in quite a long time, up to and including scoring the last six point of the game. Yes, the defense was atrocious and yes there were some questionable shots and bonehead plays. So what. They went up and down the court and traded punches and it was fun to watch. It wasn’t Hoosiers and no doubt some of the he-doesn’t-play-basketball-the-white-right-way crowd might have gotten overexcited and soiled their nappies and had to have a lie down afterwards, but it was about the most enjoyable ten minutes I’ve spent since my honeymoon night. And like that night Missus Fun slept her way through most of it. Her loss …. Usually when I post this graphic it’s to show how bad things got. This one shows how close things were

As does the box score. Saint John’s shot 50 percent from the floor, PU 60 percent; Saint John’s shot 47 percent from three, PU 40 percent; rebounds were more or less even (SJU +3), as were turnovers (PU +2), as were assists (PU +5). Oddly for a game with such prodigious offensive output the game was won and lost at the free throw line, where Saint John’s was a stellar 17 of 19 and PU a putrid 18 of 27 – and Diallo and Holt were a perfect 10 of 10, meaning the rest of them were 8 of 17. Speaking of defense, over the past two games Saint John’s opponents are 32 of 52 from the free throw line … I talked a couple of recaps ago about how enjoyable it is to see Mullin engaged and energetic on the sidelines as he grows into his role as head coach. Last night was no exception. Despite some questionable personnel decisions – like having Alibagodonuts and Missini on the court at the same time and having Oppengruppenfuhrer Freudenburgh on the court at all – Mullin did a good job of keeping his players heads in the game and deserves special credit for calling his final timeout with about 15 minutes to go, when things were in danger of falling apart completely. It was a risky move and it took huge balls and it paid off. As he said in the post-game press conference, what’s the use of having a time out at the end of a game you lose by 20. Mullin incidentally is now 8-1 this year when leading at halftime, which need I say it: that’s all adjustments baby.

PLAYERS: Lovett led all scorers with 26 points and together with Ponds (22 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals) accounted for half of Saint John’s points. Of course they also accounted for half of Saint John’s 17 turnovers but they won so who cares. Lovett made huge plays late in both halves: at the end of the first he nailed a 35 foot three and at the end of the second saved a ball going out of bounds by throwing it over his head and halfway down court where it was retrieved by Ponds. For his part Ponds made six free throws in six attempts in the last minute, accounting for SJU’s last six points. Onions …. Ellison had 15 points and 6 rebounds. Took the ball to the basket impressively several times – he’ll be even more impressive when he learns to finish and make more than half of his free throws. Threw one of his patented lazy half court passes in the first half, which led to a PU layup, after which he was immediately pulled …. Ahmed (15 points) fouled out when he committed a curious intentional foul in the back court with a minute and a half remaining and Saint John’s up one. My lip reading isn’t expert but in the aftermath he seemed to be saying that he heard Mullin yelling at him to foul and so he fouled. Which if that’s what happened that makes him a good soldier and Mullin a bad general. It seems more likely that Mullin was jawing at the officials about some foul that was called or not called – he pretty much is on them from the opening whistle – and some wires got crossed … Darien Williams didn’t do much in the box score but was involved in three plays late that pretty much sealed the deal: in the first he pulled Tariq Owens away from a PU player after a block under the basket and shh-ed him like a librarian, saving what might have escalated into a technical; in the second he clanked a jump hook so badly that it got stuck in between the rim and the backboard and Saint John’s retained possession on the arrow; and in the final seconds he inadvertently blocked the potential game winner on the baseline, with his elbow …. Owens didn’t do much but had a huge block at the rim with 45 seconds left. He was fortunate he didn’t get T’ed up for looming over the fallen PU player and jawing at him. Earlier he was called for goaltending when he stuck his hand up through the rim to block a shot. Before Wilt Chamberlain that play was legal; much like the NBA widening the free throw lane, making that play illegal was one of a number of rule changes made by basketball authorities to stop Wilt Chamberlain from being so good at basketball … Yawke was pulled about 30 seconds into the game for loafing after a loose ball. He barely returned and contributed little … For some reason Freduenbrh played 11 minutes. All I can figure is that Mullin can write that off on his taxes … I’m wont to say that Missini (three points) can’t guard a pillar or a stanchion or a lectern, which is true. This is as opposed to Alibeghwitch (0000100010) who is a less effective defender than a pillar or a stanchion or a lectern.

NOTES: This is the second game in a row where color man Tarik Turner was not aggressively stupid or annoying. Keep up the good work Tarik. I thought Ashton Kutchner Justin Kutcher screamed a bit too much and was a bit of a Providence homer – he’s from New England and went to Boston College, so maybe, although I only mention it so I could stick a Mila Kunis photo at the top of the page … Usually when Saint John’s plays Providence I can get a paragraph out of the back of Ed Cooley’s head, because what the fuck is that and why doesn’t he mitigate it with some Rogaine or a wig or some Chia hair, but even I can’t go to that well anymore. Fortunately he wore a white vest with a white shirt and matching yellow tie and pocket square so I can describe him as looking like a polar bear with hepatitis. Other than that I got nothing.

Ma Newer


My fellow Americans: our long national nightmare is over. Saint John’s lost their final regular season game 90-76 to Ed Cooley’s diseased head Saturday afternoon to bring the regular season to a merciful end. One more loss to Marquette remains and then we can get on to important business like the Kentucky Derby, which looms only eight Saturdays away …. Not much point to rehashing this. Saint John’s was down the as usual 20 or so at the break after as usual some guy no one has ever heard of had a career first half – I checked: his name is Jalen Lindsey and at one point he had 18 points while the entire Saint John’s team had 16, this on his way to a career high 30. Saint John’s made a brief run in the second half but was thwarted when the refs called three quick fouls in about seven seconds after it got within 13. The rest of it was only of interest to the dopes who took the 10 … By the numbers things were not as lopsided as the score would lead you to believe. Providence shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three, whereas Saint John’s shot 48 and 43. Saint John’s had more FG attempts (64-62), rebounds were even (34 each), turnovers about the same (14-10). The big difference was 3 pointers – PU took 30 and although it looked like they never missed they made only 13. And of course there was the free throw shooting, where SJU was 8 for 17, and that was after starting out 0 for 8 … Today was senior day and usually I’m a bit sad to see the oldsters go but this year they cannot get out fast enough. It was not so much that they stank, but how they went about doing it. In fairness to them they were all cast into roles for which they were not well prepared: contributors on a Big East basketball team. That is not really their fault, but as the kids are wont to say, it is what it is.

PLAYERS: Chris Jones had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the year. Several knowledgeable fan board posters have cited this as evidence that he is not good at scoring and rebounding and should be thrown over the side next year. I disagree … Durand Johnson had 15 points in his final collegiate game. Of the seniors he is the one I would not mind seeing come back next year, and not just because of his sporty headband … Ron Mvouika (6 points, 5 assists) did not lead the team in whining, as he does usually. That honor went to Felix Balamou. On one sequence he gave up a cheap touch foul to a Providence player on an alley-oop and immediately turned to yell at Federico Mussini, who was nowhere near the play. On another he threw a temper tantrum near the foul line directed at Alibegoceith, who was also nowhere near the play. I watched both several times and still have no idea what he was on about. Despite the screwing he took from Steve “there are more important things than winning” Lavin during his redshirt year I have no use for him and hope the door does not hit him on the way out … Speaking of Aligegowyth … Malik Ellison is an supremely confident player. It’s a shame that his skills do not match his opinion of his skills …. For those of you who have been wondering what Zendon Hamilton does, it seems pretty evident that he’s been tutoring Yankuba Sima on how to not pass out of the post. Because Sima does not see very many shots he does not like. If now Zendon can teach him to make them, we might have something here … Yawke had 7 points and 4 rebounds. I’m not going to say anything bad about him because he’s going to be a stud … Which of course brings us to the best shooter Saint John’s has seen since Chris Mullin, who was once again 0 for from three. Mussini ended the season 3 for 20 from three over his last five game and is at 30 percent for the year. For those of you scoring at home that percentage is .07 better than that achieved by the great three point shooter Anthony Glover (.29) over the course of his career and comprises  two thirds of the prowess displayed by three noted point marksman Rob Thomas (.40).  Former Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan Robert Byrd could not be reached for comment.

NOTES: I got nothing here except that Tarik Turner said “It makes it hard to put points on the board when you have empty possessions.” Which I’m not even going to dignify by pointing out how completely moronic that is. And also I’m not going to say anything about the repulsive Steve Lavin and Donny Marshall’s terrifying eyebrows gibbering and grunting like chimpanzees during the half time highlights. Because, to end the season as we began, fuck Steve Lavin.


Well Dunn


RECAP: I’ve got little to say about Saint John’s loss to Providence 83-65 on Saturday afternoon and probably would not have bothered writing at all except when I don’t Rabinowitz gets cranky. So: PU is number 12 in the country, they’ve got a consensus all American, the game was in Providence and oh yeah, Saint John’s stinks. That they kept it respectable is about all you can ask for and about all they did … Saint John’s shot 36 percent from the floor and 2 for 13 from three. They had a paltry six assists and were outrebounded by 10. They had 13 TOs and missed a third of their free throws. Meanwhile Providence shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three and Kris Dunn came as close to a triple double as you want to see the other guys best player come. That it was as close as it was – SJU got within six in the second half – seems in retrospect remarkable … SJU has now lost five in a row and I don’t see a win on the horizon until January 23rd and maybe not even then, which best case scenario means a 1-6 start in conference. There’s not a lot to be done about it except to hope that the lumps they take this year pay benefits next year. Of course it could be that Chris Mullin’s teams play their best basketball in February, which if that’s the case we could be in line for a Lavinesque magic carpet ride to the CBI finals. Stay tuned.

PLAYERS: Not much here to chew on. The one bright spot was Sima, who led the team in points (14) and rebounds (6) … Chris Jones had 7 points and 6 rebounds in 18 minutes. That’s two games in a row where he’s played short minutes despite being productive. To the extent that Mullin is seasoning his underclassmen at Jones expense that’s probably a wise decision … Balamou played 37 minutes, perhaps in an effort to contain Dunn. If so, it did not work … Durand Johnson was 2 for 10 from the floor. Four rebounds and three steals though … The score was 25-20 when Malik “Jonah” Ellison’s name first appears in the box score at the 7 minute mark in the first half. He played 23 of the next 27 minutes during which time the PU lead ballooned to 18. If that plus minus is a coincidence it’s the third or fourth coincidence in a row. In any event he missed all his shots, turned it over a couple of times and managed one rebound … Yawke had seven points and a couple of rebounds but took two horrible shots on consecutive possessions in the first half when SJ was briefly in the lead … Albivevowith played 27 minutes, most of them credibly. I thought he was called for a bogus flagrant foul late but not according to the box score … Mullin wisely spared Federico Mussini the embarrassment of trying to cover Kris Dunn. He played only 13 minutes and did not contribute … Speaking of not contributing, Ron Mvouika

NOTES: I got nothing. Even I can only find so many ways to make fun of Cooley’s head.



RECAP: Defending champion Providence University took the first incremental or baby step up the mountain or incline towards defending their BET title by humiliating or mortifying Saint John’s 74-57 on Saint John’s home court Thursday afternoon. The bad news is that Saint John’s has had the shit kicked out them two games in a row. The good news is that said kicking of shit doesn’t really matter much: they’re still getting their name called selection Sunday and they’re still a middling seed. All that matters now is the draw and it couldn’t have changed all that much despite how badly they were beaten. How poorly they played may well be another matter, but fortunately they have master motivator Steve Lavin on the sidelines to sort all of that out .. Saint John’s was ahead 7-0 and cruising towards a blow out when the floor caved in. Or the roof. Or when the sky fell. Choose your own metaphor, it’s fun. At about the 16 minute mark Providence stopped dribbling the ball off their own feet and throwing the ball out of bounds and started playing basketball and Saint John’s obliged them by stopping. Instead Saint John’s started missing their shots, all of them, and not by a little either, by an enormous amount: by rough count a third of their shots over the next 10 minutes were air balls, which resulted in a 30-6 PU run and a 13 point halftime lead. And if it hadn’t been for the referees it might have been much worse. (Many of those calls were by Pat Driscoll, who if he isn’t already on the SJU payroll, might be looking for a paycheck. He’s awful. Nice hair though.) After a rousing halftime speech by Steve Lavin a newly energized Jamal Branch kicked the ball out of bounds on SJU’s first possession and it was downhill from there. Saint John’s made a couple of mini-runs to get it within 9 or so but invariably they made some boneheaded play that allowed PU to spurt away again. In the long run this loss – despite its proportions – might have been the best thing that could have happened: at least now they can rest up and get their heads right. The rumor is that they play their best basketball with their back to the wall. As tenor baritone soprano bass alto sax player Charlie Parker once said, now’s the time … Steve hammer-to-rock play-your-best-basketball-in March Lavin is now 1-4 in the BET at SJU, 1-2 in the NIT and 0-1 in the NCAA, for a grand total of 2-7 in the post season. To that extent he is a worthy heir to Louie and is rapidly becoming part of the great SJU coaching tradition … So what does this all mean looking ahead? Who knows. Ever the contrarian I’d rather go into the NCAA tournament having lost two games by a combined total of 52 points, as has Saint John’s, than having won two games by 72, as has Villanova, or being undefeated, as is Kentucky. For me the prognosis remains unchanged. Saint John’s is not a team I’d want to play in the tournament and they’re just as likely to get bounced in the first round as they are to make the round of sixteen. As a lifelong SJU fan if I had to bet I’d bet on the first round bounce, but on the bright side if you have no expectations you’re never disappointed.

PLAYERS: Jordan gets the game ball by default – besides Joey De La Rosa he was about the only player who showed up. To the extent that they were ever in it he kept them there: 18 points, most of those from the free throw line. And to the extent that the game was entertaining it was entertaining to the extent of watching he and Kris Dunn – who’s already too good to be playing college basketball, good grief – trading punches briefly in the second half. I’ve been saying for a while now that this team is only going to go as far as Jordan takes them. If I’m right – and let’s face it I usually am – they’re not going to go very far … Joey De La Rosa got a couple of rebounds and a couple of points and even a block. It’s just a shame he’s not a freshman, he might be a player in two or three years … Oh dear, the rest of them … Harrison was off early and you could see that it got in his head. He’s 9 for 32 over the past two years in the BET. Hopefully he gets straight and goes out on a good note. On the bright side he was named to the all BE first team again this week, joining only Marcus Hatten, Malik Sealy, Chris Mullin and Mark Jackson as repeat SJU honorees … Phil Greene hit his first shot and then commenced a relentless attempt to shatter the backboard with a variety of thunderous misses, several of which avoided the rim entirely. Never fear though he got his mojo back in garbage time by nailing two threes to cut PU’s lead to 18 with 4 minutes left. No doubt he and his girlfriend flashed backed to his heroics in Syracuse several months ago, at least until a resounding CLANK awoke them from their twin reveries. Finished 3 for 9 and 2 for 7 from three. In a game where 40 personal fouls were called Greene managed none, which seems remarkable until you remember that he doesn’t bother to play defense .. Jamal Branch started. By the 14 minute mark he’d displayed his entire skill set: he’d thrown several pointless no look passes, committed several fouls near the midcourt line and dribbled the ball off his foot … Obekpa fouled out and grinned inappropriately when it happened … Pointer fouled out but kept his amusement to himself … The box score says that Albivivocvic had zero fouls, which must be a misprint. He commits three in the run way before the game … Balamou curiously absent

NOTES: It’s late in the season and there’s not a lot to say without repeating myself. Donnie Marshall was his usual awful self. The other guy was worse. Tarik Turner was described in a Fox graphic as having “led Saint John’s to 1998 NCAA tournament,” which is like saying that Phillipe Petain led France to a victory in World War II (H/T Desco) … I’ve got nothing else except a note about the late Jimmy Walker, who Ladonte Henton passed this afternoon on the PU all-time scoring list this. Walker – who fathered and then deserted his bastard son Jalen Rose – scored his 2045 points in three seasons and that without the 3 point shot. As a senior in 1967 he led the nation in scoring, averaging more than 30 points a game. He was the number one draft pick in the NBA draft, ahead of Earl Monroe (2), Saint John’s own Sonny Dove (4), Walt Frazier (5), Pat Riley (7), the amazing Mel Daniels (9) and even Phil Jackson (17). (Interestingly three of those players – Frazier, Monroe and Jackson played in Division II). I’m a great believer in statistics as a measure of player performance but here’s one where they lie: Henton is not worthy to carry Jimmy Walker’s jockstrap … Don’t be sad Saint John’s fans, do the Hucklebuck:




The F Word: Friars


GAME: Well that’s a relief and to long time Saint John’s fans entirely predictable. Having dug themselves an in-conference hole that’s just about eliminated them from post-season consideration and having blown a lead late in front of a historic national television audience to give ratface his 1000th win and following that up with a laydown versus previously winless Creighton and in the midst of yet another public humiliation (infra), Saint John’s put together two good halves and survived a late charge to defeat first place Providence 75-66 Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. Lest anyone get too excited the win leaves them still in 8th place and still a game behind 7th place Xavier, who they get on the road in about 10 days. Other than Providence, whose number they seemingly have, Saint John’s has not won a game outside of NY State since March 2014, and in fact have only won 2 out of state games since beating Rutgers in New Jersey in January 2013. So I’d hold my applause for the time being if I were you. Of course if I were you I’d have killed myself long ago, so there’s that … The two teams played relatively evenly for the first 10 minutes or so until Saint John’s spurted away towards the end of the second half, which spurt coincided with the entry into the lineup of Rysheed Jordan, who didn’t start because of yet another violation of team rules, about which more later. A wild Pointer three at the buzzer – off balance, falling back, legs splayed, you know, the usual – gave them a 12 point lead at the half. The game remained that way for most of the second half until a 12-4 Providence run brought them within 2 with about 8 minutes remaining. And then a most remarkable thing happened: rather than folding like a cheap house of cards – you know, the usual – Saint John’s went on a 14-5 run of their own to put the game away. Go figure. Although I don’t hold out much hope moving forward – best case scenario is probably 2-3 over their next 5 – it was nice to see them show some sack, especially after what’s transpired over the past month … Saint John’s shot a respectable 47 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three – this the second game in a row that their 3 point shooting wasn’t awful; they did however leave 8 points at the FT line where they were 16 for 24. None of that mattered though because Providence was atrocious: 40 percent from the floor, 18 percent from 3 and 68 percent from the foul line … Once again Lavin did nothing egregiously stupid, and in fact did a pretty good job stealing 25 minutes with his scrubs: Branch, Abladoddlebug and even Joey DelaRosa got in for a bit. Once again he called an eccentric time out, this one after a Harrison three had extended Saint John’s lead to 10 late – I said aloud “good time out Cooley” and only realized Lavin had called it after I saw him mouth “full” to the repulsive Jim Burr, the worst referee in the history of college basketball, whose very presence on the court cheapens the spirit of amateur athletics. All I can figure is that Lavin calls them with the TV time out looming to give his shorthanded team a double blow. That makes some sort of vague sense, so it’s quite possible there’s another explanation … Speaking of Cooley, Jim Jackson noted that he’d lost nearly 200 pounds through a regimen of diet and exercise that includes 5 miles runs and hundreds of daily pushups and sit ups. Good for Ed, but someone should really tell him that it doesn’t matter how many pounds he weighs: if he doesn’t do something about those slabs of pastrami he has glued to the back of his head he’s never going to get laid. He must know what it looks like, right? I mean, even some chia hair back there would be an improvement. Can you imagine paying $ 300 for front row seats behind the Providence bench and having to stare at that all game? Good grief … So yeah. Eighth place, 3 and 5 in conference, and three losable road games looming. It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m less than sanguine about the next several weeks

PLAYERS: 20 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and yeoman defense on LaDontae Henton (2 for 14) from Dom Pointer, whose starting to make a case for team MVP. Gus Johnson noted that Pointer’s nickname was now “Swiss Army Knife,” which, enough already with the nicknames. Can we pick one and stick to it please? How about Swiss Costco Batman, that seems to cover all the bases … Jordan had 14 points (an efficient 5 for 6 from the floor), 4 assist and 4 rebounds and only 1 turnover off the bench – he was relegated there after a bit of a twitter kerfuffle (infra) found him once again in violation of team rule. Airballed a free throw at game’s end, for the lulz … Harrison had 15 and remains passive on the offensive end. To the extent that hope exists this will need to change… Phil Greene seems to have realized that he’s not a very good three point shooter (6 for 20 over his last 5 games) and so has taken my advice and started driving the ball to the basket. Congratulations Phil. Please read my previous posts for a fuller explanation about why you suck and improve the remaining facets of your game accordingly …. Obekpa had 8 points, 10 rebound and 6 blocks. He is becoming, however, increasingly hard to root for, even for someone as charitable in spirit as am I. After a block in the second half he stood under the opposing basket flexing and woofing while his team went out on the break. A couple of plays later he bobbled a rebound that led to the fast break that brought PU within 2. The replay showed Obekpa turning his head to jaw at the ref while jogging up court. Someone should tell Obekpa that with his team in in 8th place he should play with a little more intensity and save all the celebrating for when they win their first NIT game since 2012 … Evidently Jamal Branch used up his allotted quota of makes for the month versus Creighton. He was his usual scoreless self. He was played to draw by Albivivotch, similarly scoreless, and both of them were outscored by golem Joey DLR, who had two points in a minute on a wonderful wrap-around pass from Jordan

NOTES: In a famous dissent in the case of Olmstead vs US (that’s 277 US 438 for those of you scoring at home) Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said that The makers of the Constitution conferred the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by all civilized men—the right to be let alone. And truer words were never spoken. What that means in theory is that citizens have the right to opt out: that freedom entails the right to discriminate according to the conscience of the individual actor; that liberty encompasses the right to refuse to engage in commerce or intercourse with anyone, for any reason, at any time, without explanation or recrimination. In practice this can lead to untoward outcomes and so is nowadays anathema and especially to the political left, who believe that equality means that all people are the same, rather than that despite their personal deficiencies all people should be treated equally – this is not a subtle distinction, and yet it seems to fly right over their heads. One of the ways the left seeks to enforce this absurdity is through the control of language: liberals seek to impose speech codes not because they find language inappropriate or reprehensible, but because they disapprove of the ideas that words represent. In fact, this is nothing more than a modern version of burning heretics at the stake; it is what George Orwell called thoughtcrime: the criminalization of beliefs that countervail the conventional wisdom, which to progressives is their own ideas. A reader interrupts to ask: what the fuck are you on about. Well reader, it seems that horror of horrors, Rysheed Jordan recently called someone a fag on Twitter. Notice I say fag, not F*G or the F word. The F word is forever fuck, and I’ll give you fuck when you pry it from my cold dead hands. Besides which, calling fag the F word is frankly pretty gay. Jordan, an African-American, has the misfortune of living in an age in which his race has fallen to third in the hierarchy of aggrievement, behind Muslims, now first, and the LGBT community, now a clear second. What this means is that is that it is perfectly acceptable for a Muslim cabdriver in Minneapolis to refuse to transport a Chinese blind man and his seeing eye dog because Islam regards dogs as unclean, whereas a black Christian baker who refuses to produce a wedding cake for two upper-class white homosexuals is in violation of civil rights law. That’s pretty f***ed up if you ask me and frankly terribly confusing. Anyway, Jordan’s use of commonplace inner city street slang on a social media account voluntarily accessed by parties interested in the untutored opinions of a 19 year old has been deemed homophobic – a word meaning fear or hatred of those who engage in same sex carnal relations – which is a patent absurdity, as would claiming that homophobia comprises screaming “you suck” at Jim Burr, who actually, you know, sucks, or calling someone who cut you off in traffic a cocksucker; or as would be claiming that calling someone a motherfucker is an accusation of incest. No one – at least I hope no one – has been harder on numbskull Steve Lavin than I have been. If you know of anyone, shoot me an email, I’d like to congratulate them for their efforts. But in this case I applaud his actions: he benched Jordan at the beginning of this morning’s game for a violation of team rules – having a twitter account at all – no mention of context, and then got on with his life. In the past Lavin has used his team’s disciplinary problems as an excuse for his own failures as a coach, and to the extent that he realizes that he’s cried wolf too many times I admire his personal growth – because any harsher punishment of Jordan would be seen for what it is … A final word. In Louie’s autobiography In Season he talks about John Wooden’s practice of not allowing certain players – he mentions the Muslim Lew Alcindor – to talk to the media. Lou says that Wooden was doing his players a disservice, that part of his job as an educator was to prepare his delicate charges for life after basketball and that that included allowing players the opportunity to make mistakes in public and to learn to “say the right thing.” Good for Louie. It’s not surprising to me that of all the lessons Lavin claims to have learned from his alleged mentor Wooden one of the things he took away was the wrong one. Because it reinforces my own prejudice, to which I have an inalienable right granted to me by goD and the constitution: the belief that Lavin is a chowderhead.



PU: The Sweet Stench of Success


GAME: That explosion you did not hear last night was the sound of the Steve Lavin regime not imploding. Oh, it was close. Saint John’s oh and three in the Big East, on the road, a player down and a 17 point second half lead suddenly down to three. It was all about to come crashing down, because this was a loss they’d probably never have recovered from. This would have broken them. Even Harrison. But instead they gutted it out and came away with an 83-70 win at Providence Wednesday night. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is that even taking into account all the edge of chair nail biting inherent in a relatively glorious victory in a must win game SJU is still only in 9th place and looking at a long climb to respectability. Fortunately for them (or us for those of we who prefer that) they’ve 6 of their next 8 against the weak sisters in conference, which gives them the chance to be mid pack come the middle of February, when as everyone knows Steve Lavin’s delicate genyious kicks in … There’s really only one thing you need to know about Wednesday’s game: Saint John’s shot a higher percentage from 3 (59) than Providence shot from the FT line (56). That’s a remarkable statistic and even more remarkable considering how awful Saint John’s is at shooting 3s: they’re at 33 percent for the year and if you take out Harrison they’re at 28 percent. Which is pretty appalling. Whereas last night they made 10 of 17. And meanwhile PU missed 11 free throws in seven-point game and nearly everything else they attempted too: they shot a storm-like 40 percent from the floor and 28 from three. All I can figure is that they were still hung over from their 2OT win over Georgetown over the weekend. Because they were flat and awful and even the usually raucous crowd was listless … Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was Jamal Branch did not start. Ha! Just kidding, it’s that Steve Lavin wore a shirt. Who knows what happened. Perhaps he spilled gravy on his dress sweat suit at the pregame meal. Maybe his wife packed for him. Anyway he was dressed appropriately; in other words, Mrs. Fun’s, “he doesn’t look like a psychopath.” Which when you think about it is not a lot to ask for 2 million a year: don’t dress like Richard Speck, and try and win 1 and a half games for every one you lose. Expectations could not be lower. This is a fan base that would consider a first round NCAA tournament loss an enormous leap forward. But I digress. Yes, so Lavin wore a shirt with a collar and in fact if you take the repulsive deformations in the back of Ed Cooley’s head into consideration you could even say that Lavin was the most dapper head coach in the arena. Re the game he subbed appropriately and called at least one time out when I advised him to (that is, he called a time out shortly after I said “take a time out Tesla” to the TV screen) and didn’t cock anything up spectacularly, for which we can all this morning be grateful.

PLAYERS: Harrison had 20 and passed chucker Felipe Lopez on the all- time scoring list. It’s unlikely that he catches Sealy, and as far as 4-year careers go, third is a pretty appropriate place for him … Greene had 20 points, several of them important. But let me tell you something about Phil Greene. He’s a dumb basketball player. One of the dumbest I can remember in a while, and I remember Donald Emanuel and Jason Buchanan like it was yesterday. And because he’s dumb, among his other myriad faults is that he rarely takes a good shot. So even if he scores 20 points, which he does every once in a while, and even if he scores 20 points by taking fewer than 20 shots, rarer still, he’s still dumb, and he still stinks, and I still can’t wait till he gets the hell out. Here’s an interesting statistic about Phil Greene: last night he secured his FOURTH offensive rebound of the year, in over 500 minutes. (By way of contrast Balamou has 6 in 60 minutes.) You’d think you could stand at a random place on the court for 500 minutes and that a missed shot would land in your hands say every 120 minutes, but no, not PG4’s hands. Here’s another whopper: PG4 has attempted 21 FTs for the entire year. (By way of contrast Harrison has over a hundred in about the same minutes.) Here it is by the numbers, FTA per FGA.

DH .50
RJ .50
PG .16
DP .38
CO .58
JB .31

That means that for every 10 shots FG takes, he shoots 2 FTs. Good grief. So to recap, Phil Greene is awful but did not suck as much as usual last night … I have been an active participant on various SJU fan boards for a long time and during that time have learned a great deal about logic and rhetoric. Here’s the sort of syllogism I learned to construct during discussions with various basketball gurus and nostradamuses on those sites over the years:

Rysheed Jordan started.
Saint John’s won.
Therefore SJ won because Rysheed Jordan started.

Addition by subtraction. Try and disprove it, you can’t. … Jordan started because Branch “cut himself.” I think what probably happened is that Branch was overcome with shame at how poorly he plays basketball and attempted to commit hari kari but because he’s Jamal Branch he dropped the knife halfway through the procedure and inflicted only superficial wounds. Get well soon Jamal … I didn’t notice while it was happening but evidently Pointer had 18 points. Twelve of those were from the free throw line, which is 4 FTs fewer than Greene has made all year … In a performance sure to impress any NBA scouts in the audience watching LaDontae Henton, Chris Obekpa scored  2 points before fouling out in 23 minutes … Branch’s failed suicide attempt meant more minutes for the bench. Jasilionus II got most of them , 4 points, two rebounds; shot-a-phobic Balamou had two FG attempts, making one and blowing the other at the rim; JDLR showed little.

NOTES: The game was called by Liza Minelli John Stockton, formerly a respected broadcaster. Stockton was relatively coherent during the early part of the game but later on as it got past his bedtime he seemed to have a harder time keeping up. For example, towards the end of the game Vin Parise opined that SJ was doing a good job attacking the basket, rather than using up the shot clock in an attempt to not lose, to which Stockton replied to the effect that yes, SJ had every reason to be patient on each offensive possession. Which is fact the opposite of what Parise said. Probably they both were wrong. Anyway Dick, it’s over, get out … Another interesting cut in to a Lavin TO, where in we heard the Lavin tell his players to give them a little “salt and pepper.” I was disappointed that we did not see enough of the TO to get the full context. Was Lavin perhaps giving the injured Jamal Branch a recipe for some nice cacciatore he could make while convalescing? (Unlikely, as Branch is a vegan.) Was he describing to foreigner Alba Albavokiovich which hip hop trio is best for getting American women in the mood to push it real good? (I swear by the Geto Boys.) Personally I’d like to think he was telling them that they’[d be watching on the ride back to the city his favorite Rat Pack movie Salt and Pepper, in which Peter Lawford plays Chris Pepper and Sammy Davis Charlie Salt, two groovy nightclub owners in swinging 60s London who thwart a plot to overthrow her majesty’s government and get the girls. It’s a gas man … Speaking of the Geto Boys, it ain’t shit: