Category Archives: depaul

My Kind of Down

RECAP: Saint John’s defeated DePaul 78-68 Monday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena on Felipe Lopez bobble head day. It was a game they should have won – because DePaul is awful – and that they needed to win, coming into as they were on a four game losing streak and no gimmes on the horizon: of their next eight games five are on the road and three are against ranked teams and they may well be 3 and 12 ish come the end of February, so gird your loins. If there’s a bright side to all this it’s that I might have been right again, as usual. Regular readers will recall that after the Villanova game I postulated that Saint John’s was getting better but that it was hard to tell because of the competition they’d been facing. The way they won against DePaul might have been evidence of that: it was the first time in a while that Saint John’s imposed their will physically and mentally and where they looked almost as if they were toying with their opponent. It was the kind of effort you’d expect to see against Delaware State say or LIU – teams Saint John’s “should” beat and beat handily. Of course it could just be that DePaul stinks and there’s nothing to be learned either way, not even from a picture


If you looked at the box score you’d think the game was closer than it was: both teams shot forty ish from the floor; DePaul was plus six rebounds; and were 15 of 16 from the free throw line, where Saint John’s shot 65 percent (16 of 25). The difference was three point shooting – Saint John’s was 12 of 22 – and much of that the result of crisp and efficient ball movement: Saint John’s had 18 assists on 25 made baskets … One of the few enjoyable things about this year so far has been watching Mullin learn to become a head coach: he’s gone from last year wearing shorts and sitting on the scorer’s table and deferring to his assistants on the bench – I thought at the time that these things were no big deal and think so still but perception is often reality – to a guy in a suit and tie who’s clearly in charge of what’s happening on the court and fully engaged in the process. Yesterday there wasn’t a lot to do but at least he didn’t screw it up: he shortened the rotation appropriately and pulled guys when they messed up and ran a play here and there that actually worked. I know a lot of fans think the head coach’s job is to draw up epiphanic white board Xs and Os on the fly but that’s really the thing of bad sports novels by tortured dwarves like Mike Lupica. The fact is that if the coach has to do that during the game it’s because he hasn’t prepared his team adequately during the 20 or 40 hours he has them to himself during the week. So anyway Mullin has now increased last year win total by 10 percent and has increased his league wins by a whopping 300 percent. Three hundred percent! Imagine if your Roth IRA increased by 300 percent in a year, you’d blow your broker and at least give him a handy. So congratulations Chris, it seems your job is safe for a another month

PLAYERS: Malik Ellison had what was easily the best game of his career: 23 points and four assists, including 5 of 6 from three and even 4 of 4 from the free throw line, where’s he’s otherwise been awful … Everyone’s favorite whipping boy Bashir Ahmed had 14 points, and seven rebounds and three assists. Unfortunately he was 7 of 13 from the free throw line, where he’s at 65 percent for the year. I’ve never understood it when players who are obviously hungry for points don’t bother to learn how to collect the free ones … Ponds got hot late and finished with 14 points, including a couple of confident and very welcome threes. Among his six assists was a nifty behind the back pass to Ahmed on the break … Owens was one rebound shy of a double double, Williams made both his field goal attempts and Yawke took his man off the dribble and finished with a dunk. Stitch the three of them together and you’d have one pretty above average basketball player … Lovett was pretty much missing in action: three points and three assists. On the bright side he didn’t force anything and from what I could glean from careful examination of his facial expressions and body language it does not appear that his poor performance will cause him to transfer …. After all this time people write still wondering why I am so mean to poor Federico Missini: The answer’s quite simple: he stinks. And the truth is I wish he didn’t, because if he was better I wouldn’t have to spend so much time coming up with creative ways of describing his shortcomings. The good news is that on Saturday Missini played so adequately (eight points, three rebounds, two assists) that this morning I don’t have to. And what’s more I’m going to say something nice: they ran a play for him at the end of the first half and he got open and made the three, which that hasn’t happened in a long while …. The rest of them didn’t play, not even in garbage time, coach’s decision. I can’t say that I blame him

NOTES: Saturday was Martin Luther King Day, which frankly has always struck me as an odd holiday. Not because I’m a right wing troglodyte – although I am – and not because I think the struggle for civil rights is unworthy of commemoration – of course it is – and certainly not because Doctor King, martyred in the struggle for freedom, is unworthy of celebration. And not even because other than than genocidal Italian lunatic Chris Columbus he’s the only individual the US honors with his own holiday – and Columbus day isn’t even a real holiday anymore and neither is Saint Patrick’s. None of that. But what this holiday does – and I think unfairly – is ignore the sacrifices that so many other people made in the cause of freedom: starting with the five or ten million Africans murdered in the diaspora, to the half million woke white men who lost their lives in the civil war, to various individuals who dedicated their lives and sometimes gave them in the same way Doctor King did: Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and even king hell crazy loon John Brown, who was hanged by the neck until very very dead after the raid at Harper’s Ferry. Nobody asked but I’d be much happier with a Civil Rights Day that celebrated the struggle for everybody’s freedom – blacks, women, LQBGTQWERTIES, everyone – and especially our liberties, with which we would have been endowed by our creator, if we in fact had a creator, which probably we don’t.

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Although I have to admit that recently I’ve been having doubts about my atheism, the religion to which I converted at the age of 12 or so, having been before that raised a papist. It seems to me that if this infinite universe is one of an infinite number of infinite universes as physicists postulate then there’s bound to be one created by a god. I just find it hard to believe it’s this one. I frankly find it easier to believe that we’re a neglected fish tank or perhaps characters in a children’s video game 10,000 years in the future than to believe that this mess was created knowingly by an omniscient merciful being. Fortunately I decided a while back that the examined life is not worth living, which eschewing of philosophy leaves me more time to watch television.
</digression>

Anyway I don’t see that celebration of our collective rights and liberties coming to pass. Because we live today in an Orwellian dystopia in which a rapacious government works relentlessly to diminish our freedoms and personal autonomy, all in the name of public good, which fuck the public good. Because at the bottom of the slippery slope of utilitarianism is the rice paddy in which your children and grandchildren will be toiling to meet the quota imposed upon them as part of a five-year plan to increase agricultural production by 7.8 percent developed by some over achieving Harvard douche bag as an outgrowth of his slash her interest in the Cambodian economy that he slash she came to while getting his slash her post doctorate degree. You might think I’m making that up but there is in fact a dissertation entitled and I’m not making this up: Pol Pot Pie: Indigenous Cooking and Khmer Rouge: a survey of the literature. Okay, I did make that up. But I didn’t make these up:

Perceptions of Canadian Meeting Professionals of Environmentally Responsible Hotel Practices

Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus

Impact of wet underwear on thermoregulatory responses and thermal comfort in the cold

Sword swallowing and its side effects

Pressures produced when penguins pooh – calculations on avian defecation

Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage

Digital rectal massage, finally one we can use. Anyway, to cut to the chase, if you have kids, they’re fucked: they’re going to be slaves and they’re not even going to know it. They’re going to get up in the morning and go to work and every day donate 40 percent of their time, energy, labor and lives to a government, one of which we were once citizens, but are now subjects …. After one of my recent essays I reader wrote saying that what I had produced was very depressing. Shurg, that’s what happens when your inner monologue makes Pink Flamingos look like It’s a Wonderful Life. You can complain all you want but you people couldn’t spend 20 minutes in my head. Anyway for that reader I end on a cheery note about the slave trade: the European slave trade started more or less with Henry the Navigator in the 15th century. It was run for four hundred years in approximate order by the Portuguese, then the Spanish, then the Germans, then the Dutch and then finally the English, all under the auspices of papal authority. The practice generally was to sail down the western coast of Africa, trade trinkets and rum to African chieftains for their already enlaved peoples and then transport those slaves to the New World to work in the sugar cane field: white indentured servants, while ubiquitous, died too quickly, not being accustomed to the heat. Of the 10 million or so humans enslaved over those 400 years, 7 million were transported to Brazil, 2 million to Cuba, and a scant 500,000 to the United States: most US slaves were – as Jimmy the Greek astutely noted – bred domestically. So to recap: the slave trade comprised Hispanics purchasing black slaves from black slaveholders and transporting them to South America, where they were worked to death by Latino landowners. Which means that when the US gets around to finally paying reparations Gisele Bündchen is going to owe Pele a whole lot of Tom Brady’s money. Happy civil rights day.

 

 

Phil Greene Is The New Black

Saint John’s defeated Depaul 79-73 Sunday afternoon in Chicago to move into a tie for first place in the Big East and are now two and oh in conference play for the first time since 2010. Anyone who expected that raise your hand so we can easily identify the liars among you … The game was the sort of exciting basketball that can sometimes occur between two not very good but evenly matched teams. Saint John’s came out flat and were down 12 midway through the first half but went on a 22-7 run after a Mullin time out to take a three point lead. Depaul answered with a 10-1 run of their own and were up seven at half time. Things went back and forth a bit until the middle of the second half when Saint John’s went on a 13-3 run to build a cushion that DePaul couldn’t get past, thanks in part to a leg cramp suffered by Eli Cain, who was in the process of killing us, and some timely for a change free throw shooting. Saint John’s ended up outscoring DePaul 46-33 in the second half which must have been the result of those half time adjustments everyone is always talking about. Congratulations Coach Mullin … The box score was about as even as the game: Saint John’s shot 47 percent from the floor to DePaul’s 42; both teams shot 40 percent from three; rebounds were DePaul plus four, turnovers also. Saint John’s ended up making 16 free throws to 14 for DePaul but most of those were towards the end when DePaul was fouling – before that DePaul got I thought the benefit of a bunch of calls and at one point were about 10 free throws ahead, without which things might have been a bit easier. (I thought the officiating was horrible but it would be mean spirited to call out Jeff Clark, Brent Hampton and James Breeding by name.) The one stat that jumps out is assists: Saint John’s had 18 on 27 made baskets, which might be more than they’ve had recently in entire seasons … Another nice job by the staff, which suggests they might know something about basketball after all. What a relief. Good game plan, solid use of time outs, solid rotation, and of course those half time adjustments. Mullin looks comfortable on the sidelines and energetic and engaged and is beginning to look like a head coach … Number ten Creighton and # 17 Xavier this week and then Georgetown and Villanova the week after that. Steal of those and we’re three and three and middle of the pack in the third week in January. Again, raise your hand if you thought that was possible. I Shirley didn’t.

PLAYERS: Marcus Lovett had the gaudiest numbers – 22 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds – but Darien Williams gets the game ball. His entry in the game in the first half coincided with a 22 to 7 first half run that got Saint John’s back in it and his energy in the second half was the catalyst that helped put DePaul away. Made one suspect play late where he walked away from an uncontested layup in hopes of burning some time off the clock but who cares: twelve points and nine rebounds is an impressive contribution from someone no one expected anything from ever …. Shamorie Ponds had a quiet 15 points and four steals … Fourteen points and 5 rebounds from Ahmed, including 4 of 6 from three … Nine points, five rebounds and four blocks from Tariq Owens. Committed a ridiculous foul on a three point shooter late in the first half with one second on the shot clock … Ellison: eight assists, seven points, six rebound and the box score says no turnovers but I remember yelling at the TV when he nonchalanted a touch pass into the first row so the box score is wrong … Yawke reverted to the fumbling Yawke I thought we might have seen the last of … Alibeoqwitch once again played 10 minutes without committing a personal foul. He did however commit euro-travel … Fredudenbergh played two minutes made a bone headed play and was not seen again … That’s three wins in a row with a certain someone missining from action. I’m not going to draw any conclusions because correlation is not causation but it is interesting and it’ll also be interesting to see what they do with him if and when he comes back because the team seems to be gelling nicely without him.

NOTES: Today of course is New Year’s Day and I trust you all spent last evening reveling into the late hours to the sounds of Guy Lombardo and have by this afternoon broken whatever resolutions you were foolish enough to make yesterday. Me, I went to bed early. To Catholics January One is the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation that formerly celebrated the circumcision of the Baby Jesus. It’s a little surprising that two Catholic universities would schedule a game on so important a day – circumcision symbolizing as it does the covenant between Yahweh and His chosen people – but I guess anything is permitted since everything went to hell after Vatican II … 2016 was not a good year to be a star but was perhaps a boon for those of you sick bastards who participate in Celebrity Death Pools: fatalities last year included politicos Anton Scalia, John Glenn, Nancy Reagan, John “Issue One” McLaughlin; mass murderers Janet Reno and Fidel Castro; traitors Tom Hayden and Daniel Berrigan; sportsmen Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, Gordie Howe, Pearl Washington, Nate Thurmond, Ralph Branca and Pat Summit, who towards the end of her life forgot more about basketball than most of us will ever know; novelists Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose), WP Kinsella (Field of Dreams) and Pat “Great Santini” Conroy; musicians Prince, David Bowie, Glen Frey, Leonard Cohen, Mose Allison, Sharon Jones, Merle Haggard, Maurice White, Pierre Boulez, Pete Fountain, alto tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri, Frank Sinatra Jr., and Beatle producer George Martin; actors Debbie Reynolds and daughter Carrie Fisher, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jon Polito, Patty Duke and Gene Wilder; and a slew of television personalities including Abe “Fish” Vigoda, Florence Henderson, Garry Shandling, Pat “Snyder” Harrington, Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty, Man from UNCLE Robert Vaughn, Doris Roberts and my sainted old Italian grandmother’s favorite nun, Mother Mary Angelica. Congratulations winners …. Finally, thanks to all who wrote with feedback following last week’s Arrivederci by Subtraction post, wherein I was less than complimentary about Federico Missini. The gist of many of the complaints I received is that because I think Missini is small, slow, weak, has a bad handle, turns the ball over too much, has a low basketball IQ, and couldn’t cover a mannequin, I’m a racist who’s prejudiced against Italians. (Do you believe that? In this day and age? What the fuck is the world coming to – a Jew broad – prejudiced against Italians.)

The theory seems to be that since I don’t root for Missini because he is Italian I therefore have it in for the eye-ties. Now, never mind for a moment that Italian is a nationality, not a race, so at best I’m a xenophobe; never mind too that my maternal grandfather – who coincidentally was born this day, January 01, 1906 – came WithOut Papers off the boat from Sicily about a century ago and bred to a Gragnano mare from whose spaghetti loins I directly descend; never even mind that I’m a misanthrope who hates everyone equally without regard for race, creed, color or religion. Let us stipulate that that’s all irrelevant. Let us stick to the facts, which are these: what I find odd and ultimately inexplicable re Missini is the solicitude extended to a marginally talented basketball player who would not see the floor on a real basketball team and the rancor directed at those like me who are willing to say out loud that the emperor has no toga. Instead of reasoned conversation about his obvious myriad flaws as an athlete – about which I am happy to admit there can be disagreement, because we all of us have our prejudices – I hear instead how he came here when the program was at its darkest, how hard he works, how he played last year out of position, how he’s a good team mate, how well he represents the university and how he never whines or complains, which even if those things are true and who knows, similar things can be said about pretty much every basketball player who attended Saint John’s since Jarvae’s crew of rapists were expelled and anyway none of those virtues make anyone better at basketball. I’m happy to stipulate that if they did Missini might well be an all-American. But I don’t recall anyone saying that Durand Johnson was a good teammate who never complained, I recall hearing that he was selfish and a chucker. I don’t recall anyone praising Ron Mvouika for coming to Saint John’s when the cupboard was bare, I recall hearing how lucky he was to be able to take advantage of Saint John’s misfortunes to further his career aspirations. I don’t recall hearing that the third leading scorer in Saint John’s history was a good citizen, but I do recall reading a lot about how he was an angry negro with a mohawk and tattoos. There’s a long list of players who never received the credit Missini does for doing what is expected at a bare minimum of every student athlete in Division One – being a good citizen – and many of those guys came from places and circumstances that presented a lot more difficulties than did growing up in bucolic Reggio Emilia. But he’s the one who gets the benefit of the doubt and it’s so passing strange that I’m forced to question the motives of some – some, not all – of his supporters and especially those who find the questioning of their motives disquieting. Consider: I spent in this space three years absolutely clobbering Phil Greene, another one trick pony, gleefully savaging his play and chronicling his every misstep and mishap and blunder. It got to the point where even I thought I was being unfair. Well guess what? In three years not one person complained and no one wrote saying what a good team mate Greene was and not one person called me a racist and Greene’s black. You don’t think that’s a little odd? Because I do … Speaking of Greene, he favorited this tweet of mine from last summer so at least he has a sense of humor. Either that or he didn’t understand it, much like he didn’t know the meaning of the word rebound.

 

 

DePaul’s Well That Ends

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GAME: Saint John’s lost to DePaul 85-73 Thursday night in Chicago in the battle for the BE basement, which barring a miracle they now have secured sole possession of. Congratulations team … For the first 10 minutes Saint John’s actually looked like a basketball team. They moved the ball better than they have all year and played the same sort of pretty good defense they’ve been playing for the past several weeks. Then they lost the thread and the bottom fell out. They were down 17 at half time and try as they might in the second half they just couldn’t get it under ten. When they got close someone would throw the ball into the stands or miss two free throws and DePaul would hit a three and it’d be sixteen again. On the bright side there’s still two games left to improve our CBI seeding … DePaul shot 50 percent from the floor and 22 of 27 from the FT line. Saint John’s shot 30 percent from the floor, missed 11 FTs and had 14 turnovers. That’s pretty much self explanatory. As an aside, ESPN recently changed the format of its basketball statistics page and like all changes created by gearheads on the internet it made things infinitely worse and more confusing than it used to be. Other than once again offering proof of Fun’s Theorem Number One – All new ideas are bad ideas – thanks for nothing … Interesting sequence in the second half: one of the referees moved Mullin back from the sideline near an out of bounds play by placing his hand flat on Mullin’s stomach and pushing. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that before and to put it mildly Mullin did not looked pleased. What I wrote in my notes was that Mullin “looked like he wanted to bend the guy over and fuck him” but that’s probably an exaggeration – I was making bubbles in a bottle of Bombay Sapphire by then, which isn’t good news for anyone except maybe my gastroenterologist, and is certainly not conducive to cogent commentary. He did stare at the back of the guy’s head for a while though and if the cameras weren’t on I’m pretty sure he would have pimp slapped the guy in to the next county, which is what he deserved.

PLAYERS: Mvouika had 20 points and 6 rebounds. A valued poster on the eminently readable Johnie Jungle site recently referred to Mvouika as “the worst defender to ever have donned a Saint John’s uniform” and he may well be right. But it would be interesting to see how good a defender he could be if he spent as much energy defending his man as he does complaining when he gets called for fouling the guy as he blows past him … Johnson was called for an odd technical when he screamed something as he turned to run back on defense after hitting a three. It looked like the same thing that happens half a dozen times a game. All I can figure is that whatever he said echoed throughout the arena, which was completely empty … Ellison had 12 points and 6 assists. If he’s going to continue to turn the ball over at the rate he does it would behoove him to start hustling back on defense when it happens, as opposed to loafing, which is what he does now … Yawke had 6 points and 6 rebounds, which is pretty good but seems disappointing after the effort he showed against Seton Hall … Sima had 8 points but only three rebounds and fouled out … Chris Jones (10 points 4 rebounds) was flagrantly fouled on a breakaway with SJU down 13 late in the second half. He missed both free throws and turned the ball over on the inbound leading to a DePaul basket. That’s about an 8-point swing. He also missed the first three of his career, the second one he’s taken … Balamou was one for 5 from the floor but had 7 assists … The best shooter Saint John’s has seen since Chris Mullin was 0-5 from the floor and is now 14 for 66 in his last nine games. David Duke could not be reached for comment …  Fucking Alibegovic, I go to all the trouble of learning to spell his name and all of a sudden he starts playing like a donkey.

RECAP: The repulsive Steve Lavin appeared in the studio wearing the sort of glasses bimbos wear when they want to look like intellectuals. The thing about bimbos is that they’re too stupid to realize that they’re not smart enough to fool anyone, especially once they open their mouths – unless their eyes are closed awaiting a big surprise obviously, then no one cares what they’re wearing. In the opening segment Lavin shared his opinion about storming the court – Sean Miller warned after a loss in Colorado that one of his players was going to punch someone the next time it happened – which opinion was as usual was cogent and well thought out: he said that “all it takes is one person to die” and storming would be banned. Which was so stupid that even the guy next to him was dumbfounded, he was like gee Lavs, do you really think it would really take someone actually dying for them to ban it or would maybe a maiming do. This same desk mate gave Lavin credit for recruiting both Yawke and Sima, this after earlier in the year when Lavin took credit for recruiting Mussini, who I notice he doesn’t take credit for recruiting anymore. Right after that they went to break with a highlight of Balamou making a lay up – it wasn’t hard to pick one, he only made one shot all night – and they referred to him as “your guy.” All of which means that Lavin has recruited better this year as a television announcer than he did the last two years he was an actual coach … Lavin appeared on Fatso’s show this week and rumor has it that he started weeping like a big girls’s blouse when he talked about Cap passing. Evidently he also mentioned that he had cancer – I hadn’t heard! – and made a bunch of other excuses as to why he sucks at coaching. I haven’t listened to it yet, I’m saving it, like you save that last bite of pickle so you can savor it at the end of a deluxe cheeseburger meal at a late night diner. Weeping on the radio, lulz.

 

 

DePaul is Dead

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RECAP: Every once in a while I forget the random and regular tricks the universe plays, which is why I tuned in to CBS Sports last night at the appointed hour of 9PM, pH regulated, necessaries at hand, and mentally prepared to suffer through the agonies inflicted on the psyche by real time sports broadcasting. Had I been thinking I’d have realized there was an early game and that even under best case circumstances it’d run late, so I might as well continue drinking. So instead of seeing the beginning of a game I barely care about – SJU Depaul – I got to see the end of a game I didn’t give a shit about in the slightest, between two teams no one gives a shit about at all. And what an exciting affair it wasn’t. First, in the waning seconds of regulation some imbecile on the first shit team buried a three to tie the game and then some other shitbrain on the other shit team clanked one at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. In the overtime the two teams no one gives a shit about fouled each other every five seconds for the next five minutes except during those periods when their coaches were calling time outs, which they did with fair regularity. Then with like a minute left and the score tied some dope daintily twisted his ankle and laid on the ground rubbing it for several minutes while being ministered to by various physicians and attendants and then finally hobbled off to sit out the rest of the game on the bench, which sort of mental and physical toughness will serve him well in whatever career he attempts after his shitty college basketball career ends. (If I recall correctly waa I hurt my ankle figured prominently in Henry the Fifth’s rousing speech at Agincourt field and look how that turned out.) So then finally play resumes: the score is tied 62 all and team no one gives a shit about 1 (turns out it’s LaSalle) has the ball and they call a TO to set up the final game winning play, the design of which was evidently for shit team 1’s point guard to stand dribbling at half court until 8 seconds remained in the game and then to dribble directly into a double team at the sidelines 40 feet from the basket and call a TO with three seconds left after barely avoiding turning the ball over. (It’s comforting to know that there are elsewhere coaches as bad as Lavin and teams as poorly prepared as SJU: this bodes well as we come down the stretch into tournament time.) So then shitty team 1 tried to run an in bound play which failed so they ended up lobbing the ball to some lead footed yokel who barely got a shot off after a series of head fakes that fool absolutely no one, and especially not the defender who crammed the shot back down his throat, leading to double overtime. The second overtime was a near replay of the first: foul timeout foul clank timeout foul foul clank clank time out ankle sprain foul time out foul time out foul and the whole while scrolling mockingly along the bottom of the screen is “PROGRAM ALERT Coming up next Saint John’s DePaul, Saint John’s DePaul” over and over and over. Quote the Raven nevermore. In the second overtime shitty team 1 managed their way to a 5 point lead, but then with 17 seconds up three not only gave up a lay up to shitty team 2 but fouled the shitty shooter and if the shitty shooter hadn’t clanked the game tying free throw the game would probably still be going on. Which is why this recap is joined in progress at the 2 minute mark of Saint John’s 86-78 victory over DePaul at Carnesecca Arena …. So I have practically nothing to say about the first half, except that by the numbers SJU should have been ahead by more than three: they shot 51 percent from the floor and 50 from three compared to DePaul’s 40/30; they had twice as many rebounds; 4 blocks to none, turnovers and fouls were about even. I’ve heard through the grapevine that a bad call and a Balamou technical stifled Saint John’s first half momentum after they’d built a 9 point lead, and that might have been what Lavin referred to when interviewed briefly by Jon Rothstein – he called Lavin “Lavs,” what a douchebag – on the way to the locker room, when he said “it’s been a disjointed game on a number of fronts, I can’t get into that publicly.” I’d hope that Lavin has not been reduced to blaming the team’s performance on the referees – I mean, I expect it from crybaby Saint John’s fans, but not from the coach – and especially after a game like last night, where Saint John’s was awarded nearly twice as many free throws as its opponent: Saint John’s made a third more free throws (24) than DePaul attempted (17) and that in an 8 point win. Seems to me that if anyone had cause to cry like a little bitch it’d be Oliver Purnell … In the second half Saint John’s extended its 3 point lead to 13 early and could have put DePaul away but for a few bad possessions and bone headed plays that let DePaul back in it to the extent that it was tied at the 8 minute mark. Home court advantage and the experience of Saint John’s seniors – all of whom played well down the stretch, even Phil Greene – sealed the deal. Which is the good news. The bad news is that despite the victory and having won two of their last three Saint John’s remains in 7th place – although now only a game behind Seton Hall and DePaul, both of which are in free fall. Unfortunately the easy part of the schedule is over: of the next seven games four are on the road and five are against the top 5 teams in conference. An optimist would say that this represents an opportunity for the team to prove its mettle, but I’m not an optimist. Even if they win their remaining three home game (SH, Xavier and Georgetown) and steal one on the road (Marquette) that just gets them to 20 wins and 9 and 9 in conference … I did not see enough of the game to notice Lavin cock anything up spectacularly, although he did call an eccentric timeout after a 4 point mini run broke the late tie and with a TV TO looming. But I do need to mention a horrifying new development and it’s not even the return of the homeless guy sleeping on a steam grate red sweat suit couture: during the post-game handshakes it was clearly evident that Lavin was wearing make-up, and not a little make up either, more like full on pancake Norma Desmond I’m ready for my close up Mister Demille make up. His face was Oompah Loopah orange in contrast to his pale flabby white neck, which clearly has not seen the sun since I don’t know when. I’m trying to think of a charitable explanation – like maybe he’d earlier been auditioning to replace Rosie on the View or maybe he came straight to the game from filming a Crazy Eddie commercial or something – but frankly I was pretty traumatized. I’m just hoping this isn’t the beginning of a Bruce Jenner situation, because that would really put me off my feed.

PLAYERS Harrison seems to be fully recovered from his injury. If he isn’t I’d like to see him when he is: 33 points and 10 rebounds. Got T’d up in the second half for what is for him a common place event: he made a play and screamed an expletive at God. This one looked to be motherfucker and I guess the ref thought it was directed at him as opposed to the heavens …. Towards the end of the game whatever moron was calling the game with the repulsive Doug Gottblieb said that “if you look at box score Pointer’s performance won’t impress you.” Which is weird, because when I looked at the box score I saw that Pointer had 15 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks. Which is impressive … Phil Greene had 18 points on 12 shots – which is for him remarkable efficiency – and contributed in other ways as well, including a couple of huge rebounds in traffic under the basket after DePaul had mounted its comeback. I’d ask where this guy has been for the past four years but I know the answer: he’s been standing 20 feet from the basket with his foot on the three point line clanking long twos … Doug Gottlieb said that newly minted starter Felix Balamou “plays like a power forward or a center,” which no he doesn’t. What he plays like is a girl. After not playing at all for almost two years Balamou has now logged 80 minutes in the past three games. Although he’s been serviceable enough as a replacement in the short term eventually playing 4 on 5 will catch up with them. Blew a wide open dunk as the game wound down … Balamou played because Obekpa did not. Is he injured? Is he being punished? Is he refusing to play like he did in the NIT last year? Who knows. So much bullshit has gone on with Lavin that not only is it impossible to tell what’s going on but it’s impossible to believe what you’ve been told anyway … meanwhile Jamal Branch, who was the starting point guard less than a month ago is now buried deeper than Captain Kidd’s treasure: he played 8 minutes, fewer even than the Bosnian, who avoided at least a flagrant one when he got away with throwing a DePaul player to the ground after a rebounding scrum under the basket.

NOTES: DePaul is in Chicago, the name of which city derives from a Native American word meaning “stinky onion,” the area so called for a ubiquitous plant that grew in the “dismal nine mile swamp” upon which the city was built. Despite its aquiferous beginnings nearly the entire city burned to the ground less than 100 years after its founding when a cow owned by a Mrs. Catherine O’Leary allegedly kicked over a lantern in a barn adjacent to the O’Leary homestead. Although there was in fact a Mrs. O’Leary and she did in fact own a cow, the story is probably apocryphal and Missus O’Leary’s villainization the result of the rampant no-Irish-need-apply Hibernophobia that afflicted those potato eaters such as my father’s forebears who fled to the US seeking relief from the famine that afflicted the old country in the 18th century, that famine the fault of the British, perhaps history’s greatest collection of criminals. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Mrs. O’Leary’s alibi was that she was passed out dead drunk in her bed when the fire broke out in her barn and that that alibi was routinely accepted. Although it is commonly supposed that it was Chicago’s winds that fanned the flames that engulfed the city that story is similarly apocryphal. Rather the city burned merely because of poor urban planning: its wooden houses were built too close together. And anyway although Chicago is known as the windy city it’s far from the windiest in the US – Amarillo Texas is – and is in fact it is no more windy than anywhere else: except when gaseous democratic ward heelers like Barack Obama are flapping their gums the average wind speeds in Chicago are only slightly higher than they are in New York’s Central Park. Anyway the story goes that the windy city appellation arose as the result of a rivalry between Chicago and Cincinnati Ohio over the rights to the nickname “Porkopolis,” which at first belonged to Cincinnati as the country’s foremost meatpacking locale, which hegemony was subsequently usurped by Chicago. Cincinnati writers used the term Windy City to insinuate that the Chicagoans expropriating the name Porkopolis were mere braggarts and that Cincinnati still ruled as far as abattoirs were concerned. Nowadays this is a moot point as San Francisco is universally recognized as the nation’s foremost purveyor of meatpacking … Chicago was also known as the second city, and properly at least while it was the second largest city in the USA; although now LA is, the name remains. Where Chicago takes second place to no one however is in its succor of the criminal element: in raw numbers it has long been at or near the top of US cities in murders; last July 4th weekend for example an astounding 84 people suffered gunshot wounds – more than in Falluja during the same time period – from which 20 of the city’s nearly 500 total murder victims died. This is apace with Chicago’s long and illustrious criminal history: Al Capone ran the outfit there; Chicago is where gangsters John Dillinger, Sam Giancano and Bugsy Moran were executed; it spawned the thrill killers Leopold and Loeb, homicidal maniacs like Baby Face Nelson and Machine Gun Kelly, the Unabomber Ted Kacynski and assassin’s assassin Jack Ruby; and neither is Chicago a lightweight when it came to producing mass murderers, having given us the killer clown John Wayne Gacy, who managed 33 kills with his famous rope trick; HH Holmes, a transplanted English medical doctor who killed at least 25 and as many as 200 victims, many of whom were guests and employees at a hotel he ran during the Chicago World’s Fair in the 1890s; and Richard “Born to Raise Hell” Speck, who raped and murdered 8 nurses in a single night in July 1966 … Speaking of heinous criminals, the game was called by Doug Gottlieb, a former USBL point guard who was expelled from Notre Dame after it was discovered that he had fraudulently charged various items on credit cards belonging to other fighting Irish students. They say that crime doesn’t pay but it’s worked out alright for Gottlieb, although not so much for those of us who have to suffer through his game commentary … This week saw the passing of two college basketball giants: Dean Smith and Jerry Tarkanian. The proximity of their deaths is where the similarities end. Like his contemporary at DooK Mike Schrewshrekni Smith was offered up by the college basketball establishment as a paragon of virtue, proof that it was possible to run a clean and successful basketball program, whereas Tarkanian was a black hatted criminal mastermind who openly cheated and thumbed his nose at the authorities. Whether it is a coincidence that Smith was a respectable white man and Tarkanian a swarthy Armenian is an open question. The probable truth is that both of them cheated; ironically it’s likely that the only coach who ever won consistently and ran a clean program was Bobby Knight, the most hated man in college basketball. Between Smith and Tarkanian they won 1600 games, appeared in 15 Final Fours, and won 3 national championships. Tarkanian might have been even more successful, except he had the misfortune to be the contemporary of Steve Lavin’s best man John Wooden – talk about your criminal masterminds – who thwarted Tarkanian on more than one occasion. Allow me to quote me:

Long Beach State’s basketball program first achieved national prominence under Jerry Tarkanian, whose teams went 122-20 in four years, never losing more than 5 games in a season. Each year LBS reached the regional semi-finals of the NCAA tournament and twice the finals, losing three of those games to UCLA, then in the midst of winning eight straight national championships. Despite UCLA’s dominance and the proximity of the two schools, Steve Lavin’s alleged mentor John Wooden refused to schedule LBS during the regular season. Which is kind of like the relationship Saint John’s has with Hofstra and Iona, except with NIT banners.

I’m far from a sentimentalist, but am not yet so cynical that I am unable to recognize that we are diminished when greatness passes from the scene. Even greatness at so trivial a thing as basketball. The likes of these two are few and far between and in the increasingly debased culture in which we live the chances that we see their like again reduces exponentially. In a rare departure from my normal glee at the misfortunes of others I wish them rest in peace.

Ru(e) (de)Paul

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Outside of buying several of my ex-girlfriend’s a six pack of Pabst, there are few sure things in life. One thing you can be pretty sure of though when you sit down to watch a SJU Depaul basketball game is that you are likely to see some of the worst college basketball of the year. And for 20 minutes this one was no exception: the first half of Sunday’s 71-67 overtime loss to second place Depaul was just about the worst half any two D1 teams have played all year. The result of the horror was that Saint John’s took a 10 point lead into the locker room, thanks to Depaul’s 13 turnovers, most of them of the dribble the ball off your foot throw the ball into the stands variety and atrocious 2 for 13 3-point shooting. Once again SJU was not able to hold their advantage – this is the fourth game in a row now that an opposing coach has eaten Lavin’s second half lunch by making half time adjustments, although I admit to having no idea what they were outside of perhaps sayings something like stop dribbling the ball off your foot and stop missing all your threes. On the other hand the second half was quite entertaining, other than the outcome obviously, which leaves Saint John’s mired in ninth place at 1 and 4 in conference. Anyone who thought that possible two weeks ago raise your hand and then bring them down repeatedly on your pants, which are on fire … Neither team performed well on the offensive end: for the game SJU shot 27 percent from the floor and 17 percent from three and Depaul meanwhile shot higher from three (35) from the floor (33). In the end the game came down to free throws: 60 fouls were called in all, 3 players fouled out, and 62 free throws taken. Those of you think that the free throw shot is the single most exciting play in college basketball and not an all an annoyance that slows the pace to a glacial crawl were probably on the edge of your seats. The other thing that made a difference was the DePaul press, which forced a bunch of turnovers and which I’m surprised everyone doesn’t do. Press and fall back into a zone, we’d probably not score another basket for the rest of the year … Coach Lavin once again wore a shirt with a collar, for which I take full credit. Unfortunately it gives me one less thing to whinge about. And in fact other than some strange substitutions – at one point he had 4 guards plus Jessica Albavogchavick out there – and a perplexing use of his last TO in regulation – after calling his penultimate one to set his defense up with 31 seconds left he spent his last one when that one expired – I don’t have much to whinge about the coaching either. For the most part Lavin keeping out of his own way is him out-coaching the other guy, even when the other guy coaching is Oliver Purnell … All of which leaves SJU at 1 and 4 and at the bottom of the league and the chances of turning things around become ever slimmer. On the bright side there’s nowhere to go but up and not a lot further down they can fall. Excelsior.

PLAYERS: Rysheed Jordan started his second game in a row and seems to have shaken off whatever funk he was in a couple of weeks ago. Seventeen points, 4 steals, 4 assists and two free clutch free throws to send the game into overtime … Phil Greene had 17 points as well but on 5 for 13 shooting. Considering his appalling past performances against hometown DePaul – in two of seven games he’s managed to get shut out – we should be grateful. Evidently a regular reader of this blog, which has spent the past two weeks haranguing him for his paucity of free throw attempts, Greene took the ball to the basket on more than one occasion and ended up six for six from the line … Harrison had 11 points, 7 of those from the free throw line. The announcers said he injured his calf in practice yesterday, and it showed … A good 16 minutes by Jasilionus II, who evidently is a basketball player, as has been rumored. It would not surprise me to see him start a game, as trying to catch lightning in a bottle is one of Lavin’s signature coaching moves. Some would say his only move, and by some I mean me … Obekpa got a ferocious rebound with 30 seconds to go in regulation and his put back made it a one-point game. To atone he missed the game winner in OT from 10 feet .. Pointer had 11 points but did little else before fouling out .. Jamal Branch is awful … Balamou got a minute or two … Two straight DNPs for Christian Jones, erstwhile replacement for Jakarr “+ x –“ Sampson.

NOTES: DePaul grads include mayor for life Richard Daley, keyboardist Ray Manzarek of the Doors, and actors Tom Bosley, Harvey Korman, Joe Mantegna, Karl Malden and John C. Reilly. Their hoop alumni comprise a pretty good starting five: Mark Aguirre, Terry Cummings, George Mikan, Quentin Richardson and Rod Strickland. DePaul was also the victor in one of the most horrifying losses in the pantheon of humiliating Saint John’s defeats. Let’s reminisce. It’s 1987. Depaul is 28-2, ranked 7th in the country, and is a three seed in the Midwest region. Saint John’s, the six seed, has squeaked by Wichita State in the first round 57-55. The game is for some reason on DePaul’s home court in Chicago. With 36 seconds left SJU is ahead by five, 67-62, this despite the referees having awarded DePaul twice as many free throws: of 25, they made 21 to Saint John’s 9. After an exchange of baskets and with Depaul down 4 with 12 seconds left, lunkhead Terry Bross fouled Dallas Comegys on a put back, making it 69-67. Instead of making the FT Comegys – contrary to the strategy devised in the huddle by his HOF coach Ray Meyer – attempted to miss the FT on purpose, a play that never works, unless, like Comegys, you violate the lane so egregiously that by the time the ball hits the rim you’re standing under the basket. It goes without saying that no violation was called and Comegys made the lay up. Tie score. Mark Jackson missed a pull up as time expired and DePaul went on to win in overtime. History repeats. It was really one of the worst losses ever, rivaled only by the Duke game the year before and whatever game it was where Mullin missed that free throw, either Penn or Temple, I CBA to check … The 87 SJ team included Jackson, porn mogul Willie Glass, the most overrated player in SJ history Matt Brust, Jasilionus prototype Marco Baldi, and Marcus Broadnax and Elander Lewis – one of whom got the scholarship that would have gone to Gary Payton if Louie wasn’t such a nimrod. Game goat Terry Bross went on to a brief 10 game career as a pitcher with the NY Mets before becoming a sports agent, in which profession he was a few years ago accused of pimping out a porn actress called Bibi Jones in an attempt to recruit clients. In an attempt to drive web traffic and to appease those critics who complain that I am tedious because I use too many words they don’t understand and not enough pictures that they might, here she is.

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Finally, speaking of whores, Greg Anthony, who broke the news of Steve Lavin’s hiring in 2010, was arrested over the weekend for cavorting with prostitutes. And not just any prostitutes either: a transgendered prostitute from Craig’s List. In case you are a Neanderthal CIS * like me, a transgender is a person who associates psychologically with a gender opposite to their genitalia. For example a female born with a vagina who thinks she should have been a guy named Dave or a guy named Dave born with a wiener who thinks he should have been born a lesbian. (As opposed to a transsexual, who’s one who skips all the Freud and just starts lopping off body parts on the theory that nature has put them there by mistake.) So presumably Anthony was looking to bang a guy in a dress. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Pictured below is his wife, who’s probably not coincidentally pretty much a dead ringer for Reggie Miller.

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* CIS are individuals who are born associating favorably with their genitals. That is, a male assigned male at birth – a guy with a penis who thinks he’s a guy – is a cis. In the old days these sort of people were considered normal and their opposites sideshow attractions. Nowadays everything is normal, lest someone’s feelings get hurt.