Category Archives: marquette

Meat Marquette

RECAP: There’s not a lot to say about St John’s 93-71 loss to Marquette Tuesday night in Wisconsin and I’m just the guy not to say it. I might not have written anything at all this morning – the fiendish missus fun succeeded in infecting me with whatever hellish disease she brought in from the outside world, leaving me so weak I can barely manage the martini shaker – except that I wrote the notes section last night waiting for the game to start and that section has an expiration date so now I need to write the beginning. But it will be brief. And it will be brief because St John’s does not play well on the road. Considering their youth and that they have only three and a half players who don’t stink St John’s has done an admirable job of protecting their home court, where their only losses were to teams ranked in the top 25. The problem is that everyone else in the league does the same admirable job, even Marquette and floor slapping Billy Donovan with a head injury coach Steve Wojocxychchochochi. The thing about Marquette is – and why I really can’t feel too bad about last night’s loss – is that despite all their advantages – their athletic budget, their facilities, their fanbase, their recruiting – they’re never going to be any better than what they are now: a middle of the pack bubble team that gets bounced the first weekend when they every once in a while make the tournament, because Wojo is a mediocrity. He was a mediocre player who Schrewshrenski pity-hired as an assistant and who Marquette – which has an otherwise long and illustrious record of coaching hires – for some reason named as the heir to Al MgGuire, Rick Majerus, Mike Deane, Tom Crean and Buzz Williams. Which is kind of like Frank Sinatra settling on Mia Farrow after getting dumped by Ava Gardner and Lauren Bacall … So anyway here’s the story


As the picture suggests, St John’s hung tough for about 10 minutes, then folded like a cheap house of cards. MU shot 56 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three, were plus nine in rebounds and had 22 assists on 34 made baskets; part of that was that Marquette was just on, but if you give up 200 points over two games maybe it’s time for a little defensive soul searching. And if you’re going to give up 50 points a half then you can’t shoot 40 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three and 65 percent from the free throw line, which is what SJU shot last night. Obviously Mullin realizes this: he said last night of the team’s effort on the defensive end “It’s not good,” which might qualify as the understatement of the year and that when players go to the basket “don’t give him a kiss, knock him down.” I doubt Mullin’s St John’s teams are ever going to be lock down defenders, because defense was not a large part of his game, but there’s a big difference between giving up 80 points and 100. I don’t mind 80 and in fact would much rather watch Lovett and Ponds run up and down the court then Bobby Kelley and Frankie Alagia walk. But some things clearly need to be addressed … Three games left, two at home, both winnable and then hopefully a favorable draw in the BET, and by favorable I mean on the other side from Villanova, because I think SJU can hang with anyone but them at MSG. They’re not going to win three games in three days or whatever it is, but winning one would be nice and a sign of real progress
PLAYERS: Ahmed led all scorers with 21 points (7 of 14) and added five rebounds and two assists. He’s scored in double figures in every game but one since the new year, and in 12 in a row; over his last 5 games he’s averaging 17 points a game (on 50 percent shooting) and six rebounds. Too bad he’s such a greedy street baller, he might make something of himself … Ponds had 14 points, seven rebounds, and six assists and Lovett 17 points, five assists, four steals. Together with Ahmed that comes to 52 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists, and 8 steals, which is remarkable production from three guys a collective nine months into their college careers …. Yawke had seven points and five rebounds, which doesn’t seem like much but considering where he’s been that’s a nice line. All three of his field goals came on dives to the basket, which a month ago he would have kicked two of those out of bounds … Owens had four fouls, three rebounds and one block – that’s a total of two blocks over his last two games, so perhaps our Olive Oyl freshman has hit the wall – and oh yeah he took a three, which needless to say he missed it … Alibegowitch fouled out in 11 minutes but not before drilling his fourth three of the year. The Croatian sharpshooter is now at 21 percent for the year from three … Following up on his 20 point outburst versus Butler Mussini had no points in 16 minutes. Which is the same amount of points Elijah Holyfield had in one … Which brings us to Malik Ellison, since I’m not going to mention the German: in general Malik Ellison is a marginal player with a low basketball IQ and poor court awareness and last night he was worse than that. Among other things he threw a full court pass from the opposite foul line into the third row behind the opposing basket; threw a pointless no look pass to a Fox cameraman; clanked a three off the side of the backboard; fouled a three point shooter with 10 seconds left in the first half; and turned the ball over at game’s end on a breakaway versus MU’s walk-ons. I’d ask what he was thinking but if you look into his dead great white shark eyes you know he’s not thinking anything
NOTES: When I start writing these essays in the fall everything is fresh and new. It’s a new season and there are new players and new vistas and hope springs eternal. So I don’t have too much trouble producing a free 2000 word essay for 500 readers most of whom can’t stand me two or three times a week. (No, I don’t think I’m wasting my life, thanks for asking.) Come February though when the end is near – and there are only about four games left in the season and it’s only two months until the first Saturday in May – it becomes a bit of a slog and so as soon as the last one is written I look ahead to see if there’s something on the horizon to get the juices flowing for the next one, because let’s face it if you and I were five months into a romance that started in November I’d be sick of the sound of your voice by now and sleeping with your best friend. Last week when I looked ahead I saw that February 20th was Presidents Day and I thought great, I did MLK Day last month and this’ll be a nice bookend to that, because whereas MLK Day excludes from celebration every other civil rights icon from Crispus Attucks on down Presidents Day celebrates the life of every incompetent overweening scoundrel who ever took the oath of office, even Jimmy Carter. Which makes a nice counterpoint. So I wrote that essay, which is appended below, but in between something happened that I also found interesting and which I also wrote about. That essay, regarding St John’s ace recruiter Matt Abdulwhatevr, however quickly took a left turn and as my left turns often do ended with me ranting about slavery, the Bubonic Plague and Auschwitz. Which you might think, how did you get from an assistant coach at St Johns to the Holocaust and I have to tell you, it’s not that hard. Every day the voice in my head plays six degrees of separation, except instead of Kevin Bacon he uses Heinrich Himmler. Watch: Kevin Bacon –> the film JFK –> Khrushchev —> Stalin —> the Hitler Stalin pact —> jews being baked in ovens like Pop Tarts. See? Easy peasy. And I can do that all day and do. As amusing as my rant was though I thought to dial it back because it got a little long and let’s face it I can do man is the most pernicious species of vermin that nature has suffered to crawl across the face of the earth shtick in my sleep and most of you are sick of it. I did though want to touch on the assistant coach thing, but just a bit:

St John’s fan boards were hot this week with a rumor concerning Matt A’s possible defection for parts unknown. Things started innocuously enough. A well-meaning well-respected poster said the following, which as far as I can tell arose unbidden:

“Just thinking out loud, Matt A is close with Will Wade, VCU HC and other coaches who could be up for high major jobs this coming spring … We would be in some serious trouble if he moved on … the future of the program [is] directly tied to him. Maybe I worry too much.”

My immediate response to which was yeah, maybe you do worry too much, if I worried that much I’d never leave the house, because I’d be too busy hiding under the couch from the AIDS infected meteor that’s speeding directly towards my brain tumor.

This post – which as I said was relatively innocuous and which was perhaps just the ossified musing of a lonely misanthrope and lord knows I’ve just described my own career as a writer – spawned because I just counted 40 pages comprising 200 posts about how the St John’s basketball program hinges on the precarious allegiance of an assistant coach no one had ever heard of two years ago: not on the long and illustrious history of St Johns basketball from the Wonder Five forward; not on the legacy of Sonny Dove and Mel Davis and Walter Berry; it does not stand on the shoulders of giants Buck Freeman, Joe Lapchick, and Norm Roberts; it does not depend on the presence of the greatest player in St Johns history on the sidelines. No. It hinges on some chubby assistant coach whose name I couldn’t begin to spell. Except the A and the B obviously, I could get that far.

I say all that to cite this, which is from a NY Times article about Matt’s hiring as an assistant at his alma mater in the home town he professes to love, which I am continually assured is the greatest city on earth: “[Matt] grew up enamored of everything related to St. John’s”; he said of his hiring that “It’s surreal, it’s amazing. Words can’t describe it … [Mullin’s] an absolute legend.” Question: does that sound to you like someone who might uproot his young family after two years and follow Will “whoeverthefuckheis” Wade to whereverthefuck he’s going; and even if so, will that really doom the St Johns basketball program? Personally I don’t think so. I think a basketball program that survived Steve Lavin’s prostate can survive anything and to show you how sure I am I looked up how to spell his name: it’s A-B-D-E-L-M-A-S-S-I-H. And I will every time I mention his name spell it just like that. All I can figure is that St John’s has been a laughingstock for so long and its fans are so beaten down that they are conditioned to enjoy failure. They associate nostalgically with Saint John’s basketball, which has disappointed them their entire lives. So that when it seems like something good might be happening they reach for the bad because the pain makes them feels pleasure. It’s like cutting, there’s just less blood … So then there’s this, which short attention span readers can skip if they’re still awake:
Yesterday was Presidents Day, to commemorate which CSPAN polled a group of academics – an academic loosely defined is one whose credentials outstrip his wisdom – as to who were the greatest American presidents evah. If you needed proof of the failings of the US educational system and the group think that exists in academia – and if you need proof you’re blind so you’re not reading this anyway – you only need look at the list. Every democratic president in the 20th century is in the top 15 except Jimmy Carter – and he’s 25th, as opposed to what should be a preemptive 70th, considering that his foremost achievement in office was the hilariously named Operation Rice Bowl, which comprised crashing several helicopters into each other in the middle of a desert in a failed attempt to end the Iranian hostage crisis.

Franklin D Roosevelt, a patrician communist sympathizer who returned boatloads full of doomed German Jews back to Treblinka (I would have said Auschwitz but variety is the spice of life) and who appointed Ku Klux Klansman Hugo Black to the US Supreme Court is number three; Harry Truman, an actual member of the KKK, who incinerated hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians with nuclear weapons, is number six; John effing Kennedy, whose greatest accomplishment – besides an impressive scorecard that included Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Angie Dickinson and Gene Tierney – was getting his brains blown out by someone other than his long suffering cuckolded wife, is number eight; Lyndon Johnson, who urged democrats to hold their noses and vote for the 1965 civil rights act by telling them that “We’ll have those darkies voting for us for 200 years” is number 10, except he didn’t say darkies; Woodrow Wilson who resegregated the government and lobbied for antimiscegenation laws lest virile black men – he called blacks “an ignorant and inferior race” – defile the delicate flower of white womenhood was number 11, although to be fair he was incapacitated by a stroke and spent the last several years of his second term drooling on himself while his wife ran the country, so she deserves some credit; Barack Hussein Jugears is unfathomably number 12; and rounding out the top 15 is the satyr Bill Clinton, a creditably accused rapist who was impeached for masturbating on a fat girl.
Of course some of the rankings make sense. Franklin Pierce for example was an alcoholic who thought the movement to free the slaves was the greatest threat to the union since King George III, he came in at number 41; it will surprise absolutely no one who did not attend a public school that Pierce was a democrat. Andrew Johnson, a democrat impeached by republicans opposed to his plan to transfer jurisdiction over the civil rights of freed slaves to their former southern masters is 44th. James Buchanan, whose best political impulse was ambivalence toward the evils of slavery and the preservation of the union was last, surprise he’s another democrat. And the moral is: it’s not for nothing democrats are called the party of slavery and sedition.

Also not for nothing, my list:

1. George Washington: the father of our country defeated the Brits in the war for independence and retired to the life of a gentleman farmer when he was through; never told a lie

2. Abe Lincoln: preserved the union, freed the slaves, good size for a point guard

3. Ronald Reagan: destroyed the Soviet Union, the greatest existential threat to freedom in the history of the universe and banged more hot broads than that poseur JFK, including Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Doris Day, Joan Blondell and Lana Turner

4. Andrew Jackson: arguably the most important American historical figure besides the founding fathers; yeah he owned slaves and killed Injuns but so would I had I been born in Tennessee in 1767 and so would you

5. Thomas Jefferson: not much of a president but he wrote the declaration of independence and the constitution and that’s got to count for something; made jungle fever socially acceptable

If pressed for six man I’d pick William Henry Harrison, but only because he was president for only 31 days, which wasn’t enough time to do any serious damage to anything.

Bare Marquette

RECAP: Other than picking the Derby winner or seeing Tom Brady snap a fibula if there’s anything sweeter than watching dwekies fail at basketball I don’t know what it is and Saint John’s 82-76 win over Marquette at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night was no exception. Sure Marquette isn’t the evil empire per se but the presence on the sidelines of floor slapping dope Steve Wojowhatever makes it close enough and especially the way the last couple of years at Saint John’s have gone. The look of bewilderment and impotence on Wojo’s face as his team’s post season hopes swirled down the toilet wasn’t priceless, but it was easily worth a sawbuck and the outcome finds me in such a good mood this morning that I’m barely able to work up the bile necessary to write one of these things and probably if I hadn’t drunk enough gin last night to kill a less hardy man probably wouldn’t bother, but why waste a good hangover … So where was I oh yeah Saint John’s defeated Marquette 82-76 at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. It was their fifth conference win of the season – their fifth – and moved them into sixth place – sixth – in the Big East, ahead of Georgetown, Providence, and Seton Hall and only a half game behind Marquette. I noted after it might have been the Villanova game that Saint John’s was starting to put it together but that it was hard to tell because they had been playing a couple of weeks worth of ranked teams. At the risk of injuring myself patting myself on the back too vigorously I think it’s fair to say that that assessment was correct: they beat Providence in Providence and played Xavier tough and last night spanked Marquette on their home court the way a good team should. Dopey Steve Lavin always talked about getting his team to play its best ball in February, which in his case was just an excuse for his team’s lousy play the other 11 months of the year. This year I think it might be happening, a case of the freshmen maturing and the team coming together and Mullin getting his coaching legs under him. That having been said no doubt Nova beats them by 40 on Saturday. In event it’s welcome and if I didn’t feel like dying I might even be in what passes for me as a good mood …


If you didn’t know the outcome you’d think that Saint John’s was the thin blue line above, because that’s how lots of their games go: they keep it close for a while, go down big, make a feeble aborted comeback and come up short. Last night the opposite happened. Saint John’s went into the locker room up eight by virtue of a 10-2 run late in the first half and except for an 8-0 Marquette run early in the second the outcome was never really in doubt. Offensively Saint John’s did what they do more or less: they shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three, albeit 17 assists on 32 made baskets is a bit more than usual. What made the difference last night was rebounding and defense. It wasn’t just the obvious stuff, like Ponds and Lovett making Marquette’s guards look foolish by stripping them of the ball half a dozen times at midcourt. It was the effort and the little things they usually don’t do: fighting through screens and boxing out and, you know, stuff that good basketball teams do. Speaking of defense, since Saint John’s allowed DePaul to shoot 15 of 16 from the free throw line a couple of weeks ago their opponents are 56 of 93, which is about 60 percent. Credit to whoever’s been working with the kids on that in practice, probably Saint Jean … Mullin coached I thought a marvelous game. He waited a minute or two longer than I would have to call a timeout in the second half – Marquette had gotten to within five when he finally called one but maybe he was waiting to see if they could fix things on their own. Other than that I had no complaints and especially not about the two white lummoxes not seeing the floor: neither Alibegowitch or Freudenburgh played, which is fine by me. Amar is hopeless and the German is still a couple of steps slow. People talk a little bit of shit about the fact that Mullin’s less than articulate in the huddle, which yeah he is, but for the most part if the difference between winning a game and losing it is a couple of minutes worth of sideline exhortation then you’re not doing your job the rest of the week. I mention this because FS2 – horrible picture by the way, it reminded me of watching porn on my Commodore 64 – cut to Wojo during a time out yesterday when he said this, verbatim:

We won that last four minutes by eight points. You know why? Because we’re competing. We’re competing. No. We were not playing scared. We’re competing. Compete for this last eight minutes.

So to recap: they’re competitive because they’re competing. And this guy went to Dook, the finest Ivy League school in the entire ACC. Remember that next time Mullin mumbles something incoherent … Next up Villanova away. Gird your loins.

PLAYERS: JUCO bust Bashir Ahmed who needs to be benched until he learns to play basketball the white right way had easily the best game of his brief college career: 23 points and six rebounds, including a huge one in traffic with about two minutes left. He was aggressive but for the most part under control. Nice to see because he plays really hard … Also nice to see Kassoum Yakwe, who for the first time this year looked like the player he was going to be this year last year at about this time. (Read it again, it makes perfect sense.) He fumbled one pass but the rest of them he caught and finished. Add to that six rebounds and yeoman defense on Marquette’s big front line and you have a pretty good day at the office. Hopefully this was the start of his resurgence and not an anomaly … Ponds and Lovett had between them 35 points, 10 assists, and seven steals – most of the latter around midcourt, where as I mentioned they made Marquette’s guards look silly. Ponds had seven rebounds as well …. Tariq Owens: 11 rebounds in 20 minutes … Malik Ellison took his rightful place in the offense: behind nearly everyone else. When he doesn’t try to do too much he looks like he’s doing more than he is, which is almost enough … Mussini [sic] hit a couple of threes. On the first he head faked the MU player aside, set his feet and swished it. Very pretty, I watched it a bunch of times. His other one came late in the second half when MU got within seven. If he does that every game I’ll have to find another dead horse to beat … Williams played 10 uneventful minutes and no one else played any

 
NOTES: When I switched the game on last night around nine Missus Fun said something about me not having my notebook that I use to write my “little blog,” which sometimes she has to get her digs in and I let her because believe it or not I can sometimes be something of a long day. So we got to talking about my little blog and she asked why I don’t reply to the comments that people leave – which are generally favorable – and I said for the same reason you don’t thank construction workers when they whistle at you on the street, it’s unseemly, and that anyway what little conversation these gambols provoke take place in fan forums and have less to do with my incredible basketball insight and more to do with what picture I stick at the top of the page. This week for example I wrote three of these and the only thing anyone wanted to talk about was why last time I used a photo of Lisa Whelchel from the Facts of Life instead of Phoebe Cates, who the guy who banged Mindy Cohn banged in Fast Times. The answer’s simple: I already used Phoebe Cates (many times, believe me) and anyway sometimes I feel like a blonde. To her credit Missus Fun stayed awake for most of that conversation and almost the entire game, so that I didn’t have to implement my new draconian no snoring during basketball regimen, but since I know now that she’s a fan, she’s forewarned.

Foul Play

Al Bundy gun to head 1

I went yesterday afternoon to meet with my accountant Sol to go over the final figures for the 2015 tax year and to sign the various forms and checks and the fucking I got from New York State and the Internal Revenue Service was less vigorous than the one Saint John’s got Wednesday night on their alleged home court Madison Square Garden in a 101-93 first round BE tournament loss. Let’s skip the jokes and trenchant commentary and go directly to the box score:

FG percentage was even, 54 vs 55.

3 point percentage was even, 50 vs 50.

Rebounds were even, 28 vs 27.

Turnovers were about even, 17 vs 14.

What wasn’t even? Free throws. Marquette took 43 and Saint John’s 23. And that was the difference in the game. Marquette scored 20 points in the last seven minutes, on two field goals. Things were so egregious that the usually go-along get-along Gus Johnson described the officiating as “terrible” and wondered how Saint John’s was going to be able to play defense if they could not use their hands. Official lickspittle of the Big East Bill Raftery thought the refs did a swell job, but he hasn’t disagreed with a call since Nero was given a flagrant one for kicking his pregnant sister in the stomach. As for me, I flashed back to the rigorous rogerings Lou used to get regularly in the post season, and seeing that floor slapping dope Wojowhatever on the side line didn’t help … Speaking of Wojo, he’s so pinguid that his upper lip was beaded with sweat during the pregame interview and by the first TV time out his shirt was festooned with half-moons of perspiration that would have made Al Bundy blush. Hey stupid, it’s called antiperspirant, try it … Oh well. It’s not like they were going to make a run and there is some solace in the fact that they played hard when they could have rolled over. Wait till next year bums

PLAYERS: I figured yesterday afternoon that SJ would get the snot kicked out them yesterday night and so after meeting with Sol wrote some end of season stuff that I figured to post instead of the normal PLAYERS section I usually include. That follows. I did though want to note that Chris Jones had a spectacular 29 points and 7 rebounds and to shout out a hearty fuck you to one particular poster who spent much of the early season maintaining that Jones did not have the makings of a BE player. Seems that dope was wrong, once again. A person has to work pretty hard to know so little about so much. That or maybe he’s just very very stupid.

Final season grades, on a curve. A is outstanding, C is average, F blows.

Yawke: B Somebody had to get a good grade. For most of the season he held his own against guys bigger stronger and older than him – once again, he should still be in high school. Needs to develop a midrange jump shot and do some curls. The sky – which incidentally he can touch from a standing leap – is the limit.

Jones: C + Almost a B minus, just because no one expected anything of him. One rebound shy of four double doubles. Has only two moves, a jab step step-back jumper and a spin thing in the lane but seemingly they’re hard to defend. Not a world beater but hopefully he comes back for his senior year. This is a program that needs some continuity.

Johnson C+. By far the best offensive player on an offensively  challenged team. Got better as the year went on and the rust wore off. If he were white the Red and White Club would have been slobbering over his play instead of drooling on their sweaters. Not being white, he became their bete noire.

Sima C. He was probably a C + before his injury and a C minus afterwards, so I rounded. Not the defensive force or rebounder he seems he should be and his shot selection is atrocious and the shots themselves dangerous to anyone in the vicinity. Still, you can’t teach 6’11” and he’s only 19.

Ellison C. Was awful the first half of the season and merely atrocious the second half. Too confident for his own good. Hopefully over time his skills grow into his opinion of his skills. Has to learn to shoot, doesn’t defend anyone, and loafs back on defense after his frequent turnovers. OTOH nice size, good body, and a basketball pedigree. He is the advertisement for the old saw that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.

Mvouika C Was ill suited for the role he was thrust into, that of a Division One basketball player. Probably would have been a nice bench player on a good team – he shot nearly 40 percent from 3 and is a very good rebounder when he wants to be – although he wouldn’t have been on a good team. On the other hand he’s an awful defender and whines constantly. The faster he fades into the mists of my memory the better. Au revoir.

Alibegovic C-. Makes a great play one minute and an absurd one the next. Unfortunately there are more of the latter minutes than the former. If he’s going to be a stretch four he needs to learn to make threes and even if he’s not he needs to learn to rebound, there’s no point to being 6’10” otherwise. If the Freudenberg kid is any good I don’t see where his minutes come from next year as they seem to be the same player. His toadstool hairdo is one of the stupidest to ever adorn a SJU player, which is saying a lot. Still on schedule to graduate as the best white player at SJU since Bob Werdan.

Mussini C- The latest great white hope – one delusional racist called him the best shooter SJU had seen since Chris Mullin – went from a legend in November to an afterthought in February. He’s as tall as Frankie Alagia, as quick as Billy Singleton, jumps as high as Sean Muto and shoots threes as well as Avery Patterson. Doctor Frankenstein couldn’t work with those parts. He is though a freshman and he-a seems-a like-a he’s a nice-a boy. A good FT shooter, gets to the basket and has sneaky fast hands in the passing lane. Hopefully he works hard on his game in the off season and grows half a foot

Balamou C –. Tough call here as Felix got screwed out of a  year by Lavin, who only recruited him because he was Obekpa’s buddy anyway. Unfortunately for Felix I am not much of a sentimentalist. Got to the basket really well and threw some nice passes inside. Unfortunately he did everything else poorly and had the ugliest jump shot in Division One. Like Mvouika he was an appalling defender and a whiny little bitch and like Lavin’s other leftovers it’s a shame he got no floor time over the past several years because he seems like he could have developed into a nice player if his opportunist of a coach had given the opportunity.

Mullin C. Some would argue that this year was an incomplete but he did in fact coach and this was nothing more than an average coaching debut. I do agree that you can’t judge anything by the results he achieved this year. You could have sewn Pete Carill’s head onto John Wooden’s body and attached Schrewshrinksy’s whiskers and tail and nothing would have changed. It seemed to me mostly like Chris Mullin spent much of the year waiting around for players to arrive who were good enough at basketball to learn basketball from Chris Mullin. If scouting reports are to be believed, they are on the way. As to the rest of it, where he sat, and whether he crossed his legs and how much he talked or didn’t talk in the huddle, most of that came from rubes still enamored with dopey Steve Lavin and I have no time for the idiotic opinions of imbeciles like that. Chris Mullin has never failed at basketball before and it seems to me that he did not return to Saint John’s to start now. In his short tenure he has assembled a killer staff and a couple of good recruiting classes. Next year the basketball begins. As jaded as I am – and I am at this point so cynical that I don’t even trust my own skepticism – I remain pretty not pessimistic about things moving forward.

NOTES: Since this is the last of these till next year and maybe forever I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to once again call Steve Lavin a repulsive unctuous fuckhead. Because that never gets old. Last night Lavin, who last year described himself as “a poor conference tournament coach” after going 1-5 at Saint John’s in five years, sat at half court explaining what the coaches who did not get fired for being miserable cretinous failures would have to do to succeed where he repeatedly had not. A more self-aware individual would have felt chagrin or shame, but walking bobble head that he is Lavin sat there with a stupid self-satisfied grin balanced above his multiple pasta chins. So for the final time this year, a hearty fuck you to Steve Lavin, one of the worst human beings who ever lived … So yeah, that’s that: another losing basketball season closer to death. This is now my third or fourth year of writing these dopey things and looking back no, I don’t think at all that I’ve been wasting my time. I mean sure, I could have been applying my genius to curing cancer or working to effect world peace but where’s the satisfaction in that. There is none, because no one deserves anything, much less everything. Quite the contrary: my sincerest hope is that you all win the Powerball, just seconds before a nuclear war eradicates every vestige of life on earth just ahead of its destruction by an asteroid. LOL, just kidding, not all life, I hope the bugs survive. Because let’s face it: we are you and I meaningless carbon based life forms on a small rock hurtling through an infinite and uncaring universe, whose petty hopes and desires are a cosmic joke created by a god who doesn’t exist. So I cannot help but think that my time was just as well spent as anything else chronicling the pathetic doings of a sad sack basketball program that has not won anything ever, for a small group of readers, most of whom either didn’t understand what I was saying, or didn’t care, and maybe a couple who got the joke, and not just because I managed to remain pretty much shit faced the whole time. That in fact seems to me to be a life pretty well and fully lived. So thanks for reading and see you next year. Unless one of us has the good fortune to die.

 

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

hitachi-magic-wand-use-guide

From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee;
For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee

RECAP: I woke up this morning pretty sure I wasn’t going to write anything about Saint John’s 10th straight loss, this one to Marquette 78-73 at Carnesecca Arena Sunday afternoon. Frankly I’m bored with this exercise: without Lavin here to fuel me I am like Ahab without Moby Dick. They lost another game, they’re going to lose a bunch more, next year will get here eventually. Frankly I was last night happier to see Tom Brady suck it than I would have been had Saint John’s won. It took some fan boi moron referring to Steve Lavin as a “magic wand” – some geniuses are using the occasion of the loss to rehash the ‘was Lavin a better coach than Norm debate,’ which no he wasn’t, he’s not a better coach than anyone, he sucks – to get me to produce even this dreck and only so I can point out what a complete and utter tool that guy is, Lavin is a magic wand, LOL. Hey Rocky, watch me pull a prostate out of my ass.

PLAYERS: Durand Johnson led the team in in points, steals, assists and had 5 rebounds. Imagine what he could do if he hustled … Mussini scored 19 points, all of them after Saint John’s was already down by 15 … Malik Ellison had 4 turnovers and 5 fouls and missed 4 shots, in only 18 minutes. That’s a little less than one screw up a minute. It’s a shame he didn’t suit up for Marquette, Saint John’s might have won … Yawke had 7 points and 8 rebounds, which would have been pretty good had not Ellenson gone for 16 and 18 … Balamou got pulled early after not closing on Duane Wilson who hit back to back three from the same spot early in the first half. He did not play much after that and who cares … Alibegowich once again see sawed back and forth between the sublime and ridiculous. For example early in the first half he had a put back that might well have been on ESPN’s top 10 and then on the very next possession threw a stupid lazy ¾ court pass that led to a Marquette break away … Mvouika and Jones were a combined 2-11 from the floor

NOTES: Some magic riffs, which this morning I can’t be arsed to flesh out.

– Wasn’t Rico Hines the real magic wand on that staff?

– The only time Lavin would say open sesame was when he went out for sushi after the game.

– Lavin was less Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and more aBRAcadaBRA, (because he had pasta titties)

– Keady’s incantation: By the Power of Grayskull

That’s gold Jerry, gold.

And now, hocus pocus:

 

Wojo Is Me

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Saint Johns dropped their 4th straight to start the Big East season 81-75 at Marquette Saturday afternoon. The last thing I want to be doing on Sunday morning afterwards is phoning in another one of these dopey essays. Because in the aftermath there isn’t really anything for me to complain about and let’s face kvetching is what I do best. During the previous regime when they lost or even when they didn’t I could always find fault in something Lavin did or didn’t do or his clothing or how much make up he wore or the stupid things he invariably said after the game and even if all that was unavailing Chris Obekpa would have grinned like an idiot after elbowing some poor defenseless bastard in the back of the head or Phil Greene would have shot 2 for 13 from the floor and I would have been off to the races. Now though none of the players who are even vaguely annoying are going to be here long enough to get annoyed at and Mullin can do whatever he wants – even read the newspaper during silent time outs late in the game – and sure they lost but what’s another loss or even 10 in the pantheon of futility that is SJ basketball. So I’ve got nothing except platitudes: good entertaining game, kids played hard, on to the next one … After a brief Marquette spurt to start the game Saint John’s outscored them by 15 or so to go into halftime up 8, which was the margin more or less about 8 minutes into the second half when SJU lost the thread. At that point the play by play reveals

Frederico Mussini turnover.

Frederico Mussini turnover.

Christian Jones turnover.

Christian Jones turnover.

Felix Balamou turnover

Durand Johnson turnover

in about a 4 minute period, punctuated only by a couple of free throws. By the end of it Marquette was up two and never looked back. To the extent that the box score is revealing it doesn’t really reveal anything. Other than Saint John’s 20 assists the only thing that jumps out is that SJ once again got the short end of the FT stick, 21-12, but context explains that that was the result of 10 straight free throws Marquette made in the last minute. And actually for most of the game the refs didn’t call hardly anything, which accrued to Saint John’s benefit. The only anomaly was two moving picks the refs called while Marquette was making their second half run, which were the only two they called the entire game. Which was a little odd point of emphasis wise.

PLAYERS: Yawke had a remarkable game against bigger, stronger, more highly-regarded front line: 9 points, 11 rebounds, 6 blocks and he even took a couple of charges. The bright side of Sima’s absence is that Yawke will get his minutes … Durand Johnson’s entry in the first half coincided with the run that led to Saint John’s 8-point half time lead. He led SJ with 18 points although 6 of those were two late threes of interest to no one but the guys who took the points … Mvouika had 13 points and five assists, his second straight game in double figures … Mussini had ten points but it took him 9 shots to get them and four turnovers as well. Good thing he doesn’t have a mohawk and tattoos, things might turn ugly …. Jones 6 points but only three rebounds. The more he plays, the less productive he is …. Balamou made the first 3 pointer of his career but missed the front end of a one and one late …. Alibegovic played 15 minutes that seemed like an eternity …. Ellison played a bunch of point guard. On the one hand having a 6’6” PG is a good thing. On the other hand, having Ellison as a point guard is not.

NOTES: Saturday at Marquette was Al McGuire Day, celebrated by an Al McGuire Day game on Al Mcguire Court. Everything was in place for Coach Wojo to achieve the defining loss of his career. But instead of climbing that mountain he managed a win, which will be remembered only as just another small step on his long journey to floor slapping mediocrity. Because Wojo is a dope. But not so much of one that I do not regret seeing him squander an opportunity like that, because life is short and only rarely do the stars so align.  Oh well.

Marquette Zero

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RECAP: Saint John’s beat Marquette 67-51 in Wisconsin Wednesday night. It was an ugly if workmanlike victory. As usually happens when Saint John’s plays lousy opponents, they played lousy. But to the extent that it wasn’t much of a game after the first 15 minutes that I suppose is a good sign. At least they put away an obviously inferior opponent and closed it out on the road and I mean, they probably have other things on their minds – there’s a vicious beating by Villanova on the horizon, and then the BE tournament on their home floor they’d like to not bollox up completely, and then the chance for the seniors to not only to play in their first NCAA tournament game but to be the first Saint John’s team to win an NCAA tournament game since the Jarvae’s team beat Northern Arizona in 2000. Whereas Marquette has only won 3 games since New Year’s Eve and had been for the most part been getting stomped while doing so and even with Wojo the floor slapping dope prowling the sidelines were probably pretty hard to take seriously … The numbers reflect the game: both teams were awful. Saint John’s shot 40 percent from the floor, 50 percent from the three (they’re close to 50 percent from three as a team since the Georgetown loss) and a terrifying 52 percent from the FT line, where they’re now 62-103 over their last four. This does not bode well moving forward and especially going into the tournament, where games are not called like rugby matches. Marquette shot worse: 34 percent from the floor, 28 percent from three and 38 percent from the FT line. That’s right, 38 percent, most of that the fault of big white doofus Luke Fischer. For some reason the announcers were drooling over him most of the game – I didn’t see the appeal. The rest of the numbers were nearly identical:

OR 13/13, DR 28/29, AST 15/12, ST 8/8, BLK 5/7, TO 13/14, PF 13/14

… If you subscribe like I do to the notion that where Lavin is concerned every decision is a mistake this sort of game was right up the great and powerful alley. All he had to do was pick 5 players, roll the balls out, and start clapping his hands and jumping up and down. There was none of that troubling thinking to be done, no logic to be applied, no problem solving skills needed. In that regard although 20 years old Baron Davis’s words ring prescient: We should have a banner up there: the only team to make the tournament without a coach. Only one thing troubled me last night and that was Lavin’s complexion. When I first notice it several games ago I thought maybe it was pancake make-up but now I’m thinking it’s some sort of spray on tan. The orange sheen is off putting and gives him the pallor of a space villain on Star Trek. Monasch was sitting behind the bench and he looked normal in comparison and he’s an oompah loompah.

PLAYERS: Jordan had 25 points on 11 shots (including 5 for 9 from three) all of them in rhythm and in the flow of the game. He, Dunn and Billy Garrett Jr. comprise a pretty nice trio of sophomore guards. In the old days you’d look forward to seeing them battle each other for four years. Nowadays you wonder in they’ll play another four years between the three of them in their college careers … The Unicorn had a near triple double: 11 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists. Had a very nice flop in the first half that drew an offensive foul, but if he’s looking to make Sportscenter again like the last time he threw himself to the ground he’s going to have to work harder than that …. Harrison was 2 for 9 in the first half and 5 for 7 in the second to finish with 21 points. The second was the first half in a while where he looked like himself … Phil Greene had 11 points on 13 shots and is 15 for 36 (40 %) from the floor over his past three games. It’s fair to note that Phil doesn’t play well west of the Mississippi, having taken a couple of donuts in Chicago versus DePaul as an underclassman, so there’s precedent for him choking in front of friends and family. Of course he doesn’t play that well east of the Mississippi either, so there’s that. (Astute fans will note that SJU is currently projected in the Midwest bracket, which does not bode well for Phil’s post season.) Greene did have 8 rebounds though, and 7 the game before that. So PG4 can rebound, who knew: evidently all this time it was just a lack of effort. I’m looking forward to seeing what other heretofore hidden skills Phil will display in the waning weeks of his career. Perhaps he can play defense or maybe he’s an excellent passer. It’s like peeling back the skin of an onion … Chris Obekpa had two points and 4 blocks and seems to be hobbled and seems to have aggravated his hobble late in the game. Like most things he does his injury is accompanied by histrionics – last night after seemingly tweaking an ankle he limped down the court grimacing and took himself out of the game, the latter for not the first time this year. Perhaps his injury is more severe than has been let on, but since his coach is not shy about exaggerating his players physical difficulties that’s hard to believe. Must be serious though because Harrison is about as banged up as a player can be and he never asks out of a game … Amir Amiroveckovich committed four fouls in eight minutes. Also, he dyed his hair, although whether from his natural color or to I have no way of knowing. Anyone who’s seen him in the locker room, let me know if the curtains match… Felix Balamou did not play, which is odd, because according to astute SJU fans he might as well have been recruited by Johnnie Calamari or Mike Kryszruski as Lavin. Evidently SJU has some of the most coveted walk ons and bench players in Division One.

NOTES: Not too many, which is good news for those who have been emailing to complain that these things are running long. Rest assured that I’ll take those complaints seriously, as a short attention span is a sure sign of high intelligence … The game was called by Brian Anderson and Tarik Turner. Anderson is part of the Milwaukee Brewers broadcasting team that was recently named the 8th best broadcasting unit in major league baseball. Unfortunately, last night he was calling a basketball game. Turner was his usual babbling idiot self. Of Dom Pointer Turner said “His versatility is special to watch,” an amalgam of illogic and garbled syntax worthy of Norm Crosby or Professor Irwin Corey. He also said that Saint John’s was running an “offensive clinic,” which is an interesting choice of words to describe a team that shot 39 percent from the floor and 50 percent from the FT line. Perhaps that was the sort of clinic Turner attended when he was a youth, which would explain his college career. For those of you who’ve forgotten it Turner’s teams at SJ were 14-14, 11-16, 13-14 and 22-10 – the last year outlier was when Fran brought in Colin Charles and sat Turner down most of the season. Despite being one-third of the most heralded recruiting class in Saint John’s history, Turner appeared in one NCAA tournament game, a loss to Detroit … Mark it zero. This is a league game Smokey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carlino’s Way

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RECAP: Saint John’s snuck away with a 60-57 win Wednesday night versus Marquette University in the battle for eighth place in the Big East. To the extent that they have any post season hopes the win kept them alive, but even the most optimistic rose colored glasses wearing gee this shit sandwich is delicious Saint John’s fan cannot at this point have any wildest hopes and dreams beyond a tournament bid and a first round loss. Which is where we are halfway through year 5 of the Lavin regime: hoping to catch enough breaks to be on the right side of the bubble. Question: if Lavin can’t win with a group of seniors that comprised the third ranked recruiting class in the country, what can he win with … The game had the stench of a blow out early. Marquette looked surprised by SJ’s quickness and athleticism and repeatedly turned the ball over and missed nearly every shot they took and could not buy a rebound. An early time out from floor-slapping dope Steve “Wojo” Wojowojowitz roused them from their torpor and they raised their level of incompetence to the level of incompetence that Saint John’s was displaying, which led to the sort of exciting game that can result when two awful teams meet. Like if a team of blind players faced off against a team of quadriplegics, you wouldn’t see much good basketball, but the game would nonetheless be pretty entertaining. Which at this point is all realistic SJU fans can hope for: if they’re not going to be successful at least they should be interesting … Regarding the game and depending on your perspective, both teams either played stellar defense or sucked on offense. Regardless, it was ugly. MU shot 30 percent from the floor and from three and SJU shot 35 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three. Rebounds, assists, free throws, turnovers all about even. Except for the basketball IQ of their coaches these were two evenly matched teams: both of them stink and one of them had to lose. On the bright side the referees let them play, advantage Saint John’s. If it wasn’t a felony they didn’t call a foul which negated SJU’s lack of a bench and despite 13 blocks nary a goaltending was called, which if you’ve watched Pointer and Obekpa block shots this year you know is a mathematical impossibility. Still, it’s a win and like Lavin said in the post-game, sometimes you just need to have a good day. This team especially needed to have a good day, considering the media hoopla that’s going to ensue come Saturday when ratface wins his 1000th game by beating the shit out of them at the Madison Square. Because that’s going to be a bloodbath.

PLAYERS: Dom Pointer had a remarkable game of the sort he sometimes has when he’s the most athletic player on the court: 15 points, 12 rebounds, 6 blocks and 6 assists. Last night he really was Batman. During the game Tarik Turner noted that Lavin had called Dom Pointer “the smartest player I’ve ever coached,” which is one of the stupider things Lavin has ever said and of a piece with calling Marco Bourgault the best shooter he’s ever coached or Rysheed Jordan the best passer. Because Dom Pointer is a lot of things but smart is not one of them … Another steady performance from Jordan. Fifteen points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists. To the extent that this team has any hope it rests on his shoulders … Harrison was 3 for 18 from the field but iced the game with two free throws late. I’m assuming there’s still some lingering effects from his calf … Speaking of dumb, in a recent gambol I noted that Phil Greene is among the stupidest players to ever wear a Saint John’s uniform. Last night, with 10 seconds left in the game and SJU up one, Greene received a pass ahead of the MU press and instead of dribbling the ball around the front court to use up precious seconds that would have insured the victory, Greene streaked to the basket and dunked, putting Marquette in a position to tie the game, which they nearly did, except Carlino back rimmed it … I’ve been encouraged by Chris Obekpa’s play of late, and when I say encouraged I mean that he’s been playing so poorly that I think it’s possible that he doesn’t declare for the draft and returns for his junior year. Last night was no exception … Has Jamal Branch ever thrown a pass where he looks at the guy he’s passing to? We get Jamal, you can throw a no look pass. Too bad you can’t do anything else… newly minted sixth man Amir Albaviovich managed 4 fouls in 6 minutes in the first half. I’ve seen more graceful golems.

NOTES: We’ve not seen Tarik Turner in about a month and to cut through all the suspense it turns out he’s still a blabbermouth. The problem is not just that Turner feels the need to pontificate about each possession as if he’s describing a new life form that he’s just witnessed spontaneously generate from the primordial ooze. It’s that everything observation he makes occurs in a vacuum. For example, on one possession with SJU up 8 in the first half Tarik noted that despite their lead Saint John’s was settling for threes and that they should move the ball. Fair enough Tarik, they were and moving the ball is always a good idea. But then on the very next possession he said that MU had to tighten up their defense because Saint John’s was getting whatever shot they wanted. And then the next possession he said that SJU had settled for a three. I mean, what the hell. It’s like he wakes up from a coma after each change of possession with no memory of what has transpired before. Which I suppose not coincidentally is a lot like his play at point guard … Sometimes with this team I’m not sure whether I’m watching basketball or What Not To Wear. It may just be that when the basketball sucks there’s nothing else to talk about or perhaps all the fashion talk is a clever ruse by master manipulator Steve Lavin to take pressure off of himself and his team. Hence all the ridiculous sweat suit get-ups and the focus on the Obekpants ® and so forth. That would also explain the unveiling last night of new gray uniforms with red piping, which are hideous, and a new Lavin look, a polyester mock turtleneck under a suit with unlaced white sneakers, similarly atrocious. Question: why do the red storm no longer wear red? And what’s the significance of black and blue and gray? Is it an homage to elder abuse? … In the post -game interview Lavin mentioned that DoOk coach Mike Schrewshrenvki was a “mentor and advisor,” which I had not heard before. I knew about Lavin’s relationship with John Wooden, and Bobby Knight, and Pete Newell, and Gene Keady. Question: if Steve Lavin has such close and abiding relationships with so many hall of fame basketball coaches who have meant so much to him and taught him so much, how come he’s such a shit basketball coach? … Unlike Saint John’s Marquette has a pretty good track record coaching wise: before Wojo Buzz Williams (albeit currently 8-9 and 0-4 in the ACC at Va Tech), Tom Crean, Mike Deane, Rick Majerus and going back to Saint John’s graduate Al McGuire, who led Marquette to back to back final fours and a national championship in 1977. Here’s McGuire addressing an alumni group, circa 1972. Funny stuff: