I amn’t one for moral victories, especially for a team that has now dropped five of their last seven since being ranked 15th in the country. But if you had to have one Saint John’s 77-68 loss to DooK on Sunday afternoon was as good a time as any. For DoOK this was a classic trap game – a road game after a weekend frolic in Manhattan on a national stage at the world’s most famous arena, going for the coach’s historic 1000th victory with three games against top 10 teams looming on the horizon; whereas Saint John’s was playing with house money: an OOC game they were not expected to win against the # 5 team in the nation and with their best player hobbled. That they did not fold like a cheap house of cards is shocking, because I thought this would be a blood bath. Instead it turned out to be an entertaining affair and an eminently winnable game. (Never again will I doubt the smart money, which had the line at about eight. I would have given 18.) DooK went out to an early 11 point lead and seemed to be on the verge of making it a laugher when after a judicious Steve Lavin time out – that in itself rarer than a can of dandelion – Saint John’s not only regained its composure but outplayed, outmanned and out toughed its way to the lead, behind the play of Rysheed Jordan, who played perhaps the best half of his career, and Dom Pointer, who threw up his usual array of wild and off balance prayers, most of which were for a change answered. The two combined for 29 of Saint John’s first 41 points, most of them in transition. And in fact despite their woeful start Saint John’s took a 4-point lead into the locker room when Harrison’s NBA three after the buzzer was allowed despite clearly leaving his hands too late, regarding which expect a rule change regarding reviewability of same in the off-season. Saint John’s extended its lead to 10 before the wheels fell off, which falling off coincided with the entry into the game of
Mason Miles Marshall Plumlee, the sort of uncoordinated white doofus who Mike Shrewshrenski has over the years molded into a halfway competent basketball players. This is now the fifth or sixth time in a row that Saint John’s has blown a sizeable second half lead, which once again I am forced to credit to the opposing staff’s second half adjustments, although I’d be at a loss to tell you what they were. DeWk ended the game on a 26-7 run and when the Saint John’s players walked off the court with 15 seconds left to the roar of “Let’s Go Duke” they were at least left with the satisfaction of having left it all on the court. The question for Saint John’s fans is: did SJU play up to their competition or did DoOk play down to theirs … By the numbers it was as usual: Saint John’s shot a mediocre 40 percent from the floor, 25 percent from three, and 60 percent from the free throw line; they were out rebounded by 10 and managed only 11 assists in 60 possessions. Dewk did not fare much better – 45 / 36 / 66 – but they made theirs when it counted, included a string of three point plays in the last 5 minutes which sealed the deal. Up next a road game against last place Creighton, which like more or less every game on the schedule is now a must win … Earlier in the week Lavin claimed that Ksyzsynsky was his “mentor and advisor” and today in the pregame that he was his “coaching idol.” To honor him – and perhaps not to distract from the festivities by dressing like Bozo – Lavin wore a shirt with a collar. I was chagrined to learn that as a tad Lavin had sent Krsyxzshinki fan mail of the sort that teenage girls send to Justin Bieber and even more so to learn that Lavin had kept the reply and was willing to share it with Fox Sports. If a narcissist like Lavin were capable of embarrassment he might have been, but that’s okay, I’m embarrassed enough for both of us. Regarding his coaching there is not much to say except that he kept out of his own way, playing only five guys most of the way and judiciously using his time outs in an attempt to staunch the second half bleeding. The conundrum with Lavin is that even if he calls his time outs at the proper juncture he doesn’t really have anything to say that’s worth listening to.
PLAYERS: I’m starting to get the whole Batman thing, because Pointer was once again a wrecking ball: 21 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals. It’s a shame he doesn’t have another year of eligibility because he’s playing like a first round pick. In 2016 … Rysheed Jordan continued the stellar play he has displayed since returning from Philadelphia. 18 point and 4 assists … Phil Greene had 13 points but it took him 12 shots to get there, including a less than stellar 1 for 5 from three. As usual he contributed little else: 1 rebound and no assists in about 40 minutes … Harrison had 12 but is clearly suffering the effects of whatever disability under which he’s laboring … Obekpa had 11 rebounds and played adequate defense against the future #1 NBA draft pick, but was clearly outmanned … Joey De La Rosa spelled CO in the first half and immediately after entering made his presence known by punching Amile Jefferson in the face and standing over his opponent like Ali over Sonny Liston. He left and did not return … Similarly Jamal Branch entered in the first half and after turning the ball over by tripping over his own feet leading to a dunk at the other end was barely seen again. It’s a shame he’s so awful, they could have used another body.
NOTES: Saint John’s fans with functional cerebral cortices long ago realized that Steve Lavin knows so little about x’s and o’s that he would be in danger of breaking a bone playing a game of tic tac toe. And yet he has defenders who say that his obvious incompetence is of no matter – that coaching and strategy can only go so far and that it is the player who makes the coach, not vice versa. To those dopes I present exhibit A in opposition, Mike Screwshrnecky, pictured below instructing his current team at a recent practice.
As much as it galls me to admit it Kryzwsyzski is one of the greatest coaches of all time, in any sport. Every year he takes a group of slow, white, unathletic, pasty-faced ballerinas – nothings like Cherokee Parks, Shavlik Randolph, Steve Wojowojhowski, Josh McRoberts, Brain Zoubek, Kyle Singler – and turns them into contenders for the national championship. If you think that hyperbole, consider: more Deuk graduates have had their NBA careers end in drunk driving accidents than have had successful NBA careers. And yet year after year Kryzchrznski has them in the top 10. How does he do it? First, he’s evolved a diabolical system and recruits players to fit it. His offense relies on college hoops great equalizer, the three point shot, while his extended defense is intended to deny his opponents the same boon. Second, he uses the sycophancy of the college basketball hierarchy and his lickspittles in the media to foster an atmosphere in which he is given every advantage. On the court DeWk guards are expert at warding off defenders with one hand while simultaneously palming the ball with the other, yet are never called for either offense; DeWk big men spend enough time in the lane to grow roots and are never called for three seconds; and even the most cursory CBB fan is aware of the propensity of dEwK players to feign contact and flop to the ground tweet offensive foul high five dOok basketball.
Off the court recruiting violations that would have other coaches banished from the game – like finding cushy high paying jobs for the unqualified parents of recruits like Chris Duhon and Carlos Boozer or the delivery of giant bags of cash to Corey Magette by convicted crack dealer Myron Piggie – are swept under the rug to preserve the halo of integrity that surrounds the Blue Devils. This regime is enforced by Coach K-hrist himself, who in game is a beady eyed whirling dervish, hurling at the officials a torrent of the most foul and pernicious abuse that can be heard outside of a prison shower, for which he is never, ever, given a technical. And yet despite all these advantages he is also a careful strategist, controlling tempo and judiciously managing the clock and his personnel. He is, in fact, a genius, and for those who say coaching doesn’t matter I say: explain all those rings on Shrewshreki’s paws … This year’s DooK team is an anomaly in at least one respect, viz.: usually it’s pretty apparent which smug Ivy league wannabe is most deserving of a swift punch in the face or a vicious boot to the groin. In the glory years – and dOoK actually had them, as opposed to this fraud of a program – the most hated player in college basketball was the appalling Christian Laettner, shown here receiving his just reward from Phil Sellers
Following Laettner there was universally reviled poet laureate Jonathon Clay “Gay Gay” Reddick, who penned these immortal lines, once the subject of an unctuous ESPN special
No bandage can cover my scars
It’s hard living a life behind invisible bars
Searching for the face of God
I’m only inspired by the poems of Nas
Facing the forecast of fears
that none of my peers
have ever been faced with
I wanna reach the top floor
but I’m stuck in the basement
With not enough juice
to burst through the chains
that have shackled my brain
As Oscar Wilde said of The Olde Curiosity Shop: “One must have a heart of stone to read of the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears of laughter.” A few years later no one would have batted an eye had you ground a fistful of glass into the face of the insufferable Jon Scheyer and had you broken several of Greg Paulus’s fingers with a garlic press spectators would likely have broken in a hearty round of spontaneous applause. This year though there’s really no one who inspires that sort of hate, although that just might be that I no longer watch much college BB besides SJU, and that barely qualifies. And don’t even get me started on their fans, the highlight of whose college life is drinking a six-pack of Zima and painting each other’s nipples blue while camping outside Cameron Indoor Stadium so as to get seats close enough to the DooK bench to be able to bask in the intoxicating aroma wafting from Tyus Jone’s sweaty balls. They are a hideous crew, the boys acned refugees from a Dungeons & Dragons convention and the girls cellulite ridden prematurely aged milk-fed hausfraus in waiting ….
If all that wasn’t enough Duke was founded by Washington Duke, a slave owner who after serving the Confederacy in what dewK grads still refer to as the War Between the States made his fortune creating a monopoly in tobacco, thereby consigning millions of innocents to horrible and agonizing deaths from cancer. Not surprisingly Duke alumni comprise a conga line of the worst and most pompous and self-righteous douche bags in public life, the worst of whom include: Charlie Rose, Dan Abrams, Judy Woodruff, Henry Hyde, Ron Paul, Eleanor Smeal, Emmett Grogan, William Kennedy Smith, Tucker Max, Seth Davis, John Feinstein, Melissa Harris-Perry, John Seigenthaler and Richard Nixon … And just to show that it’s not just me, because let’s face it I hate everyone, this, which never gets tired: