Category Archives: Georgetown

Michael Graham, Crackers

GAME: Missus fun and I were out and about this afternoon and stopped in as we sometimes do to this little bar and grill in the middle of east buttfuck that for some reason produces the most delicious lobster rolls crab chowder you’ll ever taste. We sat down and ordered and having acclimated myself I heard over the jukebox blare of REO Speedwagon’s Greatest Hits something about coverage of the St John’s Georgetown game resuming after a commercial break: it turned out that we were sitting under a flat screen tuned to Fox Sports One. I thought for a second about asking them to change the channel but that far out in the country I don’t like to do anything other than overtip and so instead I called for the check and paid it in full and and we left, sans bisque. Had St John’s not defeated Georgetown 85-80 in the battle for 9th place at Madison Square Garden Saturday afternoon I would have been kicking myself, because the chowder is to die for. Since they did though and in a relatively thrilling fashion I’m happy to have forgone my lunch. Although this isn’t your vintage Georgetown team or even much of one – if John Thompson III were an apple he’d have fallen so far from the tree that you couldn’t tell what sort of fruit he was – if you’re an old school fan wins like this one and like the one over Syracuse are just a bit sweeter. Butler and Xavier might be St John’s current and threatening rivals but the mention of their name doesn’t produce the same sort of primitive visceral hatred that certain members of the old Big East do … So the game:

 

After a bit of back and forth and a Mullin time out St John’s took a commanding lead by virtue of a 17-point run midway through the first half that had everything to do with marvelous play by Federico Mussini, who hit back to back threes and scored 11 points in about five minutes. Just when they were on the verge of blowing things open – and after Mussini missed a technical free throw that opened the door – Georgetown went on a 17-point run of their own to take a one point lead into the half. St John’s could have folded then, or they could have folded in the first five minutes of the second half or they could have folded when Tariq Owens went to the locker room having rolled his ankle or they could have folded when Georgetown got within a basket on more than one occasion at game’s end. Instead they did not fold: credit their continuing growth and maturity; credit the home court advantage – they’ve now won four in a row at home; credit the presence of two hall of fame players on the sidelines. Credit whatever the hell you want. The fact is that St John’s has now won seven league games in one of the two or three best college basketball conferences in the country with what is approximately the least experienced team in the country – as opposed to the one game they won last year. I know that there are fans who were not happy with Mullin’s hiring and that those fans would rather St John’s lose than that their opinion of his hiring be proven wrong, but I think it’s pretty evident now that barring an unforeseen catastrophe next year – and no less an eminence than Seth Davis thinks St John’s prospects next year are rosy – those fans will have to learn to swallow. Or at least eat crow … Once again the referees were atrocious. They called 50 fouls in 40 minutes that resulted in 61 free throws that comprised 27 percent of the points scored. I might be able to overlook that, but what’s amazing about it is what they miss. In the first half Lovett was called for tripping a Georgetown player who was running down the court with his hand between Lovett’s legs: I’ve had third dates where I got less action. Ponds was called for a tripping foul by a referee running down the court with his back to the play. St John’s was denied a basket when a Georgetown player pulled the rim down and the ricochet sent the ball bounding into the stands: that one, the three guys whose job it is to see stuff just like that missed, whereas Mullin saw from 75 feet away. Which is the frustrating thing about it: the referees pretense that they are omniscient beings who notice every bump and jostle and stray hand would be a lot easier to believe if they didn’t miss the egregious obvious things, and they miss them every game. It’s not even vaguely an isolated event … I mentioned last time but will mention again: if you were to flip five bad losses this team had in the fall they’d be at about 18 wins and of their losses the worst would probably be Seton Hall on the road. They’d be a bubble NCAA team and at worst a lock for a favorable seed in the NIT. That doesn’t sound like much but a year and a half into a five year rebuild it really is … Two games left, a likely loss at Creighton and a give the points rematch versus Providence at home. Anyone who wouldn’t have signed up for that outcome in November is delusional.

PLAYERS: Despite the fact that Shamorie Pons

led all scorers with 24 points on 10 for 15 shooting I was all set to award the game ball to Federico Mussini – until he threw the ball away on an inbounds play under the basket with about a minute to go, at which point I was ready to ship him back to Palermo in stowage. Since they won that boneheaded play will fade into the annals of boneheadedry and we will instead choose to remember that Mussini scored 16 points on six shots in 22 minutes, including 11 points during St John’s 17-0 first half run … I spent the week defending Bashir Ahmed from all comers and he rewarded me by playing the worst first half he’s played since junior college. Thanks Bashir. He did though finish with 16 points and five rebounds, which is about what he’s been averaging since the first of the year and he had a huge block on a three in the corner to seal the victory … Lovett had 11 points and four assists but sat most of the second half late. He did though hit four huge free throws with under a minute left … Alibegovitch was pressed into service when Owens (four points, three blocks) rolled an ankle after a block under the basket. Before Owens injury AA had been his usual moribund self: he had a Lovett pass bounce off his chest on a two on one breakaway and airballed a finger roll, which you wouldn’t even think was possible. After Owens got hurt though something strange happened: Alibegowitch played competently. He provided yeoman’s defense against the terrifying Jesse Govan and with about two minutes left miraculously stole the ball and dunked it at the other end to give St John’s an eight point lead … Williams had six rebounds in 15 minutes … Yakwe had four fouls in 10 minutes and was not a factor. He does though seem to have stopped fumbling the ball every time it’s thrown to him, which is something of a positive, because sometimes catching the ball is the hardest part … I seem to have no notes about Malik Ellison except that he made four free throws late and the box score says he had six points, six rebounds and two assists but my impression is that he stunk for most of the game and might have done less damage had he been wearing black. If you disagree, email me at MalikEllisonIsNotBraindead@theweaselsdotcom

NOTES: Dopey Steve Lavin showed up in the studio at halftime sporting a weak imitation Don Johnson stubble that’s presumably designed to camouflage his rapidly multiplying chins. Note to dopey Steve Lavin: it’s not working. He rewarded devotees of his Norm Crosby-esque commentary by noting that Villanova is “surgical in taking care of the basketball in terms of ball security” … After some hulking Georgetown player was T’ed up for shouldering Darien Williams under the basket after a hard foul Donny Marshall said that that neither John Thompson nor his son would approved of that sort of rough play because “that’s not their kind of basketball.” That will come as a surprise to anyone who watched John Thompson the elder coach, because his teams comprised the dirtiest collection of thugs that ever donned a basketball uniform that did not say DOC on the back. He gave a scholarship to Michael Graham for god sake … I received a bit of push back via email this week about my characterization of a “well-known well-respected” poster as a “misanthrope.” One well-meaning poster even suggested that I delete that reference, which obviously is not happening. In the first place it was an anonymous reference to a screen name disguising the well-known poster’s identity, so no harm could come of it; in the second all 200 people who were going to read it already had by the time it would have been deleted; in the third the only reason this blog exists is so that I can say whatever I want without the sort of petty censorship to which I am routinely subjected in other venues; and finally consider the source, by which I mean me, who readers should take seriously at their own risk. But lest I had missed the point I went so far as to ask missus fun (before the chowder) if she thought I was out of line – and she spends half the time we spend in public kicking me under the table and the other half shooting me disapproving glances – and she said no, that she thought the term misanthrope something of a compliment, which is essentially what I said to my email correspondents: that one of the few things I find to like and admire about other people is their willingness to dislike people arbitrarily. My misgivings to the extent that I had any were that I used the wrong word – I should have said pessimist, because I meant to convey that there’s a sentiment common among long-suffering St John’s fans that something tragic is always around the corner: just this year there are rumors of half a dozen disgruntled players transferring – Lovett, Ponds, Yakwe and Ellison are unhappy; Missini, Alibagadounts and Freudenbeugh are in over their heads and have already booked flights back to the euro leagues; Chris Mullin’s house is on the market; and Mitch Richmond has one foot out the door and will be followed closely by Matt A. My own take on the sad sack St John’s basketball program is that things are bad enough without imagining abstract scenarios in which the sky is falling on the caving in roof. That was all I meant to say and to the extent that I said something else I misspoke. Frankly the word I worried about using when I used it was “ossified,” which is old time slang for inebriated, but since no one had a problem with that one I guess it’s fair to conclude that the misanthrope to whom I referred is a drunkard.

This week’s exchanges though got me to thinking about the nature of this project and the interactions that arise from it. Because let us be clear: although this is for you free entertainment, it’s not free for me. It costs me money to host this website and it costs me time and energy to write 30 sidesplitting essays a year and that doesn’t even take into account my bar tab. Complaining about it – and you would’t believe what people think to complain about – is like complaining about the quality of the cheese they give out as free samples at the grocery story: not only is it rude, but it’s not going to have any effect on the quality of the cheese, it’s just going to make the person handing out the cheese think you’re a cunt. Pro tip: if you don’t like cheese, don’t eat cheese. You’ll be happier and healthier for it. Trust me, I’m not thin-skinned and that’s not what this is about: there’s nothing the individual among you who despises me the most could think to say about me on your most miserable day that would not pale in comparison to the self-loathing I feel when I’m in a relatively good mood. And neither am I afraid of disagreement: there’s nothing I enjoy more than sharp elbows thrown in the marketplace of ideas. But to round the circle: why do you follow St John’s basketball if following St John’s basketball makes you anxious and depressed and prone to flights of fancy comprising phantasmagorical scenarios where tragedy strikes the program and sport you profess to love? If you don’t like eating cheese, why are you eating it? If you don’t like reading this, why are reading it? If the answer is because you like complaining about things that you think make you happy, then you need professional help and medication. Me, I like complaining, but only because I hate everything.

Regarding the emails I get, they’re essentially of two types. First there’s fan mail, which believe it or not I get occasionally: people taking time out of their busy lives to say that they enjoy what I write and to encourage it. This is at least rational. It’s like saying thanks for the fellatio after a professionally done blow job: it expresses consideration for the time and effort it’s taken the practitioner to perfect her art and to encourage her to practice it more often. Which equals more blow jobs. Which makes perfect sense.

What doesn’t make sense are the the malcontents. First there are people who write to say that they don’t enjoy reading my writing. One guy for example wrote a couple of months ago and said something to the effect that he read a couple of my pieces and that they didn’t hold his interest and that he wouldn’t be reading anymore and that I’m not as funny as I think I am. My initial response – besides how do you know how funny I think I am – was okay thanks, that makes you one of the seven and a half billion people on the planet who don’t read my blog. But why stop there? Why not tell me what movies you don’t watch and what books you don’t read and what restaurants you don’t frequent. I know it’s meant as an insult, but it’s a strange sort of insult: someone I didn’t know writing to inform me that he will no longer be doing something I didn’t know he was. Which on a scale of one to ten is somewhere short of devastating.

The other complaint is people fact-checking the jokes. Hey fun, you transcribed the score of the Marquette game or hey fun you said Michigan but it was really Michigan State. The only rational answer to which is: shut up. Why did the chicken cross the highway. Well in the first place it wasn’t a highway, a highway is a main road that connects two municipalities, what the chicken crossed was a boulevard and anyway it wasn’t a chicken it was a rooster. Zzzz. The fact is that jokes are not true or false, they’re funny or not funny. When Don Rickles calls someone a hockey puck you should either laugh or not laugh: if you complain that the insult is not true because hockey pucks are small rubber projectiles used in a sport played on ice with sticks whereas human being are not made of rubber, then either you’re at the wrong show or you don’t own a Fleshlight. Either way, you’re wasting your time, and mine.

George Is Getting Upset

I’m going to half ass my way through this recap, much like Saint John’s half assed its way through Monday night’s embarrassing 83-55 loss to the Georgetown Hoyas Monday night in Washington. This is one of those games that just leaves me empty: the play was awful, the game deadly dull and turgid, and the production atrocious, so that I cannot even this morning find the energy to gleefully revel in the misery of big girl’s blouse Saint John’s forum fans wailing and gnashing their teeth about it: a month ago Mullin was a moron and two weeks ago maybe he wasn’t so bad after all and now again this morning he needs to be fired and Alumni Hall reduced to a salt strewn field of burned down ruins. Zzzzz. Usually that much of other people’s misery gives me a dangerous four hour schaden-boner that might require immediate medical attention but this morning finds me spent and flaccid … Things started out promisingly enough but as we can see from the following graphic which for the time being has become a regular feature


they quickly turned to shit. What was vaguely interesting is where exactly the game turned, because it’s one of those for want of a shoe deals: with just under three minutes left in the first half and the score 33-30, Jessie Govan missed two free throw. Someone – I didn’t notice who – failed to box out and after the rebound Bashir Ahmed fouled Jagan Mosely, who made both. Forty seconds later Georgetown was up eight and the game was over, I could feel it, and I was right: Georgetown outscored Saint John’s 50-18 the rest of the way – although not even a pathetic cynic such as myself could imagine the horror that awaited in the second half. Which second half I’m not going to bother discussing, except to say that Saint John’s had two points, six turnovers and seven fouls in the first five minutes or so while Georgetown’s lead ballooned to 10 and the bottom fell out … There is nothing interesting in the box score unless you are a connoisseur of shit on the bottom of your shoe in which case roll this around on your tongue: Saint John’s shot 25 percent from the floor, 16 percent from three, were outrebounded 50-30, had a meager seven assists, turned the ball over 16 times and committed 27 fouls … Speaking of fouls, there seems to be a point of emphasis this year among officials on getting me to hang myself from boredom and frustration. John Higgins, Les Jones and Mike Eades called 53 fouls Monday night, one every 45 seconds, which resulted in 60 free throws. That means in Saint John’s last two games there have been 100 fouls called and 113 free throws taken, in 80 minutes of basketball. As I noted after last game, Saint John’s barely plays defense and on offense they stand around the perimeter like statues until someone hoists up a three. This is not particularly physical basketball and certainly not the sort of physical basketball that resulted in Kevin Williams taking a swing at Pat Ewing and Bill Goodwin punching Reggie Williams in the head. I don’t mind losing the games and I’m at this point inured to bad basketball but I’m not so dead in my soul that I don’t still hate and resent authority figures. Next game I hope one of these dopes swallows his whistle and chokes on it, not to death, that would be needlessly cruel, but maybe until a little brain damage occurs and he has to have his ass wiped by a fat Honduran nurse for the rest of his life … Villanova next at the Garden, take the points

PLAYERS: If there was a bright spot and there wasn’t, it was the play of Kassoum Yawke. Yawke was aggressive on the offensive end early – before things fell apart he had a dunk on a pick and roll, an and one in traffic and made a nice bounce pass in the lane to Owens for a lay in – and on defense was seemed motivated by the presence of Jessie Govan, against whom he displayed similarly rousing play last year. He also drew two offensive fouls, although his proficiency at flopping for them leads me to believe he might be considering a transfer to dewk …. Ahmed was the only player who seemed troubled by the fact that his team was getting its head kicked in … Lovett had 10 points on only seven shots. Rumor is that he had the flu, in which case he had an excuse, as opposed to the rest of them …. Ponds was 3 for 11 from the floor, oh for five from three, and MIA on defense. To say that he mailed it in would be an insult to brave mailmen such as Newman, David Berkowitz, and Sam Drucker … Over his past 38 minutes Malik Allison has committed 9 personal fouls, which seems something of a stretch considering how few of those 38 minutes he spent playing defense. Oh for three from the free throw line, which makes him 21 of 41 for the year … Owens had six rebounds and two points in the 15 minutes he played before fouling out. He would have had more points but he blew two dunks in the first half … Alibegowitch’s missed three shots (all threes) in nine minutes and this is his line otherwise where the three is fouls: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 …. Darien Williams played although he might as well have stayed on the bench, as did someone called Brandon Lawrence, who I don’t think I knew existed before three minutes ago … Things were so bad last night that Federico Missini missed all his garbage time threes, whereas on a good night he’s good for a couple once they’re down 30 or so. The deadeye shooter was 1-6 for three and is now 4 for 14 in three losses since his return to the lineup. Take away his four best games where he was 16 of 25 (versus powerhouses Bethune-Cookman, Tulane, Fordham and CSUN) and he’s at 15 of 46 for the year, 32 percent, which is, say, just what he shot last year.

NOTES: If Tim Brando didn’t have too much wine at dinner he should consider a brain scan, because much of what came out of his mouth last night made little sense. I can’t be bothered to rehash it all and I realize that there’s not a lot to talk about in a game like that but it would be nice if tried to act professionally, he’s been in the business since the dinosaurs. Rather than basketball Fox Sports coverage of much of the second half featured a series of close ups of a seemingly demented John Thompson excoriating the officials for stealing his jello while Brando and Jim Jackson reminisced about what they had for lunch in 1987. If I hadn’t been so drunk myself I’d have had to mute them … Saint John’s recruit Zach Brown was arrested yesterday for the second time in the space of a year and I suspect – suspect, geddit? – that’s the last time we’ll hear his name until he turns up dead under a bridge somewhere. Evidently the 7’2” black man thought no one would notice if he reached across the counter in a Walgreen’s and stole cash from the register before fleeing in a car with a shattered windshield. So we’ve established that he’s not very bright. Some kind hearted souls are suggesting that considering his troubled history and the predilections of the baby Jesus towards those of us who have sinned that the university give him a second or third or whatever chance, but I suspect not. There are on the one hand various criminals who’ve gone on to successful careers as NBA players – Tyreke Evans for example, and Allen Iverson and of course original gangster Marvin Barnes – but there are many more cases where things don’t work out quite as well, the one that springs most readily to mind being Luther Wright, a similarly enormous and troubled center who was coddled through high school and college and played briefly in the NBA before ending up in a mental institution. Let’s hope history does not repeat itself while of course knowing it probably will.

 

Lovett or Listeth

hill
When he was borne to his grave they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone, for his dying hour was gloom.

RECAP: Saint John’s dropped their 8th straight 93-73 to Georgetown Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. The score though was deceiving, because if you believe as I do that the free throw is the most exciting play in college basketball and perhaps even in all of sports, then Wednesday night you spent most of the game on your edge of your seat, as the teams combined for 52 fouls and 55 free throws, which amounts to a clock stoppage every 46 seconds, not counting time outs, turnovers, and TV time outs. Which as you can imagine made for some exciting television …

<interlude>

One of last night’s referees, Mike Stephens, holds a full time civil service position in Providence – Director of Recreation no less – while at the same time earning close to $ 200K refereeing 90 college basketball games a year. In many cities holding a second job  that interferes with your full time employment is grounds for dismissal and in some cases, jail time. In a cesspool of corruption like Providence it earns you the key to the city, which was awarded to Stephens this past spring.

</interlude>

… The deficit was seven about midway through the first half when Saint John’s went on one of their patented scoring droughts – they managed only 12 points in the last 10 minutes of the half, during which time only Ablivickwith and Johnson made field goals and were down 17 at the break. Saint John’s was down 26 when John Thompson III took his starters out and 16 when he put them back in after a brief SJU flurry, as if the outcome was ever in doubt. Which it wasn’t … It’s hard to understand from looking at the box score just what went wrong. The officiating, although egregious, was reciprocally awful: 28 personal fouls and 33 free throws for the one, 24 and 32 for the other; turnovers were 14 to 11; each team had 14 assists and 32 rebounds; both had 54 field goal attempts and even the shooting percentages were roughly equivalent, free throws 81 to 75 and 3-pointer 41 to 39; only field goal percentage reveals a bit of an advantage, 52 to 39 (oddly Saint John’s shot 38.9 from both the floor and from three). And yet it was a slaughter. Mostly because whatever little SJ did well they did well in the second half when the game was already over … There is no safe harbor on the horizon: home and away with #23 Butler, at Seton Hall, at Xavier, home  versus Villanova and Marquette. I feel bad for DePaul though, Saint John’s gets them twice in February, when historically they’ve played their best ball.

PLAYERS: Mvouika led the team with 15 points. He scored all of them in the second half, when the game was already over. Congratulations Ron … Alibegowitch had 12 points in 21 minutes before fouling out. His aggression is appreciated on the team as currently composed but here’s hoping he does not become too enamored of being the team’s first offensive option … Mussini hit two 3’s four minutes into the first half and did not score again until four minutes were left in the game. He finished with 11 points: 3 for 10 from the floor and 2 for 9 from three … By comparison Durand Johnson, who finished with 10, was the model of efficiency: 3 for 9 from the floor and 2 of 4 from three … Balamou has perhaps the ugliest and most ridiculous jump shot in the history of college basketball. Six for six from the FT line, for which improvement I credit my calling him out in a recent essay, he’s only missed one since I scolded him … Jones had 4 points 4 rebounds and three assists, which would be a nice line from a seventh man. Unfortunately he’s the starting PF … Yawke missed a couple of chippies but considering how full his hands were single handedly defending Georgetown’s enormous front line, he gets a pass. PS Jessie Govan is the most terrifying player I’ve seen since Michael Graham … Malik Ellison was 1 for 5 from the floor with 2 assists and three turnovers. To the extent that Ellison is a freshman and a stop gap he also gets a pass but anyone who thinks that he’s the answer at point guard is delusional.

NOTES: Which brings us to Marcus Lovett. Speculation was rampant this week on various Saint John’s forums that the point guard of the future was planning on transferring. There seems to be no evidence that this is the case – at least there was no report of it in the press – and in fact the rumor itself traces back as far as I can tell to an offhand comment by a well-known forum troll who’s not even much of a Saint John’s fan. And yet the idea dominated the conversation this week. Self-important posters with moles and sources claimed that they had heard rumblings of the rumor themselves. Wise old sages counseled patience, as who knows what lurks in the hearts of teen aged boys. Proactive posters scoured Lovett’s twitter feed and Instagram account, looking for hidden meanings and reading emojis like hieroglyphics. And the usual hysterics felt faint and swooned on the divan, wondering how anyone could subject fans like themselves to such drama and where would it all end. All that was missing to make the spectacle complete was a poster called Tituba reporting that she and Lovett had been dancing in the woods with Old Scratch and Goodman Brown. On the face of it there seems to be no evidence that Lovett is or was contemplating leaving – although admittedly I haven’t yet analyzed his body language and facial expressions from the tape of last night’s game, which he viewed from behind the bench –  and objectively there would seem to be little reason to: next year he will be from day one the starting point guard on a team sorely in need of a point guard, playing in what I am continually assured is the best BB conference in the country, where he will learn basketball from two hall of famers, while living in the greatest city in the world, on a team and program that seem headed in the right direction. Seems like a no brainer. What strikes me is that Saint John’s fans have been down for so long and are so conditioned to disappointment that they create their own drama, so that even if the sky doesn’t fall they experience the frisson of doom that real catastrophe engenders. They are like a battered wife who burns dinner on the off chance her husband comes home from work in a good mood, because deep down she knows that she deserves a good beating.

Hoy Vey

video.snl

GAME: Saint John’s beat Georgetown 81-70 at MSG Saturday afternoon and beyond that I’ve been sitting here staring for a bit and I’ll admit that except for a half full glass of Tito’s I’ve got nothing. Probably if I hadn’t tasked myself with writing these things I’d have filled my glass and said fuck it and removed to the couch and taken the rest of the day off. SJU is in the tournament now and the rest of it I don’t care much about. Marquette on the road is a toss-up. Villanova, the way SJU is playing, about the same. The BE tournament, unless they lose a first round game to some patsy, I don’t care. So maybe that’s 22 wins and then comes selection Sunday and they’ll get some draw that 20 years ago I’d have deluded myself into thinking that they had a path to the Final Four but now I’m way too jaded for that and so I’ll instead maybe it’s safer to gird my loins for some atrocious first round loss, history having a tendency to repeat. The question for me now is do I buy in: do I on the one hand say well there’s a boat load of seniors playing well and anything can happen in a one and done or do I eeyore eeyore and say that this year is going to end in disappointment and next year is going to blow and the year after that is going to suck and the year after that too until there are some more seniors and then the hammer to rock incremental progress nonsense kicks in again so why bother. Which leaves me at: whatever … So today. Saint John’s went out to a 10 point lead by virtue of an early 16-3 run and the game was even after that. Essentially Georgetown played the game that will get then bounced out of the tournament the first weekend – if Pete Carill was dead he’d be spinning in his grave – and SJU the one that optimistic SJU fans hope will get them through to the second. Beyond Georgetown’s futility the only stats that jump out at me are SJU’s three point shooting – which was good, 50 percent – and it’s free throw shooting, which wasn’t, 65 percent. (Astute fans will notice that SJ scored 11 more points at the FT line in a game SJ won by 11.) At the line SJU is 53 of 86 over its last for games and 33 free points is a lot to leave out there, especially in the tournament … Nothing to say about Lavin, except to note an ostentatious TO he called up 15 with 2:51 remaining, after which GT hit 3s on three straight possession. I’m guessing he told them not to defend the three point shooters during the huddle, which worked out well, because they won. What a genyious.

PLAYERS: Dom Pointer had 24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and remarkably no personal fouls. Had I been prescient I’d have tracked his stats in games in which his Buckwheat hairdo was on full display, but even I can’t think of everything. Other than David Cain and maybe Donald Emanuel I can’t think of a player who’s shown the sort improvement Pointer has in his senior year, especially after being so not good the first three. Kris Dunn is probably BE POTY but Pointer might be a close second … Phil Greene had a career high 25 points, including 6 of 7 from three. After the game Lavin called him the best 3-point shooter he’s coached since Marco Bourgault … Nomar Garciaparra to the white courtesy telephone: in a stunning turn of events Jamal Branch injured himself. It looked to be a groin and it looked serious and though I’m no expert on groins (except my own and those of several dancers out at Funbags, which is a gentleman’s club out near the airport) I wouldn’t be surprised to see him not return, ever. Off the top of my head he’s injured his wrist, his knee, his eye, and now his groin and also missed a couple of games after cutting his hand, which he probably did while attempting to apply a bandage to his other hand … Harrison committed two fouls in the first 25 second and sat the entire first half afterwards. He finished with 1 point and no field goals. This year against GT he was 0 for 9 from the floor with 6 points. For his career he’s 19 for 86 and has scored a total of 72 points. In 8 games. In three of those games he’s gone ofer from the floor. In two games he’s scored 48 total points and in the remaining six no more than 7. Working backwards he’s been 0-5, 0-4, 1-12, 7-15, 3-12, 0-9, 1-12, 7-17. Safe to say they’ve got his number … Jordan had 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, including 7 for 8 from the FT line. He’s been in double figure 11 of 15 times since missing the Butler game … Chris Obekpa fouled out in 19 minutes. He grinned infectiously after the fifth one was called and also after a scrum under the basket when he was called for a technical. After the latter incident he ran away from the pile up pointing to his head: evidently he thought the T was on the other guy, because he’s so smrat® … Balamou committed 4 fouls in 13 minutes, including a flagrant one. He also got away with a massive forearm shiver to the chest of a GT player late … No one else played, except Ndiaye got a minute. A shame Lavin couldn’t find a minute for Joey De La Rosa on senior day, he really deserved it

NOTES: The game was called by Marv Albert and Len Elmore. Elmore was a Power Memorial Grad and a Saint John’s commit until Lou went off to coach the Nets. Instead he went to Maryland, where he was an All American. Thanks Lou. In spite of which I won’t hear a bad word spoken about him. Marv Albert on the other hand has the distinction of being the first transvestite to be inducted into the basketball hall of fame, having preceded Denis Rodman. In 1997 Albert was indicted on sodomy charges after he assaulted one of his many lovers in a hotel room. YESSSS! He pleaded guilty to reduced charges after DNA evidence from a bite wound on the woman’s torso was matched to Albert’s saliva. AND IT COUNTS!! In his defense, the woman, Vanessa Perhach, had failed to procure a male “with a large penis” for an anticipated threesome … Speaking of violence, if SJU fans wonder why fans of other teams consider SJU players to be thugs, they need not look beyond today’s game. Contrary to popular opinion it’s not because many of the players come from the inner city and have tattoos and threatening hairdos. It’s because they’re dirty players. In today’s game for example Chris Obekpa – who just two games ago attempted to kill a guy – was involved in another near fight and Felix Balamou got a flagrant one for throwing a helpless player to the ground. Even assistant coach Rico Hines got into the act when he was T’d up for an altercation at halftime. (Perhaps Hines needs some time with John Lucas down in Texas this summer?) Amit Abilvejovich has all the finesse of a Repulicka Srpska war criminal. Dom Pointer – although he has been for the most part a model of rectitude this year – famously punched a ND player several years ago and not a game goes by when the amelioration of D’Angelo Harrison’s alleged anger management issue is every game trotted out as one of Steve Lavin’s great success stories. All that’s left is for Lavin to write a time called Skills for Life. And can anyone doubt that’s far behind? I don’t. But then I’m an optimist.

 

Flat Tuesday

ndiaye1

I get a lot of hate mail – shocking right? – but nothing I’ve written in recent memory generated more than the recap from last year’s away loss at Georgetown, aka the premonition game where Coach Kreskin started the walk-on. What was weird about that one was that the hate was generated not by something I wrote, but by something I didn’t, namely much of recap at all. I was so disgusted by Lavin’s antics and by the team’s performance that I wrote a couple of short shitty paragraphs and called it a morning. To the extent that it was meant as meta-commentary it fell flat and the vitriol came over the transom. Call it a lesson learned. Tuesday night’s 79-57 loss to Georgetown was eerily reminiscent of that game, down to the starting five, albeit this time the walk-on was more of a waddle-on. You might recall that Lavin credited last year’s game with turning the team’s fortune around – one thing he’s not shy about is taking credit when things go well – although he never quite explained why the lesson he allegedly taught the team on January 4th didn’t sink in until January 18th and why it took playing Dartmouth for them to learn it. If there’s anything to be learned from last night’s game I didn’t learn it and I suspect no one else did either. In the end this is one of those games where you shrug your shoulders and move on. They played poorly; nobody expected – or at least I didn’t – that they were going to go win one at Georgetown; and besides they were due a stinker, consistency not being their watchword. Assuming they shake it off it’s no big deal, except that the opportunities for a signature win are few and far between and this was one. Now there’s only Villanova. Because contrary to the belief of delusional SJ fans no one’s going to be impressed by home victories over Long Beach and Saint Mary’s on selection Sunday … Both teams came out flat and the first five minutes were as awful as we’ve seen all year. Georgetown eventually settled down and started to not stink. Saint John’s continued. Partly obviously that had to do with injuries – both Harrison and Obekpa are visibly hampered – which in turn means that Lavin has to manage his personnel, which anyone who’s seen Lavin coach knows that rotations aren’t his string suit, to the extent that he has a strong suit at all. He started shuffling players in and out randomly early and didn’t stop until he sent the walk-ons in with a minute left. I understand he needed to steal some minutes to rest the wounded, but in the first place most of the bench players bring nothing to the table – an early line change brought in Balamou, Branch, and Albawackovich in tandem, which good grief – and in the second the constant shuffling eliminates rhythm and cohesion. To the extent that this sort of experimenting is useful it should have taken place in November. To the extent that it represented strategy intended to win a basketball game it was laughable. I almost got the impression that Lavin conceded this one – that he was just going through the motions, discretion being the better part of valor. To the extent that this was that, it makes some sort of vague sense … So yeah where was I. The first 5 minutes GT was awful, then they weren’t. They closed the half out on an 18-4 run to take an 11 point halftime lead. They extended to 20 or so midway through the second and that was that. It was a pretty good beating and for a change SJU took it like men. That is, nobody punched anyone or elbowed anyone in the head or anything, so there’s that. As for GT they looked like the usual JT3 team, lots of talent and a gaudy record that will lead them to a high seed in the tournament from which they’ll likely get bounced the first weekend, as usual. As for SJU, it is a good thing Seton Hall is hurting as well.

PLAYERS: Pointer had 16 points and 8 rebounds and was about the only player who showed up. A lot of what he does he is able to do because he’s so much more athletic than the other players on the floor – as opposed to, you know, having skill at basketball – so GT is a bad match up for him … Just like in every other game in his cannot end soon enough career, Phil Greene demonstrated that he’s a volume scorer who’s lacking in both density and area. Eighteen points on 14 shots and once again brought nothing else to the table. Greene has now vaulted over Kyle Cuffe on the funlist of players whose graduation will most help the basketball program and is now nipping at Reggie Jessie’s heels … Harrison was oh for from the floor. Can’t remember when the last time that happened was and can’t be arsed to look. When he hurt his other calf it took him three or four games to get right. Hopefully it doesn’t take that long this time, because without him three or four games from now his teammates will have played themselves into the NIT … Obekpa spent a lot of time wincing on the court, but he’s such a drama queen that it’s impossible to know whether he’s really injured or whether that was to provide cover for the punking he got from Josh Smith. I am inclined to the uncharitable explanation … Jordan played only 26 minutes, which was weird considering how well he’s been playing. If he was being disciplined for a technical he took in the first half, that’s lame. If he was just sitting because Lavin thought running his bench out there gave him a better chance of winning, that’s even lamer … Speaking of lame, Jamal Branch played … Neither Joey DeLaRosa nor Albivickovich were able to stop GT inside and neither contributed much else. Balamou contributed nothing in 7 minutes. The rest of the scrubs and walk-ons got in, even David Lipscomb. They only one who didn’t was Henderson and it has to be that he’s a redshirt, because even Christian Jones got in and you can’t be buried farther down the bench than him.

NOTES: Not too many. Rafferty called the game, which is always entertaining. He did say though after one offensive possession that ended in a turnover that “Saint John’s wasn’t sure what they were running there,” which anyone who’s watched SJU for any appreciable length of time knows you could say about nearly every possession since 2012. Sidekick Gus Johnson noted that Georgetown players got a lot of trim at nearby Howard University, this evidently a tradition going back to John Thompson senior, who was the OG who first pimped them out. No wonder he out-recruited Louie, who had to rely on subway tokens and mustachioed Catholic girls … Yesterday was Shrovetide – Fat Tuesday to you heathens, aka Mardi Gras or Pancake Day if you’re Eurotrash – and today Ash Wednesday, the Imposition of the Ashes, which marks the beginning of Lent, the Christian period of atonement. Regular readers will no doubt here be expecting a digression about the origins of these rites – they are nearly all of them coopted pagan fertility rituals, as is most of the liturgical calendar – but I’m not really in the mood after last night’s debacle. Besides which I’d just end up needlessly insulting various people and their faith, which as a rule I don’t mind doing (unless they’re Muslims obviously, those people’ll will kill you) but it’d be bad form to do it today. Traditionally the Christian faithful mark the Lenten period by forgoing things they enjoy: by giving up luxuries, which is meant to emulate the deprivations suffered by the Baby Jesus during his 40 days sojourn in the desert. All of which is meant to cleanse the spirit leading up to the horrors of Good Friday afternoon and then the glory of Easter morning. This Ash Wednesday I’ll join the tradition by forgoing the having of sport at the expense of others, burlesque being the luxury of which I am fondest.