I don’t doubt that the moral victory brigade is out this morning in force on various Saint John’s fan forums and perhaps not without reason: despite being undermanned, undersized and playing without their only big man for much of the second half, SJU overcame a 6 minute scoring drought and a 15 point deficit and were at the end only a couple of boneheaded plays away from stealing a victory against the 10th ranked team in the country. On the other hand, they didn’t and they lost, and so Saint John’s is now oh for one in games that might matter on selection Sunday, and by the end of next week will likely be oh and two after they lose to New York’s team at the Carrier Dome and with not a lot of chances to make it up afterwards. After five games this group reminds me of the 2011 team, hard-nosed players whose resilience trumps Lavin’s incompetence and whose experience plays to his only strength: cheerleading. With Chris Obekpa on the floor they can keep it respectable with every second-rate program in the country. Without him they probably can’t keep it respectable with anyone …. By the numbers SJU was once again abysmal: they shot 30 percent from the floor, 30 percent from three, 60 percent from the free throw line, and turned it over 14 times. Lest that were not enough, three of the wonder five fouled out: the only starter not in foul trouble was Phil Greene, who doesn’t even pretend to guard his man anymore. If Gonzaga had not been equally awful – they missed 10 threes and 10 FTs – it would not have been as close as it was. For their part Gonzaga looked surprised by SJU quickness and athleticism early and never seemed to get on track, assuming they have one. I don’t watch enough college BB anymore to have an informed opinion, but I wasn’t impressed. Pangos showed flashes of being a mediocre white guard and other than Sabonis their big men were slightly less agile than golems. If this is the tenth best team in the country maybe Saint John’s can make the tournament … Recognizing the significance of the game, Lavin wore his lucky red sweat suit under what is apparently the only suit he owns. The longsuffering Mrs. Fun opined that he looked like a mental patient and said that she’d change subway cars if someone entered hers done up like that. Maybe it’s because I know what a buffoon he is but Lavin does not seem to me dangerous and instead looks to be wearing something that Morty Seinfeld might to judge a shuffleboard tournament at Del Boca Vista. The good news is that between his suits and Obekpa’s pants I might not have to hear about Lavin’s prostate again unless the unthinkable happens and we lose three in a row … Once again the officiating was awful. The main culprit was Pat Driscoll, who through dint of this week’s hard work has cracked the FunList of the top 3 worst referees in college basketball, replacing drunkard emeritus Tim Higgins. Among his other gaffes Driscoll T’ed up a GU player for pulling his hand out of Dom Pointer’s grasp and in a crucial situation late awarded the ball to Gonzaga despite it having bounced off the GU players leg 5 feet from Driscoll’s face; I can only conclude that he momentarily thought he was watching a soccer game and awarded the ball to the player closest to it. The call was reversed after video review, which frankly I didn’t even know they had in college basketball, wtf. Anyway, this level of incompetence bodes well for his seeming goal of scaling the mountain of suck that is Jim Burr. Driscoll is incidentally a longtime municipal employee in Syracuse, where he currently earns $ 110,000 per year as director of “Say Yes to Education,” which sounds like a shit salad of three appalling things: sociology, pedagogy and civil service.
PLAYERS: Phil Greene came out shooting and continued shooting and for a refreshing change half of them went in, including his first three of the year. Congratulations Phil … Dom Pointer was once again a human wrecking ball and ended with another near double double. Got away with his second flagrant foul of the year when he attempted to cripple Kevin Pangos with SJU down three late. Eventually his recklessness will come back to bite SJU in the ass. We can only hope it’s not at a critical point in the post season NIT semi finals … Harrison had an off night but managed 15 points and 5 rebounds … Jordan had 18 points but 9 turnovers to go with only one assist. Through his last two games he’s 13 for 23 from the FT line, which is not very good … Last year Chris Obekpa regularly got punked by bigger stronger front lines. Against Gonzaga he cleverly fouled out before that could happen. He committed three fouls in six minutes between the end of the first half and the beginning of the second and fouled out three minutes after Lavin put him back in, finishing with one point and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes …. Those who have been clamoring for Jamal Branch to play more got what they wished for: zero points in 21 minutes … walk on Miles Stewart logged more minutes, points and rebounds than Christian Jones, erstwhile replacement for Jakarr Sampson. I’ve been trying to figure out who Jones reminds me of and it turns out it’s Eric King, which is a shame for Christian Jones.
NOTES: Gonzaga is the program SJU pretends to be: a small Catholic college that competes in Division One basketball on a national level. This was the fifth meeting between the two schools. In 2000 Saint John’s, a 2 seed and ranked ninth in the country, suffered a 82-76 first round NCAA tournament loss . In 2001 Saint John’s lost 68-58 in the Alaska Shootout. In 2011 Saint John’s, ranked #18 in the country, lost in the NCAA tournament to unranked Gonzaga 86-71. On the positive side of the ledger Saint John’s defeated Gonzaga 97-69, in 1960, which is only 60 years ago, so suck it Zags … Gonzaga alumni include Bing Crosby, who despite his wholesome image was an abusive mobbed up alcoholic degenerate gambler. When not beating the shit out of various Mrs. Crosbys he cheated on them with a bevy of Hollywood beauties, including Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Ingrid Stevens and the delectable Yvonne Craig, whose Batgirl costume was responsible for a severe bout of dehydration I suffered in my childhood. An excellent father, Crosby sired 5 children, only 40 percent of whom blew their brains out. There’s a rumor floating around the internets that Bing had himself fixed towards the end of his life, allegedly to keep his voice up to snuff but that the castration was actually his way of preventing sexual urges he had for men, which as a good Jesuit he found, er, distasteful. He needn’t have been so worried: Gonzaga is named for Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron saint of plague and AIDS victims … Crosby made with Bob Hope a series of seven Road picture – Road to Bali, Road to Singapore, and so on – in which the two played bumbling conmen whose wacky schemes got them into hot water from which they extricated themselves through zany hijinks. (An eighth was planned but Crosby died while the Road to the Fountain of Youth was in preproduction. Lulz.) Somewhere in my files is a film treatment for Road to Golgotha, in which the two scheme to defraud a Jerusalem Pharisee; when the plan backfires they end up being crucified on either side of the baby Jesus on Good Friday, Crosby smoking his trademark pipe and Hope wisecracking to the camera. Dorothy Lamour played the prostitute Mary Magdalene. In the Crosby Hope versions only Crosby got the girl. In mine, everyone did.