Auld Lang Sina


RECAP: And so the year ends as it began: with a loss. In their first game of the season last January 3rd SJU lost to Georgetown in the midst of a 5-game losing streak that effectively ended their season. Seton Hall, playing without injured Isiah Whitehead, put a pretty good beating on Saint John’s Wednesday afternoon in their last game of 2014, winning at home by 11 and dropping Saint John’s into a tie for last place in the Big East. Saint John’s had a couple of 6-point leads in the first half and looked on the verge of blowing them out but SH closed the half with a 15-8 run to take a 5-point lead into the locker room. They extended that lead to 15 at the 10 minute mark and withstood Saint John’s vaunted pressure defense down the stretch. They had every opportunity to crumble late but did not … Saint John’s shot poorly – mostly because they didn’t move the ball – and their defense didn’t produce the easy baskets it did in the win over Tulane. Once again their free throw and three point shooting was putrid. For their part SH didn’t turn it over, controlled the boards and made their threes … Seton Hall was awarded twice as many free throws as SJ and made more than half of them. This is ironic considering that opponents have been shooting a little more than 50 percent from the line versus SJ and that SH shoots about that for the season … Once again Lavin didn’t do anything egregious but he didn’t seem to do anything to help the situation either. That would be I guess one of the luxuries of “not feeling any inordinate pressure to win,” which is how Lavin explained his coaching philosophy in an interview with Jon Rothstein this week. His ensemble – a black sweat suit with turquoise piping under pinstripes – caused Gus Johnson to say that “he’s given up,” which is pretty damning coming from a lickspittle like Johnson, who has nothing bad to say about anybody. For example, he called Jim Burr “a great BB official,” whereas Jim Burr is an abomination and said that Phil Greene was having a “terrific start to the season,” whereas PG4 is shooting 37 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three, which is not terrific … I had this game down as a loss* and am not too upset about it, but I assume it was unsettling for SJU fans who had visions of Elite Eights dancing in their tiny little brains after beating up the cupcakes in the preseason. Hopefully the loss serves as a wakeup call for a team that has a tendency to play lackadaisically and is not a harbinger of doom to come for a team that still looks like it could go either way.

PLAYERS: Harrison was unconscious in the first half and finished with 25 before fouling out … Phil Greene had sixteen points but missed 10 shots getting them. He attempted to replicate his late game heroics versus Syracuse by taking a variety of off kilter and unlikely shots during Saint John’s aborted comeback, but few of them went in, because he’s Phil Greene … Obekpa wasn’t awful, but the freshman from Seton Hall was better. His quality knee to the groin sent Khadim Carrington to the bench in the second half … Except for 7 rebounds Pointer was passive and all but invisible … Jordan had 11 points in ten minutes. He was T’d up for hitting Gibbs with the ball when play was stopped to minister to Carrington, which play comprised a six-point swing. … Jamal Branch’s performance would have been disappointing to a good basketball player, but he isn’t, so it wasn’t that bad … JDLR and Balamou played six minutes between them and committed four fouls

NOTES: The game was called by former Seton Hall coach Bill Raftery about whom not even I can be troubled to find something bad to say. Rafferty invented the amiable dunce former coach TV persona, but he actually had a winning record overall as a head coach and was an illustrious high school athlete: Mr. Basketball USA for 1959, for 35 years the all-time leading HS scorer in New Jersey, and all-state in three sports, basketball, baseball and soccer. Tired of getting his brains kicked in in the new Big East, Raftery left SH in 1981 for a career in broadcasting. Raftery’s hand-picked successor Brian Mahoney Hoddy Mahon lasted only a year and was succeeded by PJ Carlisimo who took SH to within three seconds of the national championship in 1989; they were ahead by one in overtime versus Michigan when a cheesy touch foul gave Rumeal Robinson two free throws that won the game. (That Michigan team was coached by current San Diego State coach Steve Fisher, who was appointed interim coach before the tournament when then coach Bill Frieder announced he was taking the Arizona State job after the season and AD Bo Schembechler fired him.) Much like Saint John’s, SH has floundered since their Final Four appearance, running through a chorus line of incompetents: George Blaney, Tommy Amaker, Louis Orr, and finally Bobby Gonzalez, whose career exploded with the force of 1000 smog filtered Newark suns. Current coach Kevin Willard seems to have the chops and unlimitless ethics to be successful and he has a pretty good eye for talent: besides Whitehead he’s got a couple of NYC players on his roster that would look good in a Saint John’s uniform … Tonight is Saint Sylvester’s Day, or as you heathens call it, New Year’s Eve. On this night custom dictates that revelers gather with friends and acquaintances and carouse in an atmosphere of forced gaiety, accompanied by the mellifluous strains of Guy Lombardo with narration by such luminaries as Cathy Griffin and Dick Clark. Needless to say I’ll be going to bed early.

* “Saint John’s opens the BE season versus SH at the end of the month and speaking of beatdowns I don’t see much good coming out of that.”


N.O. Quarter


RECAP: Although revenge can be the most satisfying form of justice it’s generally illegal in the United States, where the latter is meted out via the jury system, wherein two liars attempt to confound twelve morons as to what really happened. The ancients, who invented revenge, said that nothing is sweeter, but advise that it’s a dish best served cold or even best not served at all: that living well is the best revenge. Saint John’s has not lived well since last these two teams met – when Tulane bounced SJU from the NCAA tournament in 1992 – which makes yesterday’s meal served cold all the more satisfying. I’ve been waiting 23 years to say this: suck it Green Wave … Regarding the 25 point beat down SJU put on Tulane Sunday there’s not a lot about which even a curmudgeon like myself can complain. SJU came out with energy, put Tulane away early and kept them there. In doing so they looked as good as they’ve looked in a while. It didn’t hurt that Tulane was awful: 17 turnovers, 37 percent from the floor, 20 percent from three, and 45 percent from the free throw line (opponents are now 117 for 201 for the season). Some of that awfulness was a testament to SJU’s defense and some to Tulane’s incompetence. On their side of the ball SJ moved it well and made their shots for a change. Even Lavin displayed the routine competence that would be expected of a run of the mill D2 coach. In fact if it wasn’t for the clown suit he wears I wouldn’t have noticed him at all. Regarding Lavin’s coaching prowess colormoron Donny Marshall opined that he’s “one of the top ten or fifteen coaches in the game,” which no he’s not …Lavin has in Decembers past talked about preparing his team to play its best basketball in February. But in those past Decembers his teams sucked and his patter was intended to gull the rubes. We haven’t heard anything about February this December, where SJU has exceeded expectations. It’ll be interesting to see whether SJU can sustain their efforts moving into conference play or whether, come February, we’ll be talking about December. We should know better after January 6.

 PLAYERS: Pointer had a career high 24 points and seven steals. Lavin credited himself for Pointer’s improved play, claiming that he’d threatened to redshirt Pointer in the spring as a motivational tool (h/t Rabinowitz)  … Harrison had 21, moving into 4th in SJ history all time … Jordan had 12 points in only 22 minutes. Traveled a bunch of time and still looks to be pressing … Phil Greene was 3 for 8 and is 14 of 49 from the field over his last four … Obekpa got in early foul trouble again and wasn’t much of a factor, except perhaps psychologically.  Eight rebounds, four blocks and three goal tends… Forgetting someone. Oh yeah, Jamal Branch … JDLR continues to impress in limited minutes. And that’s not even sarcasm. He plays with energy, throws his body around and seems willing to cripple a guy if it comes down to it. Now if I said he displays a deft touch on his free throws, that’d be sarcasm … Balamou played a bit and had a couple of baskets despite his evident fear of shooting …great white hope Jessica Albagovic got the biggest cheer of the night when he hit a three in garbage time

NOTES: Like this year’s team the seventh seeded SJU team that lost to Tulane in 1992 had been together four years: Malik Sealy, Robert “Tissue Paper” Werdann, PG Jason Buchanan and top 5 all-disappointment Chuck Sprolling were all seniors. They’d won an NIT championship as freshmen and lost to DoOk twice in the NCAA tournament, one of those the infamous Billy Singleton double technical game, the worst and most soul crushing loss in the conga line of futility that is Saint John’s basketball. Also on the roster were future NBAer Shawnelle Scott, a couple of large transfers called Lamont “You Dummy” Middleton and Mitch “Bananas” Foster, and sharpshooters Sergio Lyuk, Terrance Mullin and Lee Green. (That last bit was sarcasm as well.) As usual, I had them going to the final four. Also as usual, they lost in the first round. Instead Michigan , the 6-seed from their bracket, went to the championship game and lost to dEwk. Against Tulane Saint John’s went out to an early 10 point lead; by halftime they’d lost it and never got it back. Alleged shooting guard Chuck Sprolling was 1-7; Buchanan was 3 for 11; Scott was 2 for 9. Sealy, who was 6 of 7 in the first half shot 2 for 9 in the second and committed two turnovers in the last minute, including one that led to the winning basket. It was this team that finally convinced Louie that the game had passed him by. Which it had. He retired shortly thereafter … Tulane alumni include Robert Kennedy Toole, the author of A Confederacy of Dunces *, the great American novel. Unfortunately for Toole he could not get Dunces published in his lifetime. After numerous revisions it was rejected by Simon and Schuster editor Robert Gottlieb, who passed because, he said, “it isn’t really about anything.” Which pronouncement led Toole to destroy the manuscript and kill himself at age 32. After his death it was published by LSU Press when Toole’s overbearing mother brought a carbon of the manuscript to the novelist Walker Percy, then on the faculty, and begged him to read it. Percy agreed only to get the hysterical woman out of his office. In 1981 it won the Pulitizer Prize for fiction. (A BB analogy would be a coach, let’s call him Louie, refusing a college scholarship to a gifted HS player, let’s call him Julius, and then later, when he’s coach of the Nets, declining to sign him to a professional contract and then Julius goes to the Hall of Fame. It’s like that.) Gottlieb continued a distinguished career in which he produced books about something by such literary giants as Paul Simon, Sidney Poitier and Bob Dylan, and has gone on to a comfortable retirement in a fashionable apartment on the upper East Side where he’s penning his memoirs, for which no doubt he’ll receive a handsome advance. If the best revenge is living well he did, which would make the dish best served cold Toole, who ended up at room temperature, the moral of which is that there isn’t any justice, not really … I couldn’t find the Tulane game on youtube but here’s the 10th ranked 92 Redmen losing to Duke by 30, featuring Vitale at his slobbering best:



* “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ” — Jonathan Swift

Life’s a Beach


GAME: Usually my game notes comprise two or three pages of amusing scrawling, which makes this part of the recap a breeze, but this morning I’m  at a bit of a loss: there are a mere nine entries comprising 10 lines, one of which is about the odds of Al Sharpton being named Grand Klagon of the Ku Klux Klan, which I have no idea what it means. So I’m left to point out only that Saint John’s defeated Long Beach State 66-49 at Alumni Hall Monday night in what was the worst display of college basketball I’ve seen since Friday. Playing without Rysheed Jordan – home nursing an upset stomach, more about which later – and with D’Angelo Harrison in foul trouble for most of the first half, Saint John’s struggled to find a rhythm most of the game until they put LBS away late. And in fact if LBS had not been so inept – they shot 30 percent from the floor, from three, and even from the free throw line – things might have turned out differently. But they did not. Which means that Saint John’s rides six game winning streak into Sunday’s long-awaited grudge match against Tulane, the last one before the real season starts. All in all and despite their multitudinous ineptitudes they’re a little ahead of where I thought they’d be at this point in the season, in which I figured they had a Sweet 16 ceiling if everything broke their way. Of course I thought they had the same ceiling last year and we saw how that turned out. I’m a bit concerned that they’ve so far this year played one real road game and have not yet played outside NY State, but I guess we’ll see what we see … Once again Saint John’s was not all that good by the numbers: 45 percent from the floor, 3 for 15 from 3, and an appalling 56 percent from the free throw line, where they’re 20 of 35 over the past two games. On the bright side their free throw defense remains exemplary: opponents are now shooting 110 of 186 … Bit of an interesting cut in to a huddle late in the game where Lavin, always coaching his tender charges, advised them to “keep working the thirteen, because they don’t know what the fuck it is.” I listened to it a bunch of times and concluded that thirteen was one of the defensive sets, maybe the 1-3, the intricacies of which Lavin thought the Long Beach players found perplexing. No word from the FCC about sanctions for Lavin’s potty mouth. Mrs. Fun found his language appalling, but then she’s something of a delicate, whereas I became inured to swearing after sitting behind Louie for lo those many years and nowadays work in profanity like Modigliani worked in oils

PLAYERS: Chris Obekpa had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocks and was dominant in the middle, although much of his production came against Temidayo Yussef, a freshman. Obekpa had less success against fifth year senior Eric McKnight, who played sparingly despite looking to me like the best player in yellow. I point this out only to highlight Obekpa’s delusional thinking in regards the NBA, where everyone is a fifth year senior. Also to be unremittingly negative, because I know some people dig that … Dom Pointer, who Lavin described in the post-game presser as a “Batman, Spiderman and a super hero,” had 11 points and 7 rebounds. That output seems pretty pedestrian for someone who has powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men – especially considering that that’s what Jakarr Sampson averaged over his career and he was, I am continually assured by knowledgeable fans, awful at basketball. Anyway, I guess during the day Pointer works at Costco under his secret identity and then at night he pulls off his red vest and becomes Batman. One game after claiming that the team played better without Chris Obekpa versus Saint Mary’s, Pointer dissed Rysheed Jordan, noting that the latter’s loss did not make LBS “a tougher game to negotiate” … Phil Greene met his quota of nine missed shots in leading the team with 16 points. Made just 2 of 8 threes to drop below 30 percent for the season. Through 10 games Greene has taken only 12 fewer shots than D’Angelo Harrison while accounting for nearly 100 fewer points … speaking of Superman, Harrison scored under double figures for the first time I can remember in a while. Ten rebounds though … Lavin lauded Jamal Branch for “really orchestrating our offensive attack,” which offensive attack barely managed 60 points. Branch played extended minutes because Rysheed Jordan was home in Philadelphia nursing an alleged stomach virus. Assuming that Jordan is really ill and that the story of Jordan’s absence is true – and it’s eerily similar to last year when Jordan nearly quit the team – it still sets my Spidey sense tingling. Is it too much to think that someone doctored Jordan’s food? Think of the suspects and motives: Branch, a senior jealous of the younger player’s talent; Felix Balamou, angry at losing a year of his career and anxious for floor time; and Lavin himself, whose abject failures on the recruiting trail have left him in a precarious position next year should Jordan bolt. Regardless, something isn’t right, and it would not surprise me if a Baylor situation revealed itself down the line … Balamou did not show much in 10 minutes; Myles Stewart missed a couple of threes; and the rest of them got garbage minutes

NOTES: The game was called by Bob Wenzel, who evidently had the bad judgment to have a third bottle wine with dinner, with the end result that he just would not shut the fuck up until I was forced to shut him up by muting him with about five minutes to go. Wenzel – a former coach who had only 6 winning seasons out of 15 and only won 20 games once – is usually an amiable drunk, but last night he was out of control: at one point he went to commercial screaming “two blocks … four blocks … six blocks … eight blocks” ostensibly in relation to Obekpa’s defense, but sounding instead like a retarded child counting his toys Christmas morning; and then later described the repulsive Jim Burr, the worst basketball referee of all time, whose every appearance on the court cheapens amateur athletics, as “one of the greats.” Hiccup. … LBS is coached by Dan Monson, who coincidentally has coached at Gonzaga, where he was 52–17, Minnesota, where he was 118-106, and now Long Beach, where he’s a nearly identical 119-108. Clearly Gonzaga was the outlier … Long Beach is in the midst of an extended road trip, at the end of which they’ll be about 5 and 10. Wenzel – who knows something about losing – opined that Monson scheduled the trip to collect the guaranteed money that acting as cannon fodder for programs like Louisville and Syracuse brings: up to $ 100,000 per game Wenzel said. If true that seems a cynical way to run a program, since with ten losses by New Year’s day LBS will be out of NCAA tournament consideration unless they can run the table in the WAC WCC Big West. This did not stop sideline reporter Jon Rothstein – displaying all the warmth and sincerity of a Ukrainian kidney broker – from opining that LBS was looking at the SJU game as a Selection Sunday resume builder … Long Beach State’s basketball program first achieved national prominence under Jerry Tarkanian, whose teams went 122-20 in four years, never losing more than 5 games in a season. Each year LBS reached the regional semi-finals of the NCAA tournament and twice the finals, losing three of those games to UCLA, then in the midst of winning eight straight national championships. Despite UCLA’s dominance and the proximity of the two schools, Steve Lavin’s alleged mentor John Wooden refused to schedule LBS during the regular season. Which is kind of like the relationship Saint John’s has with Hofstra and Iona, except with NIT banners … LBS alumni include Richard Bach, author of the putrid bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull; the terrifically unfunny Steve Martin; hack director Steven Spielberg; chubby songstress Karen Carpenter; baseball players Jason Gigumby, Evan Longoria, Harold Reynolds and Troy Tulowitzki; footballers George Allen, Willie Brown and Terrell Davis; and the great George “the Iceman” Gervin, inventor of the finger roll …Yeah, about that Jordan being poisoned stuff, I don’t really believe any of that. See what happened is that I have some readers who are offended by the allegedly negative tone my little monkeyshines take, special little snowflakes that they are. One reader went so far as to favor me with an essay explaining why I am “irrelevant.” (Let us leave aside the inherent absurdity of explaining to an irrelevant thing why the irrelevant thing is irrelevant.) It is not, as you might imagine, that I produce an obscure blog read by 300 people that describes the exploits of a college basketball program that has made one final four since Kaiser Wilhelm invaded Austria Hungary. No, it’s much more serious than that: it’s because I’m “not funny anymore.” Which is on the scale of stupid somewhere between “exquisitely” and “mistakes own imbecilities for cleverness.” So anyway I threw that poisoning stuff in there for their benefit, because it amuses me to confound humorless dopes. I should though note that this is not the first time that a SJU player has missed a game suffering from food poisoning – it happened a bunch of times last year. There’s really only a couple of ways to get the creeping crud, the most common of which is through the ingestion of human feces. What happens is that one of you slobs has a bowel movement and in the act of wiping yourself gets fecal matter on your hands and because you don’t wash yourself like a civilized human being you spend the rest of the day depositing E.coli on every surface with which you come into contact, which surface is then touched by some innocent who then eats his lunch with your stool as a condiment. Which is why I have not touched a door knob or used a public toilet in 20 years. So please, in this holiday season, could you wash your hands after doing your business. If not for me, do it as a birthday present for the baby Jesus … Regular readers are aware that I play in a band called the Weasels, described by one wag as “XTC on PCP,” albums on sale in fine stores nowhere. In the old days one of our marketing schemes involved creating fictitious press notices announcing the release of this CD or that, which we’d fax to various newspapers around the country. (This does not sound terribly amusing now, but to be fair we were out of our minds on mescaline most of the time.) Anyway, you’d be surprised how many desperate for content entertainment desk editors printed the releases verbatim – this was in the old days, before journalists realized that they could win Pulitzer prizes for making up stories about gang rapes and 8 year old heroin addicts. One editor from the Sacramento Bee went so far as to put the non-existent Weasel CD “Hello My Name is Larry” on his list of top indy albums of the year. Anyway the Hasselhoff jpeg above is the fake cover I created for “Life Is a Beach.” Holds up pretty well I think … Finally, speaking of George Gervin, here’s this:

Gael Farce Win



RECAP: Here’s what I won’t be saying in today’s recap of Saint John’s 53-47 win over the Saint Mary’s Gaels Friday night: there will be nothing about it being gritty or gutsy, I’ll omit talk about anyone leaving anything on the floor, and there’ll be an absence of information about giving anyone credit for halftime adjustments. I’ll leave that talk for the rubes. Instead, I’ll be talking about the worst 40 minutes of basketball I’ve been forced to endure for quite a while: 67 missed field goals, 16 missed free throws, 25 turnovers, and all of that slowed to a glacial stagger by a personal foul call a minute by a crew of referees who spent more time reviewing tape of the game than Lavin will and all of that narrated nonstop by Jim Spanarkle, who should consider switching to decaf. Or valium … So yes, SJU won, and that’s good, because a home loss to a WAC team not called Gonzaga would not look so good on the great and powerful resume down the line. And yes, they overcame some adversity in doing so, although the adversity was mostly self-inflicted: in the first half they started slow, played lackadaisically, and were unprepared for Brad Waldow, the best player they’ve faced all year. All of which added up to a 15 point halftime deficit. Fortunately for Saint John’s in the second half Saint Mary’s imploded, scoring only 14 points on 6 made baskets and favoring SJU with a flurry of unforced and embarrassing turnovers. SJU was also able to take Waldow out of the game – much credit to Dom Pointer – whose teammates responded by shooting 3 for 20 from the floor. Which is not particularly very good … For the game SJU shot an atrocious 38 percent from the floor, an appalling 26 percent from three, and a pathetic 57 percent from the foul line. Unbelievably Saint Mary’s was worse: 34 percent from the floor, 15 percent from three and 52 percent from the line. For the latter we once again credit Lavin’s brilliantly conceived “quicksand” free throw defense: SJU opponents are now shooting 108 for 180 for the year (60 percent) and the entire WAC conference slightly worse than that: 24 for 42 (57 percent) … According to Lavin – resplendent in a red sweat suit – last night’s SMG game and Monday’s versus Long Beach State “allow us to simulate conditions we’ll face in the NCAA Tournament.” I’m not sure what conditions Lavin is referring to, since the games are at home, there were 4600 in attendance, the two teams they’re against will likely be in the NIT, and if SJU loses against either the season doesn’t end. Other than that he made his usual good points.

PLAYERS: Pointer double doubled. As noted above, he played superior defense in the second half when SJU shut Waldow down. Pointer took a not so veiled shot at Obekpa in the post-game presser when he noted that “When [Chris] was in foul trouble, it was better for us” … Harrison ground out 21 points in a subpar effort. Only one rebound, six below his season average … Obekpa fouled out for the second time this year, making him 2 for 2 against the WAC. Shortly before doing so and after finally blocking a shot by Brad Waldow Obekpa stood under the opposing basket woofing and flexing while his teammates pushed the ball up the court. Which is not the first time that’s happened this year. To the extent that I am able to exercise empathy I try and give Obekpa and all his affectations – the stupid grin, the shorts, the finger wagging, the woofing, the chippy play and bullying – the benefit of the doubt, because he is after all a foreigner and perhaps not familiar with the cultural conventions and customs of his adopted homeland. But the fact is that he behaves very childishly for someone who pretends he’ll be playing in the NBA next year. I’d wonder why his coach – who blathers about character when it suits him – does nothing to rein him in, except I know he’s worried about his contract exten$ion …. Poor Rysheed Jordan had 6 points on 2 for 11 shooting coming off the bench again. Pretty obviously he presses when he doesn’t start in an attempt to make an immediate impact … Clank clank clank clank clank clank clank clank. No, that clatter is not the sound of eight reindeer up on the roof bringing presents to all the good little boys and girls. It’s the sound of Phil Greene shooting 1 for 9 from the floor. This sound –       – is the sound of the no assists he got. All of which makes our shooting guard 4 for 21 from the floor over his past two games, with no assists. Take away the three minutes he played against Syracuse a month ago and what do you have? Avery Patterson … Joey DeLaRosa made his season debut and played up to his billing: he’s a large slab of beef comprising 300 pounds and five fouls. He gave one particularly well, sending a bloodied SMG guard to the bench for about 20 minutes after cracking him across the nose with a forearm after a whistle. In a game where 40 fouls were called the only one that drew blood was ignored … starting PG Jamal Branch was once again pointless: 2 points 2 assists

NOTES: Saint Mary’s is coached by Randy Bennett, who’s 286 –137 (.677) at SM in 12 years, including 5 NCAA appearances and a Sweet 16. Since 2008 he’s 184 – 54 and has won less than 25 games only once … Saint Mary’s is founded on the teachings of John Baptist de La Salle, a Frenchman, the patron saint of teachers, and the father of pedagogy. None of which three things seem worthy of an entire university but maybe that’s just me. Be that as it may, with victories over the Jesuits and now the Lasallians Saint John’s has triumphed over more Christian factions than the Mamalukes … There are six Saint Marys in the Catholic hierarchy, three of whom had front row seats at the crucifixion: Mary mother of the baby Jesus – in the dark recesses of my fallen away Catholicism I recall Mary being something more than a mere saint, but memories, like faith, fade; Mary Salome, aunt to the baby Jesus; and the hewer Mary Magdalene. Other Marys include Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha, who protested to the baby Jesus that He should not raise her brother Lazarus from the dead because “he stinketh”; Saint Mary of Egypt, who lived her life as a man and was the patron saint of beggars; the stigmatist Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds; and Saint Mary MacKillop, a 20th century Australian who was at one point excommunicated for abusing alcohol to alleviate her severe dysmenorrhea, aka menstrual distress, which sent her to bed several days a month. If boozing and PMS are preconditions for canonization someone should contact the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, because I have a couple of ex-girlfriends who deserve beatification.

Ram Tough


GAME: It was another laugher Sunday afternoon at the Garden as Saint John’s defeated Fordham 74-53 in what is for some reason still referred to as the Holiday Festival. For those of you youngsters out there the Holiday Festival used to be a prestigious and exciting Christmas time college basketball tournament that featured the likes of Bob Cousy, Jimmy Walker, Mel Davis and Cazzie Russell. Now it involves neither a holiday or a festival and features the likes of Fordham, perhaps the worst program in college basketball history. On the bright side Saint John’s won and overcame a bit of adversity in doing so, outscoring Fordham by 20 points after Chris Obekpa fouled out late in the first half. On the not so bright side it was Fordham, so who cares . Saint John’s came out a little flat – it was almost as if they expected Fordham to roll over in the face of a ranked opponent and so spent the first 10 minutes lackadaisically chucking up threes and generally goofing around. Credit where due a Lavin time out at around the 12 minute mark sparked an 11-0 run, after which the outcome was not much in doubt. With Obekpa out of the game Saint John’s went small and pressed full court, which flummoxed Fordham into a timidity that resulted in 22 turnovers and twice as many missed shots as they made. Saint John’s OTOH shot 50 percent from the floor and a respectable 33 percent from three and 70 percent from the line. And once again Saint John’s free throw defense was exemplary: they held Fordham to 60 percent from the line … At 8 and 1 Saint John’s is beginning to develop a bit of an attitude, which I find a bit troubling. In the first place it’s December and in the second this is a group that has not accomplished anything, ever. It would be a shame if come March this team ended up looking back and saying oh well, at least we beat Syracuse, which is why I’m hoping Saint Mary’s puts a hell of a scare in them next Friday.

PLAYERS: You might find it hard to believe but there are posters on various Saint John’s fan forums who consider themselves to be knowledgeable basketball fans who think that Jamal Branch is better at basketball than Rysheed Jordan. I know, hilarious right? But it’s true. And when you point out to them that besides his obvious awfulness Branch has managed 2 points and 1 rebound in his last 40 minutes of play they say, oh yeah, like statistics tell the whole story and append eye rolling emoticons because if you’re an imbecile graphics trump statistics, logic and rhetoric. So I will leave it to those portentous gasbags to explain why Jordan’s 24 point 4 rebound performance wasn’t that really good. I was pretty impressed, but then I’m a rube …Harrison had 22 and passed the great George Johnson on the SJU all-time scoring list. Black hole Zendon Hamilton up next … Dom Pointer had a couple of dunks and 5 rebounds but was otherwise nothing to write home about … Phil Greene reverted to his usual 3 for 12 clank-fest, which suggests that his recent hot streak was an outlier … Which brings us to Chris Obekpa, who was ejected after nearly throwing a Fordham player to the floor and then jawing at the referee afterwards. I think Obekpa was upset because after assaulting his opponent he threw his hands up in the air in the universal I-dint-do-nothing signal but was T’ed up anyway. This is not the first time Obekpa has demonstrated immature and untoward behavior on the court and I am hopeful that Coach Lavin recognizes that Obekpa has anger issues and suspends him for his own good for the rest of the season so that he can seek counseling without the distraction of basketball because some things are more important than winning. Ha, just kidding of course, Lavin is coaching for a contract extension, he wouldn’t suspend Obekpa if they found a couple of nun’s heads rolling around in the back seat of a car he stole from a crippled Gulf War veteran … Speaking of awful things, Jamal Branch had another two point performance. He also managed the play of the game in the first minute when he went up to snatch a rebound with authority, missed it, and had the ball bounce off his head out of bounds. I LOL’ed, and then rewound the game and LOL’ed again …The rest of the scrubs and walk-ons got shuffled in and out in the wake of Obekpa’s departure and collectively showed little or nothing.

NOTES: I owe an apology to Tarik Turner. It is clear after today’s game that he is not the worst colormoron in college basketball. That honor obviously belongs to Ron Thompson, son of the John Thompson, and proof of the old adage that the apple sometimes falls so far from the tree that you don’t even know what kind of fruit fell from which kind of tree. Thompson – who was 9 and 22 in his one year as a D1 coach, so you know he knows basketball – babbled like a nincompoop from the opening tip; when he wasn’t repeating himself ad nauseum over and over again saying the same things more than once and then saying them again he was spouting irrelevancies and inanities, to the extent that I became physically angry and would have turned the sound off if I were not hoping to be rewarded with some imbecilities to share with my regular readers. And I was. For example, with Fordham down 22 and 10 minutes remaining Thompson opined that “the clock was starting to become Fordham’s enemy” and then with Fordham still down 22 with three minutes left noted that the game was “a little out of reach.” Yes Ronnie, and Mila Kunis is a little out of my league … Except for basketball, Fordham is the school Saint John’s wishes it was: a selective Catholic university with a rich intellectual tradition and a wealth of influential alumni and faculty; the latter include Geraldine Ferraro, former CIA director Bill Casey, G Gordon Liddy, Denzel Washington, Alan Alda, the novelist Dom DeLillo, Vince Lombardi, Marshall McLuhan, Vin Scully and Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo. Whereas probably the most well-known Saint John’s alumnus is former governor Mario Cuomo, who was so impressed by his education that he sent both his sons – current Governor Andrew and journalist Chris – to Fordham …. Unfortunately for Fordham they do have a basketball program and unfortunately for the basketball program it’s coached by Tom Pecora, a mediocrity whose name pops up every time there’s a coaching opening at Saint John’s and whose hiring is one of the few bullets that Saint John’s has managed to dodge over the years. But as awful as Pecora is – and he’s 37 and 89 at Fordham – he’s not close to the worst coach Fordham has had. Before Pecora was Jared Grasso, 1-22. Before Grasso Derek Whittenburg – whose most important basketball accomplishment was an airball in the 1983 NCAA championship game – was 69 and 112. Before Whittenburg Bob Hill was 36 and 78. Before Hill Nick Macarchuk was 161 and 192. That’s 304-493 until you get to Tom Penders, the last Fordham coach to have a winning record, barely, at 125 and 114. And in fact the only coach to have a successful career at Fordham since John Bach retired with 482 wins in 1968 was Digger Phelps, who won 26 games in his only year there in 1971 and then got the hell out. Bonus fact: backup point guard on Phelps team was Peter PJ Carlesimo … Captain Kangaroo’s sidekick was Mr. Greenjeans, portrayed by Hugh “Lumpy” Brannum, a jazz vocalist who at one point performed in a band led by Bob Crosby, brother of Bing Crosby, a graduate of Gonzaga whose career was celebrated in an earlier recap. A long standing rumor falsely postulated that Brannum was the father of musical genius Frank Zappa, based upon Zappa’s authorship of Mr. Green Genes and Son of Mister Green Genes. The former of is included here for your enjoyment and edification.


Fairly Predictable


GAME: There’s not much to say about this one. Saint John’s has never lost to Fairleigh Dickinson and they certainly weren’t going to last night, not a team full of seniors a week after being ranked for the first time in three years. Although they didn’t come out and put the kind of hurt on FDU that they could have if they were really motivated, they were good enough. They are, as Steve Lavin put it in the post season presser “incrementally taking baby or infant steps up the mountain or hillside so that as the season progresses or moves on we will be playing our best basketball in the future or times to come.” That might not be verbatim, but that’s what it says in my notes anyway … Saint John’s shot about as well from the floor as I can remember. Evidently Phil Greene’s confidence is contagious. Personally I find Phil Greene’s confidence (and shot) suspect, having watched him clank shot after shot after shot off the rim for three years and unless he’s really turned the corner would hope that he’d save some of this confidence for January or February or dare I think it out loud, March. Because it’s December, and only fools get excited about college basketball in December … Regular readers are aware that I slam Lavin pretty regularly as a self-serving self-aggrandizing chowderhead. But that doesn’t mean I’m not fair-minded. When I see someone do something well, I’m happy to give them credit, no matter how repulsive they are as human beings. One thing Lavin has been doing an amazing job at this year is coaching his team’s free throw defense. Fairleigh Dickinson was yesterday 10 for 21 from the foul line, which continues a streak during which Saint John’s has held opponents well below normal: on the season SJU opponents are shooting 60 percent (89 for 146); Division One opponents are shooting 57 percent (73 for 126); and high major programs 55 percent (34 of 61). To put that in perspective, I shot 25 foul shots last night after I finished plowing the driveway and hit 16 and despite the cold I was still pretty faced.

PLAYERS: Harrison had 26 points and passed David Russell on the all times scoring list. I tried googling to figure out who’s next on the list but I couldn’t find it, because SJU’s on line media sucks. I think it’s probably Zendon but don’t quote me …Phil Greene had four assists, doubling his season total … Obekpa had a double double and nearly a triple double …Jamal Branch played perhaps the least productive 28 minutes that have been played in a college basketball game this year: 2 points, no assists, 1 rebound, two turnovers. Meanwhile Rysheed Jordan – who’s no longer the starting point guard – played 24 minutes: 8 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 turnovers. I try not to get too Area 51 about this stuff, but question: is it possible that Lavin is purposefully attempting to diminish Jordan’s chances of playing professional basketball next year? And the answer of course is yes, it’s possible: We know that Lavin is a vapid narcissist who has in the past put his own interest above those of his players. He refuses to let Jordan speak to the media: the clear implication is that Jordan is either inarticulate or immature or both. He’s started three players over Jordan this year, including a walk on, the implication being that Jordan is not very good at basketball. And now Jordan, once a prize recruit, is losing minutes to Jamal Branch, who brings absolutely nothing to the table. Something is rotten in Denmark. … Dom Pointer committed his first technical – well, it was the first one that was called – and fouled out … Christian Jones played two minutes. His stat line: 0,0,0,0,0,0 … Balamou played 9 minutes and had a career high two rebounds … Lavin left in his starters – three of whom played more than 35 minutes – until the final minute, so the three walk-ons – including two former starters themselves – played only 5 minutes between them. In a 22 point victory. In which Saint John’s was giving 18.5.

NOTES: Before the game I watched Lavin’s appearance on the hilariously named “We Need To Talk,” which despite its resemblance to an SCTV summer replacement show hosted by Edith Prickley is an actual all-women’s talk show on the CBS Sports Network. Except for some creepy flirtation between Lavin and one of the hosts that made my skin crawl it was not nearly as awful as I hoped. Because it was a televised event and he was representing the university that pays him two million dollars a year, Lavin wore his formal black sweat suit, through which his nipples were clearly and unfortunately visible …. Fairleigh Dickinson is named for Fairleigh Dickinson, co-founder of the Becton Dickinson, a Fortune 500 medical supply company. Dickinson designed and patented the disposable syringe, and as such is responsible not only for much of the world’s heroin problem but AIDS as well: as the saying goes, behind every fortune is a great crime. Notorious graduates include former Yankee Ron Bloomberg, baseball’s first designated hitter; pretentious gasbag Peggy Noonan; and former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenburg, who played point guard at FD for Al Lobalbo, long-time assistant to Lou Carnesecca.

Excuses, Excuses



According to Steve Lavin’s Twitter feed, “certain games on your schedule have more significance and are more meaningful because of history between programs.” Leaving aside Lavin’s penchant for saying everything twice and repeating himself, what Lavin was really saying about Saturday’s game is that Syracuse is to Saint John’s as Saint John’s is to Niagara: a game circled on the calendar where a win means that for at least one day the program can point to something it’s accomplished, as opposed to the shit sandwich the rest of the season comprises. That’s if you win anyway. If you lose you spout some incomprehensible twaddle about “focusing on the path to incremental progress … to enhance the percentages or probabilities of playing our best basketball,” which jambalaya of idiocies is an actual Steve Lavin quote that I didn’t even make up. Which is to say that I know that lots of Saint John’s fans loathe Syracuse and are this morning giddy at having displaced them as New York City’s team, if only for a day. Personally I don’t feel that way. Probably I used to hate Syracuse – back when I felt things other than glee at other people’s failure and disappointment anyway – but not anymore. And as far as revenge games I’m more looking forward to spanking Tulane later this month for having bounced Louie out of the first round of the NCAA tournament for the last time in 1992. Talk about your dish best eaten cold. Anyway, clearly Lavin’s sentiment is shared by Syracuse, whose performance in Saint John’s 69-57 win at the Carrier Dome suggests that they viewed this game as merely an interregnum between the meaningful ones on its schedule. Because not only were they awful, but they were blasé about it. Saint John’s is a cupcake they expected to devour, much as they had for 15 years, but when their dessert fought back they just sort of loosed their belts, rolled over and went to sleep. Which is not to take anything away from Saint John’s, because the cupcake had several opportunities to crumble and did not. As I said last time, this team reminds me of the 2011 group: they’re at a point at which they don’t really need a coach, which is just as well, because they don’t have one … By the numbers both teams were mediocre. The difference was in free throw and three point shooting, where SJU dominated: Syracuse shot 3 for 22 from 3 and missed 10 free throws. Everything else was about even. Perhaps the most interesting number is minutes: 4 starters on Syracuse played more than 37 and three of those 40, and 5 players on Saint John’s played more than 30 …. Other than not starting his best five players, using up his timeouts in 32 minutes and wearing a suit over sweat clothes like a mentally ill homeless person sleeping on a heating grate, Lavin didn’t do anything particularly stupid. And in fact by using up all his time outs at the 12 minute mark of the second half Lavin might have actually helped his team, as they no longer had to listen to him babble during time outs or decipher the hieroglyphics he scribbles on his whiteboard. Look at it this way: in the first 32 minutes, with the benefit of Steve Lavin’s input, Saint John’s played Syracuse even. Without any input from Steve Lavin over the next eight Saint John’s outscored Syracuse 18 to 6.

PLAYERS: Phil Greene was on his way to a disastrous  2 for 12 7 point Elijah Ingram performance before hitting three 3s and scoring 11 point of his 18 points in three minutes. No one gets killed more than Greene on these boards and for good reason, but better king for a day than schmuck for a lifetime … Harrison kept them in it early and finished with 24, including a banked three he took from the Syracuse emblem at midcourt. Dove out of bounds to rescue an errant Syracuse pass which led to Greene’s first three in the game ending run … Obekpants ® had only one FG but 16 rebounds, many of those in traffic and with authority. He last night debuted his version of the Dikembe Mutumbo finger wag, which evidently he has added to his repertoire of annoying and childish on court affectations. Lavin this week compared Obekpa to Bill Russell based upon similarities in the length of their shorts, which is like comparing Lena Dunham to Kate Beckinsale because they both sit down to pee. That’s if Kate Beckinsale does anything so mundane as micturate obviously … Jordan came off the bench once again. Was this a teaching moment? Did Lavin have a premonition? Did he read the chicken bones in his cacciatore? I don’t even care anymore. Jordan played well enough except for a 5 minute stretch in the second half when he turned the ball over 11 times in a row and committed SJU’s first called flagrant foul of the year … Speaking of flagrant fouls, Pointer once again nearly double doubled .. starting point guard Jamal Branch reverted to his normal non-Niagara self: 2 points and 1 rebound in 15 minutes … former starter Myles Stewart played only briefly at the end of the first half and Jasilionus II committed a foul in four minutes.

NOTES: The game was joined in progress, which is always annoying. Also annoying was colorman Shane Battier, who Mrs. Fun described as “that guy with the things on his head” and “the one who was always flopping.” Right on both counts. I was unaware that Battier had retired and joined the pantheon of suck that comprises DeWk’s legion of basketball commentators: Quinn Snyder, Mike Gminski, Bucky Waters, Bob Wetzel, Jim Spanarkle, Alaa Abdulwhatever, Jay “Look Out for that Tree!” Williams, and the loathsome and oleaginous Jay Bilas. Ironically, the only school that has done more damage to sports journalism is Syracuse, whose graduates include appalling mediocrities like Sean McDonough, Len Berman and Dick Stockton; transvestite serial biter Marv Albert; and tortured dwarf Bob Costas … the SJU SU game was part of the weeklong Jimmy V Coaches with Cancer celebration, cancer being a disease which both Boeheim and Lavin have survived. Boeheim was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001. The cancer was treated surgically during the season, causing Boeheim to miss three games – that’s right, three – of the 25 Syracuse won that year in reaching the second round of the NCAA tournament. Two years later, having recruited Carmelo Anthony in the interim Syracuse won the national championship. Speaking of tumorectomies, 2003 was also the year Steve Lavin was removed as head coach at UCLA … Before last night the last time SJU won a game at the Carrier Dome was January 27, 1999. To bring some perspective to that, the US House of Representatives on that day refused to dismiss articles of impeachment against then president Clinton for lying about whether or not he had masturbated on the fat girl. In the interim, the twin towers were attacked, the space shuttle Columbia exploded, Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans and Sandy Brooklyn, Columbine High School students were massacred, the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, the Millennium bug nearly destroyed civilization as we know it, and the US elected its first black president, who among his other accomplishments slowed the rise of the ocean and healed the planet … Among others things January 27 was the date Primo Levi was liberated from Auschwitz by the Russians. Born on January 27: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; the pedophile Lewis Carroll; Chipmunks creator David Seville; and the delightful Donna Reed. Those who died on January 27th include Thomas Crapper, inventor of the flush toilet; Andre the Giant, with whom I had the honor of getting faced at a Howard Johnson off the Thruway circa 1985; JD Salinger; and the repulsive Howard Zinn, a Stalinist and likely communist agent whose People’s History of the United States – described by one reviewer as “a deranged fairy tale” – comprises part of the core curriculum in most New York high schools … I am forced here to admit that I wrote this last bit yesterday afternoon, based on the assumption that Saint John’s would lose. Their unlikely victory leaves me without the unhappy ending I had envisioned. Had history repeated itself that would not be an issue, but it didn’t, so it is.

Niagara Falls



To no one’s surprise Saint John’s beat Niagara at Alumni Hall Tuesday night 70-57. Unless Norm Roberts is coaching – or Louie – that’s what usually happens: SJU has beaten NU 71 out of 99 times going back to the Woodrow Wilson administration. Coming off a close loss to a highly ranked opponent and with a showdown with an instate rival looming a different coach might have used the in-between cupcake game to work out some wrinkles in the zone offense or full court press. Not Steve Lavin though: he’s too smrat ® for that. What Steve Lavin did instead was break out a new rotation, benching his most talented player and starting a walk-on. Except as a reminder of what a numbskull Lavin is it didn’t matter much – Niagara is small and young and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn in the first half, during which SJ built a 10 point lead. As is their wont SJ then coasted on defense and chucked up a bunch of threes on offense and let Niagara back in it, to the extent that they pulled within one halfway through the second. Of course the outcome was never in doubt and when Lavin put his starters back in – well, not his starters, but his best 5 players – they put Niagara away, although not by enough to reward the suckers who laid 19. (Meanwhile out on the west coast Seton Hall’s freshmen were putting a 30 point beat down on Mount Saint Mary, much as their hungry coach Kevin Willard has put a beat down on Lavin on the recruiting trail. Saint John’s opens the BE season versus SH at the end of the month and speaking of beatdowns I don’t see much good coming out of that) …. SJU shot 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three, although much of the credit for that goes to newly minted starter slash walk-on Miles Stewart. They failed to outrebound Niagara – Steve Lavin says rebounds are overrated so that’s not a problem – but the reversion to 60 percent free throw percentage might be, unless Lavin determines that FT shooting is not important either, in which case never mind … Other than his incongruous rotation (obviously a big other than) Lavin didn’t do anything particularly boneheaded, but that’s probably only because he didn’t do much of anything. In fact, if he hadn’t made an ostentatious display of subbing out offense for defense up by 12 points with 2 minutes left – and no doubt the rubes were all impressed – you might not have known he was there at all. We can only hope. On the bright side, having grown tired of being relentlessly mocked for dressing in layers like an insane homeless person, Lavin wore a shirt with a collar. Credit Morty Seinfeld.

PLAYERS: Harrison scored the 1700th point of his illustrious career with three minutes left to go in the first half and finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds. He should pass the great Glen Williams on Saturday in Saint John’s loss to New York’s team … Regular readers will recall that I wondered earlier in the year what Lavin was planning to do to mess with his current bugbear Rysheed Jordan. Now we know: he’s going to bring him off the bench behind a walk-on, an event foreshadowed a game or two ago when Jordan came off the bench in the second half behind Felix Balamou. If I had an angel on my shoulder it might be whispering that this is a motivational tool designed to improve Jordan’s game and life prospects; but all I have is a devil, and he says Lavin is just messing with the kid’s head, probably for spite following their personal issues last year and possibly even to convince him to stay in school next year, when the cupboard will be bare. Lavin’s toadies will scoff, just like they did this week after Jim Boeheim made comments they claimed were designed to convince Chris McCullogh that he was not ready to play professional basketball … Jamal Branch finally got the start his fans have been clamoring for and played well enough. No one’s killed him more than me, and I’m happy to admit this morning that he demonstrated last night that he could easily be an honorable mention third team player in the MAAC if he were able to sustain last night’s level of play over a full year and refrain from throwing lob passes into the bleachers and committing fouls 75 feet from the basket as he did again last night … Pointer was the other starter to come off the bench, which is what he should have been doing for three years … Miles Stewart – who Lavin compared in pregame interviews to NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Theus – played creditably enough, hitting half his threes, but brought little to the table other than that. When not babbling about Jordan the devil suggested that Lavin is lavishing attention on Stewart because Stewart constitutes the fruits of entire wasted recruiting year and Lavin wants everyone to think he recruited like that on purpose… Chris Obekpa seems to have lost a bit of the fire he showed when pushing around Division 2 teams earlier in the season. Seven points, 5 rebound and three blocks isn’t going to get him into the NBA, although between his hairdo and his shorts – astute viewers will have noted that the pair he wore yesterday were hemmed rather than rolled up – maybe he has his sights set on the WNBA. When he wasn’t grinning inappropriately he elbowed one guy in the face, punched another guy in the groin, and missed a dunk …. Coming off the best game of his career Phil Greene was suddenly replaced in Lavin’s affection by a walk on. I felt sorry for him until late in the second half when he attempted to take his man off the dribble by doing a spin move in the lane and fell over when his legs got tangled up, then I just started laughing … Jessica Albagovic got the biggest cheer of the night when he hit his first three of the year. He is on SJ fan boards this morning drawing comparisons to our last great shooters, Sergio Lyuk, Fred Lyson, and Heath Orvis … Speaking of knowledgeable fans, Christian Jones provided a welcome replacement for selfish cancer Jakarr Sampson for 3 minutes and the rest of the time sat on the bench.

NOTES: I haven’t checked Fox Sports One this morning: has Tarik Turner shut up yet? … Old time fans will recall that in 84-85 final four season Niagara was the only team that SJU lost to other than Georgetown. That game did not really count though as starting point guard Mike Moses did not play and the then #4 then Redmen were forced to start unreliable freshman PG Mark Jackson, whose 3 TOs in the last 2 minutes sealed the loss. “You’ve got to give Niagara all the credit,” Lou Carnesecca was quoted as saying in the NY Times. “ They played a marvelous game.” …. I did a bit of googling in search of something to say about Niagara University to pad this out a bit but there’s really nothing. Other than NBA great Calvin Murphy and Joe McCarthy – not the patriotic American senator who exposed the communist infiltration of the Roosevelt administration, the other one – there doesn’t seem to be an illustrious graduate in the bunch. Niagara Falls of course looms large in the American psyche as a cultural artifact, what with people consummating their marriages there and lunatics going over the falls in barrels and who can forget Joseph Cotton strangling the shit out of Marilyn Monroe and her pink sweater in the tunnels beneath the falls in eponymous 1953 film noire. The Falls also figure prominently in a vaudeville sketch performed by inter alia Lucille Ball, Abbot and Costello, and the Three Stooges in which its invocation (Niagara Falls … slowly I turned … step by step … inch by inch) turns a storyteller into a homicidal maniac. This does not sound particularly funny in theory, but is hilarious in practice. The sketch also formed the basis of the tune Native Love, the nadir of the career of Harris Milstead, aka Divine, which was otherwise marked by illustrious triumphs like Lust in the Dust and Pink Flamingos. If Milstead had been from Buffalo that would have tied this all up nicely but he was from Baltimore.