Maui Wowie


Saint John’s defeated Chaminade University 100-93 in the battle for 7th place in the Maui Classic Wednesday afternoon in Hawaii. That they won the game is not surprising: they’ve already proven this preseason that they’re as good as any Division 2 team in the country. How they won was a bit of a shocker. This is the first time I can remember in quite a while they they’ve scored 100 points and this is the most points they’ve scored in a game since the 93-78 spanking they gave #3 Duke in 2011. Of course the bad news is that they gave up 93 points to a D2 school, which perhaps not a good portent moving forward. Still a win’s a win and anybody who’s not happy at 4-2 six games into what is probably going to be a long season, well there’s just no pleasing some people … SJU went out to an early 15-3 lead and was up 59-42 at the half – as a team they shot 77 percent from the field in the first half, including 9 of 12 from three. Which is somewhat unlike them. They stretched the second half lead to 18 at the 16 minute mark, at which point they got complacent and let Chaminade back into it. Eventually they’ll develop a killer instinct and that won’t be an issue, but it was Wednesday: Chaminade got it to within 6 with under a minute to play, but for a change they made their free throws to seal it … For the game SJU shot 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from three – again, unlike them – and had 21 assists; they had only 400 all of last year. They had 6 players in double figures, which I don’t remember that happening in a while either. Once again the defense was subpar – Chaminade shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three – which makes three games in a row now that they’ve gotten lit up. That is like them and a trend I expect to continue, because they don’t cover anybody … Rumor has it that four star recruit Kassoum Yawke was declared eligible by the NCAA this afternoon, which is good news if true. Because at SJU there is no silver lining without a cloud, various great minds are now debating whether he should be redshirted, and of course the answer is no. In the first place, you’d be hard pressed to name Saint John’s player in recent memory who’s benefited from the redshirt and in fact most of them have either not gotten any better or have gotten completely screwed. In the second, they’re already shorthanded and I’ve spent enough time over the past 15 years watching the walk-ons play. And finally, this is not a program that has the luxury of waiting around for their delicate blossoms to flower. Put the kid on the court and let him play. It’s probably not going to make much of a difference this year but the experience is likely to pay dividends in a couple of years when it might matter.

PLAYERS: One good thing about being shorthanded, it makes this part a breeze … From the shows what I know department: Amar Ablavocovih had what was by light years the best game of his career and if I had to bet, his life: 17 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. A couple more like this and I might even learn how to spell his name … Mussini had 24 points – 16 in the first half including 5 of 6 from three – and 6 assists … Jones had 17 points and 11 rebounds but turned the ball over five times …Durand Johnson had 17 points and seems to be finding his stroke a little bit, or maybe it was the competition, who knows. His four FTs late sealed it …Mvouika had 12 and fouled out. I think that’s the first one this year, which makes sense considering that none of them play defense … Holyfield played little and contributed less

NOTES: Three recaps in three days. Who do these people think I am? Stephen King? … After displaying the patience of a saint for what must have been an interminable three days, John Sciambi finally snapped. He spent most of the game openly mocking nearly everything that came out of Walton’s mouth, and with good reason: because Bill Walton is a babbling idiot … Chaminade University is named for William Joseph Chaminade, a Roman Catholic cleric who had the misfortune of living in France during the French Revolution. I’d describe as unfortunate most people who lived in France at any time, but life during the revolution was particularly abominable: at the outset 40 thousand people were murdered over the course of little more than a year, many of whom had their heads lopped off via the guillotine by the inaptly named Committee of Public Safety for crimes against the state. Contrary to popular mythology most of those killed were peasants, and most of those peasants were killed for the crime of hoarding – an odd charge to levy against someone who presumably has little or nothing to begin with. After the Terror ended Chaminade returned from exile in Spain and founded the Marianist order, the point of which seems to have been to convert heathens to the ways of the one and true god, which is how they ended up doing missionary work in faraway Hawaii. Chaminade was proposed for beatification in the early 19th century but came up a tad short in the miracle department and had to settle for the designation Venerable, which is only about halfway to the right hand of the Father. It’s hard to take issue with the decision of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, because frankly some of these alleged miracles sound a bit sketchy. For example, one Rachel Baumgartner – whose name sounds to me suspiciously Jewish – claimed that her inoperable tumor disappeared after she attended a ceremony dedicated to Chaminade’s memory. But it seems like something of a cruel joke for a beneficent God to have cured her cancer only to cast her into the depths of fiery hell with the rest of the chosen people for her failure to accept Christ as her personal savior. So I tend to disbelieve her testimony … I’ve been going to the well with the famous alumni thing with pretty good results but came up empty with Chaminade. No one I ever heard of graduated from there – there was a William Faulkner but it turned out not to be the writer, just some guy. The real Faulkner went to Ole Miss. The Marianists do however also operate Chaminade High School in Mineola, which boasts as graduates Senator Pothole, Alfonse D’Amato; Brian Dennehy, whose moving portrayal of clown killer John Wayne Gacy earned him one of six Emmy nominations; Glen Hughes, the leather clad guy from the Village People; the great George Kennedy, who was in everything from Cool Hand Luke and the Dirty Dozen to the Naked Gun; Bill McKillop, who unfortunately could not recruit above 125th street; and phone sex aficionado Bill O’Reilly, former anchor of the hard hitting news show A Current Affair, a sample of whose work can be seen below.


Hawaii 0-2


Saint John’s lost to #13 Indiana in the whatever – second, consolation, I have no idea – round of the Maui Classic Tuesday afternoon, 83-73. As losses go it was a pretty good one, somewhere between a moral victory and not a bad loss. After the beating they took Monday at the hands of Vanderbilt they could have come out and rolled over – and down 16 with one minute left in the first half it looked like they had. Instead they went on a 17-5 run over the next six minutes to pull within five about five minutes into the second half. That’s all halftime adjustments baby! Unfortunately at around that point they ran out of gas and IU extended the lead to around 10, which was about where it stayed for the rest of the game: every time it looked like IU was going to blow it open SJU made a play and every time SJU looked like they were going to get over the hump and make it a game they didn’t, but it’s hard to be disappointed with either the effort or the outcome …. As challenged as SJU looks on the offensive end – and let’s face it if Felix Balamou is your most dangerous offensive weapon, that’s a problem – the real problem is on defense. Some of them – Mussini, Ablavivocoth – can’t cover anybody, and the ones that can cover somebody aren’t too good at it. They’re a step slow, they turn their heads, they don’t rotate and ball-you-man is as foreign a concept to them as personal hygiene is to a French streetwalker. Where’s Al Lobalboa when you need him. It was that defensive prowess that allowed IU to shoot nearly 60 percent from the floor and 42 percent from three, the second game in two that an opponent shot the lights out. Saint John’s fared better from the floor Tuesday than they did against Vanderbilt – It’d have been hard not to – but 40 (FG) / 30 (3PT) isn’t going to beat too many teams let alone a ranked one and leaving 9 points at the free throw line didn’t help … After half a dozen games SJU is just about where rational fans would have expected: good enough to beat the cupcakes and hang with the bottom feeders in a major conference and bad enough to lose to everyone else, sometimes with extreme prejudice. They just don’t have the horses. Not yet anyway.

PLAYERS: Mvouika had 17 points (on 8 shots), 5 rebounds, 3 assists and even hit a couple of threes. He’s a nice player who’d look good coming off the bench on a good team. Unfortunately he starts on this one … Balamou once again looked like a Division One player, as opposed to what he looked like yesterday. What wonders what sort of player he might be today if Lavin had tried to develop his talent instead of trying to ruin his career. Oh well … Mussina weighs 155 pounds. Is that even possible? I have fat Italian relatives with carbuncles that weigh that much … Sima had 9 points and 7 rebounds. Even when he’s getting punked he puts up numbers … Evidently Durand Johnson will not be a first team all BE player, as I had been led to believe in the preseason … Christian Jones once again held his own more or less against a bigger stronger front line  but let’s face it he’s not the answer at power forward. Under different circumstances he might make a serviceable three, if he could dribble, which he can’t …I can’t even be arsed to think of something horrible to say about Ablivicovich, it’s not worth the effort. Covers no one, can’t rebound, can’t shoot and is capable of fouling out in the layup line. Just awful.

NOTES: Evidently between yesterday and today no one told Bill Walton to please be shutting the fuck up. Booth-mate John Sciambi (his nickname is Boog, based upon his resemblance to former Oriole first basemen John Wesley “Boog” Powell) deserves the tournament MVP for not strangling him with that stupid lei he was wearing. Before the game even started Walton picked up where he left off yesterday – who knows if he even stopped – jibber jabbering interminably about a wide variety of nonsense of interest to no one except himself, including a 5 minute dissertation about his fucking bicycle – which he gave in bicycle pants that left little to the imagination, if you get my drift. Yeah Bill, I had a bicycle too, when I was 11. I used to put baseball cards in the spokes and it had a light and a banana seat and a horn that went awoogah! The difference between me and you is that I know that no one gives a shit about my bicycle. Do another hit of acid, there’s a synapse that’s still firing properly … Indiana is coached by the wildly overrated Tom Crean, the only human being in recorded history to have both majored in “Parks and Recreation” at Central Michigan College and married the sister of current Michigan State coach Jim Harbaugh … I’m in these gambols trying to not hoe the same fields, and thinking back relative to Indiana I’ve already in a post called “Hoosier Daddy” investigated origin of the term Hoosier; discussed the long and shameful history of the state’s Klan activities; dissected Bobby Knight’s biography; explained the true history of Jimmy Chitwood; and written a bit of a monkeyshine about my all-time favorite serial killer Carl Panzram, whose writings in Killer: A Journal of Murder I cannot recommend highly enough; I reread it again for the third or fourth time recently and laughed and laughed. I mean, “I wish the entire human race had one neck and I had my hands around it,” how can you not love that. Which leaves not a lot, because let’s face it, Indiana sucks . Thank goodness notable alumni is always good for about a paragraph, which is all I need. So speaking of awful self- important douche bag play by play guys, the appalling Joe Buck is a proud Indiana grad, as is Dick Enberg, who doesn’t suck nearly as much; Kevin Kline and Lee Majors, who banged Phoebe Cates (for the record approximately 20% of my blog hits are from perverts googling the Rule 5 broads I now make sure adorn the entries) and Farrah Fawcett respectively, nice work; NY Times crossword impresario Will Shortz; the novelist Theodore Dreiser – to his credit he flunked out; Stardust composer Hoagy Carmichael; Michael Brecker, the greatest soprano, alto, baritone, tenor saxophonist of his generation; Steely Dan drummer Pete Erskine; and a starting basketball five who could give anyone a run for their money, even UCLA: Isiah Thomas, George McGinnis, Walt Bellamy, Larry Bird (enrolled but never played) and Steve Alford, Kent Benson, Quinn Buckner, and I finally settled on Calbert Chaney, who in 1999 became after 27 years the first left handed player to ever play for Bobby Knight at IU … And speaking of Jack Lord, why not

Something Awful


GAME: Well that was ugly. And by that I’m referring to the 91-55 spanking the Vanderbilt University Commodores inflicted on an overmatched Saint John’s Red Storm in the first round of the Maui Invitational Tournament Monday night in Hawaii. It was the worst Saint John’s loss since, well, last March, when Steve Lavin’s seniors lost to Villanova by 37 on their magic carpet ride to a first round NCAA tournament loss. (That was only six games ago, good grief.) I can’t be arsed to figure out if this was the worst loss in Saint John’s history, but it was pretty bad, although at least they kept them under 100. The game that it brings foremost to mind is the early season 92-60 loss to Maryland in the Jimmy V classic in 2006; that one too was over after about six minutes. If Chris Mullin is half the coach Norm was he’ll have his team ready to play tomorrow; knowledgeable fans will recall that the night after the Maryland debacle Norm’s team lost to number 19 Texas by only a point. If he doesn’t, how long will it be before the Fire Mullins! chants are echoing in Carnesecca Arena? … There’s basically nothing else to say about the game. Saint John’s shot 30 percent from the floor, 12 percent from three, and were outrebounded 49-26. Whereas Vanderbilt shot 53 percent from the floor and 48 percent from three, and had 21 assists. Give Vanderbilt credit, they looked pretty good. But it is after all only November.

NOTES: there’s little point to this section, they all stunk … Mussini (5-13) and Johnson (2-10) had 14 and 10 respectively. Mussini impressed with a couple of sneaky good moves at the rim … Jones led the team with 5 rebounds and didn’t appear particularly overmatched considering the enormous size and girth of Vanderbilt’s front line … Mvouika had 8. It’s a shame he can’t dribble, they could really use a point guard … Sima needs to hit the weight room … Balamou is evidently not the second coming of David Russell. He might not even be the second coming of Nipsy Russell … Ablavlitowich clanked three straight on threes with his feet set and no one near him, but looked infinitely better doing that than he did when he tried taking his man off the dribble … Holyfield did nothing in eight minutes, whereas Dial had four points in two. Did someone say 6th man of the year?

NOTES: The game was called by B-b-b-b-bill W-w-w-w-walton and some guy who had a hard time getting a word in edgewise. Walton is arguably the best white player in college basketball history and also a babbling idiot, whose stream of consciousness commentary Monday night ran the gamut from solar power and women’s professional surfing to bull mastiffs and the Grateful Dead. If there was something unrelated to basketball that he brought up I would be hard pressed to tell you what it was, and not just because I turned the sound off a few minutes into the second half … Two time NCAA player of the year Jay “Look out for that tree” Williams and former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenburg nearly came to blows at halftime discussing whether Indiana was better than Vanderbilt or vice versa. Whether the obvious animosity between them was the result of Williams’ antisemitism or Greenburg’s bigotry is anyone’s guess … Speaking of bigots, Vanderbilt University was founded via a grant by robber baron Cornelius Vanderbilt, a native of Staten Island who made an immense fortune operating steamboat and railroad monopolies in the 19th century; the details of his business dealings are unimportant, except to note that as Honore de Balzac said, “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.” To put Vanderbilt’s fortune in perspective, it was around 100 million dollars when he finally died in 1882 – at that time 100 million dollars comprised around 13 percent of total US currency; Bill Gates fortune, estimated at 150 billion dollars, comprises less than 1 percent of today’s US currency … Vanderbilt married twice, both times to a first cousin, producing a brood of 13 inbred children whose myriad decedents still plague us today. (Vanderbilt’s great-great-great-great grandson Timothy Olyphant gets a pass, because you can’t hate on Raylan Givens.) Shortly after the War Between the States Civil War and at the urging of his then second wife Frank (despite her name, a broad), a former slave owner and ardent supporter of the Confederate States of America, Cornelius decided to endow a university in the south as a means of encouraging racial healing. That he ended up endowing Vanderbilt seems an odd choice, considering that the school refused to admit blacks until 1953; proudly counts among its graduates a conga line of unrepentant racists including Hiram Wesley Ellis, Imperial Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan from 1922 to 1939; had in the 1920s a football coach who everybody called “Nig” because of his dark complexion; and still houses students on scholarship from the Daughters of the Confederacy at Confederate Memorial Hall. The best that can be said for Vanderbilt is that it does not have quite as shameful a racial history as does nearby Duke University, but then that would be impossible … Like their Duke contemporaries, Vanderbilt graduates refer to their alma mater as the Harvard of the South, which I would too if I paid nearly 50 thousand dollars a year to go to a school in the Southeastern Conference. Proof that it’s not even the Harvard of Tennessee are its graduates, the worst of whom include climate huckster Al Gore; rapid white supremacist and Democratic ward heeler Georgia Theodore Bilbo (despite his name a guy, who once denounced an anti-lynching bill because it would “open the floodgates of hell in the South”); Clinton crime family member Vince Foster, who “committed suicide” wink wink after he threatened to go public with details of Bill and Hillary’s long criminal career; Randy Brooks, author of the satanic Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer; the repulsive Skip Bayless; Jay Cutler, who despite being one of the worst QBs in NFL history has somehow managed to never play for my Detroit Lions; and Dinah Shore, whose wholesome image belied the fact that she banged everyone from Dean Martin and Burt Reynolds to General George Patton and former NY governor Hugh Carey – my late 101 year old seamstress grandmother had a pin cushion that’d been stuck fewer times. Less appalling graduates include the novelists James Dickey and Robert Penn Warren; pin up girl Betty Page; the venerable David Brinkley; the late Fred Thompson, DUN DUN; Rich Kyanka, founder of formerly funny website Something Awful; and sportswriter Grantland Rice, to whom your humble author is often compared.








Good Knight

1320543274_3I was going to write a single word recap this morning – something along the lines of Wow! – and not just because I’m pretty hungover and want to go back to bed. Rather, Saint John’s 61-59 improbable come from behind victory Thursday was so jaw dropping that I wonder whether even I can do it justice. Or at least parts of it were jaw dropping anyway. Most of it was the normal sort of early season affair between two evenly matched but not very good teams, with the advantage to the older and more experienced one. Rutgers was up by seven at halftime by virtue of a 7-minute SJU scoring drought midway through the first that resulted in a 12-0 Rutgers run. Not long after I wrote “this could have been much worse” in my notes it became so: Rutgers opened the 2nd half with a quick 7-0 run to go up by 15 and still led by 16 at the 15 minute mark and the game looked all but over. But Saint John’s kept plugging away until an 8-0 run pulled them within 6 at around the 5 minute mark, at which point it all became too much for Rutgers and they choked – they managed just a single field goal and a single FT in the last 5.5 minutes. Saint John’s was up 1 with 9 seconds left when Felix Balamou – who speaking of choking had just missed two free throws – fouled poor Corey Sanders twice at midcourt, first knocking him askew with a vicious hip check and then taking him out by sweeping the leg. (Do you have a problem with that. No sensei.) Neither foul was called and after a Christian Jones FT the game winning Rutgers three was waved off, coming as it did a split second after the buzzer. Regarding the non-call I felt bad for Rutgers, almost as bad as I did a couple of years ago in the BET when drunkards Jim Burr and Tim Higgins missed Justin Brownlee dancing a victory tarantella and throwing the ball out of bounds with a couple of seconds left on the clock, an act of officiating so egregious that it led to Higgins retirement and the adoption of booth review. (Burr had no sense of shame, so he hung around for several more years.) Ha! Just kidding, I don’t feel bad for them at all. Screw Rutgers … Really good job I thought by Mullin keeping his kids heads in the game. Because they could have folded like a house of cheap cards. I expect seeing a bench full of Hall of Fame basketball players telling you everything is going to okay is a bit of a comfort. As opposed to say an 85 year old guy in a bad toupee with tomato sauce on his lapel … So Mullin remains undefeated at three and oh. The odds of returning undefeated from Hawaii are approximately infinity to one, but I’m willing to enjoy this while it lasts. Because I’m a half glass full kind of guy

PLAYERS: Recently reinstated Sir Dominick Balamou had 8 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists in his first game since high school more or less. At the risk of alienating readers by patting myself on the back once again – oh, who am I kidding, my smugness is one of my most endearing qualities – I’m constrained to point out that I declared myself president of the Balamou fan club two games into his college career and predicted that he had a bright future. I just didn’t say how long it would take for that future to get here … A double double from Mvouika, who continues to impress … Sima had 13 points, 9 rebounds and 7 blocks in 39 minutes, which is a pretty absurd stat line from a freshman three games into his college career. As a bonus he seems to be money from the free throw line … Mussini had 13 points on 14 shots and seven rebounds, but zero assists. Will be much better off when he finally gets off the ball … Durand Johnson doesn’t make a lot of shots but seems to have the knack for making the important ones. This is the second game in a row he’s hit a big three when they needed one … Christian Jones had seven points but two only rebounds. That’s only one more rebound than Albaveckovich, and he’s awful … Darien Williams looks so far like one of those guys who should be a good player but isn’t. I’m thinking specifically here of the late Tyler Jones. Anyway he injured his shoulder in the first half and never returned.

NOTES: Steve Lavin did halftime and post-game commentary live from Carnesecca, which was a little awkward to put it mildly – it was like if a guy whose girl friend of 5 years dumped him because he couldn’t get it up later had to come back and describe the action while her new boyfriend Chris fucked the shit out of her. Anyway, Lavin was his usual amalgamation of vapidity and hail-fellow-well-met and displayed all the charm of a stick insect. He said for example that “it’s good to be back home,” which this isn’t your home, get out, that Saint John’s “is shorthanded,” which of course they are, you didn’t recruit an eligible player after 2011, and that “Chris Mullin has a bright future,” which is like Wally Pipp describing Lou Gehrig as a pretty good ball player. On the fashion front I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Lavin’s elaborate bouffant hairdo, which rose a good four inches off his forehead and was molded into what seemed to be a replica of the Flat Iron Building. In contrast to his usual grooming – vainglorious mousse and spray on tan – this new look has a degree of utility to it: if his career as a commentator goes into the shitter he can always audition for a Kid ‘n Play tribute band …. Rutgers University was founded in 1766, in New Jersey, which despite its reputation is not the worst state in the union and never will be until California falls into the ocean. As you might expect over nearly 250 years Rutgers has graduated any number of notable alumni; they run the gamut from the respected film actress Asia Carrera (born Jessica Steinhauser I kid you not) to Nobel Prize winners Milton Freeman and Toni Morrison; Ozzie Nelson quarterbacked the football team in the 20s; and James Gandolfini went there, as did Jim Valvano, NBA commissioner David Stern, former FBI director Louie Freeh, comedienne and giantess Judy Gold, chef Mario Batali, and Avery Brooks (Hawk on TVs Spenser for Hire); and oh yeah, Mr. Quincy Magoo was Rutgers grad, class of 1928 … The Rutgers Scarlet Knights were originally known as the Rutgers Queensmen. Perhaps worried that they would be portrayed as something less than butch they later changed their name to the Chanticleers, this a reference to a rooster in a fable popularized in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. This also was an unfortunate choice, for a couple of reasons. First, most Rutgers grads could not spell Chanticleer and even if they could none of them have ever heard of Chaucer. And second it gave opposing fans the opportunity to ridicule Rutgers players by calling them chickens and cocks. After the student body rejected a bunch of names – including the Redmen – the Scarlett Knight was unveiled in the late 50s …. Rutgers has been playing basketball since 1914, but except for a brief flirtation with success under Tom Young in the mid 70s, not very well. The ‘76 team though, featuring Phil Sellers, current coach Eddie Jordan and Hollis Copeland, entered the NCAA tournament undefeated – Indiana was undefeated that year as well – before losing to Michigan in the national semifinals … One of RU’s victims that year were the 1976 Redmen, one of Lou’s better teams and among the first in a long line of disappointments I remember well. Starters Frank Alagia, Glen Williams, George Johnson, Beaver Smith and Cecil Rellford went 23-4 in the regular season, losing only to undefeated Indiana in the Holiday Festival and then later on the road to Georgetown, Providence and Princeton. Saint John’s ended the season with two losses, first to Rutgers in the ECAC Metro tournament, and then later to eventual champion Indiana in the first round of the NCAA tournament. I don’t often give Lou a pass when it comes to his myriad NCAA failures, but that year Rutgers had to face Princeton, Uconn and VMI to make the Final Four – talk about your soft draw – whereas Lou had Indiana, North Carolina and Alabama in his half of the opening round bracket.


Pain Don’t Hurt

Christina Applegate pokies (6)

The undefeated Saint John’s University Red Storm put a pretty professional beat down on the UMBC Retrievers 75-53 Monday night at Carnesecca Arena. It wasn’t quite a blowout – SJU went up early, let them back in it after halftime, and put them away midway through the second period – but it’s the sort of game that will be a blowout once they develop a killer instinct. Regular readers are well aware that I’m far from an optimist and especially not about SJU, but still there have been some positives early on. The biggest one is that this team – unlike any SJU team we’ve watched over the past five years – is greater than the sum of its parts. Steve Lavin might have had better talent – who am I kidding, he did – but they always underachieved, that mostly a result of Lavin’s bizarre anti-coaching. Whereas these guys are getting better right before our eyes. The fact is that this team has improved more in the three games since the Saint Thomas debacle than Lavin’s teams did in three years. And the result is better basketball: no more purposeless perimeter passing until someone makes a play; no more indifferent defense designed to produce blocks at the rim; rational substitutions and rotations and time outs. It’s almost as if the coaching staff has watched a basketball game before. Obviously it’s too early to get excited and there’s no question that they’re going to take some vicious beatings, like e.g. on December 13th, but the way I see it everybody takes a beating sometimes.

PLAYERS: Mussini finished with 18 point and 6 assists having compiled in two games a stat line the likes of which I cannot recall from a Caucasian SJU player since the great Paul Berwanger wore the red and white. Ha, just kidding, I just like saying Berwanger. Pretty good start though. In a determined attempt to make those such as myself who thought he could not shoot free throws look like morons FM was 8 for 8 from the line. No static at all … Malik Ellison will be a fine basketball player once he learns that he’s not so much a senior in high school punking underclassmen as he is a college freshman getting punked by seniors. Although long-term he looks like an excellent prospect in the short term he looks like an excellent argument for freshmen ineligibility … Sima is so far averaging 8 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in his college career. To put that in perspective that puts him at this point in his career slightly ahead of David Russell and slightly behind of George Johnson. Hyperbole aside, he’s everything you would have hoped Obekpa might have developed into in a year or two, minus the drama …Only two games into the season and I’ve figured out how to tell the three new upperclassmen apart: Mvoioka has a bunch of tattoos, Johnson wears the dopey headband, and Williams is the other one … Who was it that said that Ron Mvouika looked to be the best of the incoming upperclassmen? Oh yeah, that was me. In a stunning turn of events I might have been right again: 17 points (6 of 7 from the floor and 4-4 from 3) and 4 assists. If his name wasn’t so ridiculously hard to spell he might even become my favorite player … Durand Johnson is starting to look like the player everyone said he was. He pretty much single handedly turned back the aborted UMBC comeback, scoring all 15 of his points in the second half … Williams otoh still looks rusty … Christian Jones had 7 and 7 and so far seems willing to do the sort of lunch bucket work that needs doing … Mullin knows so much about basketball that he evidently is capable of making even Abliveckovich look competent … Elijah Holifield played, but not very well. Also someone called Abdul Dial played, which I never heard of him before, but he has a pretty impressive high school resume (all county, honorable mention all-state) for a walk on

NOTES: I was almost disappointed not to see Steve Lavin in the studio at halftime, because I was looking forward to mocking him. Jim Jackson was there in his stead, which is a bit of a problem, because I don’t hate Jim Jackson. I mean sure, he’s a bit unctuous, but not to the Jon Rothstein level where you want to reach through the TV screen and smash his face in … University Maryland Baltimore County is a university located in Baltimore County in the state of Maryland, which might not seem like a lot but is of no small comfort to a cynic like me in today’s post-modern world. Notable UMBC alumni include the actress Kathleen Turner and pretty much no one else of whom I’ve ever heard. Turner was pretty hot in Body Heat but that was a long time ago – now she weighs like three hundred pounds and if the press reports are true drinks even more than I do. Speaking of heat, and bodies: In 1987 Turner’s then husband night club owner Jay Weiss was indicted when the unfortunately named Happyland nightclub in the Bronx burned to the ground killing 87 persons, this after a hat check girl spurned the advances of a patron who returned later and attempted to rekindle their romance with a gallon of gasoline. Now, that description might have sounded a bit callous, but it was no where near as callous as what Turner said while the bodies were still smoldering, which was that the fire was “unfortunate” and “could have happened at a McDonald’s.” And I guess especially at a McDonald’s that had no fire alarm, no fire extinguishers, no sprinkler system, and where the fire exits were barricaded to prevent patrons from entering without paying the cover charge, as was the case at Happyland … The only other UMBC grad of note is Johnathon Schaech, star of Roadhouse 2, and he’s only notable because (a) Roadhouse is the greatest movie of all time and (b) he was in real life married to Kelly Bundy, which gave me an excuse to post the Rule 5 picture that adorns this post … Continuing with tonight’s movie theme, the UMBC mascot is a retriever called True Grit, although whether so-called after Charles Portis’s only readable novel, the original John Wayne version of the movie – marred by the eccentric casting of Glen Campbell as La Beouf – or the superior Coen Brothers remake of a few years ago – which succeeds despite the fact that Matt Damon is in it, because Matt Damon sucks – it’s impossible to know. UMBC announced a few years ago that True had a sister called I kid you not Trudy Grit, who they run out there for women’s sports, which is – wait for it – probably something to do with Title K-9. Canine, geddit?

Good night and don’t forget to tip your waitress.


This Is How We Do


And so the long sports desert is behind us and college basketball is back and with it so am I. Much to the delight of my many fans it goes without saying. I’ve been in many ways dreading this moment: once again this year I am tasking my drunk ass with writing 30 or so essays about the futility that is Saint John’s basketball. Looking ahead, that seems something of a chore. Over the last several years it has not been. Very quickly into Steve Lavin’s tenure at SJU I grew to loathe him and these essays served as a purgative: they got out hate. Although a lifelong SJU fan I have over the past several years been rooting for them to lose, because I wanted the repulsive Steve Lavin to fail, so that I could mock his incompetence. And Steve Lavin obliged me by being an inept bungler. So not only was I afforded the opportunity to ridicule the object of my detestation, but I did so gleefully, because I was delighted that Lavin’s floundering disappointed everyone else. He really was a godsend, at least in terms of my literary output. But now it’s different: I want Chris Mullin to succeed. And more than that: I believe he will, and so now I need him to, if for no other reason than to prove myself right. But the rub is: if he does succeed, I’ll have nothing to write about. Cruel fate. Because it’s not like I’m going to sit around writing happy little essays about how great “we’re” doing, or whatever. On the bright side I can usually find something to be miserable about, so there’s that … Re Mullin, I‘ve been surprised to hear many long-time Saint John’s fans doubting his ability to succeed as head coach. I can perhaps understand the skepticism of young fans who never saw him play or maybe even don’t know who he is, but many of the doubters are middle-aged men who saw what Mullin did on the court and afterwards. To me it’s like doubting whether Mozart might be a successful seventh grade music teacher because he doesn’t know who Katy Perry is. Personally I’ve no doubt that Mullin will be successful at SJU: he’s never failed at basketball before and in fact has achieved a level of success over a 40-year period equaled by only a select few. And of all the roles he’s attempted coaching at the college level is probably the easiest: if you don’t believe that, explain the successes of obvious lunkheads like Jim Boeheim and Bob Knight … About the exhibition games the less said the better. It looked to me like Mullin just rolled out the balls the first game and didn’t really care what happened. Which makes a lot of sense if you think about it: he has 10 new players, 6 of whom are freshman and perhaps the best of those sat. In the three days between STAC and Sonoma SJU went from looking like a bad D3 team to one that could compete for a D2 national championship. After Wagner SJU looks like they could contend for midpack in the NEC. That sort of improvement is all coaching baby! In point of fact Mullin looks comfortable on the sidelines, engaged with his players and has not in three games made the sort of egregious strategic blunder that the former coach used to make twice before the first TV time out … About the Wagner game there’s not a lot to take away. Saint John’s beat a crappy team of the sort they always beat in the preseason – but for a couple of banked in threes it would have been a laugher. Had they lost there might have been something to say, but they didn’t, so there isn’t. Either way this is going to be a long brutal season. But wait till next year bums. Or perhaps the year after that. It was nice though to see Mullin get the first one under his belt.

PLAYERS: As the ever perceptive Tarik Turner noted during the first half of Saint John’s first exhibition game “it’s still early in the season,” so I’ve as of yet been unable to form any firm opinions about the various newcomers – unlike many knowledgeable fans I actually have to see them play before that happens. But I do have some early impressions, viz … Frederico Mussini looks to be the great white hope the Red & White Club has been waiting for lo these many years. It’s unfortunate that he has to play the point this year, because he seems like a two guard to me. Initially he looks to be a step slow but I expect he’ll adjust to the speed of the college game. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to want to cover anybody and that doesn’t have anything to do with footspeed. Hopefully he’ll work on his free throw shooting, because he looks to be an adventure at the line … Malik Ellison has the tools and pedigree to be a good 4-year player but in a perfect world he’d sit on the bench for a year. This being Saint John’s, we’re about as far from a perfect world as can be … Steve Lavin described Christian Jones as having the ”best post-up game of any freshman I’ve ever coached.” Leaving aside that Steve Lavin is an idiot, Jones has so far looked to have turned into the player Lavin said he already was three years ago. He’s always had the tools – good hands, good feet, good body – it was his mind that wasn’t right. Maybe the lightbulb has come on, as it sometimes does, as it did for Pointer last year. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Jones would make anyone forget Jakarr Sampson – as did one delusional fan last year – but his play thus far has been a pleasant surprise … Yankuba Sima looks thus far like a poor man’s Chris Obekpa, minus the psychotic smile, stupid shorts, attention seeking behavior, drug abuse problem, anger management issues, and poor free throw shooting. In fact I predict boldly that by February we’ll all be saying Chris Whobekpa? … With Phil Greene finally having graduated Amar Albavivovich – who makes Tomas Jasilionus look like Dirk Nowitski – has been anointed my whipping boy until he too gets the hell out. Lavin bringing AA back from his European “recruiting” trip of several years ago is like when I’m coming back from out of town and stop at the last Thruway rest stop before my exit and buy the old lady an I LOVE NEW YORK snow globe to show that I was thinking about her the whole time …. For the most part I can’t yet tell Mvouika, Williams and Johnson apart, except one of them wears a dopey headband. Obviously it was a good idea on Mullin’s part to bring in a bunch of upperclassmen, I’m just not sure it was a good idea to bring in these three. Just kidding. They seem to be all shaking off the cobwebs and even if they don’t they’re only here for a year or two anyway. Of the three Mvouika has impressed me the most thus far, but Williams looks to have the most potential … Felix Balamou – who Steve Lavin activated for a game during his red shirt year costing him a year of eligibility – was declared ineligible by the NCAA shortly before game time. According to @NYPost_Brazille Balamou’s eligibility issue was leaked to the NCAA by Steve Lavin or one of his flunkies. If this is true it’s ironic: it would mean that the thing least damaged during Steve Lavin’s tenure at Saint John’s was Steve Lavin’s prostate … Absent Marcus Lovett walk-on Elijah Holifield suddenly becomes something of a big deal. Well, not quite all of a sudden. Saint John’s has a long recent history of walk-ons becoming integral team members – e.g. Andre Stanley, Phil Missere, and most of Steve Lavin’s bench. If Holifield is half the player Andre Stanley was that would be a good thing

NOTES: A bunch of noteworthy things happened since last we spoke, but none more note or worthy than this:


I have been for the past several years posting the most egregious and slanderous bile about Steve Lavin that arose in the fever swamp of my inner dialogue – which inner dialogue frankly makes Pink Flamingos look like It’s a Wonderful Life. I have in fact written nicer things about Stalin. (I like his mustache, sue me.) During all that time, I heard nothing. And then suddenly over the summer: BLOCKED. So what was it that caused it, finally? A fairly innocuous response to a tweet of Lavin’s describing the moribund Phil Greene as a “basketball ambassador” or some such twaddle. And all I said was something like “You’re no longer the SJ coach. Get out and don’t let the door hit you,” to which I might have appended the hashtag #SteveLavinIsWorstCoachEver. Doesn’t seem like much considering how much abuse I’ve slagged on him over the years. Evidently though that was the last straw. I don’t flatter myself that Lavin regularly read my little blog, although I know some staffers did: e.g. Ron Linfonte blocked me like three years ago. I mean Ron Linfonte, good grief … Speaking of Lavin, he showed up doing commentary at half time on Fox Sports One. I almost didn’t recognize him because he was wearing a shirt and tie, his hair was no longer died jet back and caked with mousse, and he wasn’t wearing the Oompa Loompa pancake orange clown make up he sported when last we saw him on the SJU sidelines. When he opened his mouth though and the same old vapid bullshit came out, I knew it was him right off … Speaking of the primordial slime, does the air smell a little sweeter this year? Are sunsets a little more poignant? One reason might be that Jim Burr is no longer a college basketball referee. Well, that’s not exactly true. A truer statement would be that although Burr stopped refereeing games about 12 years ago he will no longer be getting paid for it, having announced his long overdue retirement over the summer. The Big East, college basketball, organized sports, and life in these United States will be better for his absence … Friday’s SJU opponent Wagner College is in Staten Island, which for some reason is still a borough of New York City. Notable Wagner alumni include most valuable poster We Are SJU, political analyst and legendary drunk Bob Beckel, three Miss New Jerseys (2002, 2007, 2008, weird right?) and Rich Kotite, to whom Tom Pecora should be eternally grateful lest he be forever remembered as the worst coach in New York City sports history. Little remembered fact: portentous gasbag Norman “Boomer” Esiason was the Jets QB in Kotite’s first year, 1995, when the Jets only lost 80 percent of their games. The next year the Jets – behind Neil O’Donnell and later Frank “Third” Reich – won only one game, that versus Arizona. The starting QB for Arizona that year? If you guessed Boomer Esiason, you win. Unlike Pecora. Remember that the next time you’re wasting time listening to Boomer pontificate about, well, anything … Finally, a word about Marcus Lovett, recently declared ineligible by the NCAA. Now, saying that the NCAA is a little bit corrupt is like saying that the Emperor Caligula was a little bit of a scallywag. It is in fact the worst and most corrupt organization since the Knights Templar. Consider: in the entire fetid morass of college athletics there are currently only 15 college sports programs on NCAA probation. They include the Henderson State University (d2) women’s basketball program, the Clark Atlanta University (d2) women’s tennis program, the SUNY Potsdam (d3) women’s hockey program and the Southern Miss (d1) men’s tennis program. Meanwhile basketball players at North Carolina haven’t opened a book since 2002, players at U Kentucky have a private chef, and Rick Pitino is operating a brothel. If the NCAA was serious about policing college athletics Marcus Lovett and Felix Balamou would have suited up for SJU Friday evening and Scott Drew would have been pelted with rotten fruit at halftime. But the only thing the NCAA cares about is how much money it can shove in its pockets. So Marcus Lovett will spend this season on the sidelines, in a suit and tie. No doubt that will teach him the lesson he failed to learn in high school.