Old Lang Sima


RECAP: Saint John’s lost its fourth straight game New Year’s Eve, 80-70 to Creighton University at Carnesecca Arena. It was a game you’d like to win oh well but as a spectacle it was pretty entertaining and with this team as currently comprised entertaining is about all you can hope for … Essentially, Creighton went up ten midway through the first half and stayed there. Sure, it went to seven or twelve and whoever you were rooting for you said okay, this is it, a blow out or a comeback, but the scales never tipped. Every time Saint John’s threatened to make a game of it someone would bounce the ball off their foot and Creighton would hit a three and it would be 11 again. That went on for a while and I would have hit the FF button except I have a very strong constitution … Saint John’s was troubled by a quick guard and had no answer for Geoffrey Groselle, who sounds like Chaucer character but is actually some golem from Texas in the Kent Benson/Joe Kleine mold, meaning that he’ll have a nice career as a car salesman in Houston after a few years playing overseas. Despite that and as bad as SJ played, the numbers were even. Both teams shot ~ 40 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three; both had 39 rebounds and 13 assists; TOs and blocks were even. Free throws though were 30 to 20 and the score differential was 10. Coincidence? You make the call. Beside the differential Creighton was in the bonus early in both halves, which slowed the game to their benefit. It seemed to me that the refs were not calling the body, which accrued to the benefit to the uncoordinated Midwest lummoxes. Not that it would have made any difference, SJ shot 62 percent from the FT line and that includes three guys who went 10 for 10 out of 19 total … I was impressed by the coach, Doug McDermott’s father. I wouldn’t say that he coached Mullin’s balls off but he’s a clever son of a bitch and on a level playing field will win you a couple of games. Last year he played the triangle and two versus SJ and it flummoxed Lavin for about 20 minutes. Anyway, getting Mullin to coach these guys is like getting Werner von Braun to tune up your Volkswagon. If Knute Rockne were the coach it wouldn’t make any difference, they just don’t have the horses. They do though have the foals

PLAYERS: Malik Ellison led the team in scoring with 17 points, including 6 for 6 from the free throw line and a Sports Center put-back. But his entry into the game in both halves coincided with Creighton runs. I didn’t write it down in the first half but in the second Saint John’s was down seven when Ellison entered at 14:50 and was down 12 – the biggest deficit of the game – with eight minutes left. It did not seem to me that his play led directly to the deficit, but if it were merely his presence that would mean he is a Jonah, which is worse, because bad juju does not go away … Johnson (14 pts, 4 rb, 2 steals, 2 blocks) kept them in it in the first half. In one remarkable sequence he dove to the floor, wrestled the ball away from a Creighton player and threw a pass over his head to ignite a fast break. Which is a nice effort from a lazy player … Great white hope Federico Mussini was 1 for 5 from three. He’s now 1-12 in his last two and 10 for 51 since Syracuse. And no Lovett on the horizon … Sima had 13 points and 5 rebounds but generally got punked by the white guy, which should not happen. Got T’ed up when he hung on the rim to quash a SJU run … Chris Jones had nine rebounds in 15 minutes … Balamou reminds me of what Dom Pointer looked like as a junior when they used to clear it out for him and say make a play. It’s not quite basketball but it’s entertaining nonetheless. And anyway unfortunately Balamou is a senior … Speaking of seniors – high school seniors – Yawke, who should be one, had 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks in his first BE game … Mvouika and Jessica Albavicowitz were non factors.

NOTES: This blog is hosted by Word Press, which recently added a feature allowing owners to see the search terms by which users locate their website on the vast internets. As you might expect, some people were searching for this site specifically, using appropriate terms


big east boards

the dead storm st. john’s


And so on.


Others were looking for general information on SJU basketball. People were directed here seeking information on

does jamal branch have any eligibility left (No thank goodness)

where is rico hines coaching (who cares)

will steve lavin. be fired at sju (my sources say yes)

what ever happened to heath orvis basketball (Heath who?)

does jim burr have anything against st. john’s (no, he had something against basketball)


Others were fans looking for answers to burning questions like

why does ed cooley`s head look fucked up?


And then there were the haters

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and the curious

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And then there was this guy, I’m not sure what he was looking for but I hope he finds it

raylan givens gets spanked


A reader writes to ask: Fun, this is comedy gold, but wtf does it have to do with today’s Creighton game. Well reader, after a loss last year to Creighton that dropped SJU to 2-5 in the BE and signified to me the end of the SJU season I wrote an essay that described Nebraska as “a big flat pile of nothing” and “other than South Dakota perhaps the stupidest state in the union.” To which essay an angry Cornhusker replied pointing out the many virtues of his state and the many prominent Nebraska-breds who have made contributions to American culture, up to and including Kelly Cuoco, a piece of milk fed veal whose picture adorned the recap


The appearance of that one photo has driven the following traffic here from perverts searching for

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Not that there’s anything wrong with that … Happy New Year, and speaking of which is there a better way to ring it in than with Dan Fogelsberg? I mean, come on:

We went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn’t find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car





Cock Games


It wasn’t a bad game, Saint John’s loss to South Carolina 75-61. Of course it wasn’t a good game either, but there’s a big difference between rolling over like a bitch to some Division One Johnny come lately on the one hand and getting ground down by a more experienced more talented team on the other, the other being what happened at Mohegan Sun on Tuesday night. Not being delusional I didn’t expect them to win and so have to settle for being pleased that at least they bothered to show up, which has not been the case always this year … Once again the numbers were not kind to Saint John’s: they shot 45 percent from the floor, 25 percent from three (5 for 20) and an astounding 12 for 27 from the free throw line, where they are now shooting .63 percent as a team for the year – only Mussini, Johnson and Balamou are above 70 percent. And they were outrebounded by nearly double, 43-26. That’s not going to beat too many people and certainly not a South Carolina team that shot nearly 50 percent from the floor and even higher from three, which is the second or third time this year that a team has shot a better percentage from farther away from the basket than closer to it, which you wouldn’t think is possible, unless you’d watched Saint John’s guards not play defense, in which case you might … The real games start New Year’s Eve versus Creighton. For the superstitious among you Saint John’s has not won a game (0-5) on December 31st in the Twenty-First Century. So either they’re due or they’re cursed. I’m guessing it’s the latter.

PLAYERS: Lazy and shiftless Durand Johnson (16 and 5) once again led the team in scoring and rebounding… I was informed this week by a knowledgeable basketball fan that Federico Mussini is the best shooter Saint John’s has had since Chris Mullin, despite which pronouncement Mussini missed all seven threes he took, which makes him now 9 for 46 (.19) this month outside of the Syracuse game. Based on those numbers he’s not even the best shooter since Terrance Mullin … I suspect that once again the plus minus does not flatter Malik Ellison, who was oh for 6 from the floor. It’s unclear to me why he plays at all, much less the minutes he does at the expense of Ron Mvouika. I guess maybe they’re letting him take a beating now rather than down the road or maybe Pervis has photos of Mullin in flagrante with a six-pack of hard cider. Obviously it’s much too soon to write Ellison off but it wouldn’t bother me if I did not see him play again for a while …. The rest of them did stuff, but none of it noteworthy enough for me to even bother reciting. What am I a box score?

NOTES: Unlike many SJU fans I don’t have moles or sources who feed me scoops and insider information but I did hear when Norm was let go that Frank Martin – resplendent last night in a three piece pinstripe suit from the Benny Blanco from the Bronx collection – was being considered as a possible replacement. Alas that did not come to pass, partly I suspect based upon his how should I put this delicately, fiery Latin disposition. Because he’s a bit of a psychopath. According to Martin’s Wikipedia entry he was drawn to coaching when as “a bouncer at a local nightclub .. he was subjected to gunfire while on duty,” which I don’t see the career trajectory there but maybe it’s just me. After a high school career that saw Martin have one of his state championships vacated for recruiting violations, Martin ended up at Cinncinnati where he studied at the vomit splattered feet of Bob Huggins, who he followed to Kansas State and eventually replaced as head coach … Speaking of guns and heinous criminals, the game was called by Doug Gottlieb, who’s awful. But it turns out there’s something Gottlieb – who said many dumb things last night, the dumbest being that “Amar Alibegovic is a tremendous shooter,” which, no he isn’t – knows less about than college basketball. Gottlieb tweeted this week relative to his views on gun control that the right to bear arms is a chimera because the Bill of Rights is not part the US Constitution, a statement of such monstrous ignorance that it boggles the mind. Perhaps if Gottlieb had not gotten expelled from Notre Dame for stealing from his classmates he might have been afforded the opportunity to take a civics class, and then would not be so completely ignorant of history, the law, and liberty … The halftime crew included the unctuous Jon Rothstein, who exudes all the sincerity of an Albanian kidney broker, Wally Sczcerbiak’s terrifying eyebrows, a giantess called Dana and someone of whom I’ve never heard called Swin Cash (pictured above) whose sentence starting “If I were Frank Martin” I completed “I’d bang Frank Martin” but fortunately Mrs. Fun was in the kitchen baking cookies and didn’t hear me.



Down the Shore


RECAP: There are days when I can’t even bother faking it, and today is one of those. Not because Saint John’s lost 83-74 to New Jersey Institute – previously oh and 21 against the Big East – at Carnesecca Arena on Sunday afternoon. The losing I can take, I’m well used to it. But sometimes it’s exhausting the way they lose, doing the same dumb things over and over again, not covering guys and missing free throws and whatever. What’s tiring is summoning the patience that losing demands, and especially when the future looks so promising. I mean sure, I’ve been fooled before: there was not a coaching hire since Mahoney that I thought wasn’t a good one and although I wouldn’t throw Mullin in with that conga line of losers I wouldn’t on the other hand presume that he’s the only ship the Utopia Triangle won’t swallow whole, because Jamaica is where coaches come to die. But of course this talk is silly and too premature to even be premature. What is needed is patience. But today I could not summon it and so fast forwarded through the last eight minutes of the loss, because I’ve seen those eight minutes before … So yes where was I: Saint John’s lost 83-74 to NJIT Sunday, blah blah blah blah. Here’s a quiz: Team A shot 34 percent from the floor, 25 percent from three, and 50 percent from the free throw line and Team B shot 52 percent from the floor, 55 percent from three and 75 percent from the line. GUESS WHO WON? Exactly. Relative to those numbers the ebb and flow of the game is meaningless and I can’t be bothered to describe it … As ridiculous as was Team A’s offense, its defense was worse: to the extent Saint John’s cover anyone they do not do it well, and especially the guards, who two barely D-1 guys called Lynn and Chris lit up for 51. Let us lay the blame where the blame should be laid, in the backcourt. These guys stink … And meanwhile Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond sit on the bench watching this disaster unfold, which is like Sir Isaac Newton and Copernicus watching their second grade math class fail an addition test. If my patience is being tested imagine how they feel … This was a tough beat considering what’s coming. They better beat someone by New Year’s, because after that it’s not going to be pretty for a while.

PLAYERS: It’s fashionable among the Red & White crowd to blame Durand Johnson (10 points 4 rebounds) for Saint John’s troubles: their chief claim is that Johnson is lazy. That’s because the Red & White crowd are racist, but not so unaware of it that they still call lazy black guys shiftless. Meanwhile Federico Mussini hasn’t covered anyone at the three point line since Garibaldi was a force in Italian politics and he’s their savior. Whatever. Federico was 5 for 14 from three Sunday, which makes him 9 for 39 this December absent the Syracuse game. Imagine what Heath Orvis might have done had he been afforded 10 threes a game, or Steve Shurina. Oh well, I reminisced enough about GWH Bobby Kelly last time. Time to move on … Mvouika (12 points 4 assists) is another guy who doesn’t cover anybody. It’s a shame he’s Saint John’s best offensive player, otherwise they could sit him … It was in my notes last time that Chris Jones is aggressive going to the basket but “timid finishing,” which is true of all the Saint John’s bigs. They work very hard to establish position but when it comes time to seal the deal go flaccid. Jones had the softest double double in the history of Division I; Sima had 14 rebounds, most of those of his own misses; Yawke was fine but he should still be in high school … Prediction: Albiveckowack is a clown car now but by the time he graduates he’s going to be the best white player at Saint John’s since, I don’t know, Bob Werdan. Which BWP starting five in my lifetime comprises Mullin, Werdan, Wennington, Ron Rowan and I guess maybe the ill-used Tim Doyle, whose basketball IQ was so high he transferred rather than play for Mike Jarvis. The other guy I might go for is Phil Missere, anyone but floor slapping dope Matt Brust, the most overrated player in SJ history. And yes old guys don’t bother emailing about Billy Schaeffer and the Mcintyre brothers and whoever, they were before my time … I’d like to see the plus minus for Malik Ellison, who played nearly 30 minutes, because the game quickly went south when he came in in the first half. He’s the sort of four year player I wish had played when Lou was coaching because he’d never have seen the floor as a freshman because he’s not very good

NOTES: I got nothing. Steve Lavin showed up at halftime commenting on the game, which is like Mrs. O’Leary showing up and commenting on the Chicago fire, but you have to live with his shamelessness. Looks like he’s gone back to coloring his hair although it might be that he has so much mousse on there that you can’t see the gray. Between his coif and Donny Marshall’s sculpted eyebrows it must have been a long morning in the make-up room.

The L Word


GAME: There’s a temptation after a game like Friday’s humiliating 73-51 home loss to recent Division I convert Incarnate Word to say well, Saint John’s played poorly, could happen to anyone, chalk up the el and get ready for the next one. Which is true, but it’s unfortunately the same thing Syracuse was saying about Saint John’s after their win last weekend. Because that’s what you say when you lose a game you expected to win. After the Syracuse game Mullin told his players that when they do things the right way they can beat anyone in the country. Hopefully after last night he told them that this is what happens when you don’t do things the right way: anyone in the country can beat you … On offense Saint John’s SJ didn’t look too bad, at least not by the numbers: they shot 40 percent from the floor and from three; rebounds were more or less even; they had 13 assists and 6 blocks. The bad news was they turned the ball over 15 times and were 7 of 13 from the FT line, many of those misses comprising the front end of one and ones while IW was pulling away. The defense was another story: IW shot only 40 percent from the floor but 45 percent from behind the three point line – from whence SJU allowed them to shoot without a care in the world – and 14 of 15 from the FT line … All in all a pretty humiliating loss for a team some thought might have turned the corner. Which if they did they did they just ran over a pedestrian in the crosswalk. The only good news so far this week is that the semester’s over and a decision on M Lovett is allegedly nigh. Because this team could use a point guard.

PLAYERS: Durand Johnson led the team in points (15) and rebounds (6) and Sima had 11 points and 5 rebounds. So much for the players who played marginally well … Take out the Syracuse game and Mussini (7 points) is shooting 4 for 21 from three this December … Albiveckowich had 6 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes but was 1-5 from the FT line … Chris Jones had 2 points in 26 minutes … Mvouika was similarly futile: no points in 16 minutes. Strange that an offensively challenged team can’t get him some looks: he’s shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor and is fourth in the BE in three point shooting. But he had less attempts than anyone and as many as Malik Ellison, who had four turnovers in 11 minutes in his first game since November 16. He turned the ball over 4 times in that game as well. It’s too early for that to be called a pattern, but it’s definitely a tendency.

NOTES: Speaking of bad losses, there was a fan board exchange this week wherein a poster noted that he was bringing his kid to his first Saint John’s game, to which I replied (presciently it turned out): “May I be the first to welcome your son to a lifetime of disappointment.” Which in turn set me to thinking about my own wretched youth and all the angst that Saint John’s has caused me through the years. I’ve been considering lately as I commence the slow slide into the grave how my life might have been different if e.g. I’d rooted for the Yankees and Cowboys and Celtics rather than Saint John’s and the Detroit Lions and the Republican Party. Consider the effect of these NCAA tournament results on the young psyche, and remember, these were Lou’s good teams.

March 14, 1982, at Nassau Coliseum: Alabama – who a year earlier beat SJU in the NIT at Carnesecca Arena Alumni Hall – beat SJU 69-68 in a game in which Alabama shot 37 free throws, scoring 40 percent of their points from the line. Saint John’s starting five had 21 fouls between them and Mullin fouled out, which how is that even possible, he never covered anybody. Kevin Williams scored five points in nine minutes compared to Bobby Kelly’s two in 37 and Jeff Allen scored 10 points on 5-5 from the floor, versus zero points from Wennington in 20 minutes.

In 1983 Lou lost to Vern Fleming’s Georgia in the first round, 70-67. Kevin Williams had 12 pts in 20 minutes vs zero for Bobby Kelly.

March 15, 1984: Saint John’s lost to Temple in the first round when Terrance Stanbury buried a 40 foot jump shot after Mullin missed the front end of a one and one. Team featured twin point guards (Moses and Jackson) and towers (Allen and Wennington).

1985, loss to Georgetown, understandable, although I would have pounded the ball into Berry.

1986, loss to Auburn, Saint John’s has no answer for Chuck Pearson.

March 15, 1987: Saint John’s lost to DePaul when Dallas Comegys committed a lane violation after trying to brick a FT off the back rim at the end of regulation, except the lane violation wasn’t called and NYC native Rod Strickland hit a buzzer beater off the rebound to send the game to OT, where in a stunning turn of events Saint John’s lost.

In 1988, a first round lost to the Vern Maxwell/Dwayne Schintzius version of Florida, 62-59. Florida shot 17 free throws to SJ’s 8. Mercifully I have no independent recollection of this game.

In 1989 Lou won the NIT, woo hoo, which NIT banner proudly adorns the walls of Carnesecca Arena Alumni Hall to this day. Although the team featured freshman Malik Sealy, this era commenced what knowledgeable fans such as myself refer to as the Muto years.

March 18, 1990. Lou lost to eventual national champion Duke 76-72. The game turned late in the second half when near-cripple Billy Singleton cleanly stole the ball at half court but was called for a foul and then a double technical when he bounced the ball in frustration. SJ was up six when the foul was called and the game was even when play resumed. SJU never recovered. The repulsive Christian Laettner – other than Bill Walton the greatest white college basketball player I ever saw, better even than Mullin – was 0 for 7 from the field and had six points. In a stunning turn Duke was awarded 32 free throws, to 15 for Saint John’s.

In 1991 Lou beat #1 Ohio State but lost again to DewK in the regionals. DooK shot 28 FTs to SJ’s 6.

In 1992 Sean Muto and Malik Sealy’s senior year, SJ lost to Tulane, in the game that convinced Lou to hang up his sweater.

Now, that might not rise to the heights of despair suffered by fans of say the Buffalo Bills or Minnesota Vikings, but only because Saint John’s never reached as many championship games as those guys. Our hopes were always dashed much earlier. So to that guy, whoever he was, consider buying your kid some cute Duke rompers this Christmas, and maybe some Patriots sheets to lay his head on at night. And to the kid, good luck, you’re going to need it.








Excuse Me


RECAP: It seems like more but it was only a year ago that self-proclaimed king of February Steve Lavin had the signature victory of his SJU career, in his fifth and final December as head coach. Chris Mullin took the same magic carpet ride up Signature Victory Mountain on the second Sunday in his first December, when his Red Storm put something of a vicious beating on the 13-point favorite Syracuse Orange at Madison Square Garden Sunday afternoon. Last year Phil Greene, until then moribund .28 career three point shooter – he was 80 for 283 five games into his senior year – awoke from his three year coma and scored 11 straight points to put the Orange away late, much to the delight of the long suffering Saint John’s faithful. This year’s breakout performance was by just as improbable a suspect, but it led to a victory that at least one long-time fan found more satisfying, perhaps because one of our own was on the sidelines. Personally I don’t share the animus many SJU fans feel toward Syracuse. I mean, sure, they’ve kicked the shit out of SJ for years, but the way I see it everybody has to take a beating sometime, and if you have to, why not at the hands of a hall of fame curmudgeon like Jim Boeheim. As opposed to say Jeff Neubauer. But for now at least, Saint John’s is once again New York’s team. Merry Christmas … The game was actually over pretty early. Saint John’s went on a run midway through the first half and were up 9 at halftime, 40-31. Syracuse didn’t get within seven the rest of the way. Every time they looked to make a game of it they were repulsed. On offense SJU played a double high post that flummoxed the 3-2 and on defense Syracuse stunk on offense: they shot 35 percent from the floor, 20 percent from three, and 19-31 from the FT line. SJU on the other hand shot 50 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three, and had 51 rebounds and 22 assists, this from a team that scored 48 points versus Niagara on Wednesday. It helped that Syracuse didn’t press most of the game. Because when they did it was ugly … Mullin was dapper in a suit and tie for his first appearance at MSG, but then I suspect he always dresses up when he goes to church. It seems evident to me that he’s growing into the job and is going to be as good at this as he was at everything else.

PLAYERS:  I noted last recap that I had developed a sneaking suspicion that Amar A-L-I-B-E-G-O-V-I-C was starting to resemble a basketball player. To say that Sunday reinforced that impression would be an understatement: he scored 7 points off the bench in the first half to spur SJU to their lead and finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds; he was 3 of 4 from three, including one from the M in Madison Square Garden. Whether he can sustain it is another question, but better Phil Greene for a day than schmuck for a lifetime … Mussini had 17 points, including 5 -7 from three. He had a rough postgame interview though … Speaking of Phil Greene, Durand Johnson had 15 points on 6-16 shooting. Except if PG4 had 7 rebounds and 4 assists you’d throw him a parade … Sima had 9 points and 8 rebounds and was aggressive in the high post, albeit he threw a bunch of lazy passes … Yawke reminds me either of a left handed Malik Sealy or a shorter Walter Berry, I haven’t put my finger on it yet. He’s not as polished as Sealy was as a freshman or as imposing as Berry, but if he develops even a midrange jump shot he’s going to be a difficult proposition … Mvouika had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Currently he’s 4th in the BE in 3 point shooting at 46 percent … Christian Jones did nothing worth me even looking to see what Christian Jones did … Balawho? Felix tried one of his crazy drives to the basket and was not seen again. I didn’t miss him.

NOTES: The broadcast featuring Bill Rafferty was a delight, marred only by the appearance of Steve Lavin as in stupido studio guest. Attention was brought to the fact that Lavin had last week ‘predicted’ a SJU victory (perhaps Khadim Ndiaye appeared to him in a dream), for which I mocked him, for which he must be given begrudging credit, even though it’s a chickenshit prediction: if the underdog wins you’re a genius and if they lose no body mentions it. Also chickenshit, Lavin took credit for recruiting Federico Mussini, this after Mullin in the postgame interview gave special credit to Lou for his help in that regard, whose efforts Lavin dismissed because he’s, you know, so classy. He also he said the Big East is better this year than last, which of course it is, he’s no longer coaching in it. … This week saw the passing of Adolph “Dolph” Shayes, who was remarkable not only because no one names their kid Adolph anymore after that bit of unpleasantness in Germany in the last century. Nor was it merely because he was a Jewish basketball player who achieved success at the highest levels – a select list that includes coaches Reds Auerbach and Holtzman and Larry Brown, criminal mastermind Doug Gottlieb, Bernard King’s bff Ernie Grunfeld, Amar’e Stoudemire (huh?) and former SJU target Sylven Landesberg … It’s tempting, every time one of these old white players dies, to say to yourself well sure, but how would he have fared in today’s game, which includes negroes and other minorities. And the answer is probably not as well as he did 70 years ago. Because if you figure that all the bad white players in a particular segregated league were replaced by really good minority players, the good white players who were left would have fared worse. But on the other hand reprobates like e.g. Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle would have had the benefit of trainers and drugs and other modern therapies to ameliorate their degeneracies, leading to longer more productive careers. And conversely all the really good minority players would no longer be playing against the bad minority players who populated the bottom half of their segregated league. So it seem to me to be all a bit of a wash. Ruth might not have hit .356 for his career if he had to face Satchell Paige and Smokey Joe Williams every four days, but he wouldn’t have hit .256 either … So if Dolph Shayes played in the 60s or 70s he might not have retired second all-time in scoring and third all-time in rebounding, but he probably would have been pretty good nonetheless. Against the players that were available to play against while he was playing, Shayes in high school won a borough championship in his native Bronx; went to the FF as a 16 year old freshman at NYU; and was the 4th pick in the NBA draft. He was a 12 time NBA all-star. His team made the playoffs 15 of his 16 years in the NBA. He won a championship with the Syracuse Nationals in 1955. In his career he scored more points that Earl Monroe, Rick Barry and Dave Bing, had more rebounds that Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Elgin Baylor and more assists than Dave Debusschere, Billy Cunningham and Sam Jones. After his playing days he went on to be named as NBA coach of the year in 1963, when his 76ers lost to Bill Russell’s Celtics in the NBA finals. So all in all, nice job and RIP … Speaking of cross generational differences, this week the delicate progressive flowers at SUNY Albany were once again afforded the opportunity to alleviate the stress associated with their final exams by cavorting with therapy dogs, which are paid for by your tax dollars. It’s a shame their great grandparents were not afforded the same opportunity when they were storming the beaches at Normandy, otherwise the Nazis might not have won World War II. That’s apropos of nothing, except I saw it in the paper this morning and thought jesus what a load of pussies … And finally from the where are they now file, former SJU guard Max Hooper is lighting it up at Oakland University, where he’s averaging 14 ppg and shooting nearly 50 percent from three. When he recruited Hooper Steve Lavin reported that he was the best shooter he’s ever coached since Jason Kapono, so his success three years later at a mid major comes as no surprise to anyone. What might is that Hooper’s attempted zero 2-point field goals this year and only six 2-pt field goals in three years in Division One. Now that, my friends, is a role player.

Queens Logic


RECAP: Recap? More like recrap, amirite? Seriously, what can I write about Saint John’s 48-44 victory over Niagara Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena that I haven’t already scraped off the bottom of my shoe. To the extent that the two teams played basketball, they played it poorly. Thus it was not so much a game of runs as it was of droughts: first Niagara didn’t score for 6 minutes and SJU went up seven; then SJU didn’t score for 6 minutes and Niagara pulled within two. They went futilely back and forth like that until the end: SJU was up 10 with 5 minutes left and Niagara was down 3 with 40 seconds left. Christian Jones made two free throws to seal it, which was fitting, as he had clanked several earlier to let Niagara back in it … As you might expect, both teams were awful by the numbers. SJU shot 33 percent from the floor, 17 percent from three and 50 percent from the FT line. Not to be outsucked Niagara shot 25 percent from the floor, 16 percent from 3 and 54 percent from the line. The teams combined for over 100 rebounds – there were more rebounds in this game than points scored, there’s something you don’t see every day – 35 turnovers, 37 fouls, and 20 missed free throws … Next up Syracuse, which I expect to be a slaughter reminiscent of the time Germany played Poland in World War II. Maybe Boeheim takes it easy on Mullin for old time sake and calls off the dogs early – or maybe he gives him a bad beat down for his own good. Either way it’s not going to be pretty.

PLAYERS: Yawke had 5 points 5 blocks and 5 rebounds in limited minutes – it was two of those blocks in the second half that keyed the Niagara drought that gave SJU its insurmountable lead. If I’m Mullin, he’s my starting three. Of course, if I’m Mullin he never quits drinking and his basketball career’s over in like 1987, so there’s that … Mussini (11 points, 5 turnovers) is now 7 -30 from the floor and 3 for 17 from three over his last three games. Rumor has it that Marcus LoVett may soon be eligible after all, which is good news for Mussini if true … Balamou was 2 for 9 from the floor and had 5 turnovers. Again, it’s a shame his career was ruined by Lavin, he could have been a nice player. Nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when he turned the ball over taking the ball to the basket with 7 seconds left rather than dribbling out the clock. To his credit Mullin cursed him out during the handshake line …. Chris Jones (10 points and 7 rebounds) is turning into the sort of lunch bucket player SJU hasn’t had since who, Billy Singleton? …. Sima was in foul trouble most of the game … Johnson had two nice assists and a three pointer early and I remember thinking okay, here’s the first team all BE player knowledgeable fanboy posters told me I was getting during the off season. And then he didn’t play the rest of the game … Mvouika with 8 rebounds … I have been for the past several games paying special attention to watching Amar Ablivicowitch play. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’m starting to formulate the germ of an idea that he might be on his way to becoming a halfway competent basketball player. Wednesday he was his usual moribund self: he nearly broke the back board with a three point attempt and had another one blocked and turned the ball over by running the baseline when trying to inbound the ball and dribbled the ball off his foot and made half a dozen other bonehead plays, but ever the contrarian I might be jumping on the Alibandwagon Ⓡ, now that everyone else has jumped off.

Notes: I had pretty much nothing here, but fortunately Steve Lavin and his clown car showed up in the studio at halftime. Lavin was his usual self, meaning that he alternated between spouting vacuous platitudes and sitting with his hands folded sporting a smug self-satisfied grin. Inter alia he noted: that Chris Mullin had done “a nice job piecing together a roster,” but failed to note that the reason that the roster needed to be pieced together was because Chris Mullin’s predecessor was an incompetent buffoon; that there are only three Vincentian schools in the country (SJ, Niagara and DePaul), which were separated by “six degrees of separation,” demonstrating that he understands neither the phrase six degrees of separation or math; and predicted a Saint John’s upset over Syracuse this weekend, which proves he doesn’t understand basketball, but we already knew that. At least he wore a suit and a tie – I wonder whether that’s in his contract or if he does it as a sign of respect to his employer and coworkers … In doing a bit of reading in hopes of dredging up some arcane information with which to pad out this section I ran across Karel Soucek, a Canadian who successfully plunged over the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel in 1984. Not too much of a news story there: various lunatics have thrown themselves over the Falls at various times in various contrivances with varying success. But this guy Soucek, he tried to recreate his stunt at the Astrodome, as part of a daredevil show. The idea was that he’d drop in a barrel from the roof of the Dome into a tank of water, 180 feet below. Evel Knievel – a madman who once tried to jump over a canyon on a modified bicycle – thought it was the most insane thing he’d ever seen and tried to dissuade Soucek from attempting it. Undeterred Soucek dropped, except the barrel hit the edge of the tank and Soucek died, in front of 35,000 paid admissions. It’s a shame the marketing department at Saint John’s doesn’t have the same sort of vision as do their counterparts in Houston, because that’s just the sort of entertainment that would put asses in the seats at Carnesecca. Even I would show up for that .

Fredo, You Braica My Heart


GAME: During the Steve Lavin era I used to lean forward in my seat to hear the inanities he’d spout in his postgame interviews. Sunday morning I was on the edge of my seat rooting for Chris Mullin to defeat Saint Francis Brooklyn at Madison Square Garden, which they did 63-56. What a difference a year makes – although not in terms of the Saint Francis Saint John’s rivalry: Saint John’s has won 32 of the last 33, their only loss recently coming on Lou Carnesecca Night in 2004, when some guy named Tory Cavalieri lit up Cedric Jackson for 26 points in a 53-52 squeaker … This game was even until Saint Francis went on an 11-2 run about halfway through the first period to go up nine; my notes accompanying the event read “you’ve got to be kidding me.” But lo! A Mullin timeout, after which everyone’s favorites whipping boy Durand Johnson scored 10 points to key a Severe 20-2 spurt by Saint John’s that left them eight up at halftime. Saint John’s had stretched the lead to 13 with 8 minutes left when Saint Francis it made a game: Amar Albivicwitch turned the ball over on 17 straight possessions and if it were not for the fact that his brutal play was met by an even greater level of incompetence by Saint Francis, the outcome would have been very different. Fittingly Durand Johnson made an off balance jumper and a couple of free throws to put the game away … Both teams shot poorly: a combined 35 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three. Saint John’s made their FTs, outrebounded Saint Francis by 12 (45-33) and had 12, count ‘em, 12 blocks. They turned the ball over 18 times though, which is not particularly good … A reader emails and says fun, “How come you give Mullin a pass on his wardrobe when you gave Lavin such a hard time about his.” Well reader, the answer is:

Seriously, who gives a shit what Chris Mullin wears? Chris Mullin can wear whatever he wants. There is in fact no aspect of Mullin’s tenure thus far that has given me a moment of disquiet. He’s clearly having fun on the sidelines, and it’s fun for me to see Chris Mullin having fun. He seems to know how to coach the team, even if the team does not know how to be coached by him – I almost get the feeling that he’s waiting for his roster to get to the point where it can benefit from his expertise. This doesn’t seem to be an issue, given the recruiting. In game I like his strategy and rotations, although I frankly don’t understand the Mussini dribbles around pointlessly at the top of the key offense he’s running – perhaps he’s just putting the system he intends to use in place for when he has an actual point guard … Riding a one game winning streak and up next Niagara, coached by another SJU alumnus Chris Casey. Fans might be tempted to sleep on Niagara but recall that the only non Georgetown loss in Chris Mullin’s Final Four year was to the Purple Eagles, although to be fair to Mullin starting PG Mike Moses did not play and the then #4 Redmen were force to rely on unreliable underclassman Mark Jackson, whose 3 TOs in the last 2 minutes sealed the loss.

PLAYERS: Sima had a double double (17 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks) but Durand Johnson was the player of the game. He led the first half run that put them on top and made big shots late. I don’t know that he’s a starter at the three – maybe start Yawke there and bring Johnson off the bench. Although maybe I just think that because he has a little hitch in his jump shot that reminds me of Vinnie Johnson. Which is the only thing Durand does that reminds me of VJ … Former great white hope Frederico Mussini is now in his last two games 3 for 18 from the floor and 1 for 10 from three. Welcome to the NEC son. His struggles are so palpable that it’s almost worth putting up with Ron Mvouika at point guard. Which it’s probably not. Mvouika was awful Sunday, maybe he was hungover or something, quite the pathetic display … Christian Jones was solid: 13 point and 9 rebounds. If Christian Jones played for 30 minutes like Christian Jones plays for 12 minutes Christian Jones would be a hell of a ball player … Once again Balamou looked better posting up than he did driving wildly to the basket … Yawke looks like the real deal. He needs a little meat on him but he’s going to be a nice player  … Jessica Albawhatever really just almost gave the game away. I’m literally shaking my head thinking of something awful to say about him, but you people have eyes, he stinks.

NOTES: Most basketball fans would readily agree that Norm Roberts has had a marvelous career. As a teenager he won a PSAL championship at Springfield Gardens; he was a 1000-point scorer at Queens College, where his retired # 15 jersey hangs in the rafters; as a grown-up he’s been to three Elite Eights and a Final Four as an assistant to some of the most accomplished coaches in recent memory, Bill Self and Billy Donovan. That’s a hell of a resume and infinitely more impressive than those of the racist middle-management dopes who are continually bringing up his moribund record as a head coach Queen’s College as if it defines his career. Little noticed though is Roberts impressive coaching tree: three of Norm’s assistants have gone on to their own head coaching careers, Glen Braica at St Francis, Chris Casey at Niagara, and Jose Martin at Marist; his former assistants Kimani Young and Fred Quartlebaum are on staff at Minnesota and Kansas respectively. Compare that to Louie’s tree, which had one sclerotic branch in Brain Mahoney; or to Mike Jarvis, who was forced to drag his otherwise unemployable son Mike Junior around like a withered thalidomide flipper arm … Saint Francis Brooklyn is named for – wait for it – Saint Francis, this one of Assisi, who, if the stories are true, was a dyed in the wool lunatic. Amongst other things Francis preached the Gospel of Christ to birds, mediated a dispute between a wolf and a pack of dogs, saw apparitions of angels, and bled from his hands and feet in imitation of the Baby Jesus. If you saw this guy babbling outside Penn Station you’d cross the street to avoid having to talk to him. Instead he’s the patron Saint of Italy. Go figure …There are in the hierarchy of Catholic saints a total of nine Francises (Francisi?), including Francis Caracciolo , the patron saint of cooks; Francis of Paola, who raised his nephew from the dead and kept a pet trout called Antonella; Francis Ferdinand de Capillas, whose efforts to woo the heathens to the one true god ended unsuccessfully when he was decapitated in China; and Saint Francis Xavier, whose body travelled in death as much as Paola’s did in life. Francis X died in China and was buried there. Thereafter his body was disinterred and reburied in present day Malaysia. Later his patron Diogo Pereira removed the corpse from the grave and brought it his house for safekeeping until finally shipping it to India, where it now rests in a handmade silver casket. All except his right arm, the one he used to bless people, which was considered so holy that so it was removed and shipped back to Rome, where it is worshipped today by morbid supplicants who attribute to it various miracles and cures … Saint Francis alumni include Saint John’s own Barry Rohrssen; delusional presidential candidate Peter King; James Luisi, who played one year in the NBA for the Baltimore Bullets before going on to play Jim Rockford’s bete noire Lieutenant Doug Chapman on the Rockford Files; and former referee Dick Bavetta, who was investigated by the FBI for fixing the NBA finals at the behest of NBA commissioner David Stern.

God Ram It


RECAP: I have to say, I halfway enjoyed that game. And not just because the harvest is in. No. And not because of the score obviously. No. Because Wednesday night the lowly Fordham Rams defeated Saint John’s 73-57 at Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx. That certainly wasn’t enjoyable: Saint John’s was awful, except for about five minutes in the first half the game sucked, the on-line feed was blurry and the announcers were atrocious, although to their credit they were still better than Bill Walton. But I enjoyed the game nonetheless. Maybe it was the atmosphere: NYC college basketball in a band box gym and in this corner an underdog with a chip on their shoulder and their rapid snarling fans. It was for a bit reminiscent of the good old days. Speaking of the fans, I halfway expected them to storm the court like they did the last time they won and was almost disappointed when they didn’t. Despite it being the preseason they were louder than pretty much any CA crowd ever: I suppose if you’ve had one winning season since the Reagan administration even beating a program as moribund as Saint John’s is cause for celebration … So like I said it was not much of a game. Fordham went out to a quick 6 point lead that led to a quick  Mullin time-out – and might I say what a pleasure it is to watch even a simple thing like a time out being called when a simple time out should be called. Saint John’s got back in it briefly and played FU even for a couple of minutes until it all went quickly down rose hill. Fordham ended the half on a 25-8 run and didn’t look back. To the extent that there was a moral victory, SJU played them even in the second half 32 to 32. There are no moral victories though, at least not against Fordham … Saint John’s shot 40 percent from the floor and 18 percent from three. Which was not surprising: on offense they failed to move the ball and when they did they moved it off their feet out of bounds, turning the ball over 19 times – 12 times in the first half. Fordham didn’t shoot particularly well despite the fact that SJU barely bothered to play defense but they made enough when it mattered, led by 48 year old Ryan Rhoomes (26 points and 12 rebounds) and Jon Severe, neither of whom were good enough to play for Steve Lavin. Altogether it was an abysmal performance about which the less remembered the better … Mullin had some words for Fordham’s coach – don’t know the guy’s name, can’t be arsed to look it up – first mocking him for taking an ostentatious time out up 20 with 2 minutes left and then later jawing at the guy during the handshake line for leaving his starters in right to the end of the game. On the one hand, Mullin should worry about coaching his own team and learn to take it like a man. On the other hand I kind of like the fact that Mullin wanted to backhand the guy and will undoubtedly lay some sort of Joe Pesci go home and get your fucking shine box beat down on him in the near future, which gives me something to look forward to.

PLAYERS: This SJ team really could have used Rysheed Jordan, and not only because basketball is hard game to play without a PG. Which SJU does not have, because Mussini isn’t one. He had no points, no assists and three TOs in the first half, after which half the game was over. Welcome to the A-10 son. It’s a shame that Mvouika (an efficient 9 points) can’t dribble, because he would be the natural choice to play at the one. The only other candidate is Durand Johnson, but even if he was twice as good at that as he has been at doing anything else he’d still be awful. It’s a little early to start ripping Johnson as the biggest transfer flop since Curtis Redding but it’d be nice if he got it going – if he could raise his production from say 1-8 to 2-7 he’d be in Phil Greene territory, except unlike Greene he gets the occasional rebound … Felix Balamou has the makings of the perfect 6th man: he brings both offensive and defensive energy off the bench. It’s unfortunate that (a) the roster is so poorly constructed that he’s the featured offensive player and (b) that the guy who constructed the roster couldn’t find any playing time for him the previous three years, because he could have used the experience. Oh well, what’s one young man’s life ruined more or less when you look at the big picture because some things are more important than winning. I thought Felix looked better earlier in the season when they were posting him up, but they seem to have gone away from that now, no idea why. As opposed to the Felix takes his man off the dribble from the top of the key offensive set, with which I’m less comfortable … Sima had no points and got pushed around by the bigger stronger player. Can you spell weight room … Jones had 11 points and 5 rebounds but is alternatively impressive and invisible. Banked in a FT which is always nice to see … Ablivitowhich missed his only three but made a nice move to the basket and dunked albeit in garbage time. He is a frustrating player: sometimes he almost looks competent and other times like John Hemphill with a head injury .. Kassoum Yawke was impressive in his debut to the extent that he did not look overwhelmed by the college game. I was going to say he reminded me of Shelton Jones, but because he’s a lefty I’ll dub him the next David Russell.

NOTES The game was not on regular TV, but fortunately the A-10 network carried it – otherwise you would have been deprived of my trenchant commentary. Thank goodness Fordham belongs to a conference that allows fans to watch the games if they cannot attend in person. Hopefully someday SJU moves to a major conference so that its fans are afforded the same opportunity … Evidently Steve Lavin provided the halftime commentary on the SJU women’s game on Fox Sports One. That seems like a good place for him, at least until there’s an opening on The View … I didn’t catch the names of the Rams announcers on the A-10 feed. Which is a shame, because they were awful and I’d like to mock them personally. (Turns out it’s https://twitter.com/MikeWattsOnAir and https://twitter.com/andrewbogusch.) The animosity they felt toward SJU was palpable, which is understandable, considering that Fordham  is a perennial laughingstock playing in the shadow of one of the most successful programs in college basketball history. The one guy, Watts, yelled “oh my god …holy lord” after a nothing special dunk in the second half, which I’ve been less excited while having an orgasm. His Twitter profile proudly proclaims that he’s “Jesuit educated,” although he must have missed the bit about taking His name in vain. And speaking of orgasms, the Bogusch guy noted that a big factor in Fordham’s first half run was that “there was a Severe spurt.” Peter North to the white courtesy telephone … The problem with playing the same cupcakes every year — in Russia, sometime cupcake eats you! — is that by year three I’ve run out of fun and interesting anecdotes with which to amuse and beguile my readers. I have already for example pointed out in previous missives that Fordham is just about the worst college basketball program in the country and that its coaches going back to Digger Phelps comprise a conga line of the worst and most incompetent hacks in college basketball history, from the utterly appalling mediocrity that is Tom Pecora to Derek Whittenburg, whose greatest and most important basketball moment was an airball he shot in 1983. I’ve pointed out the rich tradition of Fordham academics and even did a bit of a riff about its most illustrious graduate Bob Keeshan and his best pal Mister Greenjeans. So other than this I got nothing.