When he was borne to his grave they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone, for his dying hour was gloom.
RECAP: Saint John’s dropped their 8th straight 93-73 to Georgetown Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. The score though was deceiving, because if you believe as I do that the free throw is the most exciting play in college basketball and perhaps even in all of sports, then Wednesday night you spent most of the game on your edge of your seat, as the teams combined for 52 fouls and 55 free throws, which amounts to a clock stoppage every 46 seconds, not counting time outs, turnovers, and TV time outs. Which as you can imagine made for some exciting television …
One of last night’s referees, Mike Stephens, holds a full time civil service position in Providence – Director of Recreation no less – while at the same time earning close to $ 200K refereeing 90 college basketball games a year. In many cities holding a second job that interferes with your full time employment is grounds for dismissal and in some cases, jail time. In a cesspool of corruption like Providence it earns you the key to the city, which was awarded to Stephens this past spring.
… The deficit was seven about midway through the first half when Saint John’s went on one of their patented scoring droughts – they managed only 12 points in the last 10 minutes of the half, during which time only Ablivickwith and Johnson made field goals and were down 17 at the break. Saint John’s was down 26 when John Thompson III took his starters out and 16 when he put them back in after a brief SJU flurry, as if the outcome was ever in doubt. Which it wasn’t … It’s hard to understand from looking at the box score just what went wrong. The officiating, although egregious, was reciprocally awful: 28 personal fouls and 33 free throws for the one, 24 and 32 for the other; turnovers were 14 to 11; each team had 14 assists and 32 rebounds; both had 54 field goal attempts and even the shooting percentages were roughly equivalent, free throws 81 to 75 and 3-pointer 41 to 39; only field goal percentage reveals a bit of an advantage, 52 to 39 (oddly Saint John’s shot 38.9 from both the floor and from three). And yet it was a slaughter. Mostly because whatever little SJ did well they did well in the second half when the game was already over … There is no safe harbor on the horizon: home and away with #23 Butler, at Seton Hall, at Xavier, home versus Villanova and Marquette. I feel bad for DePaul though, Saint John’s gets them twice in February, when historically they’ve played their best ball.
PLAYERS: Mvouika led the team with 15 points. He scored all of them in the second half, when the game was already over. Congratulations Ron … Alibegowitch had 12 points in 21 minutes before fouling out. His aggression is appreciated on the team as currently composed but here’s hoping he does not become too enamored of being the team’s first offensive option … Mussini hit two 3’s four minutes into the first half and did not score again until four minutes were left in the game. He finished with 11 points: 3 for 10 from the floor and 2 for 9 from three … By comparison Durand Johnson, who finished with 10, was the model of efficiency: 3 for 9 from the floor and 2 of 4 from three … Balamou has perhaps the ugliest and most ridiculous jump shot in the history of college basketball. Six for six from the FT line, for which improvement I credit my calling him out in a recent essay, he’s only missed one since I scolded him … Jones had 4 points 4 rebounds and three assists, which would be a nice line from a seventh man. Unfortunately he’s the starting PF … Yawke missed a couple of chippies but considering how full his hands were single handedly defending Georgetown’s enormous front line, he gets a pass. PS Jessie Govan is the most terrifying player I’ve seen since Michael Graham … Malik Ellison was 1 for 5 from the floor with 2 assists and three turnovers. To the extent that Ellison is a freshman and a stop gap he also gets a pass but anyone who thinks that he’s the answer at point guard is delusional.
NOTES: Which brings us to Marcus Lovett. Speculation was rampant this week on various Saint John’s forums that the point guard of the future was planning on transferring. There seems to be no evidence that this is the case – at least there was no report of it in the press – and in fact the rumor itself traces back as far as I can tell to an offhand comment by a well-known forum troll who’s not even much of a Saint John’s fan. And yet the idea dominated the conversation this week. Self-important posters with moles and sources claimed that they had heard rumblings of the rumor themselves. Wise old sages counseled patience, as who knows what lurks in the hearts of teen aged boys. Proactive posters scoured Lovett’s twitter feed and Instagram account, looking for hidden meanings and reading emojis like hieroglyphics. And the usual hysterics felt faint and swooned on the divan, wondering how anyone could subject fans like themselves to such drama and where would it all end. All that was missing to make the spectacle complete was a poster called Tituba reporting that she and Lovett had been dancing in the woods with Old Scratch and Goodman Brown. On the face of it there seems to be no evidence that Lovett is or was contemplating leaving – although admittedly I haven’t yet analyzed his body language and facial expressions from the tape of last night’s game, which he viewed from behind the bench – and objectively there would seem to be little reason to: next year he will be from day one the starting point guard on a team sorely in need of a point guard, playing in what I am continually assured is the best BB conference in the country, where he will learn basketball from two hall of famers, while living in the greatest city in the world, on a team and program that seem headed in the right direction. Seems like a no brainer. What strikes me is that Saint John’s fans have been down for so long and are so conditioned to disappointment that they create their own drama, so that even if the sky doesn’t fall they experience the frisson of doom that real catastrophe engenders. They are like a battered wife who burns dinner on the off chance her husband comes home from work in a good mood, because deep down she knows that she deserves a good beating.