Arrivederci By Subtraction

As much fun as was Saint John’s win over Syracuse last week beating Butler 76-73 at Carnesecca Arena Thursday night was better: it was a league game at home in front of an energized crowd against a ranked opponent in a tilt game that could have gone either way. Outside of March college basketball does not get any better than this. I frankly had so much fun that I don’t even feel like writing about it, I just want to watch it again and probably will during happy hour, which at my house on Friday starts about 11 AM est … The game itself went back and forth – I almost said it was a nip and tuck affair which if I ever start writing like that someone please shoot me. For most of it Butler was up by a couple of baskets and they were actually ahead by ten with 10 minutes left. But each time it looked like things were slipping away somebody made a play – mostly it was Shamorie Ponds but credit also to Coach Mullin, who called three good time outs to stop the bleeding which his team responded, which is pretty good for someone who’s a horrible coach who doesn’t know anything about basketball …. The box score is pretty ordinary: Saint John’s shot 54 percent from the floor, Butler 46; Saint John’s took only 16 threes (that’s right only) and made just four but Butler was an atrocious 6 for 25; rebounds were even at 31; Saint John’s turned the ball over 16 times but had only three in the last ten minutes, as opposed to Butler, who had 6 of their thirteen when it counted with the game on the line in the same span in the second half of the second half. As I often do after a SJU win I popped into the losers fan forum and read the game thread. This morning over in the Dawg Kennel or whatever stupid name they call themselves they’re – besides calling Saint John’s “thugs” and “street ballers,” I mean just drop the N bomb already – they were whining about the free throw discrepancy – which was seven. That’s right, they’re this morning bitching about how they got screwed by seven lousy free throws and how that might affect their chances of getting a number 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. You can’t make this shit up. From what I saw last night if Butler is the 13th ranked team in the country well then I’m a monkey’s uncle I don’t know as much about basketball as I pretend

PLAYERS: Shamorie Ponds had a Big East coming out party 26 points, seven rebounds, two steals, 2 blocks and was 6 of 6 from the free throw line. I read somewhere that there were 12 NBA scouts at the game, hopefully it was not to watch him …. Bashir Ahmed had 19 points, 5 rebounds and three steals. He’s 13 of 23 with ten rebounds over his last two. Where’s that dope who said he’s a bust who needs to be benched, I’d like to rub his face in that … Lovett did not start again, not sure why. 10 points including 6 of 6 from the free line … Malik Ellison did start and did not play well:  Contributed 5 turnovers and airballed his only three … Yawke seems over whatever funk he was in early in the season. He finished impressively on a couple of pick and rolls, which is about all you can ask … Darien Williams played 22 minutes, the most he has all year. Displayed a nice little jump hook, which let’s face it immediately makes him our best big man … Owens had no points and 2 rebounds in 20 minutes … The two euro-dorks played 16 minutes between them and managed 2 points and one rebound. Alibegovitz committed a career best no personal fouls, which I suppose is good but really the frequency and violence of his fouls is the only thing he brings to the table, so why stop now …. The team is now two and oh without Wally Pippini Federico Missini. Nuff said. If and when he comes back he should sit on the bench until April at which time they should put him on the first gondola back to Palermo or maybe the girl’s team needs a designated three point threat who’s not very good at shooting. His banishment won’t make the Sons of Italy happy, but I’m not here to make you happy, I’m here to rub your noses in your mistakes and disappointments. In this case it’s the mistakes and disappointments of anyone who thinks Missini is a basketball player.

NOTES: Last night’s game marked the season’s first appearance of Tarik Turner. Usually he’s awful but if he was last night the game was so good I didn’t notice. He even went so far as to make a good point when he compared Ponds to 6’1”, 170 pound Nick Van Exel, a lefty guard who led Cincinnati to the Final Four and went on to become an NBA all-star. Turner’s partner Brian Custer kept repeating that Saint John’s had not defeated a team as highly ranked as Butler since Chris Mullin was playing in 1983, which I kept thinking to myself that can’t possibly be right until I figured out that he meant at the Lou, which makes sense because why would you play highly ranked teams in a gym that seats 5000 people. Brian Custer by the way is a prostate cancer survivor, which you wouldn’t know because he didn’t mention it once during the entire broadcast … Speaking of Lavin I watched a couple of minutes of that bulbous headed moron during the halftime festivities and was rewarded when he praised some point guard’s “decision making or judgment.” Decision making or judgment, what a maroon …. Other than that I got nothing. I have in past recaps done Butler University, legendary Coach Hinkle, Hoosiers (both the name and the movie), Jeeves Lurch and other Butlers, Indiana the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan and even a bit of a gambol about my favorite mass murderer Carl Panzram (“I wish the entire human race had one neck and I had my hands around it!”). If you’re starved for fun go back and read that stuff, I did yesterday and it still holds up. PS Panzram’s papers recently were digitized and are now on line if anyone’s interested, it’s really marvelous stuff:



That pitter patter you heard Wednesday night after Saint John’s improbable 93-60 demolition of New York’s team at the Carrier Dome was not the premature roof-top clatter of Santa and eight tiny reindeer bearing a sled containing toys for all the good girls and boys. No. What it was was the sound of a pack of rats clambering back up the gang plank of the vessel they’d spent the last seven days deserting in a lurid and embarrassing the-ship-be-sinking circle jerk the likes of which we had not seen since year five of the Norm Roberts regime. When they weren’t posting pictures of the Titanic and creating from whole cloth phantasmagorical scenarios wherein every Saint John’s player on the roster save Elijah Holifield got hardship transfers to Rutgers they were firing off angry emails to the new university president threatening to withhold their annual $ 50 donations until things were put right again, tax right offs be damned. And then last night happened and suddenly Chris Mullin knows something about basketball and maybe even Mitch Richmond too and let’s not forget the young phenom Greg Saint Jean who designed the system that for two years now has dismantled Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone and all is right with the world and god bless us everyone as we all go happily to the grave. Because to truly appreciate sports you must either be top of the world ma or clutching your pearls and taking to the divan with the vapors – there can be no middle ground. All kidding aside there are Frenchmen I’d rather have in a foxhole with me than some of the alleged fans who post in various SJU forums. Which lack of middle ground is why there is this morning giddiness on the one hand and why on the other there’s still a few diehard haters and Lavin toadies and Iona fans who were not impressed by this fluke; to the extent that they point out that this is not a vintage Boeheim effort I agree but on the third hand beating even a shitty Orange team is better than loosing [sic] to LIU, can we at least find some common ground there? The irony is that both camps are bound to be disappointed, because this is what happens with young teams: some nights they bring it and some nights they leave it home. When they turn the corner and bring it every night, that’s when things will begin to get interesting. Undoubtedly we’re not there yet but you have to start somewhere …. Rereading that it was probably a bit over the top but it felt good and I’m not changing a word. If anyone asks tell them it was meta commentary …. This was the first game in a long while against a real opponent where Saint John’s put their foot on the victim’s throat early and went on to tear out the windpipe. They went into halftime up ten aided by some pretty good three point shooting and some atrocious and sometimes comical play by Syracuse that included 10 turnovers, most of them unforced. Syracuse got two quick baskets to start the half and my notes read quite clearly “and then the roof caved in,” which I and every other fan who’s watched this team blow leads in their last couple of games expected except it didn’t – Saint John’s scored six straight points and eight of ten led by of all people Kassoum Yawke, who had two FGs and an assist before hall of fame coach Boeheim used his final TO of the game with 17 minutes left. There followed a remarkable sequence: Syracuse was fouled and made one of two free throws, then they got the rebound and got fouled and missed both free throws and then they got the rebound and made a two and then missed a free throw and got the rebound and missed a field goal. I mean look at this


16:52             Foul on Kassoum Yakwe. 47 – 35

16:52             John Gillon made Free Throw.   47 – 36

16:52             John Gillon missed Free Throw. 47 – 36

16:52             Tyler Lydon Offensive Rebound.           47 – 36

16:51             Foul on Kassoum Yakwe. 47 – 36

16:51             Tyler Lydon missed Free Throw.            47 – 36

16:51             Syracuse Deadball Team Rebound.      47 – 36

16:51             Tyler Lydon missed Free Throw.            47 – 36

16:51             DaJuan Coleman Offensive Rebound.  47 – 36

16:50             Andrew White III missed Jumper.         47 – 36

16:50             Andrew White III Offensive Rebound. 47 – 36

16:50             Andrew White III made Two Point Tip Shot.  47 – 38

16:50             Foul on Bashir Ahmed.     47 – 38

16:50             Andrew White III missed Free Throw. 47 – 38

16:50             Tyler Lydon Offensive Rebound.           47 – 38

16:48             Frank Howard missed Jumper.  47 – 38

16:48             Andrew White III Offensive Rebound. 47 – 38

16:48             John Gillon missed Three Point Jumper.


Syracuse took nine shots and got seven rebounds in FOUR SECONDS and the score went from Saint John’s plus 12 to Saint John’s plus nine. And that just broke their spirit. Saint John’s went on to outscore them 24 – 10 over the next five minutes and by 24 over the remainder of the game including a sequence of punks and dunks and alley oops the likes of which Saint John’s fans have not seen, well, maybe ever … Usually when I say there’s no point in looking at the box score it’s because Saint John’s was so awful but this time it’s because their opponent was: Syracuse shot 30 percent from the floor, 16 percent from three, 50 percent from the foul line and had 19 turnovers and 24 fouls. Saint John’s shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three and had a mind boggling 27 assists (that’s 15 percent of their season total) versus only nine turnovers. The only shit lining on the silver cloud is that they were 13 for 25 from the free throw line, which isn’t very good even if you factor in the walk-ons, who missed all their tries …. This was the 4th time this season Saint John’s has gone over 90 points, which some years it used to take them two games to do. One wag recently complained that what Mullin was bringing to the table was “not redmen basketball” to which I say halle-fucking-lujah. I’ve watched redmen basketball for 40 years. I want to watch winning basketball for a change … So the preseason is over and now the real games begin and where are we heading into conference play? I don’t know. On the plus side we’d be hard pressed to lose any that we’re supposed to win –  mainly because we’re not supposed to win very many – and on the other hand we have the talent to steal a couple when the other guy isn’t looking. On the minus side there are going to be those days when they just don’t show up and those days where they do show up but they show up as freshmen making dumb freshmen mistakes. Hopefully they play hard and stay healthy and steal enough wins to get a CBI bid and then wait till next year bums except next year might really be next year this time.

PLAYERS: Usually I do these profiles in the order in which the players played from best to worst which is why it’s so surprising that the first player up is Malik Ellison, who scored 16 points and added 6 rebounds and 5 assists in 31 minutes. Over his last two games Ellison is 8 for 11 from three, which if he shot even half that well you could overlook all the boneheaded things he does. He has the makings of a nice complimentary player although you get the impression by watching him that he thinks himself more than that. That will be a bridge to be crossed once and if his skills grow to match his opinion of his skills … Shamorie Ponds had 21 points – including a couple of threes he took from Rochester – six rebounds and seven assists … Batshit Ahmed, prior to last night a “bust” who “should be benched” had 20 points, 5 rebounds and three assists versus a single turnover. One astute observer (okay it was me) had observed earlier this week how much more effective he’d be posted up inside or on or about the foul line, where he wouldn’t have to dribble to get near the basket, dribbling not being his strong suit. You’re welcome  … Marcus Lovett, decried by some as a “shoot first” guard had nine assists and six rebounds versus only six shots. At one point came precariously close to letting a ball roll out of bounds in the back court while he was adjusting his shorts …. Yawke seems to be getting his sea legs under him after an atrocious start to the season: seven points and eight rebounds including a thunderous dunk where he took off just short of the free throw line … Freudeburgh made a couple of threes early and was pretty quiet after that but baby steps. Speaking of steps he nearly looked the fool when he grabbed a rebound and raced down court (for data sets where “raced” is defined generously) to euro step his way past the four SU players between him and the basket but fortunately he got fouled while fumbling the ball out of bounds and it was the other guy who was beclowned …. Four blocks and four rebounds for Tariq Owens, who managed not to foul out …Williams, Holifield and someone called J Cole got some run during garbage time …. Conspicuously absent and not missed one iota was Wally Pipp Federico Missini. If he is ill as has been rumored we wish him a speedy recovery. If he does recover speedily it will be the first thing he’s done speedily since he first donned a Saint John’s uniform.

NOTES: I’ve beaten Syracuse into the ground over the past several years and so would be left with no anecdotes with which to beguile my readers were it not for the serial malapropisms of color man Mike Gminski, a former college all American at DOoK University and subsequently an NBA first round draft pick. Those of you who are as old as dirt will remember that Gminski was the starting center on the number one DoOk Blue Devil team that lost twice to Saint John’s in the 78-79 season, first in the consolation game of the Holiday Festival and later in the Black Sunday defeat in the NCAA tournament, where Gminski got punked by chronic underachiever Wayne McCoy. Gminski went on to a respectable NBA career, as opposed to the conga line of buffoons first round draft picks Doook has sent the NBA subsequently: Jay Bilas, Mark Alarie, Alaa Abdulallahakbar, Antonio Lang, Grant “Golly I seem to have snapped another bone” Hill, Cherokee Parks, Chris Carrawell, Shelden “Forceps Head” Williams, Jay “Look out for that tree” Williams, Josh McRoberts, Daniel Ewing and however many Plumlee brothers mother Plumlee squirted out and that’s not even the full list. Anyway Gminski called Saint John’s a “high school coaching job” when he described asking Mullin whether he would have coached anywhere else than Saint John’s, claimed that Saint John’s was coming off a 46 point loss to Penn State (it was 16 although it might have seemed like more) and in what may be the single stupidest sports analogy ever uttered stated that “waiting to take over from [Jim Boeheim] is like waiting for Castro to die,” which it is if Boeheim has a prison complex beneath the Carrier Dome where he tortures and murders his political opponents in the name of a failed and discredited ideology that was responsible for the deaths of 100 million people in the 20th century and also if Boeheim had to die rather than just retire to Florida with his hot wife and spend his days drinking Mai Tais and fishing off his deck … Speaking of DoOk Grayson Allen – the poster child for the sort of smug entitled white piece of shit scumbag fuck heads that are treasured by Mike Schrewshrenski – for the third time in recent memory attempted to cripple an opposing player by sweeping the leg. Let’s go to the video tape:

So to recap: Allen attempts to seriously injure an opponent, acts like he was fouled while doing so, talks shit to the opponent afterwards and whines like a little bitch when he’s T’ed up for his behavior. Coach Rat face – who you may recall last year lectured Oregon’s Dillon Brooks on good sportsmanship after Brooks made a three late in Duke’s NCAA tournament loss – called Allen’s behavior “unacceptable” and “inexcusable” but also has no plans to discipline him beyond the couple of minutes he sat him down afterwards, which doesn’t seem like the appropriate punishment for something that’s inexcuseable, an adjective meaning too awful to be tolerated. If Ratty won’t do anything I’d hope the ACC steps in and metes out the proper retribution, which would be that he be taken to the place from whence he came and there be kept in close confinement until next Thursday and upon that day that he be taken to the place of execution and there hanged by the neck until dead. And may God have mercy upon his soul.




Nittany Loins

When Saint John’s lost to Delaware State a couple of weeks ago I was surprised. When they lost to LIU a week ago I was disappointed. Sunday afternoon, when Saint John’s lost 92-76 to the Penn State Kiddie Fuckers at alleged home court Madison Square Garden in what is for some reason still called the Holiday Festival was the first time since the repulsive Steve Lavin was head coach that I can recall being disgusted … Things started out promisingly enough: Saint John’s took the same 7-point lead they did last week again LIU before the falling sky hit an iceberg and burst into flames. Penn State went on a 35-5 run to end the half – a display babbling idiot Ron Thompson called the “best nine minutes of college basketball” he’d ever seen, which means only that he didn’t watch the Kentucky North Carolina game yesterday – and led by 23 at the half. Despite some brilliant halftime adjustments by coach Mullin that allowed Saint John’s to outscore Penn State by nearly 20 percent in the second half Saint John’s never got closer than 16, and that after a 12 to 2 run …. There does not seem to be much point in mentioning the box score but I will anyway: Saint John’s shot 37 percent from the floor and committed 21 turnovers and that wasn’t even the problem. The problem is the defense, which once again was atrocious. When unguarded shooters were not burying 13 of 23 threes they were blowing by their defenders for drive and dumps: it was very hard to watch and almost embarrassing and I don’t embarrass easily. Suffice it to say that no one covers anyone. The ones who seem capable of playing defense – Owens, Yawke, Ponds, Lovett, Ahmed – don’t seem to be trying very hard and the other ones – Ellison, Mussini and Freudenburhger – are hopelessly slow, uncoordinated and lacking in awareness. It’s a difficult situation and one that needs remedying. Freshmen in general are horrible defenders and being charitable Mullin didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about defense in college or the pros. He’d best start thinking about it soon, because this season is suddenly beginning to look bleak.

PLAYERS: When the best player on the floor is Malik Ellison, well, let’s just say that that’s not a recipe for success. Probably everyone wants to talk about his career high 22 points. I want to point out that for the second time this year he received a pass in the corner with his feet out of bounds. How can you perform well on the court when you don’t even know where the court is … Tariq Owens had a double-double in 22 minutes before fouling out for the fourth time this year … Signs of life from Kassoum Yawke: eight points, seven rebounds, three assists. In an article in the NY Post this morning Yawke opined that he was overthinking things, which if he read this blog he would have known that a month ago when I opined the same thing … Shamorie Ponds had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists but was a dreadful 3 of 17 from the floor … Lovett had six turnovers in his first game back … Ahmed had five turnovers and doesn’t have that excuse. Forced things a bunch of times and was generally awful … Freudenbrheger had five points, which would have been more had he not had a couple of threes go in and out. His presence on the floor is either a sign of desperation or an indication that Mullin is playing the long game. Because he’s not ready for prime time … Federico Mussini shot an air ball and that was about the best thing he did all day… I thought Darrien Williams might get some run after his showing last week but he played only four minutes

NOTES: Penn State are the Nittany Lions, Nittany being a reference to Mount Nittany, a local Pennsylvania landmark that overlooks the Penn State campus bathroom when Jerry Sandusky raped many little boys during his long and illustrious career as an educator. I mention that only to point out that Nittany rhymes with Britney, which gives me an excuse for the picture which adorns this post. You’re welcome Desco … Unremarked upon in Saint John’s fan forums – where this Sunday morning I was treated to an amusing essay the gist of which was that negroes who play in the NBA go broke because they spend too much money tricking out their Escalades – was Rollie Massimino, who on Wednesday won the 800th game of his illustrious career when the Keiser University Seahawks defeated Trinity Baptist University 77-47, making the 82 year-old Massimino only the third active college basketball coach with 800 wins, Mike Scherwrenky and Jim Boeheim being the other two. And what a long strange trip it’s been. Massimino first coached at Stony Brook – the Seawolves, which almost brings him full circle but not quite – in 1969. Despite having no college coaching experience and being a Rutgers graduate he had immediate success, going 34 and 14 in two years before moving on to Villanova University after a year as an assistant to former Piston coach Chuck Daly, then at Pennsylvania University. Massimino won 300 plus games at Villanova in 19 years, including an improbable national championship in 1985, the year Saint John’s made its only final four in the modern era and its first since Democrats elected former Ku Klux Klan member Harry Truman president of the United States. It turns out that that championship was the apex of Massimino’s career – and the glory from that dimmed somewhat when it was revealed later that most of Massimino’s players were degenerate junkies who were snorting cocaine in the locker room at halftime. Massimino resigned from Villanova in 1992 to take the head coaching job at UNLV, where he was a respectable 35-21, but was fired after it was discovered that – in an ironic turn – Massimino was receiving payments under the table from the university president. After Nevada Massimino turned up at Cleveland State where he was a moribund 90 and 113 and where once again his players ran amok, forcing Massimino to resign amidst allegations of drug abuse, criminal behavior and academic fraud. In 2006 after a three year hiatus Massimino took the coaching job at Kaiser – then Northwood University, the Timberwolves, not the Seawolves – where his record stands at 245 and 61: he’s won 30 games three times, never lost more than 9 games in a season and made the NAIA tournament every year, including a loss a few years back in the national championship to powerhouse the Oregon Institute of Technology Hustlin’ Owls. Congratulations Rollie …. Speaking of Jim Boeheim, I took a few minutes to read Syracuse’s fan forum after yesterday’s home loss to Georgetown. The consensus among the delusional fans there is that college basketball has passed Boeheim by – this would be the same Boeheim who went to the final four last year and the elite eight a year before that and four sweet sixteens in the last five years – and that the only person who can save SU’s program from oblivion is Jay Wright, although Billy Donovan might be able to and also Greg Marshall. Since Wright isn’t going anywhere and Donovan is in the NBA and Greg Marshall earns three million dollars a year – which is nearly 20 percent of the budget of Wichita’s entire athletic department – it seems that once JB leaves after next year Syracuse will finally receive its well-deserved and long due comeuppance, once again leaving Saint John’s as New York’s team. Or possibly LIU, depending on ow things shake out. But at least the crown will be vacant at long last, which is something to look forward to on this otherwise sad afternoon.

Blackbird Down

Usually when I tape a Saint John’s game I make sure to avoid venues where I’m liable to see the final score. I didn’t think Twitter was one of those, so imagine my surprise yesterday afternoon at around 2:30 when LIU Brooklyn started trending. Ah ha, I thought, a clue that things have gone south. And gone south they had, as Saint John’s lost a squeaker 74-73 to the LIU Blackbirds Sunday afternoon at Barclay Arena. The good news is there was no one around to see it …. Saint John’s came out flat. I think probably it was a combination of things: the early start and that they didn’t take LIU very seriously – much like they didn’t take Delaware State seriously a couple of weeks ago – and that they had been playing too well to not have a bit of a letdown and the Sima thing and that Marcus Lovett was out again didn’t help either. Whatever it was LIU went out to a 10 point lead but Saint John’s got back in it mostly at the free throw line and at halftime it was tied. Due to some brilliant halftime adjustments by Coach Mullin SJU pulled ahead by seven with about eight minutes left when suddenly it all fell apart. Mullin said in the postgame press conference that “when we had a seven point lead we got sloppy and didn’t take care of the ball,” which is an understatement. Up 58-51 the following SJ possessions ensued: Darien Williams travelled, Mussini missed a three, Williams missed a chippie, Mussini missed a three, Freudenburg fumbled the ball out of bounds under the basket, Ahmed travelled, Ponds missed a layup, Ahmed missed two free throws, and Mussini missed a three – at which point the seven point lead was a two point deficit. Things went back and forth a bit after that and Saint John’s actually led by four with 1:13 left but being forewarned I knew it was not to be and so was not surprised when Ponds front rimmed a jumper at the buzzer. A tough beat but a few more foot pounds from Ponds and everyone would be dancing a tarantella about how these brave young kids gutted out a gritty victory and maybe they’re not so bad after all and thank god we have Chris Mullin to lead us to the promised land towards which we have finally turned the corner… Saint John’s shot 40 percent from the floor and from three and rebounds were plus four 39-35. The ball did not move the way it has of late though – they had only 11 assists on 24 made baskets – and they did not help themselves with 18 turnovers, which is way too many turnovers, and they also did not help themselves by missing eight free throws in a one point game. And once again the defense was atrocious: the guards can’t keep anyone in front of them and except for when they’re blocking shots (they had 8) the bigs don’t even seem to bother. It doesn’t help that they’re all twigs – someone called James “Professor” Frink who weighed more than the three of them combined pushed the whole lot of them around for 37 minutes on his way to a 20 point 12 rebound double double … It also did not help that the referees called a foul a minute for 40 minutes, 24 in the first half. Even though Saint John’s ended up taking more free throws the constant stoppages of play inures to the benefit of the team that doesn’t want to go fast, and Mullin wants to go fast. On the other hand those fans who like hearing the sound “tweet” and watching free throws being shot – for my money the most exciting play in all of sports – probably had a great time. I just got annoyed …. As usual after one of these unfortunate losses in the various SJU fan forums last night and this morning the sky is falling; no doubt Pete Gillen’s ear are ringing in the old folks home where he’s spending his golden years. The players stink and Mullin’s a moron: the usual suspects taking to the divan with the vapors. Zzzz. Newsflash: yesterday Malik Ellison started and Federico “Oompa Loompa” Mussini was the first man off the bench and SJU was shorted handed because the great Amar Alibegowitch was unavailable. At their best those players are not very good and the ones like Ponds who are good are terribly young and they just plumb got beat and they’re going to plumb get beat a bunch more times and clutching your pearls and cursing Chris Mullin when they do is like watching Gone With the Wind for the 19th time and thinking that this time the Confederates are going to win the war and then blaming David O. Selznick when they don’t. That’s the definition of insanity you know: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I mean, I’m crazy, but not that crazy.

PLAYERS: Ponds had 18 points and six rebounds. It’s a measure of how well he played the last couple of games that this one seemed a bit of a disappointment … Bashir Ahmed – who one enormous basketball mind claimed should be “benched until he learns that basketball is a team sport” and another deemed “a bust” – had 14 and 6 and is now averaging 12 and six and shooting 40 percent from three for the year. Twelve and six is about what Jakarr Sampson averaged his one year in college and as I recall people wanted him benched as well. As for me I want more players who you can pencil in for 12 and 6, not less … When Federico Mussini dies they should carve on his tombstone a little Italian guy in baggy shorts chasing two steps behind a quicker taller black guy, because that’s what he spends most of his time doing on the basketball court: chasing his man around in a futile attempt to catch up. If it were not for Malik Ellison he might be the worst defensive player I’ve ever seen. Three for 10 from the floor, one assist (that’s one fewer than greedy selfish Bashir Ahmed for those of you scoring at home) and two turnovers in 28 minutes. Color man Jim Spanarkle described him as “almost like a point guard,” which is technically correct if you put the emphasis on the almost … Ellison had eight points on a couple of nice drives to the basket and five assists but gets the coveted GOAT OF THE GAME award for two boneheaded plays coming down the stretch: on the first one he crossed midcourt line and leapt gracefully into the air to laser a pass to the peanut vendor in Row 11 and later on down one with ten seconds left he spent six seconds dribbling pointlessly at the top of the key and then drove to the baseline where he cleverly picked up his dribble before throwing a bounce pass no less to Kassoum Yawke no less in traffic no less in the lane no less. I hate to keep repeating myself but he might be the dumbest player I’ve ever seen. And oh yeah he missed all his free throws and is now shooting 50 percent for the year. From never nervous Purvis to always bleak Malik: the apple has indeed fallen far from the tree … Tariq Owens had five rebounds and four blocks in 18 minutes but only two points … Not to be out done Yawke had two points and three rebounds and fumbled the ball out of bounds wide open on a set play with under a minute to go. I don’t know who’s calling plays for the big men with games on the line (I recall they lost one last year when they ran a set play for Sima with a couple of seconds left) but that guy should be flogged and I’m pretty sure it’s Saint Jean. Whereas anyone who’s watched Hoosiers knows you don’t use Jimmy Chitwood as a decoy, you let him take the last shot. Too be fair to Yawke we should remember that this should be his first year in college and he’s still very young. But he is not the player he was last year when he was an all BE freshmen and that seems very far away and that’s troubling and hopefully he gets his head out of his ass pretty soon, because it would be helpful if he stepped up … Richard Fredenburgh made his second three of the year – the German deadeye is now 2 for 15 on the year – but had six rebounds. To be fair he does seem to have a nose for the ball. Hopefully he starts working on his other senses soon …. As you might have heard Yankuba Sima has departed Saint John’s for greener pastures. You’d think that in his absence everyone’s favorite towel waver Amar Alibeowitsh would have been itching to step up and support his teammates in this difficult time. Instead because he’s a dumbass he injured himself celebrating Saint John’s important win over Fordham a couple of days ago; my sources tell me he may never walk again, god willing. In his place Darien Williams – whose claim to fame heretofore has been doing interpretive dance steps on the side lines after made threes – was forced into action; he’s played 13 minutes total the previous 10 games and had twice as many personal fouls as points. So naturally Sunday afternoon he had 15 points, seven rebounds and a block and would have earned the game ball if they gave out the game ball on shitty teams that lose to LIU. But they don’t so he gets nothing  …. Now that we’re down to a seven man rotation and our best big man is evidently a guy with no shoulders who hasn’t played organized basketball in two years, any of you still think throwing Chris Jones over the side was a good idea? The sad thing is that probably you do.

NOTES: I was going to just say notes, schmotes, I have no notes and be done with it but then I remembered that LIU used to be coached by the legendary Clair Bee, who Lou Carnesecca will tell you practically invented basketball. Bee was 413-88 lifetime as a college coach: 360–80 in 20 years at LIU, where he won two national championships – LIU was undefeated in 1936 and 1939 and at one point won 43 games in a row – and before that 53-8 at Rider. Eleven of his 88 career losses came in 1933, his second year at LIU, when he went 6-11 – no word whether disgruntled LIU fans were hoping that he could be replaced by Pete Gillen, who was then a sprightly 35 year old. Bee resigned in shame in 1951 after several of his players were implicated in the well-documented CCNY point shaving scandal and went on to coach in the NBA where he lost more games in two years than he had in three decades in college: as coach of the Washington Bullets he was a moribund 34-116. Perhaps he could have done better had he had the smarts to hire an experienced X and O coach to help him on the sidelines but at this late date that’s probably something of a moot point.



Play It Again Ram

It’s a measure of how bad things have been in Jamaica that Thursday’s 90-62 win over the hapless Fordham Rams was seen as payback. Because the case can be made that Fordham is the worst program in the modern history of college basketball and perhaps ever. They have a record of futility that is virtually unmatched – and this is in the A 10 mind you – and have been coached by a conga line of losers that runs the gamut from appalling mediocrity Tom Pecora to giant nothing-burger  Derek Whittenburg, whose most impressive basketball feat was an airball he shot in during the Reagan administration. All of which being said it was pretty pleasurable watching Mullin rub their faces in last year’s game and I taped it and later I’m going to watch it again … SJU jumped out to a 10 point first half lead and looked to be on their way to an early blow out when a combination of events – a loss of focus and the arrival on the court of the bench – let Fordham back in it, so that a made basket after Federico Mussini dribbled the ball off his foot got FU within three. Saint John’s though went on an 8-0 run to end the half and a 15-5 run to start the second (halftime adjustments baby!) and that was all she wrote … Regarding that run, one thing that this team has demonstrated early is that they can take a punch. They bounced back from a loss to Delaware State that could have been demoralizing with their best performance of the year versus Tulane. They lost an 8 point lead versus CSUN and went on to win easily without their point guard on the floor. And last night instead of rolling over when FU cut the lead to three they responded with a run of their own. It’s refreshing to see a team this young have so much poise. Because that’s something that usually takes years to learn … Even considering they were playing Fordham, SJ’s offensive output was prodigious: they shot 60 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three, were plus 20 rebounds, had 10 blocks and 24 assists on 32 made baskets. Once again the defense was atrocious – two giant Eastern European dorks hit 9 three pointers between them – but all in all there is not a lot for even a curmudgeon like me to complain about … Regarding the remarkable three point shooting, is it too soon to credit Mullin and Richmond for that? They are two of the greatest shots in the history of the game after all. Every time some dope dribbles the ball off his foot or misses a free throw a Greek chorus starts chanting that Mullin needs the aid of some washed up loser wizened sage like Tim Welch or Pete Gillen. So do we start crediting Mullin now when every little thing goes right? He’s got four guys shooting over 40 percent from three and Mussini’s over fifty. Is that the result of being coached up and being put in a position to succeed or are we still in the “anyone who thinks Mullin knows what he’s doing is kidding himself” stage. Are any of the little things they’re starting to do right the coach’s fault? Is their resilience a reflection of his own self confidence? I guess the question I’m asking is: is it possible that Chris Mullin knows something about basketball? Maybe it’s too soon to tell, but personally I’m starting to get the warm fuzzies, or at least as fuzzy as I get anyway – I’m starting to see what they’re supposed to be doing, even if they’re not doing it yet: the spacing and ball movement, the pick and roll and back door, the emphasis on the three. They’re still a few pieces short of the puzzle, but all of a sudden they’re starting to look like a basketball team and I think I’m starting to buy in. I guess we’ll know in a couple of months

PLAYERS: Shamorie “WTF” Ponds had a night so _______ that I’m not going to diminish it by picking an adjective to describe it. It was pretty _______ though: 26 points on 9-13 from the floor, 7 of 11 from three (one off the school record set by the legendary Avery Patterson), nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals. The most ______ thing about his game is not his ________ skill set, which is _________ – it’s how calm he is, and how poised, and how the game comes to him. Demeanor-wise he’s already a senior. I can’t imagine what he’s going to be in a couple of years … Mussini had another nice game, but not nice enough for me to eschew adjectives: 20 points in 20 minutes, including a remarkable full court dash and lay in to end the first half. He even drew a charge. Five turnovers is way too many, but I’ll let that slide. For now …. Missus Fun announced last night that Tariq Owens was her favorite player. After cross-examining her to make sure this was not a case of depraved jungle fever I acquiesced. I’m wondering whether Owens moribund start and resurgence of late is the result of his shaking off the cobwebs, having not played for several years, as opposed to incompetence, which was my original theory …. Ahmed had a quiet 12 and 6. Only two turnovers though and an assist, his 13th of the year. Contrary to popular slander, Ahmed is fourth on the team in assists, averaging 1.3 per game. As opposed to say Federico Mussini, who averages less than one …  Kassoum Yawke – who also averages more assists per game than Mussini – fouled out in 12 minutes. To be fair a couple of those were blocks that could have been charges and a couple were chippies. He did though finish with authority on a pick and roll early which was good to see …. Dennis Rodman Amar Alibegovith had eight rebounds in 18 minutes, doubling his total for the year. If this is a sign that he’s realizing that his only value to the team is down low – much like Sean Evans realized in Lavin’s Year Zero – that would be a welcome change. It might even be worth putting up with him clanking threes and bouncing the ball off his feet and decapitating opposing players, which things comprise his skill set now …. Malik Ellison started. In the first two minutes he threw a lazy cross court pass that was nearly intercepted, blew a layup and let a pass go off his fingertips out of bounds, after which he was immediately pulled. Good for Mullin. Other Ellison highlights included receiving a pass in the corner with his foot out of bounds and throwing the ball away on a break. He really is one of the dumber players I can remember … Speaking of highlights, Obergruppenfuhrer Freudenberg made the number three slot on ESPN’s top 10 plays by virtue of a block late in the second half. It was a fine block , but Yawke and Owens make three similar ones a game. Maybe because he’s white, who knows. Also he made the first three of his career. Congratulations Ricky …. Darien Williams also made ESPN: his sideline antics were featured during a piece on the game – a piece in which Shamorie Ponds was barely mentioned. Perhaps if Williams spent as much time working on his game as he does choreographing his end zone dance he wouldn’t suck at basketball and so could get a few minutes actually on the court, as did walk-on Elijah Holifield, who hit a garbage time three at the buzzer …. Sima did not start and barely played and seems to be out of favor for the time being.

NOTES: Really I got nothing. We play Fordham every year and so I’ve plowed that field fallow up to and including an essay about Captain Kangaroo. Donny Marshall and Rick Ackerman are no great shakes but they’re not so awful that they’re worth ranting about and Jim Jackson and whoever the other guy is in the studio at half time, while a little too convivial for me (to be fair Calvin Coolidge was a little too convivial for me) have the virtue of not being Steve Lavin. So I got bupkis …. Apologies to those of you who wrote complaining that my last recap was not adorned by a piece of eye candy at the top. (See Rule 5.) I can understand your disappointment: this is one of the few places on the internet where you can go to see near naked women. Truth is I spent more time than I care to admit looking for a suitably risqué version of Eve Plumb, but couldn’t find anything that wouldn’t have ended up with Chris Hansen showing up at my front door. Plumb gave an Oscar worthy performance as a prostitute with a heart of gold in the underrated 1976 classic Dawn Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, but there aren’t many stills on line, which is weird because you can watch the whole thing on you tube … And finally, yesterday was Tom Waits birthday. Most of you philistines have never heard of him but he is, as the kids say, the balls:



Ain’t No cSunshine


RECAP: Despite the absence of starting point guard Marcus Lovett Saint John’s defeated Cal State Northridge 76-70 at Carnesecca Arena Monday night. With Lovett it’s a game you’d expect SJU to win – I’ve never heard of CSUN before but you have to figure that they didn’t schedule them in the preseason on campus if they were a powerhouse like, say, Delaware State. When I found out he wasn’t playing I said aloud “well they’re never going to win this,” which it turns out is one of those rare times I didn’t know what I was talking about. Because win they did and pretty easily, despite a scare in the second half when a relatively stable eight point lead evaporated and SJU found themselves down 62-61 with six minutes remaining. At which point they could have rolled over and no one but haters and Iona fans would have faulted them for it, missing as they were their most important if not their best player. Instead they grinded out the victory, just as Chris Mullin exhorted them to during a late televised timeout. That’s all coaching baby …. Statistically SJU was creditable: they shot close to 50 percent from the floor and from three, were plus five rebounds, and had an equal number of assists and turnovers. CSUN on the other hand was pretty atrocious: they were 2 for 14 from three and turned the ball over 17 times. What kept them in it was two things: free throws and Saint John’s really appalling defense, which allowed their opponent to get to the rim at will. I’ve faced stiffer resistance in a Bangkok brothel … Speaking of the officials, they were horrible, led by Brian O’Connell, who’s proof of the old adage I just made up that says never trust a man who spends more time doing his hair than his wife. And by that I don’t mean doing his wife, although I’m guessing BOC spends more time on his hair than on that as well. Forty three fouls in 40 minutes is carry the one more than a foul a minute, which is just too much and the first time it’s been called that way all year … Unless Mullin has a bunch of blue pinstripes in his locker he looked to be wearing the same suit he wore on Monday although to his credit he changed his shirt. Hopefully this does not devolve into a lucky sweater situation …. At 4 and 5 SJU is just about where you’d think they should be in early December. Best case scenario is they stole a game in the Bahamas and Delaware State obviously but they’d still be .500 plus or minus one. They better do something about the defense though because otherwise they’re going to get chewed up in conference play.

PLAYERS: A hack writer would say that Shamorie Ponds had a coming out party last night. I’m not going to say that, although he was pretty spectacular – 25 points, five assists, and only one turnover. The one sour note was an ill-advised blown dunk that might have gotten him on ESPN and instead was just a miss. On the bright side I don’t remember a true freshman playing like this for a long time. Omar Cook maybe …. Ahmed was 2-9 from the floor but 8-12 from the FT line. He finished with a near double double, 13 and 8, which is a nice line, although the five turnovers are a problem . He’s averaging 12 and 6 for the season, which led one astute observer to question whether his play thus far has been “detrimental” to the team. I’d point out to that genyious that David Russell averaged 15 and 7 as a senior, whereas Ahmed is seven games into his career …. Those boings you heard when Rico Mussini scored 9 points in a single minute in the first half were some of the first erections to emanate from the Red and White Club since Jimmy Carter was president. Unfortunately like the Red and Whites Mussini was flaccid the rest of he game – he scored 3 points in the other 39 minutes and turned the ball over four times … Signs of life from Yassoum Yawke, who had six points, five rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes … Another creditable effort from Owens – five points, seven rebounds, four blocks. Is he the new Costco? In one remarkable sequence he stole the ball in the back court, flushed a dunk on the ensuing break and then took a charge on the next defensive possession. It was an impressive 45 seconds. Unfortunately he’s being asked to play 28 minutes …. Speaking of unfortunate, Malik Ellison played 29 minutes in Lovett’s absence, the upshot of which is let’s hope Marcus gets back on the court real soon. Ellison’s best play of the evening was faking out whoever was screaming by double pumping a free throw …. Sima played 17 minutes, most of them pointless … Alibeowitch beat his personal best by fouling out in 13 minutes … Freudenberg played only 10 minutes, it just seemed longer

NOTES: California State University Northridge, aka CSUN, are the Matadors, coached by Reggie Theus. Theus was an all American at UNLV, a top 10 draft pick, and is the only player in NBA history to be top 50 all time in scoring and top 25 all time in assists (he averaged 19 points and six assists over 14 years in the league) who is not in the hall of fame. The only other shooting guard to meet those criteria is Jerry West, who got in on the first ballot. To put that in perspective there’s someone called Hortencia Marcari in the hall of fame who played for Brazil in the Pan American Games a couple of times; Mendy Rudolf and Earl Strom are in there and they’re referees – that’s like giving an Oscar to the guy who catered Citizen Kane; and Senda Abbott, who coached women’s basketball in the 19th century at a time when women were not permitted to dribble or steal the ball from their opponents, she’s in the hall of fame. Reggie Theus and his 20 ppg average playing the actual game of basketball, he’s on the outside looking in. Theus was a successful coach in his first go round at New Mexico State (despite the canard that successful players cannot make successful coaches) although not so much in the NBA where he coached for a couple of years or as yet at CSUN …. I find the Matadors an odd choice for a team name in these times and especially in California, the snowflake capital of the world. In the first place, you have a bunch of privileged white California residents usurping the cultural heritage of a poor Latino fighting to death a ferocious bull and in the second place you have a guy who stabs a poor defenseless bull to death for sport. Where’s PETA? Where’s LA RAZA? Where’s the outrage and solidarity from my LGBGTEIEEO brothers and sisters? Hopefully after they’ve coloring booked away their disappointment over the recent election they’ll get on this important issue …. Although only founded recently in 1952 CSUN has a lengthy list of notorious alumni, albeit many of them are vapid television personalities: Paula Abdul, Richard Dreyfuss, Jenna Elfman, Teri Garr, Phil Hartman, Helen Hunt, Evas Longoria and Mendes, Mouskateer drummer Cubby O’Brien, Eve “Jan” Plumb, and Debra Winger. Others include former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi; former Hawaii governor Linda Lingle; Doors drummer John Densmore and Police drummer Andy Summers; and the wonderful bassist Leland Sklar, whose career ran from the ridiculous – he played with such bubble gum acts such as Air Supply, David Cassidy, Peter Allen Jackson Browne, the Eagles and Neil Sedaka – to the sublime: he’s recorded with Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb, Warren Zevon, Billy Cobham Lee Ritenour and tenor alto (I never get tired of that one) saxophonist David Sanborn … Which brings us finally to CSUN graduate Lyman Bostock, an outfielder who hit .311 in four years in MLB in the 70’s before being murdered – mistakenly it turns out – by a jealous husband. His killer pled guilty by reason of insanity and having been adjudged sane seven months later was released to die peacefully in his sleep 35 years later. Who was is that said that justice is blind and juries stupid? Someone. Anyway, Bostock’s wiki page links to a page that lists MLB players who died during their careers. I was struck in perusing it how much things have changed in the 100 short years since the century turned. Most of the players listed as dying in the early part of the century passed from now defunct diseases – typhoid, typhus, influenza, tuberculosis – and from pathologies that tend to effect the lower classes – murder, suicide, cirrhosis. Whereas nowadays you have well to do healthy players dying accidental deaths, like Danny Frisella flipping his dune buggy and Thurman Munson flying his personal aircraft into a cornfield and Jose Fernandez drunk piloting his yacht into a dock. There’s a lesson here about something, civics maybe, or popular culture, but it’s too early in the morning for that. Here’s this instead

The Big Easy


GAME: What a difference a week makes. On Monday evening after SJU’s embarrassing loss to Delaware State Chris Mullin was a lazy bum who lacked all understanding of basketball and fan forum discussions centered on how much Archie Miller’s buy out is and failing that whether Tom Pecora could be enticed to sit on the bench and offer Mullin the sort of wise counsel that allowed him to win nearly 9 games a year at Fordham. Saturday morning, after Saint John’s dismantled Tulane 95-75, Chris Mullin is a hard working basketball prodigy who deserves all the credit in the world for developing a game plan that put his players in a position to win and whose bench savvy ensured that they did. Of course and in FACT none of that is true. Chris Mullin is exactly the same person he was a week ago, when he said “If you’re looking for panic you’re looking in the wrong place.” (Exactly Chris, if you’re looking for panic read the fever dreams of the hysterical old women who post at Johnny Jungle and Redmen dot calm com.) And the players are exactly the same ones who humiliated themselves on Monday. They’re just a game older. Because this is what’s meant by the up and down in up and down season. Today we are a peacock – Monday we were a feather duster. This is life: there are good days and bad days and days in between. The secret to it all is to remain serene in the face of such vicissitudes. Or at least drunk …. I saw little point in rehashing the box score after the Delaware game and see just as little point this morning. Saint John’s hit 10 of their first 11 threes en route to a 30-15 lead in the best first half they’ve played in the Mullin era and probably going back beyond that. They shot 65 percent from three for the game, 55 percent from the field and 13 of 15 from the free throw line. They had 22 assists to 14 turnovers. They were plus 8 rebounding. On the offensive end Tulane wasn’t awful – they shot 44 percent from three themselves – but their defense was shall we say porous. But it was also one of those night where everyone on Saint John’s was somewhere between on and unconscious. More than the numbers what was striking was the energy with which they came out, on the road, after being humiliated three days ago, when they could have rolled over, and the ball movement, the likes of which we have not seen in a very long time. And in fact on the first possession of the game they were so intent on moving the ball that they didn’t even bother shooting – if the shot clock hadn’t expired they might still be passing it around this morning. Anyway if this is the system, count me in. If the guards stay healthy and they get a couple of players who can finish in the paint this is going to be something to see … First game of the season where Mullin wore a suit and a tie. Looked off the rack but still it was nice to see him taking basketball seriously for a change.

PLAYERS: Nearly all the smalls played well. Ahmed had 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and zero offensive fouls. He airballed a couple of threes but with a line like that you can live with it. Lovett 18 points and five assists. Ponds had 15 points – all threes, he’s shooting 40 percent for the year – and four assists. Mussini had his best game in quite a while or perhaps ever – 17 points, three rebounds, and only a handful of embarrassments on the defensive end. Even Ellison (seven points, four assists) wasn’t is usual atrocious self …. The bigs were another matter. Other than Baruq Owens, who acquitted himself reasonable well (eight points, six blocks), the bigs were more or less invisible. Sima has only two rebounds … Fredenburger – for whom the game is just too fast at present – had no points or assists in 13 minutes but 6 rebounds … Even Alibegowitch got into the act, making his first three of the year, after which he raised his hand in triumph, or maybe relief. Christian who? … Which brings us to Kassoum Yawke, who once again looked lost out there. Kid showed a world of potential last year and obviously it’s way too early to throw him under the bus but he seems to have lost whatever instincts he displayed last year that made him so much fun to watch. He was one for six from the floor – the five he missed were lay ups and chippies and the one he made was a circus shot he banked falling away from the basket that he shouldn’t have taken in the first place – and had three rebounds and one block. You know if he wanted to he could manage a dozen rebounds a game. Threat advisory scale: yellow.

NOTES: Tulane is coached by Brooklyn native Mike Dunleavy, a longtime NBA player who won an NBA championship as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and was later named NBA coach of the year while a Portland Trailblazer. Unfortunately that NBA experience has not translated to the college ranks where Dunleavy now sports a .14 winning percentage. If the comments this morning on the Ye Olde Green Wave Forum (I shit you not) are any indication, Dunleavy better get Pete Gillen on the phone stat, because the fans are none too pleased. For example poster GSx writes than Dunleavy was “completely outcoached” by Chris Mullin – evidently GSx does not read the SJU fan forums, he’d know that “anyone who thinks mullin knows what he is doing is lying to himself.” Poster Waverider wonders “ how much is talent and how much is coaching.” Pete Rache thinks Dunleavy “ completely ignored teaching defense,” while poster RJC laments that Dunleavy’s “experience is only in the pros.” Not one to mince words poster Wavemania declares that “Dunleavy is a loser” and hopes that Tim Welch Floyd is available, although he is willing to give the former NBA coach of the year “two years to turn it around.” NJ Wave wishes Tulane would press more, believes the problem is not lack of talent, and is losing patience with Dunleavy; Baywave believes “ coaches need to do better”; and Rororooter “would have hired a guy who had a proven college system, a system that could win with inferior talent.” (Pete Carill to the white courtesy telephone.) This is after Dunleavy has coached seven games. And the moral is: only the half-clever names have been changed. What I can’t understand is that none of them complained about the most heinous act of Dunleavy’s career: he spawned the repulsive Mike Dunleavy Jr, formerly of DooK university.