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.