It’s About Time

St John’s defeated DePaul 77-76 in Chicago – or as Pete Gillen would say and did, several times, the Windy City! Chicago! Illinois! – Wednesday night, their fourth straight victory and second in a row on the road. (I thought that last factoid might have been something but they won three in a row on the road last December, @ Tulane, Syracuse and DePaul, so never mind.) Despite winning four in a row they’re still in last place, but assuming that DePaul loses to Seton Hall in New Jersey on Saturday SJU will leap into ninth. Excelsior … For most of it this didn’t look like a win. DePaul would spurt ahead, St John’s would nearly catch them but not quite and then DePaul would spurt ahead again

And in fact DePaul was up four 69-65 with four and a half minutes left when Ponds’ six points and an assist keyed a 10-2 run that put it away for the good guys … Last time I mentioned snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Case in point last night when a DePaul three at the buzzer made those who’d given the points losers: DePaul went off plus one and a half. I don’t bet college basketball much but when I do I eschew statistical analysis and advanced analytics (I don’t understand math) and instead base my selection on two factors: which team has the more powerful mascot (Demons > weather) and which color is more appealing (blue > red). Those of you who gave the points might want to take that to the bank next time: weather > eagles and red > yellow … St John’s won last night despite the presence of the appalling Pat Driscoll, the worst referee in college basketball. And in fact Driscoll gave them I thought a bit of a gift on a questionable charge that Tariq Owens drew late, which sure looked to me like a block. And I suspect it would have looked to Driscoll like a block if St John’s had been playing Villanova or Xavier …. Ponds continued his unconscious streak: 26 points on 10 for 18 from the floor plus ten assists. The main beneficiary of the latter was Marvin Clark, who had a career high 24 points and six rebounds. He’s averaging six of those a game over his last four, which not coincidentally corresponds to SJ’s winning streak. Simon had 16 points, three rebounds and three assists, which considering how he’s been playing lately seems a tad disappointing. Stiff defense by Tariq Owens held some Eastern European lummox called Marin Maric to a double double, although to his credit Owens made what turned out to be the game winning free throw. Bashir Ahmed had as many turnovers as points and once again Trimble didn’t embarrass himself. And someone called Kassoum Yakwe played two minutes to little effect, he must be a walk on because I vaguely remember his name but don’t recall seeing it in the box score recently …. The play by play guy was someone called Carter Blackburn, which sounds like the name of a character in a Tom Wolfe novel and Pete Gillen, who sounded like an idiot. Gillen babbled incessantly and mostly incoherently, to the point where missus fun wondered whether he was “all coked up.” I told her no, he probably just had an extra bottle of wine at dinner considering the late start. He repeated ad nauseum that Chicago! is called the Windy City! and is in Illinois! and that Sharmorie Ponds played for Thomas Jefferson High! in Brooklyn! New York! and there was for my taste way too much Glory Days talk about his erstwhile coaching career, the upshot of which is that teams he coached – Xavier, Providence and Virginia – tended to achieve better results after he left than while he was there. Most egregiously Gillen does not seem to understand the concept of time. With four minutes left in the first half he said that there was “Plenty of time left in this contest.” Okay, fair enough. Twenty four minutes later, with 34 seconds left in the game he said that there’s “Still a long way to go,” which seems longer than plenty of time, and then with less than three seconds left he said there’s “2.8 seconds, still an eternity,” which an eternity is certainly longer than either of those. If you took him at his word you’d think the game was getting longer as more and more time ticked off the clock and in fact now that it’s been over for 12 hours it still might be going on.

In an odd confluence game day was both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday – odd because the former holiday celebrates carnality and concupiscence and the latter repentance and mortification of the flesh. Valentine’s day is named for Valentinus, a Christian priest decapitated by the Emperor Claudius in the third century, which separation of skull and torso allegedly occurred on February 14th. (This explains why the giving of head is a traditional Valentine’s Day gift.) That a 2000 year old decapitation came to be associated with modern romance is also odd, but associated it is: traditionally February 14th features exchanges of gifts between lovers and especially flowers, which makes a perverse sort of sense, as bouquets of flowers, being themselves an aggregation of severed sexual organs, are delivered to females by males castrated by monogamy and Hallmark. Ash Wednesday on the other hand marks the beginning of Lent, a period of atonement in which the Catholic faithful emulate the deprivations suffered by the Baby Jesus during his 40-day sojourn in the desert, from which he emerged triumphant, having three times resisted Lucifer’s entreaties,  foreshadowing Peter’s failure to do likewise after the crucifixion. In the Catholic tradition the faithful mark the Lenten period by forgoing sensual pleasures, which eschewment is meant to cleanse the spirit in anticipation of the resurrection. I’m a bit fallen away now – in the same way that Oprah is a bit fat – but Lent was a big deal in our household growing up. My father for example gave up smoking for 40 days – he smoked every Sunday though, because during Lent the Sundays don’t count – and promptly resumed Easter morning.

(Pater was a Lucky Strike man.


Talk about your truth in advertising: his throat was devoid of tumors when he died of cancer.)

No doubt my mother gave up something as well, although with her you could never be sure, because she was something of a duplicitous bitch. As youngsters my siblings and I too we were encouraged to give up childish pleasures, at first candy and sweets and cookies and later as we got older masturbation and Southern Comfort. Either way Lenten Sundays were sticky affairs in my parents house growing up.

Not for nothing but there are some St John’s fans whose souls could use a little cleansing this holy season. A few suggestions. If you’re one of those guys I see sitting in the stands sitting on your hands in Alumni hall whose pendulous man tits are dangerously close to bursting through your thread-worn red and white sweaters, consider giving up donuts. If you’re one of those chronic malcontents who sign on daily to St John’s fan forums and whine incessantly and tediously about every little thing that pops into your tiny little brains, maybe give up whining like little bitches. If you’re one of those people who insists on putting mayonnaise on lobster, consider eschewing mayonnaise and try a nice Bearnaise sauce instead. If you’re a plagiarist, consider writing your own jokes, and failing that, hang yourself. And if you’re a cunt, maybe consider not being a cunt. Me, I’m going to give up vodka, starting …. April Fool’s Day

Mass Marquette Fiction

I wrote yesterday an essay about St John’s 86-78 victory over the Marquette Floor Slapping Dopes 86-78 at Carnesecca Arena Saturday afternoon, noting that it was their third straight win and that the victory moved St John’s back to .500 for the year and vaulted them to within one game of 9th place DePaul in the Big East standings. It’s fortunate that I didn’t post it yesterday afternoon, because in light of morning it turns out that most of it was unreadable. I don’t mean it was garbled, like my notes sometimes are the morning after I’ve been making bubbles in a bottle of spirits, but garbage, like I hadn’t written it, like some untalented unclever hack had broken into my house and pounded out a couple thousand words on my office desktop. It was a half-assed fully-contrived hackneyed mess and I’m embarrassed to have written it.

I had an exchange with a Mullin hating fan a couple of months ago and his take was that Mullin was not prepared for his job because coaching is hard. At first I thought he meant hard as in difficult, which how difficult can it be if cretins like Bobby Knight and Jim Boeheim are good at it. I think it fair to say that coaching doesn’t require much brain power. But no he said, he meant hard as in hard work, that it was grueling and tedious and unrewarding. That seems to me wrong as well, although not quite as wrong. I mean, I can see the drawbacks – you have to be around children and children are disgusting selfish little disease vectors and even the brightest nine year old is dumber than a dumb dog – but coaching little league or CYO can’t compare to being a gravedigger or a roofer or any other type of donkeywork in terms of being grueling and tedious and unrewarding. You can do it sitting down on the scorer’s table while wearing sweats and a hoodie and you get paid whether your team wins or loses or whether your students learn or don’t and you get the summers off. Seems like a pretty sweet deal to me.

You know what’s hard, I mean really hard? Staring at a blank piece of paper knowing that it you don’t fill it with words you don’t get paid and the rent’s due in a week. That’s hard. Which is why I learned a long time ago that sometimes it doesn’t matter what you write, it matters that you write: that starting to type is half the battle. I never suffered from writer’s block because I couldn’t afford to. Effete poseurs and housewife novelists can afford to be tortured artists waiting for their muse to come in but if you write for money you just have to write. And maybe that’s what I did yesterday. Maybe I felt obligated to churn out another one of these stupid essays and so phoned one in. Or maybe some days I’m just a hack, just like everyone else is most days. I don’t know. But anyway the point is that what I wrote was trash and it got dele-ed and I’m happier for it. To the extent that I made any points worth considering here’s the crib notes version:

* winning was good because after the last two it was important for them to protect their home court

* Shamorie Ponds is potentially the best basketball player St John’s has ever had but it’s unlikely he’ll be around long enough for us to see it; Simon is also very good but he need to practice his free throw shooting and he stinks is at in-bounding the ball, please let someone else do it; Clark can evidently rebound when he feels like and so can Ahmed

* hopefully Marcus Lovett is dying a little inside watching his team mates win without him

* the refs sucked, especially this guy

* Wojo is a shitty coach and sweats a lot and recruits an awful lot of white players, just saying

* Steve Lavin still sucks

There was only one vaguely interesting paragraph, which I append, unredacted, as a form of self flagellation

On February 10, 1964 Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan released his third record, The Times They Are a Changin’, which seemed apropos to mention, St John’s today having achieved their third straight win. Dylan has the distinction of being both the best and worst song writer of his generation: for every Positively Fourth Street and and Like a Rolling Stone he wrote he penned half a dozen Hey Mr Tambourine Mans and Lay Lady Lays and Shelters From The Storm and similar dogs, many of which are featured on The Times, which is pretty much an awful record. The title track, perfectly encapsulating as it does the puerile philosophy of Dylan and his insipid hippie cohort was not surprisingly covered by every half a fag hack with six minutes to fill in a live show. I plowed through inter alia looking for a suitable version to post – even as sadistic as I am I wouldn’t subject you to Dylan’s caterwauling – Billy Bragg, Tracy Chapman, Flogging Molly, The Searchers, Bryan Ferry, the appalling James Taylor, Peter Paul and Moron, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Eddie Vedder, Richie Havens, Chris Cornell (even he couldn’t save it), Joan Baez, Phil Collins, and pope-hater Sinead O’Connor, each of them worst than the last; even the great Richie Blackmore’s version is enough to make you throw up in your mouth a little. I finally gave up. Instead of that have a listen to this, which contemplates how quickly defeat can be plucked from the jaws of victory:

Nova Harm No Foul

The temptation is great, in the wake of St John’s improbable defeat of number one Villanova on Wednesday night, to say I told you so. To all the chubby balding middle aged clerks and middle managers who demanded that the great Chris Mullin resign from his job to prove his manhood. To all the gym teachers and CYO coaches who bemoaned the staff’s lack of experience and basketball acumen: Mitch Richmond is a lazy bum, and St Jean is young and dumb and for god sake can’t we hire a true basketball mind like Mike Rice (that’d be the Mike Rice who’s 16–38 lifetime in the Big East). To the utter shit for brains who continue to lament the loss of that chowderhead Steve Lavin and wondered aloud where the program might have been had he been retained. (Hint: it’d be taking incremental or baby steps up the hill or mountain to playing its best ball in February as a prelude to a magic carpet ride to Costco where they could share the bulk priced sugar. Except Rysheed Jordan obviously, he’d still be getting raped in the prison shower.) To all the chronic malcontents who contributed to the cacophony of glothering that has polluted SJU fan forums lo these many months, the ones who figured St John’s should move down to the MAAC or Division 2 where they’d be competitive and the ones who sold their season tickets to some privileged white piece of shit dewk fan for 30 pieces of silver and the ones who impugned the staff’s commitment and character and the players heart, talent and loyalty. In short to the whole conga line of mutts and losers that comprise the worst fan base in all of sports, it’s quite tempting to say I told you so, and then what the hell call them a bunch of cunts for good measure. But I’m not going to do that. Because I’m bigger than that. Besides, they wouldn’t hear me over the racket their claws are making as they this morning scuttle back up the gangplank of the ship that they had for months been assuring the rest of us be sinking. Which none of that is to say that this season hasn’t been a complete disappointment or that the corner has been turned and happy days are here again. Because the season has been disappointing and the only happy days I believe in is rerunning on Nickelodeon. It is though to say: I told you so you cunts … I was trying to recollect a more satisfying moment or more accurately, moments, in St John’s history. (One fan board genyious said this morning something like yeah they were great wins, but “let’s not get too excited.” Hey stupid, if not now when.) Obviously Mullin and company beating number one Georgetown in Landover, a game I watched with the late Dr S_________ while draining a bottle of Lochan Ora, a diabolical Chivas blend that like Dr S____ is no longer available in the states. Marcus Hatten standing at the free throw line with no time left on the clock at Madison Square Garden in front of a weeping dook bench. Elijah Ingram remembering to turn on his cell phone camera that fateful day in Pittsburgh. The great Norm Roberts defeating UMass to become the first coach to win back-to-back Holiday Festival titles since Louie did it 20 years earlier. And if you’re as old as dirt there was Black Sunday – March 10, 1979, I was just a rosy cheeked optimistic tad then – when on the first weekend of the NCAA tournament last-in St John’s and lowly Penn beat the number one and two seeds UNC and Dook in a game conveniently sited in Durham North Carolina. But honestly these two might be sweeter. Not only because of how horribly things have gone wrong this season but because the victims were the two whitest most lauded programs in college basketball and their repulsive coaches, rat face Mike Schrewshrenky and Schrewshrenky light, Jay Wright. Anyone who didn’t feel last night a shiver of excitement seeing classy Jay Wright red faced and bleating piteously to the referees as he watched his number one ranking swirl slowly down the toilet has no soul and is dead inside. Because fuck Villanova and fuck Jay Wright and he still should get that mole under his eye looked at, because I’m pretty sure it’s starting to grow legs … I’m not going to rehash the box score but a couple of things stand out. St John’s, which has been getting hosed by the referees for months now, shot 24 free throws to Nova’s 12 and 11 of those were by Jay Brunson. Only stupid Donte DiVincenzo – the Moors did so much fucking with Sicilian women – shot one; DiVincenzo , much beloved by Iona fans, who usually kills St John’s, beclowned himself for 38 minutes before fouling out. Sweet! St John’s, 321st of 351 teams in team total rebounding percentage – behind such powerhouses as Nicolls State, High Point, and NJIT – outrebounded Nova, led by Justin Simon, who was a couple of assists short of triple double. (Just a week or so ago I was assured by a knowledgeable fan board poster who “understands math” that Justin Simon wasn’t good enough to start on Rhode Island, which ridiculous assertion he justified based upon “advanced analytics” that were too complicated for your humble author to comprehend. Question: if there were advanced analytics that proved that Lena Dunham was a more desirable female than Charlotte McKinney would you start jerking off during Girls or would you throw your statistics in the garbage?). And Shamorie Ponds – who 10 days ago scored two points on oh for 12 shooting versus Butler – continued a remarkable run – 31 versus Xavier, 33 versus Duke and 26 versus Nova – that saw him named the Naismith National Player of the Week. As a sophomore. Hopefully he cools off a bit, I’d hate it if he were a lottery pick. This year at least … So where do we go from here. Certain fans are this morning parsing their way to an NCAA tournament bid, which that’d be nice, but oh and eleven’s a lot to overcome and frankly that reeks just a bit of wishful thinking, of Hitler in April 1945 hunkered down in his bunker pushing nonexistent Panzer divisions across a map of Europe. What isn’t too far fetched is that SJU wins four of their next six games, all of them winnable – it’s okay, I don’t believe in jinxes, if you do go light a candle – and gets an NIT invite. Which all things considered would be a remarkable outcome and one anyone would have signed up for – I would have signed up for an NIT bid at the beginning of the season, but that’s me, I’m a bit of a pessimist – considering the state of the roster. The optimistic Mullin haterz among you can still hope that this week was a brief respite from his inevitable failure, an oasis in the desert of suck that is Saint Johns basketball, and that you were right all along. In which case  you can say I told you so and call me a cunt. But not this morning. This morning the sun is shining and me, I’m going to Carl Junior’s for a burger and maybe a bit of the hair of the dog.

Rats

With six minutes left in Dook’s inevitable victory over St John’s on national television at Madison Square Garden on Saturday Day afternoon I wrote “a lot of bad things can happen in six minutes” in my notebook and turned off the TV and went upstairs to pleasure Missus Fun. (For those of you scoring at home, I nearly succeeded.) I haven’t checked the score yet and it doesn’t matter: after yet another humiliating defeat snatched from the jaws of victory I’m firmly in the Mullin-Must-Go-Camp. I admit it: all you CYO coaches and gym teachers were right: Mullin has no idea what he’s doing and must be fired, Mitch Richmond needs to go, Greg St Jean is a disgrace, Matt Abdulwhatver is a horrible recruiter, and Dan Matic whoever he is is as useful as tits on a boar. It’s time for St John’s to make a change, to hire some up and comer like Will Browne or Bruiser Flint, and failing that to consider moving down to the MAAC or some other completely shitty horrible conference, because there’s no way they can compete against upper echelon teams in Division One, especially teams like those coached by the great Mike Screwshrenski. Suffice it to day that this was another horrible loss in a string of horrible losses: it’s just a shame that the great Lou Carnesseca had to be in the crowd to witness this humiliation, because he deserves better. If they couldn’t beat dook today on their home floor they can’t beat anyone … I can’t be arsed to look at the box score, but no doubt it reflects the inevitable St John’s choke. No doubt Bashir Ahmed, an over rated out of control loser, shot one for ten from the floor and turned the ball over half a dozen times. Good luck in China next year Bashir, and good riddance. No doubt it shows that Tariq Owens is too skinny to compete in Division One basketball, as opposed to Brian Trimble, who can’t compete because he’s a fat tub of lard. No doubt it proves that Shamorie Ponds – hey Shamorie, you’re oh and eleven, stop taking so many threes! – is kidding himself if he thinks he’s going to be a professional basketball player and that Justin Simon is no Federico Mussini and that Marvin Clark transferred from MSU because he knew he was incapable of playing for a real coach like Tom Izzo. Amar Alibgowitz was as usual garbage. All of these players stink and that’s all on the staff, who are over rated and over matched. Hopefully all of the players transfer and if the staff is half the men I think they are they will all resign to prove their manhood …

NOTES: The game was called on CBS by Gus Johnson and Jim Jackson. Jackson is more or less fine but Gus Johnson has a ridiculous habit of reciting mundane facts as if he’s reporting on the assassination of a president: Bashir Ahmed! is from the Bronx! He enjoys tuna fish sandwiches! His favorite band! Is Dexi’s Midnight Runners!. Note to Gus Johnson, not every fact is an epiphany … I know I said just a moment ago that Jackson is fine but because I like to contradict myself Jim Jackson is also an idiot. For example he said at one point and I know this because I wrote it down that “dook might have gotten away with” after which I went into a coma, because here’s a partial list of what dook might have gotten away with: a shot clock violation on the first play of the game, several muggings, various goal tendings, and a dozen fouls that weren’t called – when I turned the game off dewk had made 11 more free throws that St John’s had attempted. You might as well say that “Dewk has gotten away with murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and are helping OJ search for the real murderers” or “Dewk has gotten away with crucifying the baby Jesus.” Dook has gotten away with is enough. They have gotten away with stuff forever and had they not they’d not have been as successul as they have been. (I’m looking forward to the Villanova Duke NCAA championship game, which if that happens either no fouls will be called or all the players will foul out before the first commercial time out.) If they didn’t get away with stuff, maybe St John’s would have had a chance at the upset them Saturday afternoon. Instead we’re left with what is it now 12 losses in a row now and no light at the end of tunnel. It’s a sad state of affairs … Lest the day be a complete loss here’s a picture of poet laureate JJ Reddick picking his nose

and here’s Mike Schrewshreki dunking

and here’s a funny song

This, I don’t know what this is, it’s probably Russian Bots