If you’d asked me late Saturday night whether I was going to get up early Sunday morning and write something about Villanova’s 92-79 demolition of Saint John’s in Philadelphia I wouldn’t have answered because I was passed out, but had I been conscious I’d have said no, I’m taking a well deserved mental health day, it’s bad enough that I had to sit through that, I’m certainly not going to rise bright and early to rehash it. But here I am all the same. That I am is I suppose partly the fault of the same Puritan ethic that makes me such a workmanlike drinker and partly that I have a few things rattling around in my head that will continue to do so until they’re committed to paper … About the game there is not much to say. Villanova went up big early and stayed there. The end.
Considering that Villanova is a top five team it was a pretty ugly game. The teams combined to shoot 19 of 51 from three; there were 39 turnovers, 23 of them Nova’s; the refs – who were once again atrocious, I don’t know what home for the blind they’re finding these dopes in but they’re starting to get on my nerves, each crew is worse than the last – called 48 fouls, which resulted in 42 free throw attempts, 27 for Villanova, of which they made 25, which was a quarter of their points, and which free throw discrepancy of 14 was eerily close to the difference in the final score. I’m not saying that Saint John’s lost because of the referees, that would be moronic: they lost because they played horribly. The point is that if they hadn’t played horribly they still would have lost, because of the officiating. Babbling idiot Steve Lappas said something about Nova’s free throw shooting over the course of the season – Nova has made more free throws than their opponents have attempted or something, I don’t recall exactly and my notes are pretty incoherent – but the gist of it was that the free throw discrepancy was the result of some basketball skill on Villanova’s part, which earth to Lappas, no it isn’t. It’s the result of Jay Wright getting the benefit of the doubt on every call, just like Mike Schrewshenshy gets the benefit of the doubt on every call. The fact is that if the refs wanted to they could call a foul on every drive to the basket, because there’s always contact. They just don’t always. For example, last night Bashir Ahmed took 17 shots, many of those in traffic in the lane: he shot zero free throws. Josh Hart took the same number of shots from roughly the same place on the floor and shot 10 free throws. Here, look, Ahmed’s on the left, Hart’s on the right:
Am I supposed to believe that the guy on the right got fouled half the time he took the ball to the basket and the guy on the left got fouled not one single time? Not one hand grazed his arm, not one body bumped into his ever so slightly? Because I don’t believe that. Do I believe that there’s an organized conspiracy among referees to blow Nova and Jay Wright, the same way they blow dook? Not really, although it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that there was because stranger things have happened. What’s more likely is that like dook Nova receives at every turn gushing attention from the media, and Jay Wright receives gushing attention from the media – I mean Jesus the next time I hear about what a great dresser he is I’m going to scream, he dresses like an undertaker with a credit line at Brooks Brothers – and that all that gushing filters its way into the heads of referees – which less face it these guys aren’t rocket scientists to begin with, Jim Burr was a referee and he was so dumb I can’t understand how he got out of bed in the morning without breaking a bone – and when the time comes to decide who did what to whom they decide that the Villanova player made the correct play because they play for Villanova. It’s confirmation bias. You even hear it among Saint John’s fans, how Villanova is the program Saint John’s should emulate and how “classy” Jay Wright is and how proud they are of Villanova’s success because Saint John’s gets to bask in its glow. I have a different take: fuck Villanova and fuck Jay Wright and fuck their success. I hope they never win another game and Jay Wright ends up drunk and living in a box mumbling Can’t-Stand-Ya Can’t-Stand-Ya… I was briefly excited during the pre game when it was announced that Saint John’s had made a change in their starting line up. It’s about time I thought, sit Malik Ellison down, move Ahmed to the three and Yawke to the four and start Owens, he’s going to foul out in 20 minutes anyway, why not the first 20. Instead, for at least the second time this year Mullin sat Marcus Lovett for some minor disciplinary infraction. The other one was one of the OOC losses, maybe LIU, I can’t be arsed to check. This to me does not seem to be an efficacious method of training the young mind of a student athlete. In the first place, it doesn’t work. If it worked he wouldn’t have been late a second time. In the second place it penalizes persons other than the perpetrator of the offense: his team mates suffer, the fans suffer, the school suffers, ultimately the sport suffers and worst of all I suffer and I suffer enough alfuckingready. If he’s late to a meeting make him run the stairs or waterboard him or attach electrodes to his genitals, I don’t care. Not playing your best player that doesn’t make you a fair and firm disciplinarian, that makes you a bad coach. That whiny pussy Grayson Allen tried to cripple half a dozen people and Schrewshrenski had to be shamed into sitting him down for 20 minutes and Schreshrenski is ever classier than Jay Wright. Hopefully in the future Mullin follows that example, maybe he’ll end up with an American Express commercial and SJU will finally start getting some calls … Saint John’s has a week off to prepare for next Saturday’s game against Seton Hall, or as I like to think of it, the Battle for Seventh Place. If they’re going to have any hopes of a CBI bid I make this one a must win.
PLAYERS: This will be short and sweet. Despite his benching Lovett led SJU with 23 points and added six assists, four steals and three rebounds. That’s why he should be playing, because he’s good at basketball … Ahmed had 15 points and seven rebounds, his ninth straight game in double figures … Ponds had 15 points but didn’t score until there were 15 minutes left in the game and it didn’t matter anymore … Building on his marvelous performance against Marquette, Yakwe had a rebound, a block and took a charge in the first minute. Unfortunately he played another 22 minutes after that, during which time his resurgence was less evident … Mussini made three threes but airballed one of his misses and was once again schooled by Donte Diwhatever, who I still can’t believe didn’t go to dook, because he seems like their sort of smug douche bag … Owens and Williams combined for seven points and six rebounds, which would be pretty good if they were one player and he was the third player off the bench … Speaking of the third player off the bench it should be Malik Ellison, who had five points in 22 minutes … Alibegowith played what might be the most futile six minutes of college basketball I’ve seen since Abe Keita was getting paid under the table … Fruedenburg hit a three, his sixth of the year. The German wunderkind is now at 18 percent for the year.
NOTES: Last night’s coverage on CBS was so atrocious that it made me pine for Fox Sports and Steve Lavin and I’m not even kidding. Play by play guy Andrew Catalan was a plodding sports host on a local affiliate up here: the most noteworthy thing about him is his ridiculous red toupee. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to have a former Villanova head coach call a Villanova game, but it wasn’t a good idea: it’s hard enough listening to that rat face Lappas when he’s neutral and last night he was slobbering over Jay Wright from the opening tip. The half time panel comprised Seth Davis, who’s appalling; John Rothstein, who has all the warmth and sincerity of an Albanian kidney broker; NBA flop Brendan Haywood sporting a pair of glasses that’s supposed to make him look thoughtful but don’t; and some broad whose name I didn’t catch and who wasn’t even good-looking. I almost said that good looking but that would have been an insult to broads who aren’t even that good looking … I had an interesting exchange this week with an irate reader about Federico Mussini which led to a hilarious gambol which I mean to share but not I think today, as this is running long and some readers complain when I run long, to which criticism of my verbosity I pay close heed because having a short attention span is a sign of high intelligence and high intelligence is the demo I’m aiming for, so I’m going to save that. Something for the rest of you to look forward to.