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