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Something About Mary

GAME: St John’s ended its preseason schedule Wednesday afternoon with a 77-73 over the trademark rival St. Joseph’s Hawks at Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino. It was an ugly game of the sort in which St John’s seems to thrive, one wherein their peculiar composition – they are oddly sized and freakishly athletic – can overwhelm less talented opponents. It’s somewhat ironic that at least part of Mullin’s system – Mullin being perhaps the most elegant player ever to grace a St John’s uniform – is designed to create chaos, although to paraphrase José Saramago perhaps this chaos is order I haven’t yet deciphered. In any event this was another game they could have lost and that last year they would have lost and the heartening thing about it is that they won not because of their basketball prowess but because of their mindset. At the risk of using a hack phrase that I’d condemn if used by someone else, they refused to lose …

Usually when I look at the box score after the game – some people believe that there’s nothing to be learned from box scores and statistics, that their eyewitness observations trump facts and numbers: those people are idiots – it reinforces my impressions of what I’ve just seen. Yesterday though was an anomaly. I thought for example that St Joe’s had shot the ball pretty well and especially from three: they did not. Both teams shot around 40 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three (St Joe’s at 27 percent was actually slightly worse than St John’s at 31). Neither did I notice the free throw disparity. I actually thought St John’s was getting hosed by an awful crew of officials – and the refs were awful, even the usually obsequious Tim Welsh noticed: he said “the officials have been a little sleepy,” compared the officiating to last weekend’s Steeler-Pat game and noted that “the refs were “getting worse as the game progresses” – whereas St John’s shot 28 free throws to St Joe’s 10, a disparity which like last game’s would have annoyed me were St John’s on the other end of it, although like last game you can’t expect to take a bunch of free throws if your offense consists of chucking up off balance threes. I thought that St Joe’s moved the ball well and that St John’s didn’t particularly, but St John’s had more assists that St Joe’s, who only had 13 on 29 made baskets. Despite giving up 73 points – they’ve only allowed 70 points four times this season – I thought the defense was again pretty good; the numbers at least bare that out, St Joe’s having turned the ball over 20 times … The win puts St John’s at 10-2 with only one OOC game remaining – a likely loss to the hated dewk blue devils. Only a delusional fan would be displeased: two losses to teams with two losses between them – one of those in the top five and the other receiving votes in the coaches poll – and most of those on neutral courts. It could be much worse and has been and will be once again and in the meanwhile I’m happy to enjoy it while it lasts. Ten and two, 15th in the country in RPI, 24th in strength of schedule, 30th in points allowed per game is pretty good, and despite things not being perfect – and they’re not, any idiot can see that, which is what makes the constant drumbeat of doom pounded by alleged fans so tiresome, comprising as it does the tedious restatement of obvious facts without a scintilla of wit or insight – I’m happy. Because you can’t lose the national championship in December. You have to wait for March for that. So I’m biding my disappointment lest it spurt out prematurely: being older now it takes me a while to be disappointed a second time.

PLAYERS: Ponds had another off night: 28 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals … I predicted last time that Tariq Owens (seven points, seven rebounds, five blocks) would triple double sooner or later. Justin Simon nearly beat him to it: 11 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists … Ahmed had 16 points including a couple three diabolical moves to the basket and five rebounds … Clark was once again in foul trouble: eight points and three rebounds … Yawke (4 points) had some nice aggressive moves around the basket but zero rebounds (out of 84 possible) in 20 minutes seems technically impossible. It’s almost like he’s trying to not rebound because if he stood on the court with his hands in the air randomness suggests one would land there as a matter of course … Trimble was four of seven from three in his first two games and 4 of 24 (16 percent) since, including one of five last night. The good news is that he can’t be that bad, I shoot better than that … Alibeowitz DNP … Personally I’m loving this short rotation, it requires much less typing

NOTES: St Joseph’s University in Philadelphia is named for Joseph, the putative father of the baby Jesus, and allegedly a descendant of David and Solomon. If catholic lore is to be believed – and of course it is – Joseph was 90 when he married Mary, his second wife, who later conceived, his age perhaps explaining why Mary remained a virgin throughout the ordeal

I’m the queerest young fellow that ever you heard.
My mother’s a Jew,
my father’s a bird.
If ever you think I amn’t divine
you’ll have to drink water that I’ve turned from wine

Despite behavior that would have disqualified him from serving as senator from the great state of Alabama, Pope Pius IX declared Joseph patron of the universal church, in which position he still serves … St Joe’s and John’s share some obvious parallels: they’re both Catholic institutions, albeit the Joes are Jesuits – the superior form – and the John’s Vincentian; they share an identical acronym, which the Joes usurped based upon their slightly preeminent founding; both were formerly basketball powers; and even their mascots are the same: both are birds, although the Johns are for some reason named after a weather pattern … St Joseph’s alumni include former NJ governor William T. Cahill; hall of famer Jack Ramsey, who coached inter alia Wilt Chamberlain, Chet Walker, Billy Cunnigham, Hal Greer, Bob McAdoo, the terrifying Maurice Lucas, Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler, Ernie DiGregorio, and Reggie Miller; coach Paul Westhead; 2004 Naismith College Player of the Year Jameer Nelson; sportscaster Jack Whitiker; fun fave Joe Queenan; and Vince Papale, inspiration for Disney movie Invincible … I received a bit of push back after my last recap, a correspondent complaining about a joke I’d made. What could it have been I thought? The tasteless reference to the alleged rape of poor Rose McGowan? The tasteless Parkinson’s joke? The joke at the expense of ugly old Ruth Gordon? The one about Jim Valvano having cancer? Ed Cooley’s diseased head? A Scotsman being disemboweled? The various racial epitaphs? No. Evidently that poster is fine with racism, misogyny and mindless mean spiritedness. What set off this reader was my alleged comparison of “a color commentator’s performance to the murder of her mother by her father … waaaay beyond the pale. Completely tasteless and unnecessary.” Well. In the first place, this guy must be new, because being offensive is my stock in trade. In the second, only a very uncareful writer (or reader) would think that that was the comparison I made: I compared the color commentator’s performance to the murderer’s performance, both of which were shoddy: not even I could have gotten that dope acquitted. The last time I got this sort of push back is when disgusted with Steve Lavin’s constant references to his dead father I wrote a bit of a monkeyshine about digging up Cap, reanimating his corpse and murdering him, which led to a secret vote to have me banned from a website on which that particular drollery had not even been posted.

In fairness to myself I made the same joke about my own parents and in fairness to my family my sister laughed, she also having the sense of humor my correspondent lacks … Finally a happy birthday to Frank Zappa, born this day in 1940. He died lo these many years ago in 1993, which is why he is not celebrating his 77th birthday today, by which death contemporary music is much impoverished.

Gael Force

St John’s defeated Iona 69-59 Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in a moribund renewal of what for some reason is still called the Holiday Festival. Brian Custer referred to the two schools as rivals, an odd choice of word considering that they haven’t played since 1995, the last game being one of the losses that precipitated Brian Mahoney being run out of town on a rail. And it’s not only the temporal dislocation that belies that characterization; these teams are not rivals because the disparity in talent between the Big East and the MAAC is just so vast, even between the bottom of the Big East and the top of the MAAC. I mean sure, every once in a while a MAAC team is going to jump up and beat somebody and maybe every once in a while there’s going to be MAAC team that has a surprising year, but that’s the exception. I live upstate in close proximity to Siena College, one of the better MAAC programs; they’re ubiquitous in the local news and the games are televised and even I go to one every once in a while. And the thing is, when two MAAC teams play there’s a parity in their awfulness that disguises how bad the basketball really is. It’s only when you see them play an actual D1 school that the shoddiness of their effort becomes apparent. And that might be especially true this year: MAAC teams are a combined 44-67; only one team, the mighty Rider Broncs, has a winning record. Which means bottom line that even though the game was tied at halftime the outcome was never really in doubt. Play the game 100 times and St John’s wins 99, because Iona is awful.

 

As the picture shows, St John’s won and pretty easily and this despite the fact that they played down to their opposition. Neither team shot the ball well (34 vs 37 percent); St John’s missed all 12 of its threes (you’d think that was impossible) but Iona, incredibly, ended up being worse: they made only 10 of 32, which accounted for more than half their points. That’s about how many threes dook takes a game and Dook has a system designed for that and the players to execute it. I haven’t seen much of Iona but they seem to have neither. The good news for St John’s is that once again won the game on the defensive end: they held another opponent under 61 points (that’s eight of ten for those of you scoring at home), forced 16 turnovers (although forced might be generous, at least a couple were Iona gifts) and blocked 10 shots. If St John’s was on the short end of a similar free throw disparity (they took 27 to Iona’s ten) I might have whined about it, but considering where and how Iona shot the ball it’s not worth mentioning, and especially since Iona shot only 50 percent from the free throw line … St John’s sits at 9-2, their two losses coming to ASU and MU, who’ve lost two games between them. With an RPI of 20 it’s conceivable that they receive some votes in the AP poll this week, which would be a remarkable thing, considering where they started a couple of short years ago. I don’t think they’re a top 25 team by any stretch, but they might be in the top 50 and some idiots have been voting for Georgetown so anything’s possible. I’d credit the staff but having been assured that Mullin and Mitch Richmond don’t know too much about basketball it must just be luck. It’s a shame Mike Rice or some similar basketball Tesla isn’t on the bench to help them out, this sleeping giant of a program might go places.

PLAYERS: Everyone’s favorite whipping boy Bashir Ahmed doubled doubled and had zero turnovers, leading one fan board genius to lament that he “shudders every time Ahmed touches the ball.” I suggest that poster get himself checked for Parkinson’s, because Ahmed played pretty well, especially at the beginning of the game, before Mullin sat him for a long stretch in the first half for some reason: I think it might have been so that Justin Simon could pick up a three fouls. In one remarkable sequence Ahmed had five straight offensive rebounds – albeit they were all of his own misses – and has 30 rebounds over his past three games. I know fans like to bitch about his turnovers and general blockheadedness but what I worry about is his FT shooting, which I guarantee will come back to bite St John’s in the ass at some point this year. You can’t play his game and shoot 50 percent from the line, but he does. You’d think a player who’s as interested as he is in scoring would want to pick up the free ones … Owens had 12 points, six blocks, and six rebounds and made six of six free throws. Sooner or later he’s going to triple double. Hopefully sooner … Justin Simon had 15 points, seven rebounds and four steals before fouling out. He was for some reason trending on twitter (usually when I see someone trending on Twitter I assume they’re dead or that they’ve raped Rose McGowan), this despite the enormous fucking the Steelers got from the referees in the late NFL. Simon was trending above even Tom Brady in the rankings. I’m not a Steeler fan by any stretch – I don’t follow professional football, I’m a Detroit Lions fan – but come on, that was a ridiculous call … Ponds had 16 points, five rebounds, and four steals. He did however miss a bunch more threes: he’s shooting 20 percent for the year – that’s Phil Greene territory – and is 5 of his last 29. On the bright side imagine what sort of numbers he’s going to put up when he stops playing with his head up his ass … Clark a quiet 12 and five, Yakwe played only 15 minutes, Trimble once again serviceable in ML’s absence and Alibegowitz remains a bad Steve Lavin joke

NOTES: Speaking of Brian Mahoney and rivalries it occurred to me the other day what a deleterious effect another Bronx school – Manhattan College – has had on St John’s basketball: Mahoney coached there and later Fran Fraschilla and Barry Rohrssen. You’d be hard to name someone not named Harrington who’s done more damage to the program than those three guys … I’m often amazed when I sit down to write these things where the day takes me. In my notes I have scrawled something about colormoron Sarah Kustok: she said 45 seconds into the game that something was happening  “so far,” which is like saying during the opening credits that you really enjoyed the movie. So I looked up this Sarah person and it turns out her father murdered her mother a couple of years ago. Evidently he shot his sleeping wife in the head with the gun he bought her as an anniversary present (better I suppose that a vacuum cleaner) and then claimed she committed suicide. Much like his daughter does with game commentary however he botched the job – he waited several hours to call the police during which time he cleaned the scene and fired the remaining bullets into the chiffarobe  – he said he didn’t trust himself not to join his wife, not being able to live without her, but obviously as a way to explain the powder residue on his hands – and so now sits in the penitentiary … For a prestigious roman catholic university founded in 1940 by the Congregation of Christian Brothers, Iona College (acceptance rate: 87 percent) has a pretty shitty on-line presence. Their wikipedia page is a scant 18 inches long, a full half of that taken up by descriptions of their various residence halls: they must have some nice bathrooms. That might have something to do with the paucity of achievement by Iona alums, the most notable of whom are hall of fame basketball player Richie Guerin; the actor Bud Cort, famous for rogering Ruth Gordon in “Harold and Maude”

(Gordon wasn’t much to look at when she was younger: along with her husband Garson Kanin she was half of one of the more hideous couples in Hollywood history

I can’t imagine banging the desiccated version); American Pie composer Don McLean, who on and off attended nearly every university on the east coast of the US, including night school at Iona; and John Gilchrist, AKA Mikey in the get Mikey to eat it he’ll eat anything commercials for Life cereal that were ubiquitous when fun was watching cartoons on Saturday morning. I mean off the top of my head I can name three men named Gail, all of whom are more well known than those Gaels: Gail Goodrich, Gale Sayers, and Gayle Gordon, all three of whom, oddly, (note the proper use of the comma) spell their names differently. The Gaels basketball wiki is no better: it fails to mention Jim “Big C” Valvano, who coached there for five years in the 70s before fleeing to North Carolina State, or Jeff Ruland, who attended Iona under Valvano and later coached there after a 13-year NBA career. (Other coaches include habitual drunkard Tim Welsh, rat faced Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, and Pat Kennedy, the one who wasn’t married to Peter Lawford.) Iona’s current coach is Tim Cluess, one of four Cluess brothers to have played basketball at St John’s under Lou Carnesecca. After a remarkable career as a LI high school coach Cluess moved on to the college ranks, where he’s amassed a 265-105 record, including 11 straight years of more than 20 wins. Why he’s still at Iona is anyone’s guess, considering that any number arguably less successful MAAC coaches – Paul Hewitt, Louis Orr, Fran McCaffery, Steve Lappas, Fran Fraschilla, Bobby Gonzalez, Kennedy, Welsh, Willard, Kevin Bannon, and Ed Cooley’s diseased head – have moved on to greater D1 things. Cluess’s name comes up whenever there’s an opening at SJU, and frankly we could do worse and have … Iona’s sports team are called the Gails Gaels, Gael being a reference to fierce medieval blue faced Scottish warriors of the sort portrayed by Mel Gibson in Braveheart, which in this case have morphed into belligerent Hibernians spoiling for a drunken St Patrick’s Day fight.

The great Gaels of Ireland
the men that God made mad
all their wars are merry
all their songs are sad

which is almost a Dennis Leary song but not quite (it’s GK Chesterton), if for no other reason that it’s not stolen from Bill Hicks. In these politically correct times it’s a perverse sort of white privilege that allows for pejorative references to primitive Caucasian savages – Fighting Irish, Gaels, Vikings, Hilltoppers, Cornhuskers – to pass unremarked upon, whereas references to primitive non white savages requires cultural flagellation and government intrusion. I suppose they’ll come a day when all men are judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, when put upon micks and sheep shaggers and frogs and wogs and lint heads are accorded the same respect as are Warriors, Braves, Indians, and Blackhawks. Until then remember: white lives matter.

 

Villanova Fudge

I considered taking a mental health day after Villanova defeated Saint John’s 70-53 Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. It was all in all not a bad effort – considering how poorly they played in DC the other day and that they were playing a veteran team nine months removed from a national championship they in fact played pretty well – good enough to beat teams like LIU and Delaware State that they should have beaten early in the season but not yet good enough to compete at the highest or at least higher levels. Which is part of the perception problem playing in what I’m continually assured is the best basketball conference in the country: there might be incremental progress taking place but you need a lot of increments before the progress translates into wins when two-thirds of your games are against teams that are ranked in the top twenty, as has been the case since Saint John’s started league play. But anyway back to me – that’s why we’re all here, right? – where was I: oh yeah I considered taking a day off: there’s not a lot to write about what happened yesterday and there’s another one tomorrow that they should win and to the extent that this season matters probably need to win and there’s what looks like a long bleak stretch on the horizon in February when a sabbatical might just be what the doctor ordered … So anyway watching the two teams what really struck me, and this again is to me very much a youth thing: Villanova really values the basketball and Saint John’s has not yet learned to. And in basketball the basketball is really the most important thing. They’ve not yet learned to understand (that’s right, learned to understand) that every possession is, in a sense, sacred: that the way you win is that every time you have the ball you do something good with it and that every time they have the ball you make them do something bad with it. Whereas Saint John’s doesn’t need much help in doing something bad with it, they’re close to expert at stepping on the end line, and dribbling between their legs out bounds, and charging, and clanking threes, that they do all on their own; and they’re not yet skilled and experienced enough on the other side of the ball to make the other guy make mistakes and in fact much of the time they look like they’re trying to help the other guy not make mistakes. Which is not good strategy. It’s kind of a variation on what Savielly Tartakover said about chess, that “The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.” In basketball the winner is the team that makes the fewest worst plays and Saint John’s is still making the most.  And as I said, a lot of that is youth. Like when you’re a kid and your tooth falls out, not only does a new one grow in but some ethereal tart visits in the middle of the night and leaves a dollar under your pilllow. Whereas when you get older you only lose a tooth after some sadist first gives you a root canal and then eventually when enough of them fall out you keep the replacements in a glass on the bedstand and pay for the privilege. That’s why kids don’t brush and adults floss twice a day: because grown ups have learned through bitter experience that even mundane actions can have consequences and that many of them are dire and tragic. Villanova knows that. Saint John’s does not …. Once again saving me the trouble of rehashing things, a picture:

So to recap: Saint John’s came out with energy, got ahead early and briefly, lost focus, fell behind, and never caught up. I have nothing to add to that. To the extent that there’s an illuminating number from the box score it’s rebounds: Villanova was plus 18. Everything else was even: both teams shot 40ish from the floor and 30ish from three; there were about 40 evenly distributed turnovers. On the bright side SJU had 14 assists on 20 made baskets, the black lining on that silver cloud being that they only made 20 baskets … Mullin was T’ded up for I think only the second time in his brief career for jawing at an official after an egregious charging foul on Ponds in the second half that cost Saint John’s a basket. I can’t blame him and was surprised that no one called a technical on me, because I screamed very loudly a bunch of curse words I didn’t even know I knew and I work blue like Modigliani worked in clay. Meanwhile Jay Wright went berserk before halftime and had to be restrained and afterwards one of the officials, I think it was Brian O’Connell, rewarded him with a handjob in the tunnel during halftime. Speaking of the officials, they were once again dreadful: they kept Villanova in the game early – VU was in the bonus in both halves, the third time in three games that Saint John’s opponents have been in the bonus in both halves – and then inexplicably stopped calling fouls about halfway through the second half. Still 30 fouls is a lot less than the 50 I had to sit through the last couple of games, so there’s that … Assuming they beat DePaul – yes that’s a big assumption – they’re three and four after seven league games. I’d probably have signed up for that three weeks ago

PLAYERS: Lovett had 12 points and four assists. The box score says he had only three turnovers but it seemed like more, including one where he dribbled the ball out of bounds in the corner in the midst of what appeared to be a pretty poor Curly Neal impersonation … Ponds had 13 points but only one assist: evidently he was not awarded one for a precision pass he made to a Villanova player under their own basket on a save out of bounds, which he should have been credited with … As usual Malik Allison was sublime and ridiculous. He made some acrobatic moves on drives to the basket – evidently Alibagowitz has been tutoring him on his patented eurostep, because he did that a couple three times – including a dunk that might have been sportcenter worthy depending on how slow the day was. On the other hand he stepped in bounds while inbounding the ball, which is the fourth or fifth turnover he’s had this year because he doesn’t understand how big a basketball court is … Ahmed hit a couple of threes early and then missed the rest of them. I don’t put much stock in body language and facial expressions but he’s nearly the only player who looks like he actually cares about the outcome of the game … Yawke won the tip for the first time I can remember. The way he jumps you’d think he’d win them all. Had a couple of nice pick and rolls with Lovett, but five points and one rebound just is not going to cut it … Missini made a couple of threes, none of them meaningful. On the bright side he got to see Donte DiVincenzo play, who’s just the sort of Italian American player all the Italian American Saint John’s fans pretend Missini is. Hopefully some of it rubbed off on Missini while DiVincenzo was blowing past him on his way to the basket … Owens had seven rebounds but zero points. Note to Tariq: scoring is important … Darien Williams tried a headband, it didn’t help. Blew an amazing feed from Ponds off an Owens out of bounds save when he gathered himself under the basket for so long that a player Jay Wright was able to clone, recruit and sub in was able to block his shot … Alibagoshit played two minutes, which was three minutes too many

NOTES: Usually I’m a Len Elmore fan. Yesterday I was not: he seemed very much in thrall to the defending national champions, which is understandable I suppose but not at the expense of what might have been his alma mater if Lou wasn’t such a dope. Dave Sims I generally run hot and cold about but this year I’ve noticed that he’s developed a habit of screaming about stuff that doesn’t deserve screaming – he reminds me of NYRA race caller John Imbriale, who calls every mule race over the inner track at Aqueduct as if it’s the Kentucky Derby, as opposed to a mundane parade ending at the glue factory. Yesterday Sims screamed in the first half “He lost it out of bounds” and and “He throws it away” with the same enthusiasm that I scream “Oh sweet dear Jesus God” in a Bangkok brothel … There’s a particular species of Saint John’s fans that love them some Jay Wright. Jim Boeheim they hate with a passion and Jim Calhoun as well but for some reason Jay Wright – who beats the shit out of Saint John’s year after year after year – is described in glowing terms, or what they think are glowing terms anyway, like “classy,” which every time I hear one of those dopes say “classy” I check to make sure I still have both of my kidneys. I think it’s because Wright is the one that got away, that in their fever dreams Wright in the antedeluvian past became Saint John’s coach and Saint John’s experienced all the success that Villanova has. You also hear a lot about Wright’s alleged sartorial splendor, that is what a snazzy dresser he is. I just don’t get it. Saturday he wore an off the rack gray pinstripe with a striped lavender tie that made him look like the caterer at Paul Lynde’s wedding. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) And what’s with that thing under his eye, I’d have that checked, it’s disgusting. Other than the back of Ed Cooley’s head – and that’s a high hurdle – it’s the most disquieting deformity in the Big East … I’ve been sitting here for ten minutes trying to work in some obscure reference so that I can slap a pair of funbags at the beginning of this to drive web traffic, then I realized if I just mentioned tits that would work well enough. So: tits.

Am I Blue

GAME: After watching the interminable end of Wednesday night’s Butler upset of Villanova complete with court-storming and post-game interviews I thought to myself, self, if Saint John’s upsets Creighton tonight at Carnesecca Arena they’ll be in sole possession of first place in the Big East since I can’t be arsed to look it up. Which not looking it up is just as well because Saint John’s did not upset Creighton at Carnesecca Arena, instead they lost 85-72. That they did was entirely predictable because this was let’s face it a bad matchup: Creighton starts three upperclassmen, one of them a point guard senior that’s as quick as either of our freshmen and three times as fast as any of our sophomores; they have a dominating big man – Patton looked like a lottery pick Wednesday night although some of that was undoubtedly the competition and some of it was that the referees allowed him to stand around in the lane long enough to grow roots; and head coach Doug McDermott’s father is smart enough to take advantage of those advantages, which he did by forcing the pace on offense and packing it in on defense. You couldn’t create a team in the laboratory that was better designed to kick our teeth in. And yet the good news is that Saint John’s – and I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna here but – didn’t give up. There were a bunch of times they could have thrown in the towel like they did last year when they lost to Creighton by 40 on the road and instead they came back from an 18 point halftime deficit thanks to yet another amazing display of halftime adjustments by coaches Mullin and Saint Jean and cut it to ten a bunch of times where it seemed like they were just one big play or one lucky one away from making it a ballgame. But then one of Creighton’s upperclassmen would make a play or one of our cretin underclassmen wouldn’t and it’d be back to 14. Oh well … There’s no point in rehashing the game when a picture’s worth a thousand words, even a thousand of mine:

 

 

For those of you scoring at home Saint John’s is the red line. Similarly pointless is examination of the box score: CU shot 52 percent, SJU shot 40 percent; Saint John’s was 7-22 from three; rebounds were even at 40; turnovers were even at eight. The only vaguely interesting thing about the numbers is free throws: Saint John’s did not shoot a single free throw until 13:29 in the second half – by then Creighton had shot ten. In the next three minutes someone called Toby Hegner – who prior to that had played immaculate defense – committed three fouls in 2 minutes; in the next 10 minutes Justin Patton committed a foul every 2 minutes and fouled out. It was as if suddenly the heavens opened above the parted Red Sea and the whistles multiplied like loaves and fishes. What really happened is that SJU started attacking the basket a little more aggressively and the referees started calling things a little more aggressively because things were starting to get a little chippy. Of course probably things wouldn’t have started to get chippy if the refs had called things a little more squarely early on. Which is not to blame them for the loss because that would be a pussy move and Creighton is a much better team than we are but noticing it is something else altogether, especially when you have 2000 words to write.

PLAYERS: Lovett played 38 minutes and led Saint John’s with 23 points, including 4 of 5 from three … Tariq Owens had 12 points and five rebounds – four of his field goals came on face-up 15 foot jump shots which if that wasn’t an aberration that could be huge moving forward … Ponds had 17 points and five rebounds. Got T’ed up as part of a double technical late in the second half while the players were jostling for position on an inbounds play under the basket. Seems out of character … Ahmed had six points and seven rebounds. The refs did him no favors by ignoring contact on his drives to the basket – he shot three free throws in a game where he was the victim of six misdemeanors … Ellison had seven of Saint John’s 12 assists and also five rebounds but was 3 of 10 from the floor and one of six from three. Perhaps if he thought less about shooting he could spend more time concentrating on not passing the ball to the pep band … Darien Williams had four rebounds and no points but only played 12 minutes …. Yawke had one rebound in only ten minutes and bungled a bunch of chances under the basket. Seems to have reverted to November Yawke whereas I preferred December Yawke … Alibegowitz finally made a layup using that stupid eurostep he tries at least once a game and afterwards stood under the basket pounding his chest and howling at the crowd like he’d just scored the winning touchdown in the Super bowl in overtime. Whereas in fact he’d just drawn his .500 team – which has won three league games since March 2015 – within 13 points in what would prove to be a losing effort. Which is about like one of Napoleon’s infantryman pounding his chest over the corpse of a dead Russian peasant during the retreat from Moscow … A halfhearted cheer from the crowd greeted the long awaited return of Federico Missini from the mysterious infection that had sidelined him during Saint John’s three game winning streak. I note without postulating causation that his return coincided with that streak’s end. Missini made two threes, one to draw Saint John’s within 18 at the end of the first half and one to draw Saint John’s to within 19 at the beginning of the second half, so it’s good to know he hasn’t lost his ability to drain clutch shots. In my favorite sequence late in the second half he missed a three early in the shot clock that would have drawn SJU with seven, then turned the ball over on the break after a Creighton miss and then fouled the Creighton player who ended up with the ball, making him singlehandedly responsible for a seven-point turnaround. Those of you who continue to write accusing me of acting uncharitably towards Missini because he is slow, weak, and cannot cover or jump over a brick will be happy to hear that I ascribe that display of incompetence to rust.

NOTES: Once again not too much here. I went back and looked at what I wrote about Creighton over the past several years and the most interesting thing was a bit about Kelly Cuoco’s ass and that I only wrote so I could stick her picture at the top of the post in an attempt to tempt to my blog readers who cannot otherwise locate pictures of near naked broads on the internet. The rest of it was about how Nebraska is a big flat pile of nothing, behind which every word I stand – much like I’d like to stand behind Kelly Cuoco, or at least kneel – but there’s no need repeating it …. Breaking news from North Carolina: DooK Coach Mike Krswshrehy – who injured his back after falling from the top of a clock where he had taken refuge from the farmer’s wife – will undergo back surgery and miss up to a month of the season. Upon hearing the tragic news the NCAA immediately sprang into action and announced that Skrewshnski’s absence will be factored into Dewk’s seeding in the NCAA tournament because of course it will. Oddly I don’t remember any similar announcement when Jim Calhoun or Jim Boeheim missed parts of their seasons recuperating from cancer – and Calhoun is at this point more tumor than healthy tissue; and if missing time recuperating from surgery is a qualification for the NCAA grading on a curve our own Steve Lavin should be awarded a retroactive national championship. Meanwhile there’s been no action by the NCAA regarding allegations that no athlete at the University of North Carolina has attended a single class since Saint John’s own Frank McGuire headed the program. Don’t worry though the Thomas More College women’s basketball program is still on probation and facing the death penalty. And finally the repulsive Grayson Allen returned to action last night after an “indefinite suspension” which turned out to be one game because of course it did. Allen you may recall attempted to cripple a player from mighty Elon College in a meaningless preseason game a couple of weeks ago and was disciplined because there are more important things than winning. That this is happening in North Carolina a state the NCAA punished for passing a discriminatory law mandating that men should use bathrooms designed for humans with penises I find highly amusing, but not for the reasons you might think …

 

 

 

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:

http://scua2.sdsu.edu/findingaids/index.php?p=digitallibrary/digitalcontent&id=912

 

Gopher Broke

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RECAP: I try not to plow the same ground when writing these things but it bears repeating that it’s in no one’s best interest that I’m stumbling around looking for martini fixings at 9 PM on a Friday night. But stumbling around I was and for my trouble I was rewarded with the first disappointment of the young basketball season, a 92-86 road loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Things started off promisingly enough: Saint John’s was ahead 22-9 when the bottom fell out. They were outscored 32 to 9 to close out the half and never got Minnesota’s 10 point half time lead down to more than five or so the rest of the way. Not a bad loss and not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but it was certainly a winnable one that got away …. It’s still a little early in the year to be poring over the box score and anyway anyone with eyes could see that the difference in the game was Minnesota freshman Amir Coffey and his 30 points, which included 11 of 12 from the free throw line. Besides which the box score would not reveal this important stat: that too many players on this year’s team wear headbands. There’s like four of them. That’s way too many …. Michigan State up next, then six winnable games before Syracuse at the carrier Dome. That’d make us about 8-3 going into league games, which seems about right

PLAYERS: Lovett had 31 points and five assists in 38 minutes, a performance one knowledgeable Saint John’s fan described as “awful.” If so we could use three more awful players, we might make the NIT …. In his third college game Shamorie Ponds had 23 points and 8 rebounds in 39 minutes, including 5 of 9 from three. Looks to be a star in the making, get aboard the Ponds train now … Ahmed double doubled but still appears a bit uncomfortable in the offense. Notice I didn’t say anything about the defense … Yawke and Sima combined for 12 points and 13 rebounds, which would be a good night for either one of them but is disappointing if you consider them in tandem. Sima though was 5 of 6 from the free throw line …. After Tariq Owens grabbed 12 rebounds versus mighty Baruch College one well respected basketball analyst stated emphatically that the debate about whether Christian Jones might have helped the team this year was over. It’s a shame no one told Tariq Owens that before last night’s game, which he fouled out of in 14 minutes … And he was the best player off the bench. The rest of them scored zero points in 36 minutes, led by the best shooter Saint John’s has had since Chris Mullin, who scored zero points in 19 minutes. Mussini is now 2 for 10 from three since torching Bethune Cooke a couple of weeks ago and is shooting 19 of 68 from three since last January – take away the B-C game he’s 14 of 62, that’s 22 percent. At what point do people realize that he’s just not a very good basketball player. Probably not until he gets a tattoo. Or a tan …. I still believe that Malik Ellison is the sort of four year player that all good programs need, it’s just too bad this is only year two. Although I’d be happy to see him relegated to garbage minutes I don’t see how that’s going to happen, which means we’re going to be suffering through performances like last night, in which he missed six shots in eleven minutes …. Freudenberger and Alibegovix rounded out the incompetence by combining for zero points and one rebound but to be fair they only played six minutes between them

NOTES: Minnesota is coached by little Ricky Pitino, who as far as I have been able to determine through cursory internet research was not spawned as the result of his repulsive father’s congress with a stranger in a crowded restaurant in front of members of his coaching staff but through normal marital coitus with Mrs. Pitino. If I were Rick the elder though I might ask for a DNA test because little Ricky looks suspiciously like the actor Simon Helberg, aka Howard Wollowitz from the Big Bang Theory

pitino

Uncanny, right? Hopefully that’s just a happy coincidence, if Missus Pitino was unfaithful to her husband that’d be worse than 9-11 …. I did a long and hilarious screed about the state of Minnesota the last time these two teams met (a nine point win in Lavin’s last year) but failed to note the many illustrious Golden Gophers graduates  – like the Bearcat another apocryphal animal, there’s no such thing as a golden gopher – including world class dope Tom Friedman, failed presidential candidates Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, alleged serial rapist Henry Fonda, Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan, and a bevy of television legends including Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert), Jennifer Marlowe (Burt Reynold’s heavy bag Loni Anderson), Gomez Adams (John Astin), David Michael Starsky Kenneth Richard “Hutch” Hutchinson (David Soul) and Napoleon Solo (Man from UNCLE Robert Vaughn, a notorious lefty who passed away from a broken heart last week at age 83) … Speaking of resting in peace the great Sharon Jones passed away from pancreatic cancer last night at the much too young age of 60. Take 3 minutes and 33 seconds and listen to this, you’ll be happy you did

 

DePaul’s Well That Ends

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GAME: Saint John’s lost to DePaul 85-73 Thursday night in Chicago in the battle for the BE basement, which barring a miracle they now have secured sole possession of. Congratulations team … For the first 10 minutes Saint John’s actually looked like a basketball team. They moved the ball better than they have all year and played the same sort of pretty good defense they’ve been playing for the past several weeks. Then they lost the thread and the bottom fell out. They were down 17 at half time and try as they might in the second half they just couldn’t get it under ten. When they got close someone would throw the ball into the stands or miss two free throws and DePaul would hit a three and it’d be sixteen again. On the bright side there’s still two games left to improve our CBI seeding … DePaul shot 50 percent from the floor and 22 of 27 from the FT line. Saint John’s shot 30 percent from the floor, missed 11 FTs and had 14 turnovers. That’s pretty much self explanatory. As an aside, ESPN recently changed the format of its basketball statistics page and like all changes created by gearheads on the internet it made things infinitely worse and more confusing than it used to be. Other than once again offering proof of Fun’s Theorem Number One – All new ideas are bad ideas – thanks for nothing … Interesting sequence in the second half: one of the referees moved Mullin back from the sideline near an out of bounds play by placing his hand flat on Mullin’s stomach and pushing. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that before and to put it mildly Mullin did not looked pleased. What I wrote in my notes was that Mullin “looked like he wanted to bend the guy over and fuck him” but that’s probably an exaggeration – I was making bubbles in a bottle of Bombay Sapphire by then, which isn’t good news for anyone except maybe my gastroenterologist, and is certainly not conducive to cogent commentary. He did stare at the back of the guy’s head for a while though and if the cameras weren’t on I’m pretty sure he would have pimp slapped the guy in to the next county, which is what he deserved.

PLAYERS: Mvouika had 20 points and 6 rebounds. A valued poster on the eminently readable Johnie Jungle site recently referred to Mvouika as “the worst defender to ever have donned a Saint John’s uniform” and he may well be right. But it would be interesting to see how good a defender he could be if he spent as much energy defending his man as he does complaining when he gets called for fouling the guy as he blows past him … Johnson was called for an odd technical when he screamed something as he turned to run back on defense after hitting a three. It looked like the same thing that happens half a dozen times a game. All I can figure is that whatever he said echoed throughout the arena, which was completely empty … Ellison had 12 points and 6 assists. If he’s going to continue to turn the ball over at the rate he does it would behoove him to start hustling back on defense when it happens, as opposed to loafing, which is what he does now … Yawke had 6 points and 6 rebounds, which is pretty good but seems disappointing after the effort he showed against Seton Hall … Sima had 8 points but only three rebounds and fouled out … Chris Jones (10 points 4 rebounds) was flagrantly fouled on a breakaway with SJU down 13 late in the second half. He missed both free throws and turned the ball over on the inbound leading to a DePaul basket. That’s about an 8-point swing. He also missed the first three of his career, the second one he’s taken … Balamou was one for 5 from the floor but had 7 assists … The best shooter Saint John’s has seen since Chris Mullin was 0-5 from the floor and is now 14 for 66 in his last nine games. David Duke could not be reached for comment …  Fucking Alibegovic, I go to all the trouble of learning to spell his name and all of a sudden he starts playing like a donkey.

RECAP: The repulsive Steve Lavin appeared in the studio wearing the sort of glasses bimbos wear when they want to look like intellectuals. The thing about bimbos is that they’re too stupid to realize that they’re not smart enough to fool anyone, especially once they open their mouths – unless their eyes are closed awaiting a big surprise obviously, then no one cares what they’re wearing. In the opening segment Lavin shared his opinion about storming the court – Sean Miller warned after a loss in Colorado that one of his players was going to punch someone the next time it happened – which opinion was as usual was cogent and well thought out: he said that “all it takes is one person to die” and storming would be banned. Which was so stupid that even the guy next to him was dumbfounded, he was like gee Lavs, do you really think it would really take someone actually dying for them to ban it or would maybe a maiming do. This same desk mate gave Lavin credit for recruiting both Yawke and Sima, this after earlier in the year when Lavin took credit for recruiting Mussini, who I notice he doesn’t take credit for recruiting anymore. Right after that they went to break with a highlight of Balamou making a lay up – it wasn’t hard to pick one, he only made one shot all night – and they referred to him as “your guy.” All of which means that Lavin has recruited better this year as a television announcer than he did the last two years he was an actual coach … Lavin appeared on Fatso’s show this week and rumor has it that he started weeping like a big girls’s blouse when he talked about Cap passing. Evidently he also mentioned that he had cancer – I hadn’t heard! – and made a bunch of other excuses as to why he sucks at coaching. I haven’t listened to it yet, I’m saving it, like you save that last bite of pickle so you can savor it at the end of a deluxe cheeseburger meal at a late night diner. Weeping on the radio, lulz.

 

 

I Know Nothing

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GAME: It’s a shame I quit smoking, because I always enjoyed a Camel after a vigorous fucking like the one Saint John’s received Sunday afternoon at the Madison Square, where they lost to Seton Hall 62-61. As usual I taped the game but figured things were not going well when Desi Rodriguez started trending on Twitter. And it turned out that Twitter – a communication platform that surreptitiously buries ideas with which it has philosophical disagreement – was for once not lying. Things started out poorly for SJU and Rodriguez was definitely trending: SJU was down 13-0, then 21-5, then by 18 and then by 14 at the half, by which point Rodriguez had already reached a career high in points. And then a remarkable thing happened: Saint John’s clawed back into it and what might have been one of the more memorable comebacks in recent memory was only thwarted when Isiah Whitehead was awarded two free throws for elbowing a Saint John’s player in the head during a scrum under the basket with 5 seconds left. It was a tough loss in a tough season, and although I am chagrined that in the aftermath a second scrum erupted at half court, I am not surprised that frustration turned to violence. Consider that of the points that Seton Hall scored in the last ten minutes of the half, 80 percent were free throws; they accomplished one field goal. Consider that Whitehead scored 10 points, despite being 1 for 12 from the floor: if everyone who went 1 for 12 from the floor was accorded the same deference Phil Greene would be the 3rd leading scorer in SJU history. Oh well. SJU will soon be well equipped enough that the referees won’t matter and I am comforted by a recent quote from Chris Mullin, who said that he is filing away every loss and that he fully expects to exact retribution. Kevin Willard had best gird his loins, if in fact rodents have loins …. To be honest this was not a game SJU should have won or even been in. They shot 40 percent from the floor and 20 percent from three and 10-24 from the free throw line and had 20 turnovers. That’s about 30 points give or take that they gave away … Tarik Turner – described for some reason by Tim Brando as “a Saint John’s great” at the game’s outset – was babbling about Seton Hall’s NCAA tournament chances. I’d give odds they’re out the first weekend and a fist fight erupts in the locker room afterwards. Takers?

PLAYERS: Yawke had 16 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks against an NCAA tournament front line. For those of you scoring at home, he should still be in high school … Mvouika had only 6 points but 8 rebounds, a bunch of those in a row at the beginning of the first half when SJ began its comeback … Durand Johnson had 9 points in 18 minutes but missed a crucial free throw at game’s end. To his credit it was he who allegedly tried to punch Whitehead’s nose during the handshake line. Hopefully he caught some skin … Federico Mussini – according to many knowledgeable fans the best shooter SJU has seen since Chris Mullin – had three points. At this rate it will only take him 800 more college games to move into first place on the all-time scoring list. Good luck Freddy … With Saint John’s up one with the ball with 30 seconds left putative point guard Malik Ellison bounced the ball off his own ankle out of bounds rather than call a time out. Not content with that he fouled Whitehead 40 feet from the basket to allow the game winning free throws. Fortunately freshman rarely get worse … Felix Balamou had a certifiable balls-in-your-face Sports Center dunk over some poor bastard who’s name I did not catch. Unfortunately when he wasn’t doing that he was air-balling free throws and crying to the referees … If the last play was drawn up to allow Sima to lose his dribble and then throw the ball in the general direction of the basket after the shot clock expired he had an excellent game. Otherwise not so much … Christian Jones played, as did Amar Alibegowick. The latter played worse. Much worse.

NOTES: I’ve been off the grid for a while and many thanks to those of you who’ve written inquiring after my well-being. The fact is that I was pretty bored with the whole enterprise. This year is essentially about waiting until next and unless you’re Sam Beckett there’s not a lot of fodder in waiting. Imagine walking into the DMV and seeing a line out the door and instead of resigning yourself to sitting around you tasked yourself with writing an endless series of essays about how slow the second hand was moving. Fuck that. I tried to answer most of your emails personally but even today they are still coming over the transom. In fact I got one today which I’d like to answer now.

Dear Fun. You are an excellent debater and nearly impossible to best in a fair competition based upon facts and logic. Do you have any advice for a world-be debater about to start his college career as a Blue Hen. Best, Jack Williams (not his real name.)

Dear Jack. Thanks for the kind words. To be a quality debater one must have a keen grasp of the subject matter, logic and rhetoric; the discipline to maintain a sense of perspective; and a sense of humor can’t hurt. A second approach is to stalk your opponent over the internet, post the personal details of his life in public, use a photograph of his mailbox as your avatar in a basketball forum, and casually mention that you know where his wife works, wink wink. Because it’s pretty hard to argue with logic like that. Best wishes, fun (not my real name).

… Another reader writes:

Fun, you often provide in the Notes section amusing anecdotes about the college that Saint John’s is playing but never about Saint John’s. What gives.

Dear reader, good point, an omission I’d to rectify now.

Vincent de Paul Lynch was born near Love Canal NY in 1927. In 1944 he lied about his age and joined the Navy to serve in World War II. After helping to defeat Hitler he was granted an honorable discharge and took advantage of the GI Bill to earn three Bachelor of Science Degrees, one each in biology, chemistry, and pharmacology. He went on to receive Masters and Doctorate degrees in Pharmacology and was named a professor at St. John’s University in 1958. In 1961 he was appointed Chair of the Department of Allied Sciences. Right around 1970 – about the time he founded the first degree program in toxicology in the US and with his much younger wife pregnant – Doctor Lynch was diagnosed with cancer. He took a semester sabbatical and after a number of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, returned to his teaching duties, having mentioned his health issues to no one, not even Bill Rafferty on national television every chance he got. He was named Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1972 and Chair of the SJU’s Institutional Review Board in 1974. He served in those positions until his cancer returned and killed him in 1984. He was 57. Among his other accomplishments, Dr. Lynch cofounded the Society of Forensic Toxicologists; was editor of the International Congress of Pharmacology; was editor of the Journal of Analytic Toxicology; and was a member of the Editorial Board of Research Communications in Substance Abuse. He served as Toxicological Examiner for the NYC Civil Service Commission from 1965 until his death; on the NY State Drug Abuse Control Commission, the NY State Senate Committee on Crime, the NY State Assembly Committee on Health, and the NY State Joint Legislative Committee on Drug Abuse. He served on various boards of directors, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Greater New York; Queens Children’s Hospital; the NY Metropolitan Transit Authority; the Nassau County Poison Control Center; the NYC Poison Control Center; and the NYC Department of Health. In between that he delivered hundreds of public lectures on substance abuse to students, community organizations, and law enforcement and published more than 50 scholarly articles and book chapters on subjects as diverse as inhalation therapy (you’re welcome asthma sufferers) , the effects of various toxicants, poison detection, myocardial infarction, cardiopulmonary dynamics, and serum cholesterol. All of which sounds to me like a life pretty well lived and that’s not even taking into account his greatest accomplishment: me. Because he was my father. He died 33 years ago this month, bequeathing to his son a box of musty books, the Irish gene, and a Mossberg over under 12 gauge I keep loaded by the front door to discourage bears, Jehovah Witnesses, and other unwanted guests. I mention this because there have been for several months now lies posted about Doctor Lynch in a Saint John’s basketball forum by a poster who has personal issues with your humble author. This poster lacks the rhetorical skills to defend his positions, the perspective to see that his behavior is despicable, and the sense of humor that would allow him to laugh at himself when he is shown to be ridiculous. And so instead he slanders the memory of a man dead lo these many years who dedicated his life to the university this poster allegedly loves. He thought by publishing this calumny to hurt my feelings. What he failed to consider is that I barely have feelings anymore and anyway I barely knew Doctor Lynch when he was alive: I was not a man when he died and probably am not still. Lacking perspective this poster thinks that by his alleged revelations he can diminish the contribution Dr. Lynch made to Saint John’s and to the community at large. What he fails to realize is that all he reveals are the deficiencies in his own character and all he diminishes is his own spirit . So to him, a heartfelt go fuck yourself, and get well soon … Ironically I was recently digitizing a bunch of cassette tapes I had lying around the basement before they turned to dust. One of them was an appearance by Doctor Lynch on an early morning call in show hosted by Bob Crane, aka Colonel Hogan of Stalag 13. It turns out that he and Crane had the same hobby: photography. Those of you familiar with Crane’s sordid death will know that in his case his love of photography derived from a fascination with pornography, promiscuity and voyeurism. I don’t know whether Doctor Lynch’s interest stemmed from the same perversions, but in retrospect I kind of hope so. And if it’s true that the apple does not fall far from the tree it’s nearly a certainty.

… And on that note

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

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From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee;
For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee

RECAP: I woke up this morning pretty sure I wasn’t going to write anything about Saint John’s 10th straight loss, this one to Marquette 78-73 at Carnesecca Arena Sunday afternoon. Frankly I’m bored with this exercise: without Lavin here to fuel me I am like Ahab without Moby Dick. They lost another game, they’re going to lose a bunch more, next year will get here eventually. Frankly I was last night happier to see Tom Brady suck it than I would have been had Saint John’s won. It took some fan boi moron referring to Steve Lavin as a “magic wand” – some geniuses are using the occasion of the loss to rehash the ‘was Lavin a better coach than Norm debate,’ which no he wasn’t, he’s not a better coach than anyone, he sucks – to get me to produce even this dreck and only so I can point out what a complete and utter tool that guy is, Lavin is a magic wand, LOL. Hey Rocky, watch me pull a prostate out of my ass.

PLAYERS: Durand Johnson led the team in in points, steals, assists and had 5 rebounds. Imagine what he could do if he hustled … Mussini scored 19 points, all of them after Saint John’s was already down by 15 … Malik Ellison had 4 turnovers and 5 fouls and missed 4 shots, in only 18 minutes. That’s a little less than one screw up a minute. It’s a shame he didn’t suit up for Marquette, Saint John’s might have won … Yawke had 7 points and 8 rebounds, which would have been pretty good had not Ellenson gone for 16 and 18 … Balamou got pulled early after not closing on Duane Wilson who hit back to back three from the same spot early in the first half. He did not play much after that and who cares … Alibegowich once again see sawed back and forth between the sublime and ridiculous. For example early in the first half he had a put back that might well have been on ESPN’s top 10 and then on the very next possession threw a stupid lazy ¾ court pass that led to a Marquette break away … Mvouika and Jones were a combined 2-11 from the floor

NOTES: Some magic riffs, which this morning I can’t be arsed to flesh out.

– Wasn’t Rico Hines the real magic wand on that staff?

– The only time Lavin would say open sesame was when he went out for sushi after the game.

– Lavin was less Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and more aBRAcadaBRA, (because he had pasta titties)

– Keady’s incantation: By the Power of Grayskull

That’s gold Jerry, gold.

And now, hocus pocus:

 

Get to Steppin

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It occurred to me this morning as I sat down to reminisce about Saint John’s 9th straight loss to Butler Saturday afternoon how similarly situated Chris Mullin and I are. After the Georgetown loss Mullin said something to the effect of ‘what do you expect, look at our roster,’ which would be a strange way for an educator to describe his efforts to tutor his delicate charges, but not at all a strange way for a former NBA GM to explain his team’s moribund results, because he realizes that even a minimum level of competition requires a cohesive group of complementary players, which players Mullin does not yet have, which is why he’s sitting on the scorer’s table: he’s waiting for them to arrive. What does that have to do with me? Well, Mullin’s talents are wasted coaching these players and mine are wasted describing their play. And I don’t know how much more patience I have for it. Because unlike Mullin nobody’s paying me a couple of million a year to rehash this dreck … Saint John’s shot 33 percent from the floor, 20 percent from three, and 60 percent from the FT line. Do we need to know anything more than that? No … Last time out versus Georgetown the refs called 52 personal fouls. This time they called 46. What was interesting is that in the first half the first foul was not called until the 16:40 mark and in the second half the first foul was not called until the 15:40 mark. That means that the two teams combined to play about four pristine minutes at the beginning of each half, eight minutes total, in which no player on either team made illegal contact with any other player on the opposing team and then for the next 16 minutes they combined to commit a foul every 40 seconds. Anyone believe that? Me neither. What’s ironic is that amongst all that carnage and whistle blowing a brief SJ flurry in the second half was squelched when Mussini was all but tackled on a breakaway – he ended up under the stanchion with a Butler player laying on top of him – and nothing was called. Whereas if Alibegowitch had made that play they’d have suspended him for two games.

PLAYERS: Ron Mvoika was named in a pregame feature as a “Game Changer.” That designation turned out to be precipitous: he finished with 5 points … Alibegovic responded to his insertion into the starting line up by going 1 for 7 from the floor and scoring three points, all of those on one shot midway through the first half … Yawke had 8 rebounds and 4 blocks but was 1 for 7 from the free throw line … Mussini and Johnson combined for 26 points on 10 shots each and that includes a combined 10 for 10 from the FT line, meaning they otherwise scored a total of 16 points on 20 field goal attempts … If you had asked me after the game whether Felix Balamou had scored 13 points on 6 of 8 from the floor I would have said no. But evidently he did … Jones missed a couple of chippies and had only one rebound. And yet if I were Mullin I would have Jones playing the point guard over Malik Ellison, who had 4 turnovers and no points and fouled out in 15 minutes. I suppose the seasoning will help him the long run but personally I’d be quite happy to not see him on the floor again until next November

NOTES: I don’t know who’s scheduling these games but whoever it is might want to avoid the ones that are slated on memorial days, because these guys have enough problems on the road. A couple of games ago it was Al McGuire Day on Al McGuire court and this time there was a tearful pregame ceremony honoring some poor bastard who died of cancer. (Question: how come every time someone dies of cancer it’s said that they “battled” the disease? Doesn’t anyone just get diagnosed and give up? I gave up like 20 years ago and there’s nothing particularly wrong with me yet.) I mean sure, RIP and all that but Saint John’s has enough problems guarding the three point line, much less ghosts … The game was called by former first round NBA draft pick Dickey Simpkins, who was slightly less incoherent than Bill Walton with the added bonus that I didn’t have to see him in bicycle pants. Hashtag win win. Simpkins played eight years in the NBA and got two rings with Jordan’s Bulls, but didn’t contribute much: mostly he sat on the bench behind Bill Wennington, so how good he have been really. At 43 years old no one should be called Dicky, except perhaps former child stars like the great Dickie Roberts … Finally, speaking of cancer, it was revealed this week that former Saint John’s assistant coach Rico Hines was being divorced by his wife Tichina Arnold after she discovered sex tapes featuring her husband and more than 20 “Kim Kardashian wannabes” in flagrante and raw dog. Normally I’d leave such prurient material to fester in the sewer that is Daily News, but it occurs to me that since Hines and Arnold were married in 2012 all of this footage was likely filmed while Hines was on the Saint John’s payroll and might well explain at least in part the laughable results the former staff achieved. I know from bitter experience that snaking broads is an expensive and time-consuming process and if that’s what Hines was spending his time doing and Lavin was at Rao’s cutting up Keady’s food and wiping marinara from his chin that doesn’t leave a lot of time for hanging out in high school gymnasiums. And yet there are still rubes who defend that snake oil salesman and bemoan his passing from the scene. Go figure.