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God, Xavier, The Queens

Xavier defeated Saint John’s 82-77 Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden, a game marred by what appeared to be a serious injury to Edmond Sumner and what was definitely a severe injury to the game of basketball inflicted by Ed Driscoll and his crew of referees, who made the game virtually unwatchable, except perhaps to aficionados of middle age male tit jiggle. Because they got a lot of camera time … Saint John’s came out flat and were lucky to be down seven at the half: they were 2 for 12 from three, had eight turnovers and were outrebounded by ten. The only reason they weren’t down more was that Xavier, an alleged top 25 team, was just as bad: they had ten turnovers and were one for nine from three. Xavier extended their lead to 15 early in the second half and just when it looked like it was going to turn into a laugher Saint John’s decided to play some basketball: they went on a couple of eight point runs that got them to within a basket a couple of times, but just couldn’t get over the hump. One time Lovett took a dumb shot and another time Ellison took one and collectively they missed a bunch of crunch time free throws. That Saint John’s resurgence coincided with Sumner’s injury isn’t lost on me, it’s just that being ever the optimist – my glass is half full, of hemlock – I prefer to emphasize the positive. That being the case I’d put this somewhere between a pretty good loss and a moral victory: other than Sumner – who is, or at least was, an NBA talent – Xavier starts five seniors; and at the risk of being morbid, what the second half showed is that take away Sumner and Saint John’s underclassmen are every bit as good as Xavier seniors. How’s that for a silver lining … Once again the picture tells the tale:

 

SJU got close in the second half but as is often is the case when a team makes a big come back the energy expended getting them within range exhausts the reserves they need to finish the job. Oh well. Hopefully they learned that not lazing their way to a double digit deficit is harder than putting forth the effort to keep it a bit closer. The big number from the box score is rebounds: Xavier was plus 20, which essentially game over. You often hear that rebounding is an effort stat and it is to an extent, but it’s also a size stat: Denis Rodman wouldn’t be in the hall of fame if he was 5’2″. Xavier doesn’t start anyone smaller than 6’5″ and Saint John’s doesn’t start anyone taller than 6’7″ and SJ’s big men weigh about as much as Xavier’s guards and that’s a lot to overcome by a vague appeals to effort. None of Saint John’s big men – particularly Yakwe but none of them – are good rebounders: some of that is effort, sure, but some of it’s instinct and some of it’s footwork and some of it’s positioning, all of which comprise experience, which Saint John’s bigs don’t have. It didn’t help that Saint John’s shot 20 percent from three – and in fact during most of the second half run they stopped shooting threes altogether – and neither did turning the ball over 13 times and missing eight free throws … This recap wouldn’t be complete without me heaping oppobrium of the referees – who were terrible, they made Jim Burr and Tim Higgins look like King Solomon and Learned Hand – and kudos to Donny Marshall’s terrifying eyebrows for calling them out for it repeatedly during the broadcast. In 40 minutes they called 57 fouls, which resulted in 66 free throw attempts, which accounted for 57 points, roughly a third of the points scored in total. It would have been more but the teams missed 17 free throws combined. And it wasn’t just the number of calls, it was their randomness. What was a foul on one end was a play-on on the other and for every phantom infraction called there were two that should have been. There were a couple of bad ones I jotted down – Missini being mugged by three players after stealing the ball at midcourt and Owens getting one while retrieving a ball otherwise stolen cleanly – but the epitome of the crew’s sheer shitiosity is that at the end of the game, when Saint John’s was trying to foul, they didn’t call one. Ahmed nearly had to decapitate his man to get that dope Driscoll to blow his whistle. It was really an atrocious and embarrassing display. On a side note, a couple of weeks ago versus Xavier the refs called 47 fouls, which resulted in 57 free throws. Over 80 minutes versus Xavier that’s 104 fouls, 123 free throw attempts, and 86 made free throws. I don’t know what that is, but it’s not basketball … Fox had a quick shot of Mullin leaning on the scorer’s table late in the second half. (MJ Maher could not be reached for comment.) He looked at the end pretty disgusted and I can’t blame him … Ten and 13, tied for sixth in conference, Marquette up next, take the points

 
PLAYERS: Ponds led all scorers with 23 points, which might have been more had Malik Ellison passed him the ball every once in a while. Oh for six from three but 11-13 from the free throw line which makes him 19 of 21 over his last two games … Lovett had a quiet 11 points and five assists. Uncharacteristically missed two free throws late … Ahmed had 11 points including three threes but sat during most of the second half run. Seems to have dyed the top of his head a lovely shade of Lucille Ball, which should delight the red and white club no end. All he needs now are a couple of tattoos to complete the tableau … Owens had seven points, six rebounds and four blocks – three of them pretty spectacular at the rim – before fouling out. Once again had to be pulled away while woofing over a fallen opponent. Do I detect an anger management issue? … Williams (nine points, three rebounds) provided a welcome inside presence during the second half run. It was his foul that sent Sumner to the locker room but it wasn’t much of one: Sumner seems to have just landed awkwardly. They showed the replay several times but I only watched it once, because legs aren’t supposed to bend that way … Missini played a nice five minutes in the first half: he had a step back jumper, a three and a mid court steal for a breakaway. Unfortunately he clanked a couple of threes in the second half when they might have mattered … Malik Ellison had seven points and six assists which might seem pretty good if you hadn’t watched the game. Unfortunately I did. He was two of eight from the floor, zero of three from three – he seems to be cocking the ball behind his ear now a la George Gervin, which is the only thing about his game reminiscent of Gervin’s – and three of five from the free throw line, which 60 percent raised his average because he’s a lousy free throw shooter. He took a couple of really egregiously bad shots during Saint John’s aborted comeback: he either imagines himself Kobe Bryant or has worse court vision than Ray Charles … Yakwe was the victim of a couple of terrible calls and mostly sat with four fouls … Fruedenburcg played which was bad, but he played instead of Alibagowith, which is good

 
NOTES: Since this nonsense has been going on for three years now I’ve been going back and reading my prior posts to make sure I’m not plowing the same field twice and also to see if there’s any low hanging fruit I missed, because 30 recaps is a lot of recaps and even I run out of interesting things to say every once in a while. Looking back at Xavier this morning I saw that I’ve never done a famous alumni list which got me excited for a moment but then when I googled it I remembered why: Xavier’s most famous alumni is Jim Bunning. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Jim Bunning – he won 200 games over 17 years; was second only to Walter Johnson in strike outs when he retired; threw a perfect game; threw a no hitter in each league; and once got out of an inning by striking out the side on nine pitches; and after that served a couple of terms in the US senate. But that’s not much of a legacy for a university that’s been around since 1840. In fact other than him and crybaby John Boehner, left wing hack Gary Wills and a couple of basketball players (Brian Grant, Lionel Chalmers, James Posey, David West) I’ve never heard of any of the rest of these dopes, the most noteworthy of whom are the actor Robert Romanus, who is “perhaps best known for his role … as Natalie Green’s boyfriend Snake on The Facts of Life”; Rhine McLin, Mayor of Dayton (although a Xavier grad she also holds an associate’s degree in mortuary science from Cincinnati College); and Laura Esselman, a former contestant known as Red Velvet on a television called The Bachelor, who don’t bother googling, if she was hot her picture’d be up top and I wouldn’t have had to spend 20 minutes looking for stills of a Facts of Life porn parody. So to recap: the most illustrious graduates of Xavier University in nearly 200 years are a baseball player and a second rate actor famous for taking Mindy Cohn’s virginity. Compared to that Saint John’s is the Sorbonne … Xavier is also notable for having two sports mascots. Their original mascot was the musketeer, an early sort of soldier armed with a firearm, as made famous by Alexandre Dumas in his serial The Three Musketeers. This makes sense: like Redskins and Braves musketeers were manly men who defeated their enemies on the field of battle, just as sports fans hope their teams will defeat their opponents on the field of play. In 1985 though, someone called Sally Watson, then spirit squad coordinator – I mistakenly joined the spirit squad in college after misreading their poster as the spirits squad and quickly resigned after learning that they did something other than getting shitfaced at basketball games – decided that the musketeers “scared little children” and so designed a second mascot, the Blue Blob. As its name suggests, the blue blob is an amorphous globule of blue fluff with cartoon eyes and a big fluffy white nose. As its name doesn’t suggest the blue blob has a 22 inch tongue, which “hangs out inside its mouth until the person uses his or her arm to operate it, licking children.” Yes you read that right: Xavier replaced as its mascot a character upon which Walt Disney based his Mouseketeers with a giant blue monster that performs fellatio on children. This is I suppose progress, although of what sort remains a mystery.

Ma Newer

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My fellow Americans: our long national nightmare is over. Saint John’s lost their final regular season game 90-76 to Ed Cooley’s diseased head Saturday afternoon to bring the regular season to a merciful end. One more loss to Marquette remains and then we can get on to important business like the Kentucky Derby, which looms only eight Saturdays away …. Not much point to rehashing this. Saint John’s was down the as usual 20 or so at the break after as usual some guy no one has ever heard of had a career first half – I checked: his name is Jalen Lindsey and at one point he had 18 points while the entire Saint John’s team had 16, this on his way to a career high 30. Saint John’s made a brief run in the second half but was thwarted when the refs called three quick fouls in about seven seconds after it got within 13. The rest of it was only of interest to the dopes who took the 10 … By the numbers things were not as lopsided as the score would lead you to believe. Providence shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three, whereas Saint John’s shot 48 and 43. Saint John’s had more FG attempts (64-62), rebounds were even (34 each), turnovers about the same (14-10). The big difference was 3 pointers – PU took 30 and although it looked like they never missed they made only 13. And of course there was the free throw shooting, where SJU was 8 for 17, and that was after starting out 0 for 8 … Today was senior day and usually I’m a bit sad to see the oldsters go but this year they cannot get out fast enough. It was not so much that they stank, but how they went about doing it. In fairness to them they were all cast into roles for which they were not well prepared: contributors on a Big East basketball team. That is not really their fault, but as the kids are wont to say, it is what it is.

PLAYERS: Chris Jones had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the year. Several knowledgeable fan board posters have cited this as evidence that he is not good at scoring and rebounding and should be thrown over the side next year. I disagree … Durand Johnson had 15 points in his final collegiate game. Of the seniors he is the one I would not mind seeing come back next year, and not just because of his sporty headband … Ron Mvouika (6 points, 5 assists) did not lead the team in whining, as he does usually. That honor went to Felix Balamou. On one sequence he gave up a cheap touch foul to a Providence player on an alley-oop and immediately turned to yell at Federico Mussini, who was nowhere near the play. On another he threw a temper tantrum near the foul line directed at Alibegoceith, who was also nowhere near the play. I watched both several times and still have no idea what he was on about. Despite the screwing he took from Steve “there are more important things than winning” Lavin during his redshirt year I have no use for him and hope the door does not hit him on the way out … Speaking of Aligegowyth … Malik Ellison is an supremely confident player. It’s a shame that his skills do not match his opinion of his skills …. For those of you who have been wondering what Zendon Hamilton does, it seems pretty evident that he’s been tutoring Yankuba Sima on how to not pass out of the post. Because Sima does not see very many shots he does not like. If now Zendon can teach him to make them, we might have something here … Yawke had 7 points and 4 rebounds. I’m not going to say anything bad about him because he’s going to be a stud … Which of course brings us to the best shooter Saint John’s has seen since Chris Mullin, who was once again 0 for from three. Mussini ended the season 3 for 20 from three over his last five game and is at 30 percent for the year. For those of you scoring at home that percentage is .07 better than that achieved by the great three point shooter Anthony Glover (.29) over the course of his career and comprises  two thirds of the prowess displayed by three noted point marksman Rob Thomas (.40).  Former Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan Robert Byrd could not be reached for comment.

NOTES: I got nothing here except that Tarik Turner said “It makes it hard to put points on the board when you have empty possessions.” Which I’m not even going to dignify by pointing out how completely moronic that is. And also I’m not going to say anything about the repulsive Steve Lavin and Donny Marshall’s terrifying eyebrows gibbering and grunting like chimpanzees during the half time highlights. Because, to end the season as we began, fuck Steve Lavin.

 

Down the Shore

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RECAP: There are days when I can’t even bother faking it, and today is one of those. Not because Saint John’s lost 83-74 to New Jersey Institute – previously oh and 21 against the Big East – at Carnesecca Arena on Sunday afternoon. The losing I can take, I’m well used to it. But sometimes it’s exhausting the way they lose, doing the same dumb things over and over again, not covering guys and missing free throws and whatever. What’s tiring is summoning the patience that losing demands, and especially when the future looks so promising. I mean sure, I’ve been fooled before: there was not a coaching hire since Mahoney that I thought wasn’t a good one and although I wouldn’t throw Mullin in with that conga line of losers I wouldn’t on the other hand presume that he’s the only ship the Utopia Triangle won’t swallow whole, because Jamaica is where coaches come to die. But of course this talk is silly and too premature to even be premature. What is needed is patience. But today I could not summon it and so fast forwarded through the last eight minutes of the loss, because I’ve seen those eight minutes before … So yes where was I: Saint John’s lost 83-74 to NJIT Sunday, blah blah blah blah. Here’s a quiz: Team A shot 34 percent from the floor, 25 percent from three, and 50 percent from the free throw line and Team B shot 52 percent from the floor, 55 percent from three and 75 percent from the line. GUESS WHO WON? Exactly. Relative to those numbers the ebb and flow of the game is meaningless and I can’t be bothered to describe it … As ridiculous as was Team A’s offense, its defense was worse: to the extent Saint John’s cover anyone they do not do it well, and especially the guards, who two barely D-1 guys called Lynn and Chris lit up for 51. Let us lay the blame where the blame should be laid, in the backcourt. These guys stink … And meanwhile Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond sit on the bench watching this disaster unfold, which is like Sir Isaac Newton and Copernicus watching their second grade math class fail an addition test. If my patience is being tested imagine how they feel … This was a tough beat considering what’s coming. They better beat someone by New Year’s, because after that it’s not going to be pretty for a while.

PLAYERS: It’s fashionable among the Red & White crowd to blame Durand Johnson (10 points 4 rebounds) for Saint John’s troubles: their chief claim is that Johnson is lazy. That’s because the Red & White crowd are racist, but not so unaware of it that they still call lazy black guys shiftless. Meanwhile Federico Mussini hasn’t covered anyone at the three point line since Garibaldi was a force in Italian politics and he’s their savior. Whatever. Federico was 5 for 14 from three Sunday, which makes him 9 for 39 this December absent the Syracuse game. Imagine what Heath Orvis might have done had he been afforded 10 threes a game, or Steve Shurina. Oh well, I reminisced enough about GWH Bobby Kelly last time. Time to move on … Mvouika (12 points 4 assists) is another guy who doesn’t cover anybody. It’s a shame he’s Saint John’s best offensive player, otherwise they could sit him … It was in my notes last time that Chris Jones is aggressive going to the basket but “timid finishing,” which is true of all the Saint John’s bigs. They work very hard to establish position but when it comes time to seal the deal go flaccid. Jones had the softest double double in the history of Division I; Sima had 14 rebounds, most of those of his own misses; Yawke was fine but he should still be in high school … Prediction: Albiveckowack is a clown car now but by the time he graduates he’s going to be the best white player at Saint John’s since, I don’t know, Bob Werdan. Which BWP starting five in my lifetime comprises Mullin, Werdan, Wennington, Ron Rowan and I guess maybe the ill-used Tim Doyle, whose basketball IQ was so high he transferred rather than play for Mike Jarvis. The other guy I might go for is Phil Missere, anyone but floor slapping dope Matt Brust, the most overrated player in SJ history. And yes old guys don’t bother emailing about Billy Schaeffer and the Mcintyre brothers and whoever, they were before my time … I’d like to see the plus minus for Malik Ellison, who played nearly 30 minutes, because the game quickly went south when he came in in the first half. He’s the sort of four year player I wish had played when Lou was coaching because he’d never have seen the floor as a freshman because he’s not very good

NOTES: I got nothing. Steve Lavin showed up at halftime commenting on the game, which is like Mrs. O’Leary showing up and commenting on the Chicago fire, but you have to live with his shamelessness. Looks like he’s gone back to coloring his hair although it might be that he has so much mousse on there that you can’t see the gray. Between his coif and Donny Marshall’s sculpted eyebrows it must have been a long morning in the make-up room.