Tag Archives: ed cooley’s head

The End

RECAP: I did something today that I rarely do: stayed sober. Just kidding, I’m faced. I didn’t watch St John’s lose to Villanova by a million or whatever it ended up being in the second round of the BET at MSG Thursday afternoon all the way through to the bitter end. In fact, I didn’t watch all the way through the first half. Because I saw what was coming and just wasn’t in the mood. I have it DVR’ed and maybe I’ll get to it some lazy afternoon but given the choice between watching that and watching the Georgetown game again, I’m watching the Georgetown game again. Because that was fun. Not having watched it I can’t really comment but let me ask my readers one question: is it really possible that Villanova committed seven fucking fouls the entire game? That they played an entire half without committing a single foul, without a single stray hand grazing a shooter’s or a body meeting a body coming through the rye? Because that’s loaves and fishes territory right there; that’s the baby Jesus casting demons into swine. I realize that Jay Wright is a classy fashion icon who runs his championship basketball program the right way and without a whisper of scandal and everybody loves him – I don’t love him, I think he’s a fucking cunt – but has He really transmogrified into a living god right before our eyes like fucking Caligula? Seven personal fouls? Dick Vitale would call more fouls than that if he refereed a dook game and he only has one eye and besides which he’d be hard pressed to blow the whistle, what with Shrewshrensky’s cock and balls buried in his throat. I watched 15 minutes this afternoon and saw Bashir Ahmed get fouled seven times on one drive to the basket. Seven fouls in the entire game? Give me a fucking break … And fuck Georgetown too while we’re at it, but at least Wednesday night we finally got the satisfaction of seeing Chris Mullin bounce a John Thompson team out of a tournament, even if it was 30 years too late and in a play in game in the BET and the wrong John Thompson was coaching. There’s your silver lining right there: St John’s won its first BET game since 2011, when they beat Rutgers in a game they should have lost, in a game that was so poorly officiated that Jim Burr and that stupid drunk Tim Higgins – the two worst referees in the history of college basketball – whose routine incompetence was the stuff of legend – were suspended for being complete and utter shitbrains without the vaguest understanding of the rules of basketball. So there’s that: we’re off the BET schneid. Onward and upward … I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking fun, what’s with all the angst, you’re usually so even tempered and fair minded, the season didn’t end as well as it might have but things could have been much worse, so why do you seem so angry. And the answer is I don’t know. Frankly I’m ecstatic that I don’t have to write any more of these stupid things, because I’m sick of it; and the end of the basketball season means that spring is in the air, which might not mean a lot to you pussies who live on Long Island but for manly men like me who live upstate and chop their own wood that’s a big fucking deal; and now that this stupid basketball season is over not only am I one season closer to the sweet relief that death will bring but I’m one year closer to St John’s possibly not sucking as much as they’ve sucked my entire adult life. So I don’t know. As the kid’s say, it is what it is.

 
PLAYERS: Seeing that this is the last recap of the year – and perhaps forever – rather than rehashing the box score I thought I’d hand out some season grades. These are on a true curve: someone gets an A and someone gets and F and most of them cluster around the mean.

Ponds A / Lovett A minus: really a toss up as to whether Ponds or Lovett gets the full A because there’s no significant difference between them statistically. The tipping point for me is Ponds’ age, because he’s a true freshman. And what a freshmen: as good as any I have ever seen at St John’s and that includes the current head coach, who might not have been quite as Mullinesque as he was had he had to play with these stiffs as opposed to David Russell, Billy Goodwin and Kevin Williams. But I wouldn’t argue with anyone who flipped them. They already comprise one of the more memorable back courts in Saint John’s history – joining Utley and Williams; Moses and Mullin; Harvey and Porter; Barkley and Bootsy; Hardy and Kennedy – and have a chance over the next year or two to be one of the more memorable back courts in college basketball. Because they can both handle and they can both shoot and they both have wonderful court instincts. If I were a praying man and thought that the baby Jesus cared about sports I’d pray for their health and well being. Rumors circulating on St John’s fan boards – where rumors circulate with more regularity and velocity than around the knitting circle at Del Boca Vista – have Lovett leaving after this year to play somewhere for money. That wouldn’t be the best thing that ever happened to the program but it’s not an insurmountable setback. And Lovett doesn’t look like someone who’s going to take a step forward, at least on the offensive end, where he’s pretty much fully formed, so to that extent he has no reason to return.

A lot of people have questioned the pair’s effort and especially their defensive effort or more precisely their lack thereof. One fan board genius went so far for example as to complain that despite his having led the Big East in steals – as a freshmen – Ponds was not as good a defender as Gary Payton. Note to that genius: almost no one was as good a defender as Gary Payton, who was perhaps the greatest two way guard in the history of organized basketball. Among the players who were not as good as former NBA defensive player of the year Gary Payton was a freshmen at the University of Oregon who coincidentally was also called Gary Payton. Ponds isn’t even as good a defender as Gene Lawrence, much less Shariff Fordham, who was about as lock down a defender as I can remember.

The fact is that few freshmen are good defenders, because those freshmen who receive high Division One scholarships are so far advanced beyond their high school counterparts that they don’t have to be be good or even adequate defenders to be successful; and even when they play against players who are as advanced as they are in all star games and the like noone cares if they play defense or not. The biggest thing that freshmen players have to learn is that they need to bring it every night – on both sides of the ball. That’s why continuity of personnel and a balanced roster are so important: because upperclassmen who presumably have already learned that lesson can reinforce that message by word and deed. That’s not to excuse their lapses – I have been recently accused of being a Mullin sycophant, although not by someone who knows what the word sycophant means – which are often and obvious. Rather it’s to offer an explanation as to why what you see happening on the court is happening. There’s an old saw of which musicians are fond: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? You practice, because musical greatness is 99 percent perspiration and one percent inspiration. Personally I don’t think that’s true, I think it’s about eighty twenty, but the point holds. The entire foundation of pedagogy is that students learn and improve through repetitive exposure to accumulated wisdom. Yes there are prodigies – like for example Mozart or Chris Mullin – who are launched from the womb with gifts from their creator, but the majority of the population that achieves excellence achieves it through hard work and experience. Beyond all the difficulties that leaving the nest includes, college freshmen have not had the opportunity for exposure to accumulated wisdom. We none of us had that opportunity when we were freshmen lo those many years ago. Which is why patience is in order, because if there was video of you doing homework in your dorm freshmen year, it wouldn’t be flattering.

Ahmed – B minus: certainly Ahmed has some shortcomings in his game but 13 and 6 is pretty solid production from a first year player or for that matter anyone. Assuming a normal progression if next year he has a couple more makes versus a couple fewer misses and has a few more assists and a few fewer turnovers, he’s a second or third team all BE player. There’s certainly precedent for second year improvement among JUCOs – James Scott, Dwight Hardy, and Justin Brownlee off the top of my head – although that’s not a guarantee of success. But the one thing you cannot fault BA for – and you can fault him for a bunch of things – is his effort: he often is the only player on the court who looks like it bothers him that his team is getting its brain kicked in when his team is getting its brain kicked in. And let me tell you one more thing that gnaws at me: the niggling [sic] suspicion that if he was a white kid from Palermo the Red and White crowd would already have started a Kickstarter campaign to build him a staute in front of Carnesecca Arena.

Owens – C plus: If he had even a little bit of an offensive game he’d be a solid B, but he doesn’t: his jump shot is haphazard, his handle is suspect and those other things he throws at the basket are risible. (My suggestion? Sky hook baby!) And considering that he doesn’t his other production (5 rebounds, 2 blocks) is underwhelming. He does bring it every night though, at least until he fouls out, which he does on the reg. And let us be frank: he needs food. Make this guy a sandwich. Give him a milk shake. If you see him on campus give him some of your french fries. If Olive Oyl was this skinny even Bluto wouldn’t want to fuck her and he spent his entire life on a ship surrounded by beguiling cabin boys.

Williams – C plus: If he were being graded versus expectations he’d have gotten an A plus, because no one expected anything from him and he played some big minutes to the extent that there are big minutes on a 13 win team. Good rebounder, solid defender, and a deft touch around the basket – he and Owens were the only players with shooting percentages > 50 percent. I don’t know anything about his eligibility but if he has any then I’d welcome him back despite the fact that he’s seemingly made of tissue paper.

Mussini – C: Probably deserved a C plus but I reduced his grade because I’m racists aginst Italians. In his last half dozen games or so he seem to have found his niche a bit – emphasis on a bit – as an offensive spark off the bench. No one will ever confuse him for Vinnie Barbarino Johnson but he is what he is. Still can’t guard anyone and is limited by his stature and his lack of athleticism but at least looks like he’s trying. Speaking of upperclassmen he will next year be a junior and to the extent that he has absorbed the atmosphere and the culture for that reason alone I hope he returns.

Yakwe – C: This might be generous considering how he played at the begnning of the year when he looked like a wasted scholarship but he seems to have recently turned a bit of a corner, even if its not evident in the box score. By which I mean that he has for the past month or so has been catching the ball and sometimes finishing, which is a welcome change from the beginning of the season when he spent most of his time fumbling the ball out of bounds. Not a bad defender, especially considering that he’s playing the five with a three’s body, but he needs to learn to rebound. One of the Jucos I didn’t mention earlier was Walter Berry; when you watch Walter Berry rebound in traffic you could superimpose a bubble over his head saying “This is mine.” I don’t mean to compare Yakwe to Berry – because that would be as stupid as comparing Shamorie Ponds to Gary Payton – but if with his athleticism Yakwe had Berry’s greed he’d be immeasurably better off. Yakwe is kind of behind the eight ball having not played basketball until relatively recently, but it’s hard to question those who question the effort of someone who can touch the basket with his nose who has won three jump balls in two years: either he doesn’t undertand the importanmce of jump balls or he doesn’t care about the outcome of the jump. Neither conclusion is flattering. Still, if he were a stock I’d be buying: he can only get better.

Ellison – C minus:  Malik Ellison is one of the dumbest players I’ve ever seen who’s had the privilege of donning a St John’s uniform and I’m old enough to have suffered through Kyle Cuffe and Donald Emmanuel. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I was thinking the other day about other dumb St John’s players (no I don’t think I’m wasting my life thanks for asking) and one of them sort of reminded me of Ellison: he was athletic and had good size and looked like he should have been better than he was and was clueless for three years: Dom Pointer. Yes, Pointer was more gifted physically than Ellison and was more highly regarded coming out of high school but the point is that they were both dumb as rocks and sometimes the light just goes on, no matter how dim the bulb. Like Missini he’s an upperclassmen and if my theory about upperclassmen holds his scholarship is better spent on him than on some dopey freshmen who’ll need two years to learn the lessons Ellison might have learned in three. The bottom line is that no one coming into this program is going to be better than Ellison is having been in it for two years, because this is not Kentucky and the worst thing that can happen is that we’ll have to sufffer through another couple of years of him stinking off the bench. Because the two transfers have to be better than him and if they aren’t St John’s is screwed anyway. As an aside one thing I notice is that Pervis is never in attendance, so to the extent that this is the son of a former number one wasted draft pick it’s not doing anyone any favors.

Alibegovic – D:  If I were grading his last two games he’d get a C minus but it’s a long semester and attendance counts. For those of you scoring at home, Chris Jones who might have had his minutes otherwise averaged 10 and seven at UNLV. That would probably not have made any difference in any of the games recently but there were a couple of preseason games where an inside presence might have mattered and instead of an inside presence we had Alibeogwitz. All of which being said he better come back next year because otherwise we’ll have wasted three years on this moron and all we’d have gotten from Lavin’s recruiting trips to the Riviera is an extra Lavin chin.

Freudenberg – F: Probably an incomplete would be fairer but if I were fairer you couldn’t be reading this. Also, if not his grandfather some other of his progenitors were probably Nazis and the Nazis were even worse than Donald Trump.

Mullin- C plus: no less an authoirty than Ed Cooley’s diseased head said that Mullin should be the BE coach of the year. I think that’s a bit of a stretch – Doug McDermott’s father should always be the BE coach of the year, because he’s the best coach in the league – but there’s no denying the strides St John’s has made in two years. Mullin has collected the most talented roster since Norm Roberts juniors – Kennedy, Horne, Burrell, Hardy, Brownlee, plus NCAA scoring leader Quincy Roberts and former #1 NYC player Malik Boothe – and has a couple of highly regarded transfers in the wings; he won eight games in one of the better basketball conferences in college basketball – which the haters might poo poo, but the haters were in December wondering whether St John’s was going to win three more games all year; he has transformed himself from a seemingly disinterested observer sitting on the scorer’s table to an active and engaged head coach firmly in control of his team and his program and who seems willing to kick John Thompson three’s ass if it come to it; and his in game decisions while not always what they might have been were for the most part understandable. Certainly there are things on the negative side: the final record is not what anyone might have wished due mainly to some early season disasters; there were times when the team came out flat or didn’t show up at all; and the defense is a real problem. But on the whole, in what is essentially year one of a five year rebuild – because only the delusional think last year counts – with a team comprising six first year players, things might have been much much worse.

But there is no question that next year is the big year. Last year was a step forward: St John’s rid itself of that fraud Steve Lavin, hired the greatest player in its history as head coach and brought in a stellar recruiting class. This year was a step forward: the team nearly doubled its win in total and outperformed expectations in conference. But next year is where the rubber meets the road: barring some catastrophic personnel defections St John’s is poised to improve on its record and to do so they must demonstrate that their coach is imparting to them wisdom in a way that they are able to absorb. Essentially they must be at a minimum a bubble team: they have to win 18 games plus or minus and they have to be midpack in the BE at around 10 wins plus or minus and they must be an NCAA caliber team, even if they end up in the NIT. The last several coaches have faltered at this point in their tenures: Norm failed to take the next step in his year four, as did Lavin; Jarhead’s wheels came off after Fran’s recruits graduated and if not for the fact that Marcus Hatten was a supernatural being he would have been exposed much earlier than he was. They won’t fire Mullin next year if he shits the bed – and I am such a fan that I wouldn’t be surprised that if he shits the bed he does so elegantly and that his ordure smells delightful – but next year is the year he has to show results. Because the honeymoon is over. There’s blood on the sheets: now is the time for my bride to make me a sandwich. And it better be fucking delicious.

NOTES: So that’s that. All in all it wasn’t a bad year but it wasn’t a good one either. To the extent that I didn’t think it would be, I’m vindicated. To the extent that I hoped it might be, I’m disappointed. To the extent that I expect to live until next fall, I’m hopeful. (I told my dentist at my last bi-annual cleaning that according to actuarial tables every time we meet I’m two percent closer to the grave than I was the last time we did. If he had not laughed I would have found a new dentist.) Anyway, basketball’s over, the Derby trail looms and after that the great sports desert, because fuck baseball. Perhaps we’ll see each other next year. Perhaps we won’t. Que sera sera.

This Space Available


St John’s lost to Ed Cooley’s diseased head Saturday afternoon 86-75 and thus endeth the St John’s regular season. In toto it was about what I expected – and unless you’re irrational it should be about what you expected as well, from a team nine months removed from an abysmal eight-win season and comprising nine underclassmen and five first year players and a coaching staff still searching for its sea legs. If you expected more than that then you’re more optimistic than am I, but then most people are more optimistic than I am: as an infant I distinctly remember thinking that my mother’s breasts were half empty. Just kidding, she didn’t breast feed me, that bitch. Oh dear, this turned ugly quickly. Probably I should start again but I’m not going to and fuck her anyway. So yes, the season: 13 wins is a bit fewer than I thought – I figured 15 or so – but as I noted two weeks ago if you flipped a couple of the atrocious losses – Delaware and Penn State primarily – this would be about a .500 team and a low NIT seed;  if you flipped five or so games that the November team lost that the February team might not this would be a bubble team. Consider: if you look back at the OOC conference schedule three of the losses look none too bad in retrospect:

Road loss to 23-7 Minnesota, a projected 6 seed
Road loss to 19-11 Michigan State, a projected 8 seed
Road loss to 23-7 VCU , a projected 9 seed

And two of the losses are understandable, if you eschew the ‘we should beat them because we are St John’s’ mentality

Road loss to 19-10 ODU
Road loss to 21-12 LIU

That’s five not too bad losses. In addition to those, seven losses were to ranked BE ranked teams: Villanova, Xavier and Creighton twice, and Butler once. Which makes carry the one 12 understandable losses of 18. Of the remainder of the league games today’s home loss to Providence – a bubble team on a winning streak – was arguably the worst. And on the other side of the coin are some good wins: at Syracuse, a projected 10 seed; home versus #13 Butler; at Providence; home versus Marquette, a projected 11 seed; and home versus Seton Hall, a projected 10 seed.

I’m no pollyanna but to me this represents real progress and especially considering the starting point. Next year of course is where the rubber meets the road: assuming no defections St John’s will have one of the top back courts in the country, finally some upperclassmen (even if they’re not very good), some well needed reinforcements in the form of Clark and Simon and hopefully a big body grad transfer and a staff that has had enough time to figure out the competition and the process. I am a Chris Mullin fan but absent extraordinary circumstances if they win 13 game next year I’ll be leading the chorus calling for his head: because St John’s has taken two steps forward. If they take a step back they might as well dismantle the basketball program and I’ll start a blog about curling, eh? But I don’t think they will. I think next year they take another step forward because as I’ve maintained all along, Chris Mullin has never failed at basketball before and he didn’t come to St John’s to start failing now …  To the extent that today’s game deserves discussion – and it doesn’t – St John’s shot 37 percent from the floor and 17 percent from three and were minus 11 rebounding and turned the ball over 14 times. I suspect that they know that today’s game didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things or at least that’s what I told myself. The defense was appalling – I keep refreshing ESPN’s page so I could post a capture of the shot chart because Providence’s offense comprised an unending line of uncontested lay ups, but because ESPN sucks balls you’ll have to take my word for it: Providence’s offense comprised an unending line of uncontested lay ups. Usually I don’t have a lot of patience for fans who think that the outcome of the game would have been different had St John’s only employed the triangle and two or the box and one or the pentagram and none but today I don’t see where any harm might have come from switching to a zone to have seen whether it might thwarted the conga line of lay-ups that the man to man rewarded PU with but whatever. The only thing St John’s didn’t suck at was free throw shooting and the officials were so appalling that even that is tainted by association: both teams were in the bonus halfway into the first half; John Gaffney and company called 52 fouls in 40 minutes that resulted in 67 free throws. Note to stupid John Gaffney: if I wanted to spend my afternoon listening to people blow things I’d hang around in the Port Authority bus terminal men’s room. Fuck you and your fucking whistle.

PLAYERS: Left to my own devices I’d have given the game ball to Bashir Ahmed: he had 17 points and seven rebounds and three blocks and for most of the game looked like the only player on the court who gave a fuck about what was happening. But Shamorie Ponds scored 29 points and passed the great tattooed negro D’Angelo Harrison to become the top freshman scorer in St John’s history so I gave it to him instead. We are you and I fortunate that Ponds is not two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier because if he was he’d be a lottery pick … Lovett had 12 points but most of them were when the game was over . Did not start the second half for some reason and did not look happy about it to the extent that I’m expert at facial expressions and body language. Embarrassed a PU player by bouncing the ball off his ass on an inbounds play for a basket … Ellison scored no points in 23 minutes which seems impossible unless you are familiar with his body of work. Those of you who had the under relative to his throwing yet another stupid lazy pass that was intercepted leading to a lay in for the bad guys, pay the man on the way out … Federico “Crunch time” Missini hit a three in the second half to cut PU’s lead to 17 or something but was otherwise oh fer the game … Yakwe once again was less horrible than he has been most of the rest of the year … Alibagofsandwiches played minutes that were not as offensive than his usual minutes, which makes three games a row … Darien Williams fouled out in nine minutes, barely defeating Tariq Owens, who fouled out in ten.

NOTES: Besides being the worst point guard in recent St John’s history, Tarik Turner talks too much. Please to be shutting the fuck up Tarik. But to Tarik’s credit he was no where near as appalling as booth mate Alex Faust, whose self written biography describes himself as “the voice of Northeastern University men’s basketball,” which is not what I want written on my tombstone, which is going to read ARE WE THERE YET in all caps. Because you’re all well educated you’ll know that the original Faust sold his soul to the devil in exchange for worldly riches, which I assume Alex Faust might have because he’s on TVG despite being dumb as a fucking rock.

Lent Me Your Ears

 

RECAP: I’ve been sitting here staring at a blank page for a bit now thinking about whether I have anything to say about St John’s 82-68 loss to the Creighton Blue Jays on the last Tuesday in February and the answer is no, because the game was from beginning to end lackluster: neither team played particularly well but neither was so atrocious as to be noteworthy; none of the performances were particularly compelling – some guy on Creighton nearly triple doubled and it was barely noticeable; and except for a brief appearance by Wally Szcerbiak’s terrifying eyebrows at halftime the broadcast was to charitable mundane. But one thing I’ve learned over the years about staring at the blank page is that it’s a waste of time: you don’t get paid until you’ve finished typing and you can’t finish typing until you start, this paragraph being an object lesson: it’s not very good but it’s good enough and now there’s only 1200 words to go

St John’s was down 11-0 five minutes in and it looked like it was going to be a very long night but they regrouped after a Mullin time out and got to within two points about five minutes later. Unfortunately the half lasted another eight minutes during which time Creighton outscored St John’s by 11, which was about all she wrote. St John’s got within five midway through the second half behind eight straight points from Malik Ellison but a rapid regression to bad shots, dumb turnovers and atrocious free throw shooting ended any hopes of an upset … St John’s shot 40 percent from the floor, 25 percent from three and were 8-17 from the free throw line – where meanwhile Creighton was 18-22, which if you add their 18 makes to St John’s nine misses that’s a lot to overcome for as team that’s having a hard time finding the basket; add to that that St John’s was minus 11 on the boards and turned the ball over 15 times and that they only lost by 14 seems almost like something of a victory. It’s not a victory obviously, moral or otherwise, but no one in their right mind would have expected St John’s to win in Omaha on Senior Night and had they lost by 30 and given up a hundred no one would have been surprised and at this point in the season and the process you have to take your silver lining where you find it … One game left versus Providence at the Garden and if all goes well the regular season will end with another bad loss for the Friars that send them and Ed Cooley’s diseased head to the NIT. As things stand now and I don’t think it can change St John’s gets Georgetown in the first round of the BET and then if they manage to not bollix that gift up Villanova, but silver lining again it’s better to lose to the number three team in the country in the feature game on national television than it is to Xavier or whoever in front of 17 people Friday afternoon.

PLAYERS: Malik Ellison had a career minute and a half midway through the second half: he scored eight straight points during a brief flurry where St John’s cut the lead to five. Unfortunately in the other 24 minutes he played Malik scored one point and committed four fouls and three turnovers … Ponds had 16 points and six steals and if he’s not the BE rookie of the year then something’s very very wrong because he’s as polished as any St John’s freshmen I can recall and that includes the current head coach … A dull effort from Lovett: eight points, four rebounds, three assists and oh fer from three … Mussini had nine points and five rebounds in 24 minutes but missed a three after Ellison’s flurry that put the kibosh on St John’s chances. Yes, that was a gratuitous shot, I do it on purpose … Don’t look now but Amar Alibagwitz put together his second strong effort in a row: he made a three, euro-stepped to the basket without travelling and threw a nifty back door pass that resulted in a layup by Heydrich Freudenburch – the German’s 11th basket of the year – a series of events so incongruous as to comprise evidence for intelligent design. Plus he had six rebounds. Plus he’s from Italy! Be still my heart … On the other side of the coin is Bashir Ahmed, who had his second poor effort in a row: three for 11 from the floor and four turnovers, although to his credit seven rebounds and a couple of blocks … Yakwe (seven points, two rebounds) once again caught the ball and finished with authority. Considering how bad he looked early in the season – and there were a couple of times where I thought to give up on him – he seems to have found himself. It’s not showing up in the box score but if he were a stock I’d be buying … Williams had six points and five rebounds in 16 minutes. I don’t know if anyone other than me noticed – certainly the otherwise omniscient referees didn’t – but after a made Creighton basket he inbounded the ball without coming close to having either foot out of bounds. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but emblematic of the sort of boneheaded mistakes I would be happy to see not repeated next year, when things get real

 
NOTES: Good ole missus fun had the line of the night when she heard Pete Gillen’s mellifluous voice during the pregame: “He sounds like some moron from Queens” she said. I set her right of course, informing her that (a) he’s some moron from Brooklyn and (b) that he’s not a moron, he’s just the sort of X and O guru that Chris Mullin needs beside him on the bench to help him understand basketball. (Funny we don’t hear so much about the need for an X and O guru anymore.) Gillen’s booth mate was called Carter Blackburn, which sounds the name of the long lost father of Krystle Carrington’s evil twin’s secret love child on Dynasty but who is in fact a graduate of Syracuse University whose claim to fame is calling Little League games on ESPN … Predictably I got a couple of emails after Saturday’s post complaining that I was complaining about complaints and that therefore I was by my own reasoning a cunt. (They didn’t say cunt, I just said that because missus fun found my use of the word offensive so I had to say it again.) To those correspondents I say: if you needed a syllogism to prove that I’m a cunt you must be new here … There’s now just one game left in the season and as the end draws near I feel like a skinny Kenyan within sight of the finish line in the NY marathon. Assuming a normal distribution of wins and losses there’s just a couple of these things left for us to slog through – yes us, you and I, we’re in this together – and then blessedly the season will end, depending of course on what happens on the Ides, March 15th, which is the day the CBI bids come out. I’d say if I’m Mullin I accept that bid except that if I were Mullin he’d have drank himself out of the NBA in 1987 and today he’d be working at UPS with Lenny Cooke and due to the butterfly effect St John’s coach John Calipari would this year be seeking to defend his third straight national championship. Thanks AA. But yes, take the bid: the more they play together this year the better they’ll play together next year and anyway you can’t use lack of experience as an excuse for failure and then eschew opportunities for experience … So anyway, as usually happens this far into the season I’ve exhausted pretty much everything there is to say and have my head so far up my own ass that not having anything to write about becomes something to write about. For this recap I investigated a couple of things, all of which came to naught. Today for example would have been February 29th if it were a leap year, which might have been a topic, but it’s not a leap year and anyway the Wikipedia page about leap year is so dry that I mistook it for my first wife’s vagina. I mean look at this:

“The Republican calendar’s intercalary month was inserted on the first or second day after the Terminalia (a. d. VII Kal. Mar., February 23). The remaining days of Februarius were dropped. This intercalary month, named Intercalaris or Mercedonius, contained 27 days.”

Jesus shoot me. But all was not lost: that leap year was not happening meant that March came in like a lion one day sooner that it might have otherwise. The bad news is that the origin of the idiom March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb is as deadly dull as explications of leap year. To the extent that anyone knows it seems that the constellation Leo (the Lion) is descending the sky as the constellation Aries (the Ram) is ascending. Personally I thought it had to do with the weather, because the beginning of March is cold and the end less so. So there’s no there there. Today is also Mardi Gras (literally Fat Tuesday), the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the period in the Christian calendar before Easter – the 40 days are meant to simulate the 40 days Jesus spent wandering the desert culminating in His temptation by Lucifer. Which might be something except I already did that, in 2015. (No, I don’t think I’m wasting my life, thanks for asking.) The only interesting thing I read today about Fat Tuesday is that it’s celebrated around the world by the eating of pancakes: evidently the tradition started because fasting necessitated that the Christian faithful use up their butter and other perishables before beginning their period of abstemiousness. This might have tied in nicely to the essay I wrote a couple of week’s ago about Canucklehead fascination with maple syrup and had the season been two or three weeks longer I might have had to produce 1000 words about that but it’s not, so I didn’t. Consider us lucky.

Friar Suck

Saint John’s defeated Ed Cooley’s diseased head 91-86 in Providence Wednesday night. In the aftermath of which I am not making up any of the following: it was Saint John’s fourth conference win of the year, two of which were on the road; the win left Saint John’s in sole possession of sixth place in the best basketball conference in America; Saint John’s is in conference as many games behind #10 Creighton and #16 Xavier as they are ahead of Georgetown and Providence; and they have only three fewer conference losses than Villanova, the defending national champion and current #1 team in the country. With 10 games left in the season Saint John’s has two more wins than they had all of last year and had they won a couple of gimmes in November they’d be sitting at 13-9 – which is just where ratface Kevin Willard is, and he’s been at Seton Hall for seven years. Not bad for the least experienced team in the country coached by a guy who’s in desperate need of X and O help from washed up nobodies like Tom Pecora … Wednesday’s game really comprised three mini games: the first half, in which Saint John’s defeated Providence 46-37, courtesy of ten PU turnovers and half a dozen missed free throws; the first seven minutes or so of the second half, where Providence outscored Saint John’s 22-7 on their way to a six point lead, this courtesy of a vintage display of Saint John’s ineptitude; and then the final ten minutes or so – after Mullin used his third and final timeout to calm things down – which was easily the most exciting ten minutes of basketball Saint John’s fans have seen in quite a long time, up to and including scoring the last six point of the game. Yes, the defense was atrocious and yes there were some questionable shots and bonehead plays. So what. They went up and down the court and traded punches and it was fun to watch. It wasn’t Hoosiers and no doubt some of the he-doesn’t-play-basketball-the-white-right-way crowd might have gotten overexcited and soiled their nappies and had to have a lie down afterwards, but it was about the most enjoyable ten minutes I’ve spent since my honeymoon night. And like that night Missus Fun slept her way through most of it. Her loss …. Usually when I post this graphic it’s to show how bad things got. This one shows how close things were

 
As does the box score. Saint John’s shot 50 percent from the floor, PU 60 percent; Saint John’s shot 47 percent from three, PU 40 percent; rebounds were more or less even (SJU +3), as were turnovers (PU +2), as were assists (PU +5). Oddly for a game with such prodigious offensive output the game was won and lost at the free throw line, where Saint John’s was a stellar 17 of 19 and PU a putrid 18 of 27 – and Diallo and Holt were a perfect 10 of 10, meaning the rest of them were 8 of 17. Speaking of defense, over the past two games Saint John’s opponents are 32 of 52 from the free throw line … I talked a couple of recaps ago about how enjoyable it is to see Mullin engaged and energetic on the sidelines as he grows into his role as head coach. Last night was no exception. Despite some questionable personnel decisions – like having Alibagodonuts and Missini on the court at the same time and having Oppengruppenfuhrer Freudenburgh on the court at all – Mullin did a good job of keeping his players heads in the game and deserves special credit for calling his final timeout with about 15 minutes to go, when things were in danger of falling apart completely. It was a risky move and it took huge balls and it paid off. As he said in the post-game press conference, what’s the use of having a time out at the end of a game you lose by 20. Mullin incidentally is now 8-1 this year when leading at halftime, which need I say it: that’s all adjustments baby.

 
PLAYERS: Lovett led all scorers with 26 points and together with Ponds (22 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals) accounted for half of Saint John’s points. Of course they also accounted for half of Saint John’s 17 turnovers but they won so who cares. Lovett made huge plays late in both halves: at the end of the first he nailed a 35 foot three and at the end of the second saved a ball going out of bounds by throwing it over his head and halfway down court where it was retrieved by Ponds. For his part Ponds made six free throws in six attempts in the last minute, accounting for SJU’s last six points. Onions …. Ellison had 15 points and 6 rebounds. Took the ball to the basket impressively several times – he’ll be even more impressive when he learns to finish and make more than half of his free throws. Threw one of his patented lazy half court passes in the first half, which led to a PU layup, after which he was immediately pulled …. Ahmed (15 points) fouled out when he committed a curious intentional foul in the back court with a minute and a half remaining and Saint John’s up one. My lip reading isn’t expert but in the aftermath he seemed to be saying that he heard Mullin yelling at him to foul and so he fouled. Which if that’s what happened that makes him a good soldier and Mullin a bad general. It seems more likely that Mullin was jawing at the officials about some foul that was called or not called – he pretty much is on them from the opening whistle – and some wires got crossed … Darien Williams didn’t do much in the box score but was involved in three plays late that pretty much sealed the deal: in the first he pulled Tariq Owens away from a PU player after a block under the basket and shh-ed him like a librarian, saving what might have escalated into a technical; in the second he clanked a jump hook so badly that it got stuck in between the rim and the backboard and Saint John’s retained possession on the arrow; and in the final seconds he inadvertently blocked the potential game winner on the baseline, with his elbow …. Owens didn’t do much but had a huge block at the rim with 45 seconds left. He was fortunate he didn’t get T’ed up for looming over the fallen PU player and jawing at him. Earlier he was called for goaltending when he stuck his hand up through the rim to block a shot. Before Wilt Chamberlain that play was legal; much like the NBA widening the free throw lane, making that play illegal was one of a number of rule changes made by basketball authorities to stop Wilt Chamberlain from being so good at basketball … Yawke was pulled about 30 seconds into the game for loafing after a loose ball. He barely returned and contributed little … For some reason Freduenbrh played 11 minutes. All I can figure is that Mullin can write that off on his taxes … I’m wont to say that Missini (three points) can’t guard a pillar or a stanchion or a lectern, which is true. This is as opposed to Alibeghwitch (0000100010) who is a less effective defender than a pillar or a stanchion or a lectern.

 
NOTES: This is the second game in a row where color man Tarik Turner was not aggressively stupid or annoying. Keep up the good work Tarik. I thought Ashton Kutchner Justin Kutcher screamed a bit too much and was a bit of a Providence homer – he’s from New England and went to Boston College, so maybe, although I only mention it so I could stick a Mila Kunis photo at the top of the page … Usually when Saint John’s plays Providence I can get a paragraph out of the back of Ed Cooley’s head, because what the fuck is that and why doesn’t he mitigate it with some Rogaine or a wig or some Chia hair, but even I can’t go to that well anymore. Fortunately he wore a white vest with a white shirt and matching yellow tie and pocket square so I can describe him as looking like a polar bear with hepatitis. Other than that I got nothing.

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.

Well Dunn

donald-duck-dunn-jpg

RECAP: I’ve got little to say about Saint John’s loss to Providence 83-65 on Saturday afternoon and probably would not have bothered writing at all except when I don’t Rabinowitz gets cranky. So: PU is number 12 in the country, they’ve got a consensus all American, the game was in Providence and oh yeah, Saint John’s stinks. That they kept it respectable is about all you can ask for and about all they did … Saint John’s shot 36 percent from the floor and 2 for 13 from three. They had a paltry six assists and were outrebounded by 10. They had 13 TOs and missed a third of their free throws. Meanwhile Providence shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three and Kris Dunn came as close to a triple double as you want to see the other guys best player come. That it was as close as it was – SJU got within six in the second half – seems in retrospect remarkable … SJU has now lost five in a row and I don’t see a win on the horizon until January 23rd and maybe not even then, which best case scenario means a 1-6 start in conference. There’s not a lot to be done about it except to hope that the lumps they take this year pay benefits next year. Of course it could be that Chris Mullin’s teams play their best basketball in February, which if that’s the case we could be in line for a Lavinesque magic carpet ride to the CBI finals. Stay tuned.

PLAYERS: Not much here to chew on. The one bright spot was Sima, who led the team in points (14) and rebounds (6) … Chris Jones had 7 points and 6 rebounds in 18 minutes. That’s two games in a row where he’s played short minutes despite being productive. To the extent that Mullin is seasoning his underclassmen at Jones expense that’s probably a wise decision … Balamou played 37 minutes, perhaps in an effort to contain Dunn. If so, it did not work … Durand Johnson was 2 for 10 from the floor. Four rebounds and three steals though … The score was 25-20 when Malik “Jonah” Ellison’s name first appears in the box score at the 7 minute mark in the first half. He played 23 of the next 27 minutes during which time the PU lead ballooned to 18. If that plus minus is a coincidence it’s the third or fourth coincidence in a row. In any event he missed all his shots, turned it over a couple of times and managed one rebound … Yawke had seven points and a couple of rebounds but took two horrible shots on consecutive possessions in the first half when SJ was briefly in the lead … Albivevowith played 27 minutes, most of them credibly. I thought he was called for a bogus flagrant foul late but not according to the box score … Mullin wisely spared Federico Mussini the embarrassment of trying to cover Kris Dunn. He played only 13 minutes and did not contribute … Speaking of not contributing, Ron Mvouika

NOTES: I got nothing. Even I can only find so many ways to make fun of Cooley’s head.

Old Lang Sima

images

RECAP: Saint John’s lost its fourth straight game New Year’s Eve, 80-70 to Creighton University at Carnesecca Arena. It was a game you’d like to win oh well but as a spectacle it was pretty entertaining and with this team as currently comprised entertaining is about all you can hope for … Essentially, Creighton went up ten midway through the first half and stayed there. Sure, it went to seven or twelve and whoever you were rooting for you said okay, this is it, a blow out or a comeback, but the scales never tipped. Every time Saint John’s threatened to make a game of it someone would bounce the ball off their foot and Creighton would hit a three and it would be 11 again. That went on for a while and I would have hit the FF button except I have a very strong constitution … Saint John’s was troubled by a quick guard and had no answer for Geoffrey Groselle, who sounds like Chaucer character but is actually some golem from Texas in the Kent Benson/Joe Kleine mold, meaning that he’ll have a nice career as a car salesman in Houston after a few years playing overseas. Despite that and as bad as SJ played, the numbers were even. Both teams shot ~ 40 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three; both had 39 rebounds and 13 assists; TOs and blocks were even. Free throws though were 30 to 20 and the score differential was 10. Coincidence? You make the call. Beside the differential Creighton was in the bonus early in both halves, which slowed the game to their benefit. It seemed to me that the refs were not calling the body, which accrued to the benefit to the uncoordinated Midwest lummoxes. Not that it would have made any difference, SJ shot 62 percent from the FT line and that includes three guys who went 10 for 10 out of 19 total … I was impressed by the coach, Doug McDermott’s father. I wouldn’t say that he coached Mullin’s balls off but he’s a clever son of a bitch and on a level playing field will win you a couple of games. Last year he played the triangle and two versus SJ and it flummoxed Lavin for about 20 minutes. Anyway, getting Mullin to coach these guys is like getting Werner von Braun to tune up your Volkswagon. If Knute Rockne were the coach it wouldn’t make any difference, they just don’t have the horses. They do though have the foals

PLAYERS: Malik Ellison led the team in scoring with 17 points, including 6 for 6 from the free throw line and a Sports Center put-back. But his entry into the game in both halves coincided with Creighton runs. I didn’t write it down in the first half but in the second Saint John’s was down seven when Ellison entered at 14:50 and was down 12 – the biggest deficit of the game – with eight minutes left. It did not seem to me that his play led directly to the deficit, but if it were merely his presence that would mean he is a Jonah, which is worse, because bad juju does not go away … Johnson (14 pts, 4 rb, 2 steals, 2 blocks) kept them in it in the first half. In one remarkable sequence he dove to the floor, wrestled the ball away from a Creighton player and threw a pass over his head to ignite a fast break. Which is a nice effort from a lazy player … Great white hope Federico Mussini was 1 for 5 from three. He’s now 1-12 in his last two and 10 for 51 since Syracuse. And no Lovett on the horizon … Sima had 13 points and 5 rebounds but generally got punked by the white guy, which should not happen. Got T’ed up when he hung on the rim to quash a SJU run … Chris Jones had nine rebounds in 15 minutes … Balamou reminds me of what Dom Pointer looked like as a junior when they used to clear it out for him and say make a play. It’s not quite basketball but it’s entertaining nonetheless. And anyway unfortunately Balamou is a senior … Speaking of seniors – high school seniors – Yawke, who should be one, had 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks in his first BE game … Mvouika and Jessica Albavicowitz were non factors.

NOTES: This blog is hosted by Word Press, which recently added a feature allowing owners to see the search terms by which users locate their website on the vast internets. As you might expect, some people were searching for this site specifically, using appropriate terms

bigeastboards

big east boards

the dead storm st. john’s

www.bigeastboards.com

And so on.

 

Others were looking for general information on SJU basketball. People were directed here seeking information on

does jamal branch have any eligibility left (No thank goodness)

where is rico hines coaching (who cares)

will steve lavin. be fired at sju (my sources say yes)

what ever happened to heath orvis basketball (Heath who?)

does jim burr have anything against st. john’s (no, he had something against basketball)

 

Others were fans looking for answers to burning questions like

why does ed cooley`s head look fucked up?

 

And then there were the haters

marquette basketball + fuck wojo

duck fuke

 

and the curious

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And then there was this guy, I’m not sure what he was looking for but I hope he finds it

raylan givens gets spanked

 

A reader writes to ask: Fun, this is comedy gold, but wtf does it have to do with today’s Creighton game. Well reader, after a loss last year to Creighton that dropped SJU to 2-5 in the BE and signified to me the end of the SJU season I wrote an essay that described Nebraska as “a big flat pile of nothing” and “other than South Dakota perhaps the stupidest state in the union.” To which essay an angry Cornhusker replied pointing out the many virtues of his state and the many prominent Nebraska-breds who have made contributions to American culture, up to and including Kelly Cuoco, a piece of milk fed veal whose picture adorned the recap

kaley_cuoco_thong

The appearance of that one photo has driven the following traffic here from perverts searching for

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Not that there’s anything wrong with that … Happy New Year, and speaking of which is there a better way to ring it in than with Dan Fogelsberg? I mean, come on:

We went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn’t find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car