RECAP: Saint John’s snuck away with a 60-57 win Wednesday night versus Marquette University in the battle for eighth place in the Big East. To the extent that they have any post season hopes the win kept them alive, but even the most optimistic rose colored glasses wearing gee this shit sandwich is delicious Saint John’s fan cannot at this point have any wildest hopes and dreams beyond a tournament bid and a first round loss. Which is where we are halfway through year 5 of the Lavin regime: hoping to catch enough breaks to be on the right side of the bubble. Question: if Lavin can’t win with a group of seniors that comprised the third ranked recruiting class in the country, what can he win with … The game had the stench of a blow out early. Marquette looked surprised by SJ’s quickness and athleticism and repeatedly turned the ball over and missed nearly every shot they took and could not buy a rebound. An early time out from floor-slapping dope Steve “Wojo” Wojowojowitz roused them from their torpor and they raised their level of incompetence to the level of incompetence that Saint John’s was displaying, which led to the sort of exciting game that can result when two awful teams meet. Like if a team of blind players faced off against a team of quadriplegics, you wouldn’t see much good basketball, but the game would nonetheless be pretty entertaining. Which at this point is all realistic SJU fans can hope for: if they’re not going to be successful at least they should be interesting … Regarding the game and depending on your perspective, both teams either played stellar defense or sucked on offense. Regardless, it was ugly. MU shot 30 percent from the floor and from three and SJU shot 35 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three. Rebounds, assists, free throws, turnovers all about even. Except for the basketball IQ of their coaches these were two evenly matched teams: both of them stink and one of them had to lose. On the bright side the referees let them play, advantage Saint John’s. If it wasn’t a felony they didn’t call a foul which negated SJU’s lack of a bench and despite 13 blocks nary a goaltending was called, which if you’ve watched Pointer and Obekpa block shots this year you know is a mathematical impossibility. Still, it’s a win and like Lavin said in the post-game, sometimes you just need to have a good day. This team especially needed to have a good day, considering the media hoopla that’s going to ensue come Saturday when ratface wins his 1000th game by beating the shit out of them at the Madison Square. Because that’s going to be a bloodbath.
PLAYERS: Dom Pointer had a remarkable game of the sort he sometimes has when he’s the most athletic player on the court: 15 points, 12 rebounds, 6 blocks and 6 assists. Last night he really was Batman. During the game Tarik Turner noted that Lavin had called Dom Pointer “the smartest player I’ve ever coached,” which is one of the stupider things Lavin has ever said and of a piece with calling Marco Bourgault the best shooter he’s ever coached or Rysheed Jordan the best passer. Because Dom Pointer is a lot of things but smart is not one of them … Another steady performance from Jordan. Fifteen points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists. To the extent that this team has any hope it rests on his shoulders … Harrison was 3 for 18 from the field but iced the game with two free throws late. I’m assuming there’s still some lingering effects from his calf … Speaking of dumb, in a recent gambol I noted that Phil Greene is among the stupidest players to ever wear a Saint John’s uniform. Last night, with 10 seconds left in the game and SJU up one, Greene received a pass ahead of the MU press and instead of dribbling the ball around the front court to use up precious seconds that would have insured the victory, Greene streaked to the basket and dunked, putting Marquette in a position to tie the game, which they nearly did, except Carlino back rimmed it … I’ve been encouraged by Chris Obekpa’s play of late, and when I say encouraged I mean that he’s been playing so poorly that I think it’s possible that he doesn’t declare for the draft and returns for his junior year. Last night was no exception … Has Jamal Branch ever thrown a pass where he looks at the guy he’s passing to? We get Jamal, you can throw a no look pass. Too bad you can’t do anything else… newly minted sixth man Amir Albaviovich managed 4 fouls in 6 minutes in the first half. I’ve seen more graceful golems.
NOTES: We’ve not seen Tarik Turner in about a month and to cut through all the suspense it turns out he’s still a blabbermouth. The problem is not just that Turner feels the need to pontificate about each possession as if he’s describing a new life form that he’s just witnessed spontaneously generate from the primordial ooze. It’s that everything observation he makes occurs in a vacuum. For example, on one possession with SJU up 8 in the first half Tarik noted that despite their lead Saint John’s was settling for threes and that they should move the ball. Fair enough Tarik, they were and moving the ball is always a good idea. But then on the very next possession he said that MU had to tighten up their defense because Saint John’s was getting whatever shot they wanted. And then the next possession he said that SJU had settled for a three. I mean, what the hell. It’s like he wakes up from a coma after each change of possession with no memory of what has transpired before. Which I suppose not coincidentally is a lot like his play at point guard … Sometimes with this team I’m not sure whether I’m watching basketball or What Not To Wear. It may just be that when the basketball sucks there’s nothing else to talk about or perhaps all the fashion talk is a clever ruse by master manipulator Steve Lavin to take pressure off of himself and his team. Hence all the ridiculous sweat suit get-ups and the focus on the Obekpants ® and so forth. That would also explain the unveiling last night of new gray uniforms with red piping, which are hideous, and a new Lavin look, a polyester mock turtleneck under a suit with unlaced white sneakers, similarly atrocious. Question: why do the red storm no longer wear red? And what’s the significance of black and blue and gray? Is it an homage to elder abuse? … In the post -game interview Lavin mentioned that DoOk coach Mike Schrewshrenvki was a “mentor and advisor,” which I had not heard before. I knew about Lavin’s relationship with John Wooden, and Bobby Knight, and Pete Newell, and Gene Keady. Question: if Steve Lavin has such close and abiding relationships with so many hall of fame basketball coaches who have meant so much to him and taught him so much, how come he’s such a shit basketball coach? … Unlike Saint John’s Marquette has a pretty good track record coaching wise: before Wojo Buzz Williams (albeit currently 8-9 and 0-4 in the ACC at Va Tech), Tom Crean, Mike Deane, Rick Majerus and going back to Saint John’s graduate Al McGuire, who led Marquette to back to back final fours and a national championship in 1977. Here’s McGuire addressing an alumni group, circa 1972. Funny stuff: