RECAP: Saint John’s defeated DePaul 78-68 Monday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena on Felipe Lopez bobble head day. It was a game they should have won – because DePaul is awful – and that they needed to win, coming into as they were on a four game losing streak and no gimmes on the horizon: of their next eight games five are on the road and three are against ranked teams and they may well be 3 and 12 ish come the end of February, so gird your loins. If there’s a bright side to all this it’s that I might have been right again, as usual. Regular readers will recall that after the Villanova game I postulated that Saint John’s was getting better but that it was hard to tell because of the competition they’d been facing. The way they won against DePaul might have been evidence of that: it was the first time in a while that Saint John’s imposed their will physically and mentally and where they looked almost as if they were toying with their opponent. It was the kind of effort you’d expect to see against Delaware State say or LIU – teams Saint John’s “should” beat and beat handily. Of course it could just be that DePaul stinks and there’s nothing to be learned either way, not even from a picture
If you looked at the box score you’d think the game was closer than it was: both teams shot forty ish from the floor; DePaul was plus six rebounds; and were 15 of 16 from the free throw line, where Saint John’s shot 65 percent (16 of 25). The difference was three point shooting – Saint John’s was 12 of 22 – and much of that the result of crisp and efficient ball movement: Saint John’s had 18 assists on 25 made baskets … One of the few enjoyable things about this year so far has been watching Mullin learn to become a head coach: he’s gone from last year wearing shorts and sitting on the scorer’s table and deferring to his assistants on the bench – I thought at the time that these things were no big deal and think so still but perception is often reality – to a guy in a suit and tie who’s clearly in charge of what’s happening on the court and fully engaged in the process. Yesterday there wasn’t a lot to do but at least he didn’t screw it up: he shortened the rotation appropriately and pulled guys when they messed up and ran a play here and there that actually worked. I know a lot of fans think the head coach’s job is to draw up epiphanic white board Xs and Os on the fly but that’s really the thing of bad sports novels by tortured dwarves like Mike Lupica. The fact is that if the coach has to do that during the game it’s because he hasn’t prepared his team adequately during the 20 or 40 hours he has them to himself during the week. So anyway Mullin has now increased last year win total by 10 percent and has increased his league wins by a whopping 300 percent. Three hundred percent! Imagine if your Roth IRA increased by 300 percent in a year, you’d blow your broker and at least give him a handy. So congratulations Chris, it seems your job is safe for a another month
PLAYERS: Malik Ellison had what was easily the best game of his career: 23 points and four assists, including 5 of 6 from three and even 4 of 4 from the free throw line, where’s he’s otherwise been awful … Everyone’s favorite whipping boy Bashir Ahmed had 14 points, and seven rebounds and three assists. Unfortunately he was 7 of 13 from the free throw line, where he’s at 65 percent for the year. I’ve never understood it when players who are obviously hungry for points don’t bother to learn how to collect the free ones … Ponds got hot late and finished with 14 points, including a couple of confident and very welcome threes. Among his six assists was a nifty behind the back pass to Ahmed on the break … Owens was one rebound shy of a double double, Williams made both his field goal attempts and Yawke took his man off the dribble and finished with a dunk. Stitch the three of them together and you’d have one pretty above average basketball player … Lovett was pretty much missing in action: three points and three assists. On the bright side he didn’t force anything and from what I could glean from careful examination of his facial expressions and body language it does not appear that his poor performance will cause him to transfer …. After all this time people write still wondering why I am so mean to poor Federico Missini: The answer’s quite simple: he stinks. And the truth is I wish he didn’t, because if he was better I wouldn’t have to spend so much time coming up with creative ways of describing his shortcomings. The good news is that on Saturday Missini played so adequately (eight points, three rebounds, two assists) that this morning I don’t have to. And what’s more I’m going to say something nice: they ran a play for him at the end of the first half and he got open and made the three, which that hasn’t happened in a long while …. The rest of them didn’t play, not even in garbage time, coach’s decision. I can’t say that I blame him
NOTES: Saturday was Martin Luther King Day, which frankly has always struck me as an odd holiday. Not because I’m a right wing troglodyte – although I am – and not because I think the struggle for civil rights is unworthy of commemoration – of course it is – and certainly not because Doctor King, martyred in the struggle for freedom, is unworthy of celebration. And not even because other than than genocidal Italian lunatic Chris Columbus he’s the only individual the US honors with his own holiday – and Columbus day isn’t even a real holiday anymore and neither is Saint Patrick’s. None of that. But what this holiday does – and I think unfairly – is ignore the sacrifices that so many other people made in the cause of freedom: starting with the five or ten million Africans murdered in the diaspora, to the half million woke white men who lost their lives in the civil war, to various individuals who dedicated their lives and sometimes gave them in the same way Doctor King did: Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and even king hell crazy loon John Brown, who was hanged by the neck until very very dead after the raid at Harper’s Ferry. Nobody asked but I’d be much happier with a Civil Rights Day that celebrated the struggle for everybody’s freedom – blacks, women, LQBGTQWERTIES, everyone – and especially our liberties, with which we would have been endowed by our creator, if we in fact had a creator, which probably we don’t.
Although I have to admit that recently I’ve been having doubts about my atheism, the religion to which I converted at the age of 12 or so, having been before that raised a papist. It seems to me that if this infinite universe is one of an infinite number of infinite universes as physicists postulate then there’s bound to be one created by a god. I just find it hard to believe it’s this one. I frankly find it easier to believe that we’re a neglected fish tank or perhaps characters in a children’s video game 10,000 years in the future than to believe that this mess was created knowingly by an omniscient merciful being. Fortunately I decided a while back that the examined life is not worth living, which eschewing of philosophy leaves me more time to watch television.
Anyway I don’t see that celebration of our collective rights and liberties coming to pass. Because we live today in an Orwellian dystopia in which a rapacious government works relentlessly to diminish our freedoms and personal autonomy, all in the name of public good, which fuck the public good. Because at the bottom of the slippery slope of utilitarianism is the rice paddy in which your children and grandchildren will be toiling to meet the quota imposed upon them as part of a five-year plan to increase agricultural production by 7.8 percent developed by some over achieving Harvard douche bag as an outgrowth of his slash her interest in the Cambodian economy that he slash she came to while getting his slash her post doctorate degree. You might think I’m making that up but there is in fact a dissertation entitled and I’m not making this up: Pol Pot Pie: Indigenous Cooking and Khmer Rouge: a survey of the literature. Okay, I did make that up. But I didn’t make these up:
Perceptions of Canadian Meeting Professionals of Environmentally Responsible Hotel Practices
Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus
Impact of wet underwear on thermoregulatory responses and thermal comfort in the cold
Sword swallowing and its side effects
Pressures produced when penguins pooh – calculations on avian defecation
Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage
Digital rectal massage, finally one we can use. Anyway, to cut to the chase, if you have kids, they’re fucked: they’re going to be slaves and they’re not even going to know it. They’re going to get up in the morning and go to work and every day donate 40 percent of their time, energy, labor and lives to a government, one of which we were once citizens, but are now subjects …. After one of my recent essays I reader wrote saying that what I had produced was very depressing. Shurg, that’s what happens when your inner monologue makes Pink Flamingos look like It’s a Wonderful Life. You can complain all you want but you people couldn’t spend 20 minutes in my head. Anyway for that reader I end on a cheery note about the slave trade: the European slave trade started more or less with Henry the Navigator in the 15th century. It was run for four hundred years in approximate order by the Portuguese, then the Spanish, then the Germans, then the Dutch and then finally the English, all under the auspices of papal authority. The practice generally was to sail down the western coast of Africa, trade trinkets and rum to African chieftains for their already enlaved peoples and then transport those slaves to the New World to work in the sugar cane field: white indentured servants, while ubiquitous, died too quickly, not being accustomed to the heat. Of the 10 million or so humans enslaved over those 400 years, 7 million were transported to Brazil, 2 million to Cuba, and a scant 500,000 to the United States: most US slaves were – as Jimmy the Greek astutely noted – bred domestically. So to recap: the slave trade comprised Hispanics purchasing black slaves from black slaveholders and transporting them to South America, where they were worked to death by Latino landowners. Which means that when the US gets around to finally paying reparations Gisele Bündchen is going to owe Pele a whole lot of Tom Brady’s money. Happy civil rights day.