St John’s suffered an improbable 75-70 loss to the number 23 Seton Hall Pirates New Year’s Eve in New Jersey. It wasn’t improbable because they lost – even the most optimistic fan could only hoped to have stolen a road win – but because they lost not nearly as badly as they should have with their two best players in street clothes. (Although in Lovett’s case I’m not sure what street, he looked like he was dressed for Mardi Gras.) I certainly didn’t expect them to win – I wouldn’t have expected it even if they were at full strength. I didn’t even expect them to keep it close. And so I sat down (or let’s be honest, laid down) with minimal expectations: I was hoping it wasn’t too bad a rout and even when SJ went up by nine points halfway through the first half I was expecting disaster to strike at any moment. Which it did: Seton Hall ended the half on a 38-19 run to take a ten point lead into the locker room. (Into the locker room, good grief, what a hack.) Which considering what they were facing and how awful they’d looked during the second half versus Providence, no one could have expected them to make a game of it, which they ended up doing. Seton Hall extended their lead to 15 midway through the second when SJ went on a 15-2 run to bring it within three. At which point I might even have sat up briefly, I don’t remember. I do remember though that down three after a questionable no call on Ahmed under the basket Coach Mullin got an ill-timed technical – it was ill-timed whether he deserved it or not and I didn’t think he did, you don’t call a foul like that at that point in the game; Seton Hall graduate Jerry Carino who covers Seton Hall basketball for a Jersey paper said it was deserved, although he also said he “didn’t hear” what Mullin said, so if he didn’t hear what what said it’s difficult to understand how he could judge whether it was deserved, and that Myles Powell missed both FTs lends credence to my skepticism, because unlike beat reporters covering their alma maters the ball doesn’t lie – which interrupted whatever momentum St John’s comeback had generated. A missed free throw here, a missed three there and St John’s drops to oh and two in the conference with a likely loss to Creighton looming. Let’s hope that the back court returns soon, because otherwise it’s going to be a long winter … By the numbers the game was more or less even. St John’s shot 46 percent from the floor to SH’s 42; St John’s shot 50 percent from three to SH’s 44; ST John’s shot 64 percent from the FT line, which stinks, but SH shot 60 percent; SH was plus eight rebounds and plus three assists but turned the ball over 17 times. The big difference was free throws: despite missing four of every 10 they took SH ended up making three more FTs than SJ attempted, the total differential being seven, which is a five point game seems something of a big deal. About which a bit more more below … I’d be remiss if I didn’t start the new year out with a gratuitous slap at dopey Steve Lavin. Although in this case it’s not that gratuitous, as two players the keen judge of talent Lavin thought couldn’t help St John’s – Kadeem Carrington and Desi Rodrigez (an in game bio of Rodriguez noted that his favorite band was Green Day, which as Mrs Fun said no one’s favorite band should be Green Day, especially anyone called Desi from the Bronx) – combined for 47 points and 15 rebounds. Credit rat face Kevin Willard: he was in filthy gyms in the Bronx and Brooklyn recruiting those guys while Lavin and his double chins were scouring the French Riviera for Marco Bourgault and Amar Alibgowitz, two of the best shooters he’s seen since Jason Kapono. Coach Lavs: the gift that keeps on giving.
PLAYERS: Justin Simon had 15 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds and five steals while playing a full 40 minutes at the point. He did though miss the front end of a one and one with 40 seconds late and St John’s down three … Tariq Owens had 19 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks which is not the most remarkable thing he did last night. The most remarkable thing he did was play 39 minutes without fouling out. He also made a couple of threes, which if he starts hitting threes he’s going to be a very interesting player … Marvin Clark – who did foul out, for the fourth time this year – had 18 points … Ahmed had sixteen point and four rebounds, including three of four from three … Yakwe and Trimble played 40 minutes between them and had two points, four rebounds and four turnovers, which combined doesn’t even comprise one mediocre performance … Alibegowitz played five minutes, averaging a missed shot, a foul, no points, no rebounds and no assists every 2 minutes.
NOTES: New Year’s Eve brings our annual death pool round up. Gone this year were actors Johns Hurt and Heard; Sam Shepard, who banged Jessica Lange before plastic surgery turned her into a hideous gargoyle; Moores Mary Tyler and Roger; Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Adam West, Martin Landau, Frank Vincent, Harry Dean Stanton, Robert “Benson” Guillaume, John “Higgins” Hillerman, and Chuck Low, a major in the US army who went on to appear in a number of Martin Scorsese films, most notably as Morrie in Goodfellas; dead musicians included Walter Becker, Glen Campbell, Chuck Berry Tom Petty, Chris Cornell, Fats Domino, Greg Allman and being charitable because it’s the holiday season David Cassidy; comedians Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Charlie Murphy and Dick Gregory; the only other columnist in NY worth reading other than me, Jimmy Breslin; former heavy weight champion Jake LaMotta; and miscellaneous celebrities Della Reese, the Honorable Joseph Wapner, former CIA agent Chuck Barris, the sybarite Hugh Hefner, Monty Hall, Erin “Joanie” Moran; and sneaking in just under the wire Rose Marie, who like as not pushed someone over the finish line. Congratulations winners … I wrote last time about a particular type of fan – the sky is falling type – and this time I’m going to write about another. I’m not going to make this a habit – let’s face it if I spent all my time chronicling your collective shortcomings I’d end up typing with Ray McKegney’s gnarled hands – but this story has a moral, as opposed to my usual cheap mindless viciousness.
The ones I’m talking about here are fans who claim to have secret insight into the way the program is run. Understand I’m not talking about good-natured fellows like everyone’s favorite poster P___________ , who seems to be a well meaning fellow with legitimate access to the program who shares what he hears in a good-natured way and adds a for-what-it’s-worth at the end. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about fans who make vague allegations and allusions to rumors they claim to have heard about some bombshell that’s about to explode, secret info about this player or that situation, which player or situation they have the inside dope on but can’t really be too specific about because if they were they’d burn their deep-throat source, who at great risk to him (or her) self and career has given the dope an inside scoop, probably in code and using a series of drop boxes. Whereas in reality mostly these guys are just sad wankers with no sources and no information. I’d ask why people behave like this but I know the answer: they lack self esteem. Some have micro penises; some are Iona fans; some are Iona fans with micro penises. Just like the chicken littles I don’t begrudge them the way they go about their hobbies, just as I trust they don’t begrudge me the way I go about mine, one of which is pointing out other people’s shortcomings in an attempt to make myself look better by comparison. Which is what I’m doing here except that this story has as I said something of a moral. But first the story:
A poster this week in a well read St John’s fan forum posted as follows. He said in reference to Chris Mullin that
The reports on him that the refs file on him after each game are not pretty. Also, the fact in year 3 he does not even know their first names are not helping his situation.
Which is quite a remarkable assertion on a number of levels: first this poster claims he is conversant with official sounding “reports” that are filed by referees with presumably some referee-ing authority; that these reports are unflattering to Mullin; that the attitudes toward Mullin reflected in the reports affect the outcomes of games; and further that Mullin is penalized for not fraternizing with the referees and conversely that other coaches who do fraternize with the referees benefit therefrom. (Which if true might explain how Villanova played an entire game earlier this year without a single foul being called against them.)
Now what can we conclude from this. It could be that the guy is just a sad plonker with a micro penis, that there are no reports, or in the alternative that maybe there are reports but he hasn’t seen them: that is, that he just made the whole thing up. That’d be sad, but in this case that’s the best case. The worst case is that there are reports, that he’s privy to them – presumably such things are confidential – and that he’s correct: that there’s an on going conspiracy among Big East referees to rig the outcome of college basketball games against coaches they dislike personally. If that’s the case I’d hope this poster informs the league offices, and the NCAA and the FBI. Because these crooked referees aren’t harming just Chris Mullin: they’re harming the league and their employers and the NCAA, the student athletes whose games they’re adjudging, the fans who pay to watch the games and ultimately college athletics itself. Its one thing to have an incompetent like Tim Higgins make bad calls because he’s hung over, or to have an incompetent like Jim Burr make bad calls because he’s hung over and dumb as a rock. It’s quite another to engage in a systematic conspiracy to defraud a sizable number of innocents and in doing so to affect the outcome of a sporting event upon which people wager. Which is quite possibly a felony under federal law and if this guy knows about it and doesn’t report it, that’s a felony too, misprision of felony as defined by 18 USCS § 4, which carries a max penalty of three years in the federal penitentiary. Advice to that poster: don’t drop the soap.
But we’ll never know, Because when I asked this poster for details on his lurid assertions – what exactly these reports comprise, how he access to them and so on he merely said “referees talk” and then refused to address the situation further. Which is par for the sad plonker course.
But I bring that up not to mock this dumb slob but to note that in St John’s five point loss to Seton Hall the Hall took twice as many free throws as St John’s (23 to 11) and made twice as many FT’s as St John’s (14 to 7); that St John’s was called for three technical fouls – one on the bench for god knows what, one on Mullin for jawing at the refs – which not for nothing but I used to sit behind Louie in Alumni Hall as a young impressionable lad and for a number of years thought that St John’s back court comprised two guards, one named FUCKING and the other BULLSHIT – and one on Tariq Owens for stepping to a Seton Hall player who’d just shoved a SJ player in the chest.
Which FT disparity I’d find highly suspect on the best of nights. But then I’m a bit of a paranoid. I do leave you with this however: this is a shot comparison between Kadeem Carrington and Bashir Ahmed. Carrington took 13 shots, 10 of them threes, for which he was awarded eight free throws. Bashir Ahmed took 14 shots, 10 of them moving toward the basket in his usual bull in a china shop fashion. Which for his effort he was awarded two free throws.
Which you have to admit is passing strange.