Tag Archives: history

Make Alibegovic Great Again

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HERE WE GO AGAIN: An old saw says that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And so here are we Saint John’s fans once again in November thinking optimistic thoughts about the program and here am I once again to dissuade you from them. I frankly am not looking forward to my task this year. When I started writing these things it was out of a sense of frustration with the fate of the only sports team that I follow with any sort of passion and a loathing for its awful coach, the repulsive Steve Lavin. But now Lavin is gone lo these many years and with him the stench of failure and of his players only one remains and in the meantime the prodigal son has returned and the fatted calf is slain and the pieces are in place and things frankly are looking up – or as far up as things look in Jamaica anyway. And so what’s a boy to do? Sure I’m a cynic but not so far gone that I’m going to trash Chris Mullin and honestly even the skeptic in me believes that happy days will be here sooner rather than later. Where that leaves this experiment I am not sure and for the time being I’ll proceed in good faith but I suspect a time is coming when I’ll be happy enough to just watch the games and leave the commentary to the many genyiouses who so generously share their wisdom on various SJU forums … About what to expect this year I have not too much to say having only seen now 80 minutes of basketball, which is not enough for even the most astute observer to form an opinion. I will admit though that what little I’ve seen leaves me cautiously pessimistic: the newcomers look all of them like the real thing, the returnees look bigger and stronger, the staff looks energetic and engaged and the recruiting is better than it’s been forever. It’s probably too soon for any of that to translate to success on the court – college basketball being one of the few endeavors in life where age often trumps beauty – but it would be nice to see this year when all things shake out double the win total from last year (~16), a mid pack finish in the Big East, and an NIT bid, which is not an outlandish expectation considering that Chris Mullin is the coach and New York the television market. But as I say almost every year in November, wait till next year bums … About this game I have little to say as well: they ate the cupcake and although it was delicious there are no lessons in the empty calories. We’ll have a pretty good idea of how things are going to be by Thanksgiving, once Tom Izzo gets through with us … On my television last night Mullin’s hair was the same color as Frank Costanza’s. Hopefully that was an aberration and not a dye job

PLAYERS: Speaking of the real thing, Marcus Lovett did not start, despite being the best player on the court last night. Was it just one of those things or was Coach Lavin Mullin trying to teach his young point guard an important life lesson. I don’t know but if the latter get the orange jumpsuit ready … Federico Mussini had 20 points in 18 minutes, gladdening the hearts of racists everywhere. I’d remind those people that last year Mussini made 30 percent of his total threes (16 of 56) in November versus D2 competition, so I wouldn’t get too excited just yet. To be fair to FM he looks bigger and firmer and more athletic than he did last year, although I’ve seen fence posts that look more athletic than he did last year and he still this year can’t cover a pillar … Tariq Owens continues to impress although he’s going to have to manage more than four puny rebounds to make anyone forget Christian Jones, who had 13 last night versus real D1 competition … Shamorie Ponds led all players with 26 minutes and looked not much like a freshman doing so …. Bashmir Ahmed on the other hand played only 18 and looked to be pressing … At first thought I was disappointed that fun fave Kassoum Yawke only played 20 minutes and didn’t do much of anything with them but then I remembered just how young he is and what a luxury it is to be able to bring gifted players along slowly, rather than just throwing them to the dogs … Sima had 11 points in 15 minutes, confounding those who are already predicting his transfer … Like Mussini Malik Ellison looks bigger and stronger this year and seems poised to take a step forward … Richard Fredenburg will have to do better than zero points in 23 minutes if he expects me to learn how to spell his name …. Speaking of spelling, Alibegovic had a nice put back immediately upon entering the game and did a nice job of waving his towel thereafter. Anything they get from him beyond that will be a bonus … Darien Williams spent garbage time looking like someone whose had a bunch of surgeries and hasn’t played ball in a couple of years.

NOTES: Friday was Veteran’s Day, a public holiday intended to memorialize those who have served in their nations military, even, presumably, Germans. To those volk folk we offer a humble and heart felt thanks. Veteran’s Day falls on November 11 because the first world war – that’d be the war to end all wars for those scoring at home – ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1919, when the Huns surrendered to the Allies in a railway car in the North of France. (Ever the kidder Hitler had the French surrender in the very same railway car 30 years later.) In the United States the holiday was first promulgated by then President Woodrow Wilson, who besides being generally acknowledged as the first political “progressive” was the worst president of the 20th century and is on the short list for the worst president ever: an unrepentant racist, Wilson segregated the federal government, firing most black government employees – like most progressives he thought blacks “an ignorant and inferior race” – and consigned those who remained to colored bathrooms; in his memoirs he described the Ku Klux Klan as a “great” organization designed to “preserve the white race” and segregation as “a great benefit” to the negro; not content with that legacy he presided over the creation of the Federal Reserve system, instituted the first federal income tax, jailed his political enemies for treason and gleefully passed while as governor of New Jersey a bill requiring compulsory sterilization of felons, the mentally ill, and the differently abled. Add that all up and he makes Jimmy Carter look like Pericles … Speaking of politics, Theo R_______ (not his real name) writes:

Fun, could you share your thoughts on the recent election? As a millennial and a progressive I’m devastated and could use some solace.

Well sure Theo, I’d be delighted.

Louis Brandeis wrote that the right most cherished by civilized men is the right to be left alone. By that he meant that the essence of liberty is the right to opt out: from people, from relationships, from community, from ultimately from civilization. And so although I have firm opinions about the body politic – my belief that humanity is a dung heap and history the story of those who were ambitious enough to scale it has me positioned politically just to the right of Caligula – I’ve never voted. And this election was no different. Instead of participating I’ve endeavored to arrange my life so that it’s unaffected by the vagaries of government. I have no children and few attachments and enough money to tithe the state and afford my vices and since I’m interested in practically nothing other than my own comfort it doesn’t much matter which partisan hacks are ravening at the public teat at any given moment. All I want is to be left alone and for the most part I’ve achieved that.

Which is why I was pretty surprised late Tuesday evening when I realized how extremely unhappy I was going to be if Hillary Clinton were elected president. It wasn’t just the idea of living in a country governed by a cheap pant-suited grifter who’s spent her adult life feeding at the public trough in the name of public service. It wasn’t even that she’s married to a serial rapist and has a daughter that looks like Mister Ed. No. It was much more than that. Because by failing to elect Donald J. Trump president of the United States my fellow Americans would be squandering the opportunity to make so very many people so very fucking miserable and opportunities like that only come around a couple of times in a lifetime.

Mind you, I’m not talking about just the public mortification facing the likes of appalling no talent blowhards like Cher and Alec Baldwin, corpulent fuckhead Michael Moore, no talent whores Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, obese cum dumpsters Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer, rug munchers Rosie O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow, banana nosed bozo Barbra Streisand, ignorant fucking slut Madonna, and various smug and sanctimonious left wing stooges like Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sean Penn, Ed Asner, Jane Fonda, Woody Harrelson, Jessica Lange, Norman Lear, Martin Sheen, and Oliver Stone. And neither do I mean the disappointment felt by herds of coddled youth of the stupidest generation who flooded the internet with hilarious heart wrenching videos of their weeping disappointment before fleeing to safe spaces where they could share their feelings with grief counselors and assuage their disappointment with play doh and coloring books.

(Fans of irony will relish the fact that these ministrations to the feelings of the current generation of delicate snowflakes occurred on the eve of a holiday dedicated to remembering the bravery their great grandparents displayed storming the beaches of Normandy and will swoon with delight at the idea of millennial comparisons of the disappointment they experienced on 11-9 to real events that happened on 9-11.)

No: it was much bigger than all that.

See, it all came to me right about 2:00 AM, watching DemonRat toadies Wolf Blitzer and Van Jones frantically trying to parse their way to a Clinton win in the electoral college: I suddenly flashed on Hitler in his bunker pushing nonexistent Panzer divisions across a map of Eastern Europe. And it came to me that come morning whole continents would erupt in a glorious symphony of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth: dog faced PM Angela Merkel and her Germanic hordes; Canadian Prime Minster Zoolander and the myriad citizens of his third world hamster in a wheel socialist shit hole; entire nations of stinky cowardly frogs, murderous Huns and Cossacks, pathetic impotent Swedes and Sprouts, various rag and towel heads; and lest we forget those one billion inscrutable Orientals who’ve been buying up our country for the past 20 years, all of them singing in one voice: we are the world, we are the disconsolate, waa! Because there’s only one thing that’s sweeter than the feeling that comes from good things happening to me and that’s other people’s fucking misery. So take solace Theo: you might not feel so good but there are many many other people who feel worse, and that’s always cause for celebration. And if you worry about all the concentration camp fantasmagories that terrify you about the new president just remember that nothing that he could ever imagine doing will ever reach the depths plumbed by Woodrow Wilson and they’re still naming public buildings after that guy. So god bless America and god bless President Donald J. Trump. Schwing!

 

 

I Know Nothing

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GAME: It’s a shame I quit smoking, because I always enjoyed a Camel after a vigorous fucking like the one Saint John’s received Sunday afternoon at the Madison Square, where they lost to Seton Hall 62-61. As usual I taped the game but figured things were not going well when Desi Rodriguez started trending on Twitter. And it turned out that Twitter – a communication platform that surreptitiously buries ideas with which it has philosophical disagreement – was for once not lying. Things started out poorly for SJU and Rodriguez was definitely trending: SJU was down 13-0, then 21-5, then by 18 and then by 14 at the half, by which point Rodriguez had already reached a career high in points. And then a remarkable thing happened: Saint John’s clawed back into it and what might have been one of the more memorable comebacks in recent memory was only thwarted when Isiah Whitehead was awarded two free throws for elbowing a Saint John’s player in the head during a scrum under the basket with 5 seconds left. It was a tough loss in a tough season, and although I am chagrined that in the aftermath a second scrum erupted at half court, I am not surprised that frustration turned to violence. Consider that of the points that Seton Hall scored in the last ten minutes of the half, 80 percent were free throws; they accomplished one field goal. Consider that Whitehead scored 10 points, despite being 1 for 12 from the floor: if everyone who went 1 for 12 from the floor was accorded the same deference Phil Greene would be the 3rd leading scorer in SJU history. Oh well. SJU will soon be well equipped enough that the referees won’t matter and I am comforted by a recent quote from Chris Mullin, who said that he is filing away every loss and that he fully expects to exact retribution. Kevin Willard had best gird his loins, if in fact rodents have loins …. To be honest this was not a game SJU should have won or even been in. They shot 40 percent from the floor and 20 percent from three and 10-24 from the free throw line and had 20 turnovers. That’s about 30 points give or take that they gave away … Tarik Turner – described for some reason by Tim Brando as “a Saint John’s great” at the game’s outset – was babbling about Seton Hall’s NCAA tournament chances. I’d give odds they’re out the first weekend and a fist fight erupts in the locker room afterwards. Takers?

PLAYERS: Yawke had 16 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks against an NCAA tournament front line. For those of you scoring at home, he should still be in high school … Mvouika had only 6 points but 8 rebounds, a bunch of those in a row at the beginning of the first half when SJ began its comeback … Durand Johnson had 9 points in 18 minutes but missed a crucial free throw at game’s end. To his credit it was he who allegedly tried to punch Whitehead’s nose during the handshake line. Hopefully he caught some skin … Federico Mussini – according to many knowledgeable fans the best shooter SJU has seen since Chris Mullin – had three points. At this rate it will only take him 800 more college games to move into first place on the all-time scoring list. Good luck Freddy … With Saint John’s up one with the ball with 30 seconds left putative point guard Malik Ellison bounced the ball off his own ankle out of bounds rather than call a time out. Not content with that he fouled Whitehead 40 feet from the basket to allow the game winning free throws. Fortunately freshman rarely get worse … Felix Balamou had a certifiable balls-in-your-face Sports Center dunk over some poor bastard who’s name I did not catch. Unfortunately when he wasn’t doing that he was air-balling free throws and crying to the referees … If the last play was drawn up to allow Sima to lose his dribble and then throw the ball in the general direction of the basket after the shot clock expired he had an excellent game. Otherwise not so much … Christian Jones played, as did Amar Alibegowick. The latter played worse. Much worse.

NOTES: I’ve been off the grid for a while and many thanks to those of you who’ve written inquiring after my well-being. The fact is that I was pretty bored with the whole enterprise. This year is essentially about waiting until next and unless you’re Sam Beckett there’s not a lot of fodder in waiting. Imagine walking into the DMV and seeing a line out the door and instead of resigning yourself to sitting around you tasked yourself with writing an endless series of essays about how slow the second hand was moving. Fuck that. I tried to answer most of your emails personally but even today they are still coming over the transom. In fact I got one today which I’d like to answer now.

Dear Fun. You are an excellent debater and nearly impossible to best in a fair competition based upon facts and logic. Do you have any advice for a world-be debater about to start his college career as a Blue Hen. Best, Jack Williams (not his real name.)

Dear Jack. Thanks for the kind words. To be a quality debater one must have a keen grasp of the subject matter, logic and rhetoric; the discipline to maintain a sense of perspective; and a sense of humor can’t hurt. A second approach is to stalk your opponent over the internet, post the personal details of his life in public, use a photograph of his mailbox as your avatar in a basketball forum, and casually mention that you know where his wife works, wink wink. Because it’s pretty hard to argue with logic like that. Best wishes, fun (not my real name).

… Another reader writes:

Fun, you often provide in the Notes section amusing anecdotes about the college that Saint John’s is playing but never about Saint John’s. What gives.

Dear reader, good point, an omission I’d to rectify now.

Vincent de Paul Lynch was born near Love Canal NY in 1927. In 1944 he lied about his age and joined the Navy to serve in World War II. After helping to defeat Hitler he was granted an honorable discharge and took advantage of the GI Bill to earn three Bachelor of Science Degrees, one each in biology, chemistry, and pharmacology. He went on to receive Masters and Doctorate degrees in Pharmacology and was named a professor at St. John’s University in 1958. In 1961 he was appointed Chair of the Department of Allied Sciences. Right around 1970 – about the time he founded the first degree program in toxicology in the US and with his much younger wife pregnant – Doctor Lynch was diagnosed with cancer. He took a semester sabbatical and after a number of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, returned to his teaching duties, having mentioned his health issues to no one, not even Bill Rafferty on national television every chance he got. He was named Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1972 and Chair of the SJU’s Institutional Review Board in 1974. He served in those positions until his cancer returned and killed him in 1984. He was 57. Among his other accomplishments, Dr. Lynch cofounded the Society of Forensic Toxicologists; was editor of the International Congress of Pharmacology; was editor of the Journal of Analytic Toxicology; and was a member of the Editorial Board of Research Communications in Substance Abuse. He served as Toxicological Examiner for the NYC Civil Service Commission from 1965 until his death; on the NY State Drug Abuse Control Commission, the NY State Senate Committee on Crime, the NY State Assembly Committee on Health, and the NY State Joint Legislative Committee on Drug Abuse. He served on various boards of directors, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Greater New York; Queens Children’s Hospital; the NY Metropolitan Transit Authority; the Nassau County Poison Control Center; the NYC Poison Control Center; and the NYC Department of Health. In between that he delivered hundreds of public lectures on substance abuse to students, community organizations, and law enforcement and published more than 50 scholarly articles and book chapters on subjects as diverse as inhalation therapy (you’re welcome asthma sufferers) , the effects of various toxicants, poison detection, myocardial infarction, cardiopulmonary dynamics, and serum cholesterol. All of which sounds to me like a life pretty well lived and that’s not even taking into account his greatest accomplishment: me. Because he was my father. He died 33 years ago this month, bequeathing to his son a box of musty books, the Irish gene, and a Mossberg over under 12 gauge I keep loaded by the front door to discourage bears, Jehovah Witnesses, and other unwanted guests. I mention this because there have been for several months now lies posted about Doctor Lynch in a Saint John’s basketball forum by a poster who has personal issues with your humble author. This poster lacks the rhetorical skills to defend his positions, the perspective to see that his behavior is despicable, and the sense of humor that would allow him to laugh at himself when he is shown to be ridiculous. And so instead he slanders the memory of a man dead lo these many years who dedicated his life to the university this poster allegedly loves. He thought by publishing this calumny to hurt my feelings. What he failed to consider is that I barely have feelings anymore and anyway I barely knew Doctor Lynch when he was alive: I was not a man when he died and probably am not still. Lacking perspective this poster thinks that by his alleged revelations he can diminish the contribution Dr. Lynch made to Saint John’s and to the community at large. What he fails to realize is that all he reveals are the deficiencies in his own character and all he diminishes is his own spirit . So to him, a heartfelt go fuck yourself, and get well soon … Ironically I was recently digitizing a bunch of cassette tapes I had lying around the basement before they turned to dust. One of them was an appearance by Doctor Lynch on an early morning call in show hosted by Bob Crane, aka Colonel Hogan of Stalag 13. It turns out that he and Crane had the same hobby: photography. Those of you familiar with Crane’s sordid death will know that in his case his love of photography derived from a fascination with pornography, promiscuity and voyeurism. I don’t know whether Doctor Lynch’s interest stemmed from the same perversions, but in retrospect I kind of hope so. And if it’s true that the apple does not fall far from the tree it’s nearly a certainty.

… And on that note

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cock Games

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It wasn’t a bad game, Saint John’s loss to South Carolina 75-61. Of course it wasn’t a good game either, but there’s a big difference between rolling over like a bitch to some Division One Johnny come lately on the one hand and getting ground down by a more experienced more talented team on the other, the other being what happened at Mohegan Sun on Tuesday night. Not being delusional I didn’t expect them to win and so have to settle for being pleased that at least they bothered to show up, which has not been the case always this year … Once again the numbers were not kind to Saint John’s: they shot 45 percent from the floor, 25 percent from three (5 for 20) and an astounding 12 for 27 from the free throw line, where they are now shooting .63 percent as a team for the year – only Mussini, Johnson and Balamou are above 70 percent. And they were outrebounded by nearly double, 43-26. That’s not going to beat too many people and certainly not a South Carolina team that shot nearly 50 percent from the floor and even higher from three, which is the second or third time this year that a team has shot a better percentage from farther away from the basket than closer to it, which you wouldn’t think is possible, unless you’d watched Saint John’s guards not play defense, in which case you might … The real games start New Year’s Eve versus Creighton. For the superstitious among you Saint John’s has not won a game (0-5) on December 31st in the Twenty-First Century. So either they’re due or they’re cursed. I’m guessing it’s the latter.

PLAYERS: Lazy and shiftless Durand Johnson (16 and 5) once again led the team in scoring and rebounding… I was informed this week by a knowledgeable basketball fan that Federico Mussini is the best shooter Saint John’s has had since Chris Mullin, despite which pronouncement Mussini missed all seven threes he took, which makes him now 9 for 46 (.19) this month outside of the Syracuse game. Based on those numbers he’s not even the best shooter since Terrance Mullin … I suspect that once again the plus minus does not flatter Malik Ellison, who was oh for 6 from the floor. It’s unclear to me why he plays at all, much less the minutes he does at the expense of Ron Mvouika. I guess maybe they’re letting him take a beating now rather than down the road or maybe Pervis has photos of Mullin in flagrante with a six-pack of hard cider. Obviously it’s much too soon to write Ellison off but it wouldn’t bother me if I did not see him play again for a while …. The rest of them did stuff, but none of it noteworthy enough for me to even bother reciting. What am I a box score?

NOTES: Unlike many SJU fans I don’t have moles or sources who feed me scoops and insider information but I did hear when Norm was let go that Frank Martin – resplendent last night in a three piece pinstripe suit from the Benny Blanco from the Bronx collection – was being considered as a possible replacement. Alas that did not come to pass, partly I suspect based upon his how should I put this delicately, fiery Latin disposition. Because he’s a bit of a psychopath. According to Martin’s Wikipedia entry he was drawn to coaching when as “a bouncer at a local nightclub .. he was subjected to gunfire while on duty,” which I don’t see the career trajectory there but maybe it’s just me. After a high school career that saw Martin have one of his state championships vacated for recruiting violations, Martin ended up at Cinncinnati where he studied at the vomit splattered feet of Bob Huggins, who he followed to Kansas State and eventually replaced as head coach … Speaking of guns and heinous criminals, the game was called by Doug Gottlieb, who’s awful. But it turns out there’s something Gottlieb – who said many dumb things last night, the dumbest being that “Amar Alibegovic is a tremendous shooter,” which, no he isn’t – knows less about than college basketball. Gottlieb tweeted this week relative to his views on gun control that the right to bear arms is a chimera because the Bill of Rights is not part the US Constitution, a statement of such monstrous ignorance that it boggles the mind. Perhaps if Gottlieb had not gotten expelled from Notre Dame for stealing from his classmates he might have been afforded the opportunity to take a civics class, and then would not be so completely ignorant of history, the law, and liberty … The halftime crew included the unctuous Jon Rothstein, who exudes all the sincerity of an Albanian kidney broker, Wally Sczcerbiak’s terrifying eyebrows, a giantess called Dana and someone of whom I’ve never heard called Swin Cash (pictured above) whose sentence starting “If I were Frank Martin” I completed “I’d bang Frank Martin” but fortunately Mrs. Fun was in the kitchen baking cookies and didn’t hear me.

 

 

Maui Wowie

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Saint John’s defeated Chaminade University 100-93 in the battle for 7th place in the Maui Classic Wednesday afternoon in Hawaii. That they won the game is not surprising: they’ve already proven this preseason that they’re as good as any Division 2 team in the country. How they won was a bit of a shocker. This is the first time I can remember in quite a while they they’ve scored 100 points and this is the most points they’ve scored in a game since the 93-78 spanking they gave #3 Duke in 2011. Of course the bad news is that they gave up 93 points to a D2 school, which perhaps not a good portent moving forward. Still a win’s a win and anybody who’s not happy at 4-2 six games into what is probably going to be a long season, well there’s just no pleasing some people … SJU went out to an early 15-3 lead and was up 59-42 at the half – as a team they shot 77 percent from the field in the first half, including 9 of 12 from three. Which is somewhat unlike them. They stretched the second half lead to 18 at the 16 minute mark, at which point they got complacent and let Chaminade back into it. Eventually they’ll develop a killer instinct and that won’t be an issue, but it was Wednesday: Chaminade got it to within 6 with under a minute to play, but for a change they made their free throws to seal it … For the game SJU shot 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from three – again, unlike them – and had 21 assists; they had only 400 all of last year. They had 6 players in double figures, which I don’t remember that happening in a while either. Once again the defense was subpar – Chaminade shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three – which makes three games in a row now that they’ve gotten lit up. That is like them and a trend I expect to continue, because they don’t cover anybody … Rumor has it that four star recruit Kassoum Yawke was declared eligible by the NCAA this afternoon, which is good news if true. Because at SJU there is no silver lining without a cloud, various great minds are now debating whether he should be redshirted, and of course the answer is no. In the first place, you’d be hard pressed to name Saint John’s player in recent memory who’s benefited from the redshirt and in fact most of them have either not gotten any better or have gotten completely screwed. In the second, they’re already shorthanded and I’ve spent enough time over the past 15 years watching the walk-ons play. And finally, this is not a program that has the luxury of waiting around for their delicate blossoms to flower. Put the kid on the court and let him play. It’s probably not going to make much of a difference this year but the experience is likely to pay dividends in a couple of years when it might matter.

PLAYERS: One good thing about being shorthanded, it makes this part a breeze … From the shows what I know department: Amar Ablavocovih had what was by light years the best game of his career and if I had to bet, his life: 17 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. A couple more like this and I might even learn how to spell his name … Mussini had 24 points – 16 in the first half including 5 of 6 from three – and 6 assists … Jones had 17 points and 11 rebounds but turned the ball over five times …Durand Johnson had 17 points and seems to be finding his stroke a little bit, or maybe it was the competition, who knows. His four FTs late sealed it …Mvouika had 12 and fouled out. I think that’s the first one this year, which makes sense considering that none of them play defense … Holyfield played little and contributed less

NOTES: Three recaps in three days. Who do these people think I am? Stephen King? … After displaying the patience of a saint for what must have been an interminable three days, John Sciambi finally snapped. He spent most of the game openly mocking nearly everything that came out of Walton’s mouth, and with good reason: because Bill Walton is a babbling idiot … Chaminade University is named for William Joseph Chaminade, a Roman Catholic cleric who had the misfortune of living in France during the French Revolution. I’d describe as unfortunate most people who lived in France at any time, but life during the revolution was particularly abominable: at the outset 40 thousand people were murdered over the course of little more than a year, many of whom had their heads lopped off via the guillotine by the inaptly named Committee of Public Safety for crimes against the state. Contrary to popular mythology most of those killed were peasants, and most of those peasants were killed for the crime of hoarding – an odd charge to levy against someone who presumably has little or nothing to begin with. After the Terror ended Chaminade returned from exile in Spain and founded the Marianist order, the point of which seems to have been to convert heathens to the ways of the one and true god, which is how they ended up doing missionary work in faraway Hawaii. Chaminade was proposed for beatification in the early 19th century but came up a tad short in the miracle department and had to settle for the designation Venerable, which is only about halfway to the right hand of the Father. It’s hard to take issue with the decision of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, because frankly some of these alleged miracles sound a bit sketchy. For example, one Rachel Baumgartner – whose name sounds to me suspiciously Jewish – claimed that her inoperable tumor disappeared after she attended a ceremony dedicated to Chaminade’s memory. But it seems like something of a cruel joke for a beneficent God to have cured her cancer only to cast her into the depths of fiery hell with the rest of the chosen people for her failure to accept Christ as her personal savior. So I tend to disbelieve her testimony … I’ve been going to the well with the famous alumni thing with pretty good results but came up empty with Chaminade. No one I ever heard of graduated from there – there was a William Faulkner but it turned out not to be the writer, just some guy. The real Faulkner went to Ole Miss. The Marianists do however also operate Chaminade High School in Mineola, which boasts as graduates Senator Pothole, Alfonse D’Amato; Brian Dennehy, whose moving portrayal of clown killer John Wayne Gacy earned him one of six Emmy nominations; Glen Hughes, the leather clad guy from the Village People; the great George Kennedy, who was in everything from Cool Hand Luke and the Dirty Dozen to the Naked Gun; Bill McKillop, who unfortunately could not recruit above 125th street; and phone sex aficionado Bill O’Reilly, former anchor of the hard hitting news show A Current Affair, a sample of whose work can be seen below.

 

Who’s Lavin Now?

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 (Ed note: I wrote a beautiful and frenzied 3000 word essay post press conference Wednesday afternoon which disappeared from my computer when I hit with my elbow by mistake some key on my keyboard. Poof it went. I’ve been writing for 30 years and have never had that happen ever and still don’t know how it could have. Not even an auto-save version remained. It goes without saying that I smashed the keyboard into little bits and then jumped up and down on its remains to make sure that it was dead and when Michael Dell dies I’ll go piss on his grave. I have a new cordless Logitech now, upon which I have typed this poor recreation of that essay, for which I apologize in advance.)

In 2001 I won a national handicapping competition sponsored by the Daily Racing Form. I won by picking the winner of the last race of the contest, the Breeder’s Cup Classic held that year at Belmont Park: Tiznow defeated the Eurotrash champion Sahkee by a nose, and I still cannot 15 years later watch that race without tearing up. “Tiznow wins it for America” Tom Durkin said, six weeks after the towers came down. It was the greatest day of my life and unless I build a machine capable of transporting me back in time to 1950 so I can bang Lana Turner I don’t expect to top it.

I once told the long suffering Missus Fun – no slouch herself – that December 7th  (our anniversary, a day that will live in infamy geddit?) was the second greatest day of my life. It’s the sort of thing you say, right? When Lavin was hired I told her she was bumped down to number three. That’s how excited I was by the prospect of my beloved sad sack Saint John’s Redmen returning to college basketball prominence. Or relevance. Or at least not sucking. Three years ago, after watching Steve Lavin coach basketball for two years I told her Missus Fun that she was back to number two. Because Steve Lavin sucks.

In many ways Lavin’s tenure was more disappointing than the one that preceded it. It was pretty clear from the outset that Norm was never going to get it done. Besides being only vaguely qualified for the job he was coaching in the best basketball conference in history against the greatest collection of college basketball minds ever assembled. He had no chance. Whereas not only had Lavin previously had success at the highest levels of college basketball, but he was recruiting at a level not seen at Saint John’s since the 1990s and was surrounded by a top notch and expensive staff of assistants; and perhaps most importantly the team had dropped in class to a basketball only conference, in which almost any nincompoop could have been competitive. He was competing against Oliver Purnell and Kevin Willard for Christ sake, not Jim Calhoun. But as I am wont to say, if you have no expectations you are never disappointed. And that was the problem with Lavin and why I grew to despise him. He could have succeeded. And he might have, if he wasn’t so dumb and lazy.

But dumb he was, and as it turns out, complacent. As to the former, that’s congenital. He is just not very smart. That’s genetics and there’s nothing to be done about it. The latter though is something else entirely. Steve Lavin did not have fire in his belly: he was happy to be good enough and by being so achieved his goal: he did not fail miserably. Maybe it’s because he was the youngest child; the literature’s there, read it. Maybe it’s because he suffers – as I’ve demonstrated over the course of two years – from histrionic personality disorder. Maybe it had to do with being handed things his entire life: the UCLA gig and ESPN and all the money and broads and accolades that celebrity brings. Or maybe it came later – maybe it was his cancer and Cap dying and the sort of existential angst that the thought of mortality engenders amongst the vapid when they reach middle age, when they have not yet before considered the road to nowhere. But for whatever the reason, Lavin just didn’t care anymore. Consider:

Steve Lavin stated publicly that as a college basketball coach whose only job it was to win college basketball games that he felt no pressure to win college basketball games. Imagine. Imagine that you manage a salesforce and one of your salesmen says he is under no pressure to make sales. Or that you are a principal and one of your teachers said that he was under no pressure to have his students learn. The mind boggles. Imagine further that your salesman or teacher showed up for work in a sweat suit. A fucking sweat suit. Steve Lavin’s alleged mentor John Wooden put on suit and ironed his tie before he took a shit. Whereas Steve Lavin showed up for interviews on national TV wearing gym clothes. Mark my words: if he’d been extended he would have next year coached in a bathrobe and flip flops.

Now that I’ve finished a discussion of Lavin’s virtues, let me tell you what I didn’t like about him, because I’ve come to bury Lavin, not to praise him: the worst thing about Steve Lavin was that Steve Lavin could talk.

Which means that the single best thing about Steve Lavin not coaching SJU anymore is that never again will I have to listen to him babble while watching his ginormous head balance precariously atop his rapidly expanding pasta belly. I will never have to listen to him spout left coast psychobabble about his team’s journey or ride up the mountain or hill. There will be nothing about unicorns, Energizer bunnies, Tasmanian devils or other arcane forms of life. Nothing about salt and pepper and sharing the sugar or other condiments. Nothing about arduous journeys, magic carpet rides, or baby steps. No more hammers will be hitting rocks. Nothing about Mister Myagi. No more John Wooden or Pete Newell. No more about his fucking prostate. No more February (for the rubes in the audience Steve Lavin was 10-25 at Saint John’s in meaningful season ending games in his SJU career). In short: no more bullshit, no more lies and especially – especially – no more fucking excuses. Quote the Lavin, nevermore.

Steve Lavin has many problems, but they all boil down to one thing: he’s from California. He’s not one of us, he’s one of them. He came from a state that’s in the main peopled by mellow extroverted assholes in Bermuda shorts all of whom are right now as we speak either taking a meeting or getting a pedicure. And rather than adapting to NY and adopting the greatest city in the world as his home Lavin wanted to transplant his vacuous west coast lifestyle here. You could see it in the big things – the pop psychology psycho twaddle , the star fucking, the insouciance – and in the little things – giving preference to west coast walk-ons as opposed to local talent and scheduling pre-season cupcakes from Northern California rather than the menu of local delicacies that Louie feasted on for lo those many years. The bottom line is that not only was Lavin not one of us but that he did not care to be one of us. He did not even like us. He was a tourist who looked down on the local peasants while all the while frequenting the local whorehouse. Well, fuck Steve Lavin. Good bye and good riddance.

***

I broke the bad news to Missus Fun the other day: she’s back to number three. And maybe even number four. Because Saint John’s has hired Chris Mullin as its new head basketball coach. Obviously Mullin is to all of us Saint John’s fans an iconic figure: the greatest player bar none in school history, a NBA all-star, an Olympian, a member of the basketball hall of fame. And he was to fans of a certain age even more special because he was like us a local kid and he was, like us, slow, un-athletic, and probably most importantly, white. But to me there is something more. I am now an unpleasant curmudgeon who views the world with despair and disgust and on my good days, indifference. I do not expect anything to turn out right at all ever and in the main the only satisfaction I feel is when bad things happen to other people. But I was not always this way – not that I was ever a ray of sunshine – but there were times when I had, I don’t know, hope I guess. And one of the things I had hope about was Saint John’s and one of the things that gave me hope was Chris Mullin. It sounds stupid when you say it out loud, but fuck it, sports is stupid. I’m a Detroit Lion fan. I bet maiden claiming races at Aqueduct in February. Truth be told I filled out a Yahoo bracket that had Saint John’s beating Kentucky for the national championship. You know what they say: inside every cynic is a dead romantic. Chris Mullin means something and what he means is almost mythic or archetypal. There isn’t a god, but if there was and he played basketball, he’d wear number 20.

There was much to admire watching Chris Mullin conduct himself at Wednesday’s press conference. Leave aside the basketball – that he’s going to study and learn, that his team’s will be prepared and in shape, that he will relentlessly recruit in a city that despite all the nonsense from the naysayers still regularly produces some of the best college basketball players in the country; and that his players will represent the university with the dignity befitting its mission in the community. I have no doubt that Chris Mullin is going to succeed at the basketball end of it: he has never failed at basketball before. What was most striking was that there was evident in Mullin a love for his hometown; a reverence for the university and its traditions and the program and Lou; and a sense of personal honor and rectitude. But the single most telling thing was when Mullin said that he felt an obligation to take the job, that he owed a duty to those who had come before him and to those who would come after. Chris Mullin believes it is a privilege to coach at Saint John’s – in contrast to Steve Lavin, who thought Saint John’s lucky to have him as its coach. It might even have been that when Mullin spoke those words I teared up. Okay, I did. And that’s coming from someone who didn’t cry when his parents died. Although that might not be a fair comparison, because I don’t hate Chris Mullin. But you get the point.

So where does that leave us? Well, I guess I’m all in: I’m wearing rose-colored glasses and drinking Koolaid from a glass half-full. I asked randomly the other day: how the fuck am I going to make fun of Chris Mullin. And the answer is, I’m not. Evidently I’m going to have to find some new material.

In the pink colors:

 

 

 

PU

jimmie-walker

RECAP: Defending champion Providence University took the first incremental or baby step up the mountain or incline towards defending their BET title by humiliating or mortifying Saint John’s 74-57 on Saint John’s home court Thursday afternoon. The bad news is that Saint John’s has had the shit kicked out them two games in a row. The good news is that said kicking of shit doesn’t really matter much: they’re still getting their name called selection Sunday and they’re still a middling seed. All that matters now is the draw and it couldn’t have changed all that much despite how badly they were beaten. How poorly they played may well be another matter, but fortunately they have master motivator Steve Lavin on the sidelines to sort all of that out .. Saint John’s was ahead 7-0 and cruising towards a blow out when the floor caved in. Or the roof. Or when the sky fell. Choose your own metaphor, it’s fun. At about the 16 minute mark Providence stopped dribbling the ball off their own feet and throwing the ball out of bounds and started playing basketball and Saint John’s obliged them by stopping. Instead Saint John’s started missing their shots, all of them, and not by a little either, by an enormous amount: by rough count a third of their shots over the next 10 minutes were air balls, which resulted in a 30-6 PU run and a 13 point halftime lead. And if it hadn’t been for the referees it might have been much worse. (Many of those calls were by Pat Driscoll, who if he isn’t already on the SJU payroll, might be looking for a paycheck. He’s awful. Nice hair though.) After a rousing halftime speech by Steve Lavin a newly energized Jamal Branch kicked the ball out of bounds on SJU’s first possession and it was downhill from there. Saint John’s made a couple of mini-runs to get it within 9 or so but invariably they made some boneheaded play that allowed PU to spurt away again. In the long run this loss – despite its proportions – might have been the best thing that could have happened: at least now they can rest up and get their heads right. The rumor is that they play their best basketball with their back to the wall. As tenor baritone soprano bass alto sax player Charlie Parker once said, now’s the time … Steve hammer-to-rock play-your-best-basketball-in March Lavin is now 1-4 in the BET at SJU, 1-2 in the NIT and 0-1 in the NCAA, for a grand total of 2-7 in the post season. To that extent he is a worthy heir to Louie and is rapidly becoming part of the great SJU coaching tradition … So what does this all mean looking ahead? Who knows. Ever the contrarian I’d rather go into the NCAA tournament having lost two games by a combined total of 52 points, as has Saint John’s, than having won two games by 72, as has Villanova, or being undefeated, as is Kentucky. For me the prognosis remains unchanged. Saint John’s is not a team I’d want to play in the tournament and they’re just as likely to get bounced in the first round as they are to make the round of sixteen. As a lifelong SJU fan if I had to bet I’d bet on the first round bounce, but on the bright side if you have no expectations you’re never disappointed.

PLAYERS: Jordan gets the game ball by default – besides Joey De La Rosa he was about the only player who showed up. To the extent that they were ever in it he kept them there: 18 points, most of those from the free throw line. And to the extent that the game was entertaining it was entertaining to the extent of watching he and Kris Dunn – who’s already too good to be playing college basketball, good grief – trading punches briefly in the second half. I’ve been saying for a while now that this team is only going to go as far as Jordan takes them. If I’m right – and let’s face it I usually am – they’re not going to go very far … Joey De La Rosa got a couple of rebounds and a couple of points and even a block. It’s just a shame he’s not a freshman, he might be a player in two or three years … Oh dear, the rest of them … Harrison was off early and you could see that it got in his head. He’s 9 for 32 over the past two years in the BET. Hopefully he gets straight and goes out on a good note. On the bright side he was named to the all BE first team again this week, joining only Marcus Hatten, Malik Sealy, Chris Mullin and Mark Jackson as repeat SJU honorees … Phil Greene hit his first shot and then commenced a relentless attempt to shatter the backboard with a variety of thunderous misses, several of which avoided the rim entirely. Never fear though he got his mojo back in garbage time by nailing two threes to cut PU’s lead to 18 with 4 minutes left. No doubt he and his girlfriend flashed backed to his heroics in Syracuse several months ago, at least until a resounding CLANK awoke them from their twin reveries. Finished 3 for 9 and 2 for 7 from three. In a game where 40 personal fouls were called Greene managed none, which seems remarkable until you remember that he doesn’t bother to play defense .. Jamal Branch started. By the 14 minute mark he’d displayed his entire skill set: he’d thrown several pointless no look passes, committed several fouls near the midcourt line and dribbled the ball off his foot … Obekpa fouled out and grinned inappropriately when it happened … Pointer fouled out but kept his amusement to himself … The box score says that Albivivocvic had zero fouls, which must be a misprint. He commits three in the run way before the game … Balamou curiously absent

NOTES: It’s late in the season and there’s not a lot to say without repeating myself. Donnie Marshall was his usual awful self. The other guy was worse. Tarik Turner was described in a Fox graphic as having “led Saint John’s to 1998 NCAA tournament,” which is like saying that Phillipe Petain led France to a victory in World War II (H/T Desco) … I’ve got nothing else except a note about the late Jimmy Walker, who Ladonte Henton passed this afternoon on the PU all-time scoring list this. Walker – who fathered and then deserted his bastard son Jalen Rose – scored his 2045 points in three seasons and that without the 3 point shot. As a senior in 1967 he led the nation in scoring, averaging more than 30 points a game. He was the number one draft pick in the NBA draft, ahead of Earl Monroe (2), Saint John’s own Sonny Dove (4), Walt Frazier (5), Pat Riley (7), the amazing Mel Daniels (9) and even Phil Jackson (17). (Interestingly three of those players – Frazier, Monroe and Jackson played in Division II). I’m a great believer in statistics as a measure of player performance but here’s one where they lie: Henton is not worthy to carry Jimmy Walker’s jockstrap … Don’t be sad Saint John’s fans, do the Hucklebuck:

 

 

 

Hoy Vey

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GAME: Saint John’s beat Georgetown 81-70 at MSG Saturday afternoon and beyond that I’ve been sitting here staring for a bit and I’ll admit that except for a half full glass of Tito’s I’ve got nothing. Probably if I hadn’t tasked myself with writing these things I’d have filled my glass and said fuck it and removed to the couch and taken the rest of the day off. SJU is in the tournament now and the rest of it I don’t care much about. Marquette on the road is a toss-up. Villanova, the way SJU is playing, about the same. The BE tournament, unless they lose a first round game to some patsy, I don’t care. So maybe that’s 22 wins and then comes selection Sunday and they’ll get some draw that 20 years ago I’d have deluded myself into thinking that they had a path to the Final Four but now I’m way too jaded for that and so I’ll instead maybe it’s safer to gird my loins for some atrocious first round loss, history having a tendency to repeat. The question for me now is do I buy in: do I on the one hand say well there’s a boat load of seniors playing well and anything can happen in a one and done or do I eeyore eeyore and say that this year is going to end in disappointment and next year is going to blow and the year after that is going to suck and the year after that too until there are some more seniors and then the hammer to rock incremental progress nonsense kicks in again so why bother. Which leaves me at: whatever … So today. Saint John’s went out to a 10 point lead by virtue of an early 16-3 run and the game was even after that. Essentially Georgetown played the game that will get then bounced out of the tournament the first weekend – if Pete Carill was dead he’d be spinning in his grave – and SJU the one that optimistic SJU fans hope will get them through to the second. Beyond Georgetown’s futility the only stats that jump out at me are SJU’s three point shooting – which was good, 50 percent – and it’s free throw shooting, which wasn’t, 65 percent. (Astute fans will notice that SJ scored 11 more points at the FT line in a game SJ won by 11.) At the line SJU is 53 of 86 over its last for games and 33 free points is a lot to leave out there, especially in the tournament … Nothing to say about Lavin, except to note an ostentatious TO he called up 15 with 2:51 remaining, after which GT hit 3s on three straight possession. I’m guessing he told them not to defend the three point shooters during the huddle, which worked out well, because they won. What a genyious.

PLAYERS: Dom Pointer had 24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and remarkably no personal fouls. Had I been prescient I’d have tracked his stats in games in which his Buckwheat hairdo was on full display, but even I can’t think of everything. Other than David Cain and maybe Donald Emanuel I can’t think of a player who’s shown the sort improvement Pointer has in his senior year, especially after being so not good the first three. Kris Dunn is probably BE POTY but Pointer might be a close second … Phil Greene had a career high 25 points, including 6 of 7 from three. After the game Lavin called him the best 3-point shooter he’s coached since Marco Bourgault … Nomar Garciaparra to the white courtesy telephone: in a stunning turn of events Jamal Branch injured himself. It looked to be a groin and it looked serious and though I’m no expert on groins (except my own and those of several dancers out at Funbags, which is a gentleman’s club out near the airport) I wouldn’t be surprised to see him not return, ever. Off the top of my head he’s injured his wrist, his knee, his eye, and now his groin and also missed a couple of games after cutting his hand, which he probably did while attempting to apply a bandage to his other hand … Harrison committed two fouls in the first 25 second and sat the entire first half afterwards. He finished with 1 point and no field goals. This year against GT he was 0 for 9 from the floor with 6 points. For his career he’s 19 for 86 and has scored a total of 72 points. In 8 games. In three of those games he’s gone ofer from the floor. In two games he’s scored 48 total points and in the remaining six no more than 7. Working backwards he’s been 0-5, 0-4, 1-12, 7-15, 3-12, 0-9, 1-12, 7-17. Safe to say they’ve got his number … Jordan had 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, including 7 for 8 from the FT line. He’s been in double figure 11 of 15 times since missing the Butler game … Chris Obekpa fouled out in 19 minutes. He grinned infectiously after the fifth one was called and also after a scrum under the basket when he was called for a technical. After the latter incident he ran away from the pile up pointing to his head: evidently he thought the T was on the other guy, because he’s so smrat® … Balamou committed 4 fouls in 13 minutes, including a flagrant one. He also got away with a massive forearm shiver to the chest of a GT player late … No one else played, except Ndiaye got a minute. A shame Lavin couldn’t find a minute for Joey De La Rosa on senior day, he really deserved it

NOTES: The game was called by Marv Albert and Len Elmore. Elmore was a Power Memorial Grad and a Saint John’s commit until Lou went off to coach the Nets. Instead he went to Maryland, where he was an All American. Thanks Lou. In spite of which I won’t hear a bad word spoken about him. Marv Albert on the other hand has the distinction of being the first transvestite to be inducted into the basketball hall of fame, having preceded Denis Rodman. In 1997 Albert was indicted on sodomy charges after he assaulted one of his many lovers in a hotel room. YESSSS! He pleaded guilty to reduced charges after DNA evidence from a bite wound on the woman’s torso was matched to Albert’s saliva. AND IT COUNTS!! In his defense, the woman, Vanessa Perhach, had failed to procure a male “with a large penis” for an anticipated threesome … Speaking of violence, if SJU fans wonder why fans of other teams consider SJU players to be thugs, they need not look beyond today’s game. Contrary to popular opinion it’s not because many of the players come from the inner city and have tattoos and threatening hairdos. It’s because they’re dirty players. In today’s game for example Chris Obekpa – who just two games ago attempted to kill a guy – was involved in another near fight and Felix Balamou got a flagrant one for throwing a helpless player to the ground. Even assistant coach Rico Hines got into the act when he was T’d up for an altercation at halftime. (Perhaps Hines needs some time with John Lucas down in Texas this summer?) Amit Abilvejovich has all the finesse of a Repulicka Srpska war criminal. Dom Pointer – although he has been for the most part a model of rectitude this year – famously punched a ND player several years ago and not a game goes by when the amelioration of D’Angelo Harrison’s alleged anger management issue is every game trotted out as one of Steve Lavin’s great success stories. All that’s left is for Lavin to write a time called Skills for Life. And can anyone doubt that’s far behind? I don’t. But then I’m an optimist.

 

DePaul is Dead

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RECAP: Every once in a while I forget the random and regular tricks the universe plays, which is why I tuned in to CBS Sports last night at the appointed hour of 9PM, pH regulated, necessaries at hand, and mentally prepared to suffer through the agonies inflicted on the psyche by real time sports broadcasting. Had I been thinking I’d have realized there was an early game and that even under best case circumstances it’d run late, so I might as well continue drinking. So instead of seeing the beginning of a game I barely care about – SJU Depaul – I got to see the end of a game I didn’t give a shit about in the slightest, between two teams no one gives a shit about at all. And what an exciting affair it wasn’t. First, in the waning seconds of regulation some imbecile on the first shit team buried a three to tie the game and then some other shitbrain on the other shit team clanked one at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. In the overtime the two teams no one gives a shit about fouled each other every five seconds for the next five minutes except during those periods when their coaches were calling time outs, which they did with fair regularity. Then with like a minute left and the score tied some dope daintily twisted his ankle and laid on the ground rubbing it for several minutes while being ministered to by various physicians and attendants and then finally hobbled off to sit out the rest of the game on the bench, which sort of mental and physical toughness will serve him well in whatever career he attempts after his shitty college basketball career ends. (If I recall correctly waa I hurt my ankle figured prominently in Henry the Fifth’s rousing speech at Agincourt field and look how that turned out.) So then finally play resumes: the score is tied 62 all and team no one gives a shit about 1 (turns out it’s LaSalle) has the ball and they call a TO to set up the final game winning play, the design of which was evidently for shit team 1’s point guard to stand dribbling at half court until 8 seconds remained in the game and then to dribble directly into a double team at the sidelines 40 feet from the basket and call a TO with three seconds left after barely avoiding turning the ball over. (It’s comforting to know that there are elsewhere coaches as bad as Lavin and teams as poorly prepared as SJU: this bodes well as we come down the stretch into tournament time.) So then shitty team 1 tried to run an in bound play which failed so they ended up lobbing the ball to some lead footed yokel who barely got a shot off after a series of head fakes that fool absolutely no one, and especially not the defender who crammed the shot back down his throat, leading to double overtime. The second overtime was a near replay of the first: foul timeout foul clank timeout foul foul clank clank time out ankle sprain foul time out foul time out foul and the whole while scrolling mockingly along the bottom of the screen is “PROGRAM ALERT Coming up next Saint John’s DePaul, Saint John’s DePaul” over and over and over. Quote the Raven nevermore. In the second overtime shitty team 1 managed their way to a 5 point lead, but then with 17 seconds up three not only gave up a lay up to shitty team 2 but fouled the shitty shooter and if the shitty shooter hadn’t clanked the game tying free throw the game would probably still be going on. Which is why this recap is joined in progress at the 2 minute mark of Saint John’s 86-78 victory over DePaul at Carnesecca Arena …. So I have practically nothing to say about the first half, except that by the numbers SJU should have been ahead by more than three: they shot 51 percent from the floor and 50 from three compared to DePaul’s 40/30; they had twice as many rebounds; 4 blocks to none, turnovers and fouls were about even. I’ve heard through the grapevine that a bad call and a Balamou technical stifled Saint John’s first half momentum after they’d built a 9 point lead, and that might have been what Lavin referred to when interviewed briefly by Jon Rothstein – he called Lavin “Lavs,” what a douchebag – on the way to the locker room, when he said “it’s been a disjointed game on a number of fronts, I can’t get into that publicly.” I’d hope that Lavin has not been reduced to blaming the team’s performance on the referees – I mean, I expect it from crybaby Saint John’s fans, but not from the coach – and especially after a game like last night, where Saint John’s was awarded nearly twice as many free throws as its opponent: Saint John’s made a third more free throws (24) than DePaul attempted (17) and that in an 8 point win. Seems to me that if anyone had cause to cry like a little bitch it’d be Oliver Purnell … In the second half Saint John’s extended its 3 point lead to 13 early and could have put DePaul away but for a few bad possessions and bone headed plays that let DePaul back in it to the extent that it was tied at the 8 minute mark. Home court advantage and the experience of Saint John’s seniors – all of whom played well down the stretch, even Phil Greene – sealed the deal. Which is the good news. The bad news is that despite the victory and having won two of their last three Saint John’s remains in 7th place – although now only a game behind Seton Hall and DePaul, both of which are in free fall. Unfortunately the easy part of the schedule is over: of the next seven games four are on the road and five are against the top 5 teams in conference. An optimist would say that this represents an opportunity for the team to prove its mettle, but I’m not an optimist. Even if they win their remaining three home game (SH, Xavier and Georgetown) and steal one on the road (Marquette) that just gets them to 20 wins and 9 and 9 in conference … I did not see enough of the game to notice Lavin cock anything up spectacularly, although he did call an eccentric timeout after a 4 point mini run broke the late tie and with a TV TO looming. But I do need to mention a horrifying new development and it’s not even the return of the homeless guy sleeping on a steam grate red sweat suit couture: during the post-game handshakes it was clearly evident that Lavin was wearing make-up, and not a little make up either, more like full on pancake Norma Desmond I’m ready for my close up Mister Demille make up. His face was Oompah Loopah orange in contrast to his pale flabby white neck, which clearly has not seen the sun since I don’t know when. I’m trying to think of a charitable explanation – like maybe he’d earlier been auditioning to replace Rosie on the View or maybe he came straight to the game from filming a Crazy Eddie commercial or something – but frankly I was pretty traumatized. I’m just hoping this isn’t the beginning of a Bruce Jenner situation, because that would really put me off my feed.

PLAYERS Harrison seems to be fully recovered from his injury. If he isn’t I’d like to see him when he is: 33 points and 10 rebounds. Got T’d up in the second half for what is for him a common place event: he made a play and screamed an expletive at God. This one looked to be motherfucker and I guess the ref thought it was directed at him as opposed to the heavens …. Towards the end of the game whatever moron was calling the game with the repulsive Doug Gottblieb said that “if you look at box score Pointer’s performance won’t impress you.” Which is weird, because when I looked at the box score I saw that Pointer had 15 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks. Which is impressive … Phil Greene had 18 points on 12 shots – which is for him remarkable efficiency – and contributed in other ways as well, including a couple of huge rebounds in traffic under the basket after DePaul had mounted its comeback. I’d ask where this guy has been for the past four years but I know the answer: he’s been standing 20 feet from the basket with his foot on the three point line clanking long twos … Doug Gottlieb said that newly minted starter Felix Balamou “plays like a power forward or a center,” which no he doesn’t. What he plays like is a girl. After not playing at all for almost two years Balamou has now logged 80 minutes in the past three games. Although he’s been serviceable enough as a replacement in the short term eventually playing 4 on 5 will catch up with them. Blew a wide open dunk as the game wound down … Balamou played because Obekpa did not. Is he injured? Is he being punished? Is he refusing to play like he did in the NIT last year? Who knows. So much bullshit has gone on with Lavin that not only is it impossible to tell what’s going on but it’s impossible to believe what you’ve been told anyway … meanwhile Jamal Branch, who was the starting point guard less than a month ago is now buried deeper than Captain Kidd’s treasure: he played 8 minutes, fewer even than the Bosnian, who avoided at least a flagrant one when he got away with throwing a DePaul player to the ground after a rebounding scrum under the basket.

NOTES: DePaul is in Chicago, the name of which city derives from a Native American word meaning “stinky onion,” the area so called for a ubiquitous plant that grew in the “dismal nine mile swamp” upon which the city was built. Despite its aquiferous beginnings nearly the entire city burned to the ground less than 100 years after its founding when a cow owned by a Mrs. Catherine O’Leary allegedly kicked over a lantern in a barn adjacent to the O’Leary homestead. Although there was in fact a Mrs. O’Leary and she did in fact own a cow, the story is probably apocryphal and Missus O’Leary’s villainization the result of the rampant no-Irish-need-apply Hibernophobia that afflicted those potato eaters such as my father’s forebears who fled to the US seeking relief from the famine that afflicted the old country in the 18th century, that famine the fault of the British, perhaps history’s greatest collection of criminals. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Mrs. O’Leary’s alibi was that she was passed out dead drunk in her bed when the fire broke out in her barn and that that alibi was routinely accepted. Although it is commonly supposed that it was Chicago’s winds that fanned the flames that engulfed the city that story is similarly apocryphal. Rather the city burned merely because of poor urban planning: its wooden houses were built too close together. And anyway although Chicago is known as the windy city it’s far from the windiest in the US – Amarillo Texas is – and is in fact it is no more windy than anywhere else: except when gaseous democratic ward heelers like Barack Obama are flapping their gums the average wind speeds in Chicago are only slightly higher than they are in New York’s Central Park. Anyway the story goes that the windy city appellation arose as the result of a rivalry between Chicago and Cincinnati Ohio over the rights to the nickname “Porkopolis,” which at first belonged to Cincinnati as the country’s foremost meatpacking locale, which hegemony was subsequently usurped by Chicago. Cincinnati writers used the term Windy City to insinuate that the Chicagoans expropriating the name Porkopolis were mere braggarts and that Cincinnati still ruled as far as abattoirs were concerned. Nowadays this is a moot point as San Francisco is universally recognized as the nation’s foremost purveyor of meatpacking … Chicago was also known as the second city, and properly at least while it was the second largest city in the USA; although now LA is, the name remains. Where Chicago takes second place to no one however is in its succor of the criminal element: in raw numbers it has long been at or near the top of US cities in murders; last July 4th weekend for example an astounding 84 people suffered gunshot wounds – more than in Falluja during the same time period – from which 20 of the city’s nearly 500 total murder victims died. This is apace with Chicago’s long and illustrious criminal history: Al Capone ran the outfit there; Chicago is where gangsters John Dillinger, Sam Giancano and Bugsy Moran were executed; it spawned the thrill killers Leopold and Loeb, homicidal maniacs like Baby Face Nelson and Machine Gun Kelly, the Unabomber Ted Kacynski and assassin’s assassin Jack Ruby; and neither is Chicago a lightweight when it came to producing mass murderers, having given us the killer clown John Wayne Gacy, who managed 33 kills with his famous rope trick; HH Holmes, a transplanted English medical doctor who killed at least 25 and as many as 200 victims, many of whom were guests and employees at a hotel he ran during the Chicago World’s Fair in the 1890s; and Richard “Born to Raise Hell” Speck, who raped and murdered 8 nurses in a single night in July 1966 … Speaking of heinous criminals, the game was called by Doug Gottlieb, a former USBL point guard who was expelled from Notre Dame after it was discovered that he had fraudulently charged various items on credit cards belonging to other fighting Irish students. They say that crime doesn’t pay but it’s worked out alright for Gottlieb, although not so much for those of us who have to suffer through his game commentary … This week saw the passing of two college basketball giants: Dean Smith and Jerry Tarkanian. The proximity of their deaths is where the similarities end. Like his contemporary at DooK Mike Schrewshrekni Smith was offered up by the college basketball establishment as a paragon of virtue, proof that it was possible to run a clean and successful basketball program, whereas Tarkanian was a black hatted criminal mastermind who openly cheated and thumbed his nose at the authorities. Whether it is a coincidence that Smith was a respectable white man and Tarkanian a swarthy Armenian is an open question. The probable truth is that both of them cheated; ironically it’s likely that the only coach who ever won consistently and ran a clean program was Bobby Knight, the most hated man in college basketball. Between Smith and Tarkanian they won 1600 games, appeared in 15 Final Fours, and won 3 national championships. Tarkanian might have been even more successful, except he had the misfortune to be the contemporary of Steve Lavin’s best man John Wooden – talk about your criminal masterminds – who thwarted Tarkanian on more than one occasion. Allow me to quote me:

Long Beach State’s basketball program first achieved national prominence under Jerry Tarkanian, whose teams went 122-20 in four years, never losing more than 5 games in a season. Each year LBS reached the regional semi-finals of the NCAA tournament and twice the finals, losing three of those games to UCLA, then in the midst of winning eight straight national championships. Despite UCLA’s dominance and the proximity of the two schools, Steve Lavin’s alleged mentor John Wooden refused to schedule LBS during the regular season. Which is kind of like the relationship Saint John’s has with Hofstra and Iona, except with NIT banners.

I’m far from a sentimentalist, but am not yet so cynical that I am unable to recognize that we are diminished when greatness passes from the scene. Even greatness at so trivial a thing as basketball. The likes of these two are few and far between and in the increasingly debased culture in which we live the chances that we see their like again reduces exponentially. In a rare departure from my normal glee at the misfortunes of others I wish them rest in peace.

A Penny Saved

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RECAP: Let’s start with a professional journalistic lede: Saint John’s beat the piss out of Creighton in a laugher at MSG Saturday afternoon 84-64. (Okay, semi-professional.) We start that way because these recaps – and by these I mean the ones after a rare Saint John’s blow out – are the most difficult to produce. Bad losses are easy because I can go straight to the mockery without saying something nice about anyone or anything, which let’s face it is right in my wheelhouse. Close games – win or lose – have their own dynamic: they are by their very nature inherently interesting and the drama provides grist for the writing mill. Blow out wins though are a different matter. On the one hand I can’t be immediately and unremittingly negative – which is my instinct – but on the other I want to avoid being too positive about anything and especially about Saint John’s, whose failures over the years have in many ways shaped my bitterness and made me the curmudgeon I am today. But I have to say something nice, so here goes. Saint John’s came out ready to play for a change. They got Creighton down early and kept them there. They scored 50 points in the first half – the first 50 point half this year and the first I can remember in a while – and took a 20 point lead into the locker room. They did not as I feared they might let up in the second half. Instead they maintained their intensity and coasted to victory. To the extent that I’m capable of happiness that doesn’t involve other people’s misery I’m happy for the players, because they probably needed a win like this. It’s just unfortunate that in the long run this game is probably meaningless, because all they accomplished was avoiding a sweep by the worst team in the conference … For their part Creighton was atrocious. They didn’t score a field goal until the 14 minute mark and even after that they sucked: they shot a storm-esque 35 percent from the floor, 20 percent from 3 and 50 percent from the free throw line. As opposed to SJU, which had one of those anomalous games where nearly everything they threw up went in: 56 percent from the floor, 57 percent from 3 and 85 percent from the free throw line. Unfortunately what this game highlights is just how bad the loss to Creighton two weeks ago was. Stealing a road game there would have been huge and might have made all the difference in what is now for all intents a lost season; instead the loss was devastating, which made this one something of an afterthought … One of the boons of a performance like this is that it takes Steve Lavin out of the equation completely, because there’s nothing for him to cock up: there’s no opportunity for his ridiculous substitution patterns to affect the outcome of the game; his absurd use of time outs is not a factor; and his inability to spell either X or O does not detract from his team’s performance. He even dressed appropriately. So there’s really nothing to complain about. I mean sure, there’s no doubt that he’ll say something moronic in the post-game press conference and no doubt he’ll tweet some bullshit inanities later on that would make a teenage girl blush, but I don’t have time to wait around for that. I have a deadline to meet and besides the early start means I’ve been drinking since noon. So this game Lavin gets a pass. Congratulations Steve … Once again the refs let them play, which I’ve noticed this before about Pat Driscoll’s crew. Had they been reffing the Butler game they’d probably have called a charge on Tyler Wideman for running into Chris Obekpa’s elbow. Whereas this game they called nothing. Although this plays into Saint John’s hands in the short term it does not bode well for post season play – whether in the NIT or CBI – where history indicates the games will be called more closely, and Saint John’s depth will certainly be a factor … Up next DePaul at home, which in November everyone would have said was a gimme. To the extent that Saint John’s has a chance of sneaking into the NCAA tournament play in game this is now a must win, especially considering the spate of games that come after. Because despite winning two of their last three Saint John’s has lost 7 of their last 11 and remains in 7th place at 4 and 6 in conference and this after playing the soft part of their schedule: they have remaining Georgetown twice, Xavier twice, Villanova, and Marquette on the road out of state, where they do not play well. To say that I am not optimistic would be an understatement. And redundant.

PLAYERS: While Chris Obekpa seems committed to playing himself out of the NBA draft, a newly energized Rysheed Jordan seems suddenly interested in playing himself into it. He had a career high 25 points – he was 9 of 12 from the floor and 6 for 8 from three – to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists … Harrison seemed like his old self: 21 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists … Pointer continued his fine play: 10 points, 7 rebounds and 8 blocks, only one of which was an obvious and uncalled goal tending. Last game I omitted from my recap a sentence from my notes that referenced Pointer’s new Buckwheat hairdo, on the theory that it might be construed as racist. I mention it now because it would be racist not to. Re his play it would be interesting to know what his field goal percentage would be if he every once in a while set his feet and went up straight for a shot, as opposed to launching himself backwards at a 30 degree angle. Late in the second half he replicated his now legendary flop versus Butler by once again throwing himself to the ground and rolling around on the floor: it looked like he was auditioning for the role of a corpse on CSI-MSG. And oh yeah I almost forgot, he had his pants pulled down late in the game and was revealed to be wearing what appeared to be a pair of Spanx. Not that there’s anything wrong with that … Shout out to MVPoster WeAreSJU for predicting that Felix Balamou would start at center. Although he only had 5 points on 2 of 10 shooting he displayed welcome energy, which bodes well for next year, when he will be thrust into yeoman’s minutes by default, Lavin’s. Among his fine plays was a nifty pass that led to a basket by Amir Amirovonitov, which is a circumlocution that Saint John’s fans had better get used to now, because they’ll be hearing a lot of it next year. For his part Jessica had 7 points on 3 of 4 shooting, one of those a three that led to a rousing cheer by members of the red and white club, always on the lookout for the next great white hope … Phil Greene had 13 points and it only took him 10 shots to get them. (By way of contrast Harrison had 21 points on 8 shots and Jordan 25 on 12.) Greene displayed his WNBA handle in the second half when he attempted to cross over some lumbering white guy, tripped over himself and dribbled the ball out of bounds off his own face . LOL at Phil Greene, he stinks … Chris Obekpa was not in the starting line-up, his punishment for attempting to murder a Butler player a week ago. Saint John’s blistering start allowed Lavin the luxury of keeping him out the entire first half, which had the added benefit of allowing Lavin to portray himself as a strict disciplinarian to whom there are more important things than winning. I guarantee though that had things gone south early Obekpa would have been the first player in off the bench. A camera caught Obekpa sitting on the bench yawning during the first half, which is a sure sign he was taking his punishment seriously. I was worried that his entry into the game might be greeted by a round of applause, but credit the audience for not reacting at all – it may be that now that NY has returned to an urban dystopia after three terms by the repulsive Mike Bloomberg after the relative tranquility of the Giuliani years that so many of the SJU faithful have been mugged that even they have sympathy for the victims of violent crime. Ever the warrior Obekpa took himself out of the game when he daintily twisted his ankle on a rebound and did not return. His status remains day-to-felony .. Jamal Branch’s stat line in 14 minutes: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 … Despite the lopsided score five walk-ons played only six minutes between them. It seems like it would have been a good game to get them some playing time, but Lavin left his starters in until the 19 minute mark in the second half. All I can figure is that he got confused and though this was like college football, where running the score up against last place teams impresses the voters.

NOTES: After the last Creighton game I was so disgusted that I skipped the notes section entirely except to note that Nebraska sucks ass and was among the worst states in the US, rivaled only by South Dakota and perhaps Massachusetts, which is a complete left wing shit hole. I received in response an angry email from a Creighton fan noting the important role Nebraska had played in US history and the long list of Nebraska-breds who have made contributions to the American culture: Crazy Horse, who engineered Custer’s defeat at Little Big Horn; Red Cloud, chief of the Oglala Sioux; William Jennings Bryant, three time presidential candidate and prosecuting attorney at the Scopes trial; Vice president Dick Cheney, who protected the US from attack post 9-11; President Gerald Ford, who pardoned Richard Nixon; Buffalo Bill Cody; actors Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando, James Coburn, Henry Fonda and Nick Nolte; Johnny Carson; Paul Revere of Paul Reverend the Raiders, author of the immortal Indian Reservation; the smug pseudo-intellectual buffoon Dick Cavett; the brilliant writer Raymond Chandler, about whom even I cannot find something bad to say, those of you who are not illiterate should read him; the religious charlatan L Ron Hubbard, an alcoholic who created a religion based upon the belief that humanity is descended for reptilian aliens; and athletes Grover Cleveland Alexander (another drunk), Wade Boggs (a chicken obsessed  adulterer), Bob Gibson (a misanthropic asthmatic) and Gale Sayers (gets a pass as the best friend of Brian). He even mentioned Penny from the Big Bang Theory, played by the bodacious Kelley Cuoco, who god bless her juicy ass had the good sense to be born in California. To that reader I say: fuck Nebraska and fuck you. Nebraska sucks and stop emailing me: if I wanted a pen pal I’d proposition prison inmates. Still, for your efforts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoosiers

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GAME: Usually when I sit down to write these gambols I’m in a pretty good mood – even on those morning when I’m not yet or still drunk. I’m about to talk about Saint John’s basketball, which is a very old and important part of my life, and I get to write, which I enjoy – or at least enjoy having done afterwards – and I get to make fun of Steve Lavin, who’s just the sort of gaseous bloated self-important buffoon that I revel in taking the piss out of. But there’s little joy in in funville this morning, not after Saint John’s was humiliated by Butler 85-62 in Indiana on Tuesday night. I wish I could say I was surprised, but as someone who figured Lavin out early on I’m not: I saw this sort of meltdown coming a mile away and at the risk of injuring myself patting me on the back have being writing about it in one form or another for a couple of months now. I knew it would happen, but I didn’t think it would happen now, not in early February, not when the small or baby steps the team has been taking up the mountain or incline would just be beginning to take effect or operation so that the players would be able to do something special or memorable in their senior or last year. For Lavin this could not have come at a worse time – and I’m not talking about while he’s looking to renegotiate his contract, which, good luck with that – but because this period between the Super Bowl and spring training is just the time when lazy sportswriters casting about for column fodder have nothing better to do than take pot shots at an otherwise irrelevant basketball program. Irrelevant because the season was effectively over after the Creighton loss. Oh sure, there are still Lavin lickspittles and toadies on various Saint John’s fan boards parsing their way to an NCAA six-seed: if they win the next eight and then make the finals of the BE tournament and Zzzzzz sorry I dozed off there for a moment: the way they go about it reminds me of those apocryphal stories of Hitler down in his bunker with Eva Braun pushing nonexistent panzer divisions across a map of Europe in 1945. There is no there there. And no doubt various dopes who predicted an Elite Eight appearance in November are probably this morning still counseling patience; I’d give odds that somewhere this morning someone has compared Lavin to Norm Roberts as proof that things aren’t so bad. Well I have news for those dummies: things are so bad. Last night the wheels came off. This was as appalling a performance as I can recall going back to the Notre Dame game a couple of years ago, a performance of which both the players and staff should feel ashamed. Say what you will about Roberts and his players, but they at least took their beatings like men, not like little punk bitches. The question is now: will Saint John’s be able to hold it together enough to avoid a cosmic meltdown. And the answer is: who knows. You’d like to think so. You’d like to think that alleged educator Steve “there’s more important things than winning” Lavin gives half a shit enough and knows half enough about human nature to right the sunken ship but he gives the impression that he’s more concerned about his dinner reservations than he is about almost anything else. So we’ll see … To the extent that the game deserves mention, I suppose I’ll mention it. Saint John’s came out flat, as they usually do on the road: they missed 10 of their first 12 shots and if it hadn’t been for sloppy play by Butler it would have been over a lot sooner than it was. Instead, Saint John’s hung around and managed to keep it respectable until halftime. The second half was another story and perhaps lost in the shuffle surrounding Obekpa’s ejection (about which more later) is that this was another in a long line of second half Saint John’s meltdowns – other than Providence SJU has been manhandled by teams after halftime going back half a dozen games. Butler guard Kevin Dunham noted that it was Butler’s intention to “come out in the second half and kind of punch them in the mouth,“ which is exactly what happened, which played into Steve Lavin’s second half strategy, which was to get punched in to mouth and throw in the towel. Saint John’s was down 15 when Pointer was given a technical for arguing that he had not fouled a three point shooter – in Pointer’s defense he was likely surprised because he’s complained about every foul that’s ever been called against him and has never been T’ed up once before – which resulted in 5 free throws and a 20 point lead Butler lead. In retrospect the technical might have been the best thing that could have happened. Not only did Butler stop playing with any intensity figuring the game was over, but the referees, who previously hadn’t been calling anything – the Obekpa assault happened right in front of one of them and he was going to let them play on until he saw blood spurting out of the gaping wound on the back of the BU player’s head – started calling everything, which resulted in clock stoppages and the sort of ugly herky jerky play at which Saint John’s excels. Saint John’s got it within eight before they ran out of gas and Butler closed it out with a whatever to nothing run, I can’t be arsed to check. It’s worth noting though that at game’s end Butler had their starters in and meanwhile Saint John’s ran out a line-up of Branch, Myles Stewart, Felix Balamou, Dom Pointer and was running isolations for Doughy De La Rosa down in the box. That it was only a 20 point loss in retrospect seems an act of charity … Lavin seem resigned after the game, saying only that he was disappointed and that it was time to move on and prepare for Creighton. You could tell he was starting to feel the heat though, as during the game his helmet of carefully coifed hair was slightly mussed. If by preparing for Creighton Lavin meant that he’s going to prepare his team to not further humiliate themselves and the university they represent, that would be a good start.

PLAYERS: D’Angelo Harrison scored his 2000th career point. He deserves better than this. This is the third or fourth game in a row now that he’s been curiously passive on offense. It can only be that he’s hurt worse than he’s letting on … Pointer had 19 points and kept them in it early with a variety of circus shots that went in despite the laws of physics. He attempted to replicate the absurd three pointer he made at the end of the of the first half versus Providence by taking a similarly ridiculous shot, except this one was an air ball. Pointer took a dook-esque dive under the basket with not a player within 5 feet of him in an attempt to draw a foul and for which he is being roundly mocked this morning on the internet, which mocking is roundly deserved. I mean, get a load of this

… I was surprised to see that Jordan took 21 shots – it didn’t seem to me like it was that many or that he was forcing it any more than usual, except late. Anyway, most of them didn’t go in. He finished with 17 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists … Funfave Felix Balamou got a bunch of run in the second half and scored several garbage points around the rim. Ever the optimist Lavin pointed to Balamou’s play as proof that things were moving in the right direction … Phil Greene air-balled two lay ups on his way to a 6 point performance. LOL at Phil Greene, he stinks … Things were so bad that even Chris Jones got in the game after both Joey DLR and Amir Amirovickovich got burned on multiple possessions by some lumbering doofus who was slightly less lead footed than are they. Jones immediately got a put back, his first basket since the Long Beach game in December, which no doubt cheered the hearts of Saint John’s fans who were as late as last November touting Jones as a replacement for NBA forward Jakarr Sampson, who they deemed a cancer and for whom they blame last year’s dismal performance. Who will they blame for last night I wonder … Which brings us to Chris Obekpa, whose ridiculous antics – his inappropriate grinning, his stupid shorts, his Princess Leia hairdo, his flexing and woofing , his chippy play – I’ve been chronicling in this space for some time now. At the risk of giving myself yet another reach around so soon after the one I gave myself in the first paragraph, which can lead to chafing and aggravate the prostate, it was just last game where I noted that Obekpa’s increasingly bizarre behavior made him difficult to not dislike and suggested than someone give him a swift kick in the ass. Evidently no one did. Last night eight minutes in Obekpa stalked a defenseless Butler player down the court and viciously elbowed him in the back of the head, sending him to the locker room with a possible concussion. Obekpa was rightfully ejected – he should have been arrested, and possibly deported, but I guess that wasn’t an option. One wonders whether Coach Eye-roll will finally take measures to rein in Obekpa’s behavior, which has been out of control for some time now. Let me quote myself, from the Fordham recap:

This is not the first time Obekpa has demonstrated immature and untoward behavior on the court and I am hopeful that Coach Lavin recognizes that Obekpa has anger issues and suspends him for his own good for the rest of the season so that he can seek counseling without the distraction of basketball because some things are more important than winning. Ha, just kidding of course, Lavin is coaching for a contract extension, he wouldn’t suspend Obekpa if they found a couple of nun’s heads rolling around in the back seat of a car he stole from a crippled Gulf War veteran …

If I wasn’t used to being right all the time I might even be embarrassed.

NOTES: I stopped even taking notes during the game last night it was so bad and was going to skip this section altogether but am for some reason this morning reminded of the prolific serial killer Carl Panzram, pictured above. At this point I no longer question these digressions so let’s where this leads, if anywhere. Panzram was born in Minnesota in 1890 and sent to a work farm at an early age as an incorrigible youth, where in an attempt at rehabilitation he was beaten and sodomized for several years. These attempts failed and he burned the reformatory to the ground. He was committed to a second reformatory where further attempts at rehabilitation were similarly unavailing. None of this worked  out too well for Panzram, but it was even worse for the 1000 men Panzram admitted to raping after he was released and even worser for the 25 he admitted to murdering. After drifting about for several years Panzram joined the army, which didn’t much affect his criminal lifestyle and he was eventually sent to Leavenworth by virtue of an order of future President William Howard Taft, then Secretary of War. Panzram promptly escaped from prison and made his way to NY, where he burgled Taft’s house; he used the proceeds from the robbery to buy a yacht, onto which he lured unsuspecting sailors, who he robbed, raped and murdered. He dumped the bodies near Execution Point in Long Island Sound, so named for the practice by British revolutionary war authorities of chaining suspected traitors to the rocks at low tide and leaving them to drown at high. Soon growing bored with cavorting thusly Panzram travelled to Africa, where he continued his killing spree. He was arrested after his return to the states while in the midst of plotting to kill the entire population of NYC by poisoning the water supply. Panzram was convicted of various crimes and sentenced to prison, where he promptly beat an inmate to death for “bothering” him, and was thereafter sentenced to be hanged. For all these things, Panzram said in his journals “I am not in the least bit sorry. I wish the entire human race had one neck and I had my hands around it.” (Panzram’s writings, published in the book Killer: A Journal of Murder, are remarkable for their lucidity and the beauty of his prose. And that’s not even sarcasm. It is remarkable writing and not just for the juxtaposition of what he’s saying with how he’s saying it.) Incorrigible to the end Panzram, spat in the face of his executioner and it is his last words of which I was thinking of when I started this paragraph: “Hurry up you Hoosier bastard, I could have killed a dozen men while you’ve been screwing around,” Hoosier being the official demonym for residents of the state of Indiana, where last night’s massacre took place. That is I suppose a thin reed upon which to hang 500 words, but it’s more than last night’s game deserves.