Tag Archives: mardi gras

It’s About Time

St John’s defeated DePaul 77-76 in Chicago – or as Pete Gillen would say and did, several times, the Windy City! Chicago! Illinois! – Wednesday night, their fourth straight victory and second in a row on the road. (I thought that last factoid might have been something but they won three in a row on the road last December, @ Tulane, Syracuse and DePaul, so never mind.) Despite winning four in a row they’re still in last place, but assuming that DePaul loses to Seton Hall in New Jersey on Saturday SJU will leap into ninth. Excelsior … For most of it this didn’t look like a win. DePaul would spurt ahead, St John’s would nearly catch them but not quite and then DePaul would spurt ahead again

And in fact DePaul was up four 69-65 with four and a half minutes left when Ponds’ six points and an assist keyed a 10-2 run that put it away for the good guys … Last time I mentioned snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Case in point last night when a DePaul three at the buzzer made those who’d given the points losers: DePaul went off plus one and a half. I don’t bet college basketball much but when I do I eschew statistical analysis and advanced analytics (I don’t understand math) and instead base my selection on two factors: which team has the more powerful mascot (Demons > weather) and which color is more appealing (blue > red). Those of you who gave the points might want to take that to the bank next time: weather > eagles and red > yellow … St John’s won last night despite the presence of the appalling Pat Driscoll, the worst referee in college basketball. And in fact Driscoll gave them I thought a bit of a gift on a questionable charge that Tariq Owens drew late, which sure looked to me like a block. And I suspect it would have looked to Driscoll like a block if St John’s had been playing Villanova or Xavier …. Ponds continued his unconscious streak: 26 points on 10 for 18 from the floor plus ten assists. The main beneficiary of the latter was Marvin Clark, who had a career high 24 points and six rebounds. He’s averaging six of those a game over his last four, which not coincidentally corresponds to SJ’s winning streak. Simon had 16 points, three rebounds and three assists, which considering how he’s been playing lately seems a tad disappointing. Stiff defense by Tariq Owens held some Eastern European lummox called Marin Maric to a double double, although to his credit Owens made what turned out to be the game winning free throw. Bashir Ahmed had as many turnovers as points and once again Trimble didn’t embarrass himself. And someone called Kassoum Yakwe played two minutes to little effect, he must be a walk on because I vaguely remember his name but don’t recall seeing it in the box score recently …. The play by play guy was someone called Carter Blackburn, which sounds like the name of a character in a Tom Wolfe novel and Pete Gillen, who sounded like an idiot. Gillen babbled incessantly and mostly incoherently, to the point where missus fun wondered whether he was “all coked up.” I told her no, he probably just had an extra bottle of wine at dinner considering the late start. He repeated ad nauseum that Chicago! is called the Windy City! and is in Illinois! and that Sharmorie Ponds played for Thomas Jefferson High! in Brooklyn! New York! and there was for my taste way too much Glory Days talk about his erstwhile coaching career, the upshot of which is that teams he coached – Xavier, Providence and Virginia – tended to achieve better results after he left than while he was there. Most egregiously Gillen does not seem to understand the concept of time. With four minutes left in the first half he said that there was “Plenty of time left in this contest.” Okay, fair enough. Twenty four minutes later, with 34 seconds left in the game he said that there’s “Still a long way to go,” which seems longer than plenty of time, and then with less than three seconds left he said there’s “2.8 seconds, still an eternity,” which an eternity is certainly longer than either of those. If you took him at his word you’d think the game was getting longer as more and more time ticked off the clock and in fact now that it’s been over for 12 hours it still might be going on.

In an odd confluence game day was both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday – odd because the former holiday celebrates carnality and concupiscence and the latter repentance and mortification of the flesh. Valentine’s day is named for Valentinus, a Christian priest decapitated by the Emperor Claudius in the third century, which separation of skull and torso allegedly occurred on February 14th. (This explains why the giving of head is a traditional Valentine’s Day gift.) That a 2000 year old decapitation came to be associated with modern romance is also odd, but associated it is: traditionally February 14th features exchanges of gifts between lovers and especially flowers, which makes a perverse sort of sense, as bouquets of flowers, being themselves an aggregation of severed sexual organs, are delivered to females by males castrated by monogamy and Hallmark. Ash Wednesday on the other hand marks the beginning of Lent, a period of atonement in which the Catholic faithful emulate the deprivations suffered by the Baby Jesus during his 40-day sojourn in the desert, from which he emerged triumphant, having three times resisted Lucifer’s entreaties,  foreshadowing Peter’s failure to do likewise after the crucifixion. In the Catholic tradition the faithful mark the Lenten period by forgoing sensual pleasures, which eschewment is meant to cleanse the spirit in anticipation of the resurrection. I’m a bit fallen away now – in the same way that Oprah is a bit fat – but Lent was a big deal in our household growing up. My father for example gave up smoking for 40 days – he smoked every Sunday though, because during Lent the Sundays don’t count – and promptly resumed Easter morning.

(Pater was a Lucky Strike man.

Talk about your truth in advertising: his throat was devoid of tumors when he died of cancer.)

No doubt my mother gave up something as well, although with her you could never be sure, because she was something of a duplicitous bitch. As youngsters my siblings and I too we were encouraged to give up childish pleasures, at first candy and sweets and cookies and later as we got older masturbation and Southern Comfort. Either way Lenten Sundays were sticky affairs in my parents house growing up.

Not for nothing but there are some St John’s fans whose souls could use a little cleansing this holy season. A few suggestions. If you’re one of those guys I see sitting in the stands sitting on your hands in Alumni hall whose pendulous man tits are dangerously close to bursting through your thread-worn red and white sweaters, consider giving up donuts. If you’re one of those chronic malcontents who sign on daily to St John’s fan forums and whine incessantly and tediously about every little thing that pops into your tiny little brains, maybe give up whining like little bitches. If you’re one of those people who insists on putting mayonnaise on lobster, consider eschewing mayonnaise and try a nice Bearnaise sauce instead. If you’re a plagiarist, consider writing your own jokes, and failing that, hang yourself. And if you’re a cunt, maybe consider not being a cunt. Me, I’m going to give up vodka, starting …. April Fool’s Day

Lent Me Your Ears


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

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

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

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

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

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