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St John’s lost to Ed Cooley’s diseased head Saturday afternoon 86-75 and thus endeth the St John’s regular season. In toto it was about what I expected – and unless you’re irrational it should be about what you expected as well, from a team nine months removed from an abysmal eight-win season and comprising nine underclassmen and five first year players and a coaching staff still searching for its sea legs. If you expected more than that then you’re more optimistic than am I, but then most people are more optimistic than I am: as an infant I distinctly remember thinking that my mother’s breasts were half empty. Just kidding, she didn’t breast feed me, that bitch. Oh dear, this turned ugly quickly. Probably I should start again but I’m not going to and fuck her anyway. So yes, the season: 13 wins is a bit fewer than I thought – I figured 15 or so – but as I noted two weeks ago if you flipped a couple of the atrocious losses – Delaware and Penn State primarily – this would be about a .500 team and a low NIT seed;  if you flipped five or so games that the November team lost that the February team might not this would be a bubble team. Consider: if you look back at the OOC conference schedule three of the losses look none too bad in retrospect:

Road loss to 23-7 Minnesota, a projected 6 seed
Road loss to 19-11 Michigan State, a projected 8 seed
Road loss to 23-7 VCU , a projected 9 seed

And two of the losses are understandable, if you eschew the ‘we should beat them because we are St John’s’ mentality

Road loss to 19-10 ODU
Road loss to 21-12 LIU

That’s five not too bad losses. In addition to those, seven losses were to ranked BE ranked teams: Villanova, Xavier and Creighton twice, and Butler once. Which makes carry the one 12 understandable losses of 18. Of the remainder of the league games today’s home loss to Providence – a bubble team on a winning streak – was arguably the worst. And on the other side of the coin are some good wins: at Syracuse, a projected 10 seed; home versus #13 Butler; at Providence; home versus Marquette, a projected 11 seed; and home versus Seton Hall, a projected 10 seed.

I’m no pollyanna but to me this represents real progress and especially considering the starting point. Next year of course is where the rubber meets the road: assuming no defections St John’s will have one of the top back courts in the country, finally some upperclassmen (even if they’re not very good), some well needed reinforcements in the form of Clark and Simon and hopefully a big body grad transfer and a staff that has had enough time to figure out the competition and the process. I am a Chris Mullin fan but absent extraordinary circumstances if they win 13 game next year I’ll be leading the chorus calling for his head: because St John’s has taken two steps forward. If they take a step back they might as well dismantle the basketball program and I’ll start a blog about curling, eh? But I don’t think they will. I think next year they take another step forward because as I’ve maintained all along, Chris Mullin has never failed at basketball before and he didn’t come to St John’s to start failing now …  To the extent that today’s game deserves discussion – and it doesn’t – St John’s shot 37 percent from the floor and 17 percent from three and were minus 11 rebounding and turned the ball over 14 times. I suspect that they know that today’s game didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things or at least that’s what I told myself. The defense was appalling – I keep refreshing ESPN’s page so I could post a capture of the shot chart because Providence’s offense comprised an unending line of uncontested lay ups, but because ESPN sucks balls you’ll have to take my word for it: Providence’s offense comprised an unending line of uncontested lay ups. Usually I don’t have a lot of patience for fans who think that the outcome of the game would have been different had St John’s only employed the triangle and two or the box and one or the pentagram and none but today I don’t see where any harm might have come from switching to a zone to have seen whether it might thwarted the conga line of lay-ups that the man to man rewarded PU with but whatever. The only thing St John’s didn’t suck at was free throw shooting and the officials were so appalling that even that is tainted by association: both teams were in the bonus halfway into the first half; John Gaffney and company called 52 fouls in 40 minutes that resulted in 67 free throws. Note to stupid John Gaffney: if I wanted to spend my afternoon listening to people blow things I’d hang around in the Port Authority bus terminal men’s room. Fuck you and your fucking whistle.

PLAYERS: Left to my own devices I’d have given the game ball to Bashir Ahmed: he had 17 points and seven rebounds and three blocks and for most of the game looked like the only player on the court who gave a fuck about what was happening. But Shamorie Ponds scored 29 points and passed the great tattooed negro D’Angelo Harrison to become the top freshman scorer in St John’s history so I gave it to him instead. We are you and I fortunate that Ponds is not two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier because if he was he’d be a lottery pick … Lovett had 12 points but most of them were when the game was over . Did not start the second half for some reason and did not look happy about it to the extent that I’m expert at facial expressions and body language. Embarrassed a PU player by bouncing the ball off his ass on an inbounds play for a basket … Ellison scored no points in 23 minutes which seems impossible unless you are familiar with his body of work. Those of you who had the under relative to his throwing yet another stupid lazy pass that was intercepted leading to a lay in for the bad guys, pay the man on the way out … Federico “Crunch time” Missini hit a three in the second half to cut PU’s lead to 17 or something but was otherwise oh fer the game … Yakwe once again was less horrible than he has been most of the rest of the year … Alibagofsandwiches played minutes that were not as offensive than his usual minutes, which makes three games a row … Darien Williams fouled out in nine minutes, barely defeating Tariq Owens, who fouled out in ten.

NOTES: Besides being the worst point guard in recent St John’s history, Tarik Turner talks too much. Please to be shutting the fuck up Tarik. But to Tarik’s credit he was no where near as appalling as booth mate Alex Faust, whose self written biography describes himself as “the voice of Northeastern University men’s basketball,” which is not what I want written on my tombstone, which is going to read ARE WE THERE YET in all caps. Because you’re all well educated you’ll know that the original Faust sold his soul to the devil in exchange for worldly riches, which I assume Alex Faust might have because he’s on TVG despite being dumb as a fucking rock.

Arrivederci By Subtraction

As much fun as was Saint John’s win over Syracuse last week beating Butler 76-73 at Carnesecca Arena Thursday night was better: it was a league game at home in front of an energized crowd against a ranked opponent in a tilt game that could have gone either way. Outside of March college basketball does not get any better than this. I frankly had so much fun that I don’t even feel like writing about it, I just want to watch it again and probably will during happy hour, which at my house on Friday starts about 11 AM est … The game itself went back and forth – I almost said it was a nip and tuck affair which if I ever start writing like that someone please shoot me. For most of it Butler was up by a couple of baskets and they were actually ahead by ten with 10 minutes left. But each time it looked like things were slipping away somebody made a play – mostly it was Shamorie Ponds but credit also to Coach Mullin, who called three good time outs to stop the bleeding which his team responded, which is pretty good for someone who’s a horrible coach who doesn’t know anything about basketball …. The box score is pretty ordinary: Saint John’s shot 54 percent from the floor, Butler 46; Saint John’s took only 16 threes (that’s right only) and made just four but Butler was an atrocious 6 for 25; rebounds were even at 31; Saint John’s turned the ball over 16 times but had only three in the last ten minutes, as opposed to Butler, who had 6 of their thirteen when it counted with the game on the line in the same span in the second half of the second half. As I often do after a SJU win I popped into the losers fan forum and read the game thread. This morning over in the Dawg Kennel or whatever stupid name they call themselves they’re – besides calling Saint John’s “thugs” and “street ballers,” I mean just drop the N bomb already – they were whining about the free throw discrepancy – which was seven. That’s right, they’re this morning bitching about how they got screwed by seven lousy free throws and how that might affect their chances of getting a number 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. You can’t make this shit up. From what I saw last night if Butler is the 13th ranked team in the country well then I’m a monkey’s uncle I don’t know as much about basketball as I pretend

PLAYERS: Shamorie Ponds had a Big East coming out party 26 points, seven rebounds, two steals, 2 blocks and was 6 of 6 from the free throw line. I read somewhere that there were 12 NBA scouts at the game, hopefully it was not to watch him …. Bashir Ahmed had 19 points, 5 rebounds and three steals. He’s 13 of 23 with ten rebounds over his last two. Where’s that dope who said he’s a bust who needs to be benched, I’d like to rub his face in that … Lovett did not start again, not sure why. 10 points including 6 of 6 from the free line … Malik Ellison did start and did not play well:  Contributed 5 turnovers and airballed his only three … Yawke seems over whatever funk he was in early in the season. He finished impressively on a couple of pick and rolls, which is about all you can ask … Darien Williams played 22 minutes, the most he has all year. Displayed a nice little jump hook, which let’s face it immediately makes him our best big man … Owens had no points and 2 rebounds in 20 minutes … The two euro-dorks played 16 minutes between them and managed 2 points and one rebound. Alibegovitz committed a career best no personal fouls, which I suppose is good but really the frequency and violence of his fouls is the only thing he brings to the table, so why stop now …. The team is now two and oh without Wally Pippini Federico Missini. Nuff said. If and when he comes back he should sit on the bench until April at which time they should put him on the first gondola back to Palermo or maybe the girl’s team needs a designated three point threat who’s not very good at shooting. His banishment won’t make the Sons of Italy happy, but I’m not here to make you happy, I’m here to rub your noses in your mistakes and disappointments. In this case it’s the mistakes and disappointments of anyone who thinks Missini is a basketball player.

NOTES: Last night’s game marked the season’s first appearance of Tarik Turner. Usually he’s awful but if he was last night the game was so good I didn’t notice. He even went so far as to make a good point when he compared Ponds to 6’1”, 170 pound Nick Van Exel, a lefty guard who led Cincinnati to the Final Four and went on to become an NBA all-star. Turner’s partner Brian Custer kept repeating that Saint John’s had not defeated a team as highly ranked as Butler since Chris Mullin was playing in 1983, which I kept thinking to myself that can’t possibly be right until I figured out that he meant at the Lou, which makes sense because why would you play highly ranked teams in a gym that seats 5000 people. Brian Custer by the way is a prostate cancer survivor, which you wouldn’t know because he didn’t mention it once during the entire broadcast … Speaking of Lavin I watched a couple of minutes of that bulbous headed moron during the halftime festivities and was rewarded when he praised some point guard’s “decision making or judgment.” Decision making or judgment, what a maroon …. Other than that I got nothing. I have in past recaps done Butler University, legendary Coach Hinkle, Hoosiers (both the name and the movie), Jeeves Lurch and other Butlers, Indiana the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan and even a bit of a gambol about my favorite mass murderer Carl Panzram (“I wish the entire human race had one neck and I had my hands around it!”). If you’re starved for fun go back and read that stuff, I did yesterday and it still holds up. PS Panzram’s papers recently were digitized and are now on line if anyone’s interested, it’s really marvelous stuff:

http://scua2.sdsu.edu/findingaids/index.php?p=digitallibrary/digitalcontent&id=912

 

Play It Again Ram

It’s a measure of how bad things have been in Jamaica that Thursday’s 90-62 win over the hapless Fordham Rams was seen as payback. Because the case can be made that Fordham is the worst program in the modern history of college basketball and perhaps ever. They have a record of futility that is virtually unmatched – and this is in the A 10 mind you – and have been coached by a conga line of losers that runs the gamut from appalling mediocrity Tom Pecora to giant nothing-burger  Derek Whittenburg, whose most impressive basketball feat was an airball he shot in during the Reagan administration. All of which being said it was pretty pleasurable watching Mullin rub their faces in last year’s game and I taped it and later I’m going to watch it again … SJU jumped out to a 10 point first half lead and looked to be on their way to an early blow out when a combination of events – a loss of focus and the arrival on the court of the bench – let Fordham back in it, so that a made basket after Federico Mussini dribbled the ball off his foot got FU within three. Saint John’s though went on an 8-0 run to end the half and a 15-5 run to start the second (halftime adjustments baby!) and that was all she wrote … Regarding that run, one thing that this team has demonstrated early is that they can take a punch. They bounced back from a loss to Delaware State that could have been demoralizing with their best performance of the year versus Tulane. They lost an 8 point lead versus CSUN and went on to win easily without their point guard on the floor. And last night instead of rolling over when FU cut the lead to three they responded with a run of their own. It’s refreshing to see a team this young have so much poise. Because that’s something that usually takes years to learn … Even considering they were playing Fordham, SJ’s offensive output was prodigious: they shot 60 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three, were plus 20 rebounds, had 10 blocks and 24 assists on 32 made baskets. Once again the defense was atrocious – two giant Eastern European dorks hit 9 three pointers between them – but all in all there is not a lot for even a curmudgeon like me to complain about … Regarding the remarkable three point shooting, is it too soon to credit Mullin and Richmond for that? They are two of the greatest shots in the history of the game after all. Every time some dope dribbles the ball off his foot or misses a free throw a Greek chorus starts chanting that Mullin needs the aid of some washed up loser wizened sage like Tim Welch or Pete Gillen. So do we start crediting Mullin now when every little thing goes right? He’s got four guys shooting over 40 percent from three and Mussini’s over fifty. Is that the result of being coached up and being put in a position to succeed or are we still in the “anyone who thinks Mullin knows what he’s doing is kidding himself” stage. Are any of the little things they’re starting to do right the coach’s fault? Is their resilience a reflection of his own self confidence? I guess the question I’m asking is: is it possible that Chris Mullin knows something about basketball? Maybe it’s too soon to tell, but personally I’m starting to get the warm fuzzies, or at least as fuzzy as I get anyway – I’m starting to see what they’re supposed to be doing, even if they’re not doing it yet: the spacing and ball movement, the pick and roll and back door, the emphasis on the three. They’re still a few pieces short of the puzzle, but all of a sudden they’re starting to look like a basketball team and I think I’m starting to buy in. I guess we’ll know in a couple of months

PLAYERS: Shamorie “WTF” Ponds had a night so _______ that I’m not going to diminish it by picking an adjective to describe it. It was pretty _______ though: 26 points on 9-13 from the floor, 7 of 11 from three (one off the school record set by the legendary Avery Patterson), nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals. The most ______ thing about his game is not his ________ skill set, which is _________ – it’s how calm he is, and how poised, and how the game comes to him. Demeanor-wise he’s already a senior. I can’t imagine what he’s going to be in a couple of years … Mussini had another nice game, but not nice enough for me to eschew adjectives: 20 points in 20 minutes, including a remarkable full court dash and lay in to end the first half. He even drew a charge. Five turnovers is way too many, but I’ll let that slide. For now …. Missus Fun announced last night that Tariq Owens was her favorite player. After cross-examining her to make sure this was not a case of depraved jungle fever I acquiesced. I’m wondering whether Owens moribund start and resurgence of late is the result of his shaking off the cobwebs, having not played for several years, as opposed to incompetence, which was my original theory …. Ahmed had a quiet 12 and 6. Only two turnovers though and an assist, his 13th of the year. Contrary to popular slander, Ahmed is fourth on the team in assists, averaging 1.3 per game. As opposed to say Federico Mussini, who averages less than one …  Kassoum Yawke – who also averages more assists per game than Mussini – fouled out in 12 minutes. To be fair a couple of those were blocks that could have been charges and a couple were chippies. He did though finish with authority on a pick and roll early which was good to see …. Dennis Rodman Amar Alibegovith had eight rebounds in 18 minutes, doubling his total for the year. If this is a sign that he’s realizing that his only value to the team is down low – much like Sean Evans realized in Lavin’s Year Zero – that would be a welcome change. It might even be worth putting up with him clanking threes and bouncing the ball off his feet and decapitating opposing players, which things comprise his skill set now …. Malik Ellison started. In the first two minutes he threw a lazy cross court pass that was nearly intercepted, blew a layup and let a pass go off his fingertips out of bounds, after which he was immediately pulled. Good for Mullin. Other Ellison highlights included receiving a pass in the corner with his foot out of bounds and throwing the ball away on a break. He really is one of the dumber players I can remember … Speaking of highlights, Obergruppenfuhrer Freudenberg made the number three slot on ESPN’s top 10 plays by virtue of a block late in the second half. It was a fine block , but Yawke and Owens make three similar ones a game. Maybe because he’s white, who knows. Also he made the first three of his career. Congratulations Ricky …. Darien Williams also made ESPN: his sideline antics were featured during a piece on the game – a piece in which Shamorie Ponds was barely mentioned. Perhaps if Williams spent as much time working on his game as he does choreographing his end zone dance he wouldn’t suck at basketball and so could get a few minutes actually on the court, as did walk-on Elijah Holifield, who hit a garbage time three at the buzzer …. Sima did not start and barely played and seems to be out of favor for the time being.

NOTES: Really I got nothing. We play Fordham every year and so I’ve plowed that field fallow up to and including an essay about Captain Kangaroo. Donny Marshall and Rick Ackerman are no great shakes but they’re not so awful that they’re worth ranting about and Jim Jackson and whoever the other guy is in the studio at half time, while a little too convivial for me (to be fair Calvin Coolidge was a little too convivial for me) have the virtue of not being Steve Lavin. So I got bupkis …. Apologies to those of you who wrote complaining that my last recap was not adorned by a piece of eye candy at the top. (See Rule 5.) I can understand your disappointment: this is one of the few places on the internet where you can go to see near naked women. Truth is I spent more time than I care to admit looking for a suitably risqué version of Eve Plumb, but couldn’t find anything that wouldn’t have ended up with Chris Hansen showing up at my front door. Plumb gave an Oscar worthy performance as a prostitute with a heart of gold in the underrated 1976 classic Dawn Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, but there aren’t many stills on line, which is weird because you can watch the whole thing on you tube … And finally, yesterday was Tom Waits birthday. Most of you philistines have never heard of him but he is, as the kids say, the balls:

 

 

The Big Easy

mardi-gras-flashing

GAME: What a difference a week makes. On Monday evening after SJU’s embarrassing loss to Delaware State Chris Mullin was a lazy bum who lacked all understanding of basketball and fan forum discussions centered on how much Archie Miller’s buy out is and failing that whether Tom Pecora could be enticed to sit on the bench and offer Mullin the sort of wise counsel that allowed him to win nearly 9 games a year at Fordham. Saturday morning, after Saint John’s dismantled Tulane 95-75, Chris Mullin is a hard working basketball prodigy who deserves all the credit in the world for developing a game plan that put his players in a position to win and whose bench savvy ensured that they did. Of course and in FACT none of that is true. Chris Mullin is exactly the same person he was a week ago, when he said “If you’re looking for panic you’re looking in the wrong place.” (Exactly Chris, if you’re looking for panic read the fever dreams of the hysterical old women who post at Johnny Jungle and Redmen dot calm com.) And the players are exactly the same ones who humiliated themselves on Monday. They’re just a game older. Because this is what’s meant by the up and down in up and down season. Today we are a peacock – Monday we were a feather duster. This is life: there are good days and bad days and days in between. The secret to it all is to remain serene in the face of such vicissitudes. Or at least drunk …. I saw little point in rehashing the box score after the Delaware game and see just as little point this morning. Saint John’s hit 10 of their first 11 threes en route to a 30-15 lead in the best first half they’ve played in the Mullin era and probably going back beyond that. They shot 65 percent from three for the game, 55 percent from the field and 13 of 15 from the free throw line. They had 22 assists to 14 turnovers. They were plus 8 rebounding. On the offensive end Tulane wasn’t awful – they shot 44 percent from three themselves – but their defense was shall we say porous. But it was also one of those night where everyone on Saint John’s was somewhere between on and unconscious. More than the numbers what was striking was the energy with which they came out, on the road, after being humiliated three days ago, when they could have rolled over, and the ball movement, the likes of which we have not seen in a very long time. And in fact on the first possession of the game they were so intent on moving the ball that they didn’t even bother shooting – if the shot clock hadn’t expired they might still be passing it around this morning. Anyway if this is the system, count me in. If the guards stay healthy and they get a couple of players who can finish in the paint this is going to be something to see … First game of the season where Mullin wore a suit and a tie. Looked off the rack but still it was nice to see him taking basketball seriously for a change.

PLAYERS: Nearly all the smalls played well. Ahmed had 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and zero offensive fouls. He airballed a couple of threes but with a line like that you can live with it. Lovett 18 points and five assists. Ponds had 15 points – all threes, he’s shooting 40 percent for the year – and four assists. Mussini had his best game in quite a while or perhaps ever – 17 points, three rebounds, and only a handful of embarrassments on the defensive end. Even Ellison (seven points, four assists) wasn’t is usual atrocious self …. The bigs were another matter. Other than Baruq Owens, who acquitted himself reasonable well (eight points, six blocks), the bigs were more or less invisible. Sima has only two rebounds … Fredenburger – for whom the game is just too fast at present – had no points or assists in 13 minutes but 6 rebounds … Even Alibegowitch got into the act, making his first three of the year, after which he raised his hand in triumph, or maybe relief. Christian who? … Which brings us to Kassoum Yawke, who once again looked lost out there. Kid showed a world of potential last year and obviously it’s way too early to throw him under the bus but he seems to have lost whatever instincts he displayed last year that made him so much fun to watch. He was one for six from the floor – the five he missed were lay ups and chippies and the one he made was a circus shot he banked falling away from the basket that he shouldn’t have taken in the first place – and had three rebounds and one block. You know if he wanted to he could manage a dozen rebounds a game. Threat advisory scale: yellow.

NOTES: Tulane is coached by Brooklyn native Mike Dunleavy, a longtime NBA player who won an NBA championship as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and was later named NBA coach of the year while a Portland Trailblazer. Unfortunately that NBA experience has not translated to the college ranks where Dunleavy now sports a .14 winning percentage. If the comments this morning on the Ye Olde Green Wave Forum (I shit you not) are any indication, Dunleavy better get Pete Gillen on the phone stat, because the fans are none too pleased. For example poster GSx writes than Dunleavy was “completely outcoached” by Chris Mullin – evidently GSx does not read the SJU fan forums, he’d know that “anyone who thinks mullin knows what he is doing is lying to himself.” Poster Waverider wonders “ how much is talent and how much is coaching.” Pete Rache thinks Dunleavy “ completely ignored teaching defense,” while poster RJC laments that Dunleavy’s “experience is only in the pros.” Not one to mince words poster Wavemania declares that “Dunleavy is a loser” and hopes that Tim Welch Floyd is available, although he is willing to give the former NBA coach of the year “two years to turn it around.” NJ Wave wishes Tulane would press more, believes the problem is not lack of talent, and is losing patience with Dunleavy; Baywave believes “ coaches need to do better”; and Rororooter “would have hired a guy who had a proven college system, a system that could win with inferior talent.” (Pete Carill to the white courtesy telephone.) This is after Dunleavy has coached seven games. And the moral is: only the half-clever names have been changed. What I can’t understand is that none of them complained about the most heinous act of Dunleavy’s career: he spawned the repulsive Mike Dunleavy Jr, formerly of DooK university.

God Ram It

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GAME: If I’d know there was a consolation bracket in the Battle4Atlantis and that Saint John’s 75-69 Thanksgiving night loss to Virginia Commonwealth was going to be televised I’d not have recapped the MSU loss and done a twofer. Oh well, just one more thing for you people to give thanks for …. SJU started strong, hitting their first eight shots en route to an 18-5 lead and were on their way to a blow-out win when disaster struck: Malik Ellison entered the game. A few short minutes later the lead was down to four and although SJU managed to maintain a two point lead at halftime the writing was on the wall. VCU took the lead early in the second half and extended it to eleven, but just when you thought the roof was going to fall in SJU made a couple of plays and tied it up. They ran out of gas down the stretch though and made a bunch of stupid plays and took a bunch of stupid shots and missed a bunch of free throws which is just the sort of thing young teams do before they’ve learned how to win close games. On the bright side before you learn to win close game you have to lose a few so at least we got this one out of the way …. Turns out there’s yet another game tonight, this one against Old Dominion, who lost yesterday to Louisville in OT. That does not bode well. Optimists will note that Delaware State and Fordham and a bunch of cupcakes loom on the horizon. Onward and upward.

PLAYERS: It’s striking that the worst game of Marcus Lovett’s short college career – he dribbled the ball off his foot at midcourt before halftime, blew a dunk on a breakaway and missed a couple of free throws late – was three rebounds short of a double double … Shamorie Ponds had 14 points in the first half and was invisible thereafter … Yawke woke up and finally displayed the sort of energy he routinely showed last year. You’d like to see him score a little more – and he would if he’d hit his free throws – but 5 points, 5 rebounds and 6 blocks is nothing to sneeze at …. Sima was productive as well – 12 points and 7 rebounds – but I’d never have guessed he had those numbers without looking at the box score … It’s safe to say after five games that Batshit Bashir Ahmed is not a big fan of the assist. He is going to have to learn that the points his teammates score are as important as the ones he does and when he does he’ll be a better basketball player. Until then we’ll need to accept his step back threes and bull rushes to the basket because there’s no one on the bench who can score 13 points in 20 minutes ….. Division Two player of the year Tariq Owens had zero points in 11 minutes, but the good news is he managed to not foul out …. Mussini only played 12 minutes. Maybe they could use his alleged offense but his defense is so appalling that it’s probably a wash …. Richard Strauss Frudenberg played eight minutes and contributed slightly more than Williams and Alibegic, who didn’t play … Which brings us to Malik Ellison. Last year I wrote often about Ellison’s plus minus, which was so striking to me that I postulated that he was some sort of or Jonah. I think I was probably wrong. I think he really just has a terrifically low IQ, and I’m not even talking basketball IQ, I mean he looks dead behind his eyes like a great white shark. (Maybe Pervis was never nervous because he was too dumb to be scared?) Saint John’s was up 13 when he entered the game. On the first play he inbounded the ball to Lovett and ran up the court oblivious to the fact that Lovett had returned the ball to him, which bounced out of bounds. And it was downhill from there. He was especially egregious down the stretch, making nonsensical spin moves in the lane and hoisting up threes. If he’s the first option off the bench – and he seems to be – this year is going to be longer than even I thought.

NOTES: Several of you have written noting that I made an error in yesterday’s important blog post, confusing MSU’s appearance in the Holiday Festival in 1968 with Michigan’s in 1965. Good catch and thanks for taking time away from your families on Thanksgiving to set me straight. In my defense it was pretty early in the morning and so I was still sober. Trust me that’s a mistake I won’t make again. Anyway the 68 Holiday Festival win was against an MSU team that finished the season under .500 under Pete Newell protégé John Bennington, so that victory wasn’t the greatest in anyone’s history …. Speaking of Pete Newell, two of Steve Lavin’s prize recruits suited up for VCU last night: Samir Doughty and Ahmed Handy combined for three points in 29 minutes, we really missed the boat there …. Today is the first day of the Christmas season, aka Black Friday, a frenzied paean to capitalism that’s traditionally celebrated by shoppers being trampled to death in the parking lot at Target while trying to get an amazing deal on a flat screen TV. Black Friday is so called because it is thought to be the day that retailers books go from red to the black. Fans of irony will enjoy the fact that box store parking lots turn instead from black to red. Lest you think this tradition just other American abomination Black Friday is celebrated across the world, including in countries like India and Romania where you wouldn’t even think they have parking lots, or in the case of Romania, an economy.

 

Spartan Up

marilyn-monroe-thanksgiving-1950

RECAP: Saint John’s lost to the 24th ranked team in the country Wednesday night in the first round of the Battle for Atlantis by nine points, 72-63, and this morning on various SJU fan forums the knives are out for Chris Mullin. Some of that is of course just trolling by trolls and some is just shit posting by shit posters and some of it is just dummies being dumb; the kind that is borne of the sort of impatience that little children exhibit on Christmas Eve waiting for Santy Claus to come is the easiest to understand but is no less inexcusable. Because anyone who went into this year thinking that Saint John’s – of 351 Division One teams the 349th least experienced, with five players who have never played college basketball before, and four sophomores who were last year 1 and 17 in conference play – was not going to spend much of the year getting its brains kicked in delusional; anyone who thought they were going to go on the road and upset Tom Izzo is nuts; and anyone who thinks there is anything to be gleaned from Wednesday’s game about Chris Mullin’s basketball acumen or the direction of the basketball program at Saint John’s is a fool … So yes, SJU lost by nine. Once again they went up early – it was 17 to 9 SJU at one point – and once again the bottom fell out, this time in the form of a 2-14 scoring drought to end the half. They kept things close in the second half until a similar drought, this one 0-10, finished them. Take away Marcus Lovett and the rest of the team shot 29 percent from the floor (14 for 47); they were outrebounded by 20, 53-33; they had eight assists to 16 for MSU. All of which is going to beat absolutely no one, and certainly not the number 24 team in the country coached by one of the best coaches of his generation and there’s nothing Chris Mullin could have done about it, not even implementing the various brilliant suggestions bandied about this morning by the many arm genyiouses who once were assistant coaches in a CYO league in Valley Stream: short of building a working time machine there were no “halftime adjustments” that would help. Pressing would not help, playing zone would not help, running the great Federico Mussini off more screens would not help, the box and one or triangle and two or pentagram and zero would not help. What would help would be if all the players were six months or a year older and smarter and more experienced and 20 pounds heavier. That’s what would help. Because this what happens to young inexperienced basketball teams: they lose games, lots of them, and sometimes badly. As Saint John’s fans I’d have thought you all expert in losing but evidently it needs to be beaten into some of you a little more righteously. Which is why I’m here.

 

PLAYERS: Marcus Lovett again led all scorers, which I think it’s safe to say you can pencil that in for the rest of the year. Twenty points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds. He’s beginning to remind me of another Marcus, see if you can guess who I’m thinking of … The rest of these bums don’t even deserve mention, but it’s a holiday, so: Owens, Yawke, and Sima were a combined 3 for 15 from the floor with 9 rebounds in 62 minutes. Probably there would have been more minutes but Tariq “Baruch Slayer” Owens fouled out again, this time in 11 minutes. For those of you scoring at home that’s 11 more minutes than Christian Jones played last night for UNLV and he’s sidelined with an injury. In two games Owens has managed 10 fouls in 25 minutes of floor time. Some fan forum wag suggested he should foul less often, which I concur …. The other two are 600 minutes into their college careers and I usually don’t throw players over the side until they reach 700, so they better pick it up …. Ponds had 12 points but was invisible most of the night.  …. Malik Ellison’s entry into the game is usually the beginning of the end but last night it was only the end of the middle – that’s all Mo’s coaching baby! My expectations for Ellison are so low that I take his 3 points, 3 rebound, 4 foul 20 minutes as a step in the right direction …. Ahmed hit a couple of threes early, then got a couple of fouls, then got a couple of more fouls and then fouled out with a technical. They’ll need him to do better than 4 for 13 from the floor with one assist if they hope to win some league games. He did have 7 rebounds though … Mussini made a couple of threes but also got called for a couple of offensive fouls and was an embarrassment on the defensive end unless you confuse stumbling around flailing your limbs with a fine defensive effort in which case he was excellent…. But not as much of an embarrassment as Darien Williams, who committed a foul less than a second after entering the game and got burned half a dozen times in three minutes by Miles Bridges – the second freshman to beat SJU single handedly – before Mullin mercifully euthanized him …. Alibegovich probably should have played more, that’s how bad the front court was … All I heard over the summer was what a sweet stroke Richard Heydrich Freundenburgh had and what a graceful athlete he was an so on. He does not look graceful to me and when he shoots he looks like he’s having a seizure.

NOTES: Last night’s game was (ironically) only available on a station called Access, which is the brainchild of Mark Cuban – which is what happens when a moron has too much money – and Ryan Seacrest – which is what happens when a moron has too little talent. This I accessed [sic] through a free trial subscription to Sling TV, an internet based TV service, similarly owned. Although in the not too distant future generations who enjoy cheap on demand entertainment will wonder why television consumers let themselves get fucked for so long by the monster that is time warner – just as today’s television consumers cannot understand the concept of getting up off the couch to change to Channel 11 in time for a Honeymooners marathon – Sling and AXS TV do not seem to be the answer. The Sling TV interface is slow and clunky and the channel offerings in the basic package pedestrian. Like the rest of you I’ll be cancelling on Friday …. The game was called by Kenny Rice, Seth Davis and someone called Tom Walsh. Of Kenny Rice who inflicts himself on much of TV’s horse racing coverage the best thing that can be said is that he’s not Kenny Mayne. Seth Davis is ubiquitous on college basketball halftime and pregame coverage but since I usually fast forward through that dreck I have mostly avoided him before last night. Turns out he’s sort of a self-important know it all douche bag, which made sense once I wiki-ed him and found out he’s a graduate of DoOk university, which makes him just another in a conga line of self-important know it all douche bags that includes cigar store Indians Quinn Snyder, Mike Gminski and Jim Spanarkle , drunkards Bob Wetzel and Bucky Waters, Alaa Abdulakbar, Jay “Look Out for that Tree!” Williams, the repulsive Jay Bilas and Shane Battier’s furrowed head. A little known fact about Seth is that he’s the son of Lanny Davis, long time consigliere of the Clinton crime syndicate…. This was the third meeting between SJU and MSU, and the first MSU victory. Saint John’s rallied from 16 down to beat Cazzie Russel’s 2nd ranked Michigan State team in the 1965 Holiday festival in what is arguably the greatest victory in school history and then beat them again in December 1980, with Michigan half a dozen games removed from a national championship …. Today is Thanksgiving, I mention that only so as to work in the picture of Marilyn Monroe. Gobble gobble.

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!

 

 

DePaul’s Well That Ends

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GAME: Saint John’s lost to DePaul 85-73 Thursday night in Chicago in the battle for the BE basement, which barring a miracle they now have secured sole possession of. Congratulations team … For the first 10 minutes Saint John’s actually looked like a basketball team. They moved the ball better than they have all year and played the same sort of pretty good defense they’ve been playing for the past several weeks. Then they lost the thread and the bottom fell out. They were down 17 at half time and try as they might in the second half they just couldn’t get it under ten. When they got close someone would throw the ball into the stands or miss two free throws and DePaul would hit a three and it’d be sixteen again. On the bright side there’s still two games left to improve our CBI seeding … DePaul shot 50 percent from the floor and 22 of 27 from the FT line. Saint John’s shot 30 percent from the floor, missed 11 FTs and had 14 turnovers. That’s pretty much self explanatory. As an aside, ESPN recently changed the format of its basketball statistics page and like all changes created by gearheads on the internet it made things infinitely worse and more confusing than it used to be. Other than once again offering proof of Fun’s Theorem Number One – All new ideas are bad ideas – thanks for nothing … Interesting sequence in the second half: one of the referees moved Mullin back from the sideline near an out of bounds play by placing his hand flat on Mullin’s stomach and pushing. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that before and to put it mildly Mullin did not looked pleased. What I wrote in my notes was that Mullin “looked like he wanted to bend the guy over and fuck him” but that’s probably an exaggeration – I was making bubbles in a bottle of Bombay Sapphire by then, which isn’t good news for anyone except maybe my gastroenterologist, and is certainly not conducive to cogent commentary. He did stare at the back of the guy’s head for a while though and if the cameras weren’t on I’m pretty sure he would have pimp slapped the guy in to the next county, which is what he deserved.

PLAYERS: Mvouika had 20 points and 6 rebounds. A valued poster on the eminently readable Johnie Jungle site recently referred to Mvouika as “the worst defender to ever have donned a Saint John’s uniform” and he may well be right. But it would be interesting to see how good a defender he could be if he spent as much energy defending his man as he does complaining when he gets called for fouling the guy as he blows past him … Johnson was called for an odd technical when he screamed something as he turned to run back on defense after hitting a three. It looked like the same thing that happens half a dozen times a game. All I can figure is that whatever he said echoed throughout the arena, which was completely empty … Ellison had 12 points and 6 assists. If he’s going to continue to turn the ball over at the rate he does it would behoove him to start hustling back on defense when it happens, as opposed to loafing, which is what he does now … Yawke had 6 points and 6 rebounds, which is pretty good but seems disappointing after the effort he showed against Seton Hall … Sima had 8 points but only three rebounds and fouled out … Chris Jones (10 points 4 rebounds) was flagrantly fouled on a breakaway with SJU down 13 late in the second half. He missed both free throws and turned the ball over on the inbound leading to a DePaul basket. That’s about an 8-point swing. He also missed the first three of his career, the second one he’s taken … Balamou was one for 5 from the floor but had 7 assists … The best shooter Saint John’s has seen since Chris Mullin was 0-5 from the floor and is now 14 for 66 in his last nine games. David Duke could not be reached for comment …  Fucking Alibegovic, I go to all the trouble of learning to spell his name and all of a sudden he starts playing like a donkey.

RECAP: The repulsive Steve Lavin appeared in the studio wearing the sort of glasses bimbos wear when they want to look like intellectuals. The thing about bimbos is that they’re too stupid to realize that they’re not smart enough to fool anyone, especially once they open their mouths – unless their eyes are closed awaiting a big surprise obviously, then no one cares what they’re wearing. In the opening segment Lavin shared his opinion about storming the court – Sean Miller warned after a loss in Colorado that one of his players was going to punch someone the next time it happened – which opinion was as usual was cogent and well thought out: he said that “all it takes is one person to die” and storming would be banned. Which was so stupid that even the guy next to him was dumbfounded, he was like gee Lavs, do you really think it would really take someone actually dying for them to ban it or would maybe a maiming do. This same desk mate gave Lavin credit for recruiting both Yawke and Sima, this after earlier in the year when Lavin took credit for recruiting Mussini, who I notice he doesn’t take credit for recruiting anymore. Right after that they went to break with a highlight of Balamou making a lay up – it wasn’t hard to pick one, he only made one shot all night – and they referred to him as “your guy.” All of which means that Lavin has recruited better this year as a television announcer than he did the last two years he was an actual coach … Lavin appeared on Fatso’s show this week and rumor has it that he started weeping like a big girls’s blouse when he talked about Cap passing. Evidently he also mentioned that he had cancer – I hadn’t heard! – and made a bunch of other excuses as to why he sucks at coaching. I haven’t listened to it yet, I’m saving it, like you save that last bite of pickle so you can savor it at the end of a deluxe cheeseburger meal at a late night diner. Weeping on the radio, lulz.

 

 

Down the Shore

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RECAP: There are days when I can’t even bother faking it, and today is one of those. Not because Saint John’s lost 83-74 to New Jersey Institute – previously oh and 21 against the Big East – at Carnesecca Arena on Sunday afternoon. The losing I can take, I’m well used to it. But sometimes it’s exhausting the way they lose, doing the same dumb things over and over again, not covering guys and missing free throws and whatever. What’s tiring is summoning the patience that losing demands, and especially when the future looks so promising. I mean sure, I’ve been fooled before: there was not a coaching hire since Mahoney that I thought wasn’t a good one and although I wouldn’t throw Mullin in with that conga line of losers I wouldn’t on the other hand presume that he’s the only ship the Utopia Triangle won’t swallow whole, because Jamaica is where coaches come to die. But of course this talk is silly and too premature to even be premature. What is needed is patience. But today I could not summon it and so fast forwarded through the last eight minutes of the loss, because I’ve seen those eight minutes before … So yes where was I: Saint John’s lost 83-74 to NJIT Sunday, blah blah blah blah. Here’s a quiz: Team A shot 34 percent from the floor, 25 percent from three, and 50 percent from the free throw line and Team B shot 52 percent from the floor, 55 percent from three and 75 percent from the line. GUESS WHO WON? Exactly. Relative to those numbers the ebb and flow of the game is meaningless and I can’t be bothered to describe it … As ridiculous as was Team A’s offense, its defense was worse: to the extent Saint John’s cover anyone they do not do it well, and especially the guards, who two barely D-1 guys called Lynn and Chris lit up for 51. Let us lay the blame where the blame should be laid, in the backcourt. These guys stink … And meanwhile Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond sit on the bench watching this disaster unfold, which is like Sir Isaac Newton and Copernicus watching their second grade math class fail an addition test. If my patience is being tested imagine how they feel … This was a tough beat considering what’s coming. They better beat someone by New Year’s, because after that it’s not going to be pretty for a while.

PLAYERS: It’s fashionable among the Red & White crowd to blame Durand Johnson (10 points 4 rebounds) for Saint John’s troubles: their chief claim is that Johnson is lazy. That’s because the Red & White crowd are racist, but not so unaware of it that they still call lazy black guys shiftless. Meanwhile Federico Mussini hasn’t covered anyone at the three point line since Garibaldi was a force in Italian politics and he’s their savior. Whatever. Federico was 5 for 14 from three Sunday, which makes him 9 for 39 this December absent the Syracuse game. Imagine what Heath Orvis might have done had he been afforded 10 threes a game, or Steve Shurina. Oh well, I reminisced enough about GWH Bobby Kelly last time. Time to move on … Mvouika (12 points 4 assists) is another guy who doesn’t cover anybody. It’s a shame he’s Saint John’s best offensive player, otherwise they could sit him … It was in my notes last time that Chris Jones is aggressive going to the basket but “timid finishing,” which is true of all the Saint John’s bigs. They work very hard to establish position but when it comes time to seal the deal go flaccid. Jones had the softest double double in the history of Division I; Sima had 14 rebounds, most of those of his own misses; Yawke was fine but he should still be in high school … Prediction: Albiveckowack is a clown car now but by the time he graduates he’s going to be the best white player at Saint John’s since, I don’t know, Bob Werdan. Which BWP starting five in my lifetime comprises Mullin, Werdan, Wennington, Ron Rowan and I guess maybe the ill-used Tim Doyle, whose basketball IQ was so high he transferred rather than play for Mike Jarvis. The other guy I might go for is Phil Missere, anyone but floor slapping dope Matt Brust, the most overrated player in SJ history. And yes old guys don’t bother emailing about Billy Schaeffer and the Mcintyre brothers and whoever, they were before my time … I’d like to see the plus minus for Malik Ellison, who played nearly 30 minutes, because the game quickly went south when he came in in the first half. He’s the sort of four year player I wish had played when Lou was coaching because he’d never have seen the floor as a freshman because he’s not very good

NOTES: I got nothing. Steve Lavin showed up at halftime commenting on the game, which is like Mrs. O’Leary showing up and commenting on the Chicago fire, but you have to live with his shamelessness. Looks like he’s gone back to coloring his hair although it might be that he has so much mousse on there that you can’t see the gray. Between his coif and Donny Marshall’s sculpted eyebrows it must have been a long morning in the make-up room.

Excuse Me

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RECAP: It seems like more but it was only a year ago that self-proclaimed king of February Steve Lavin had the signature victory of his SJU career, in his fifth and final December as head coach. Chris Mullin took the same magic carpet ride up Signature Victory Mountain on the second Sunday in his first December, when his Red Storm put something of a vicious beating on the 13-point favorite Syracuse Orange at Madison Square Garden Sunday afternoon. Last year Phil Greene, until then moribund .28 career three point shooter – he was 80 for 283 five games into his senior year – awoke from his three year coma and scored 11 straight points to put the Orange away late, much to the delight of the long suffering Saint John’s faithful. This year’s breakout performance was by just as improbable a suspect, but it led to a victory that at least one long-time fan found more satisfying, perhaps because one of our own was on the sidelines. Personally I don’t share the animus many SJU fans feel toward Syracuse. I mean, sure, they’ve kicked the shit out of SJ for years, but the way I see it everybody has to take a beating sometime, and if you have to, why not at the hands of a hall of fame curmudgeon like Jim Boeheim. As opposed to say Jeff Neubauer. But for now at least, Saint John’s is once again New York’s team. Merry Christmas … The game was actually over pretty early. Saint John’s went on a run midway through the first half and were up 9 at halftime, 40-31. Syracuse didn’t get within seven the rest of the way. Every time they looked to make a game of it they were repulsed. On offense SJU played a double high post that flummoxed the 3-2 and on defense Syracuse stunk on offense: they shot 35 percent from the floor, 20 percent from three, and 19-31 from the FT line. SJU on the other hand shot 50 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three, and had 51 rebounds and 22 assists, this from a team that scored 48 points versus Niagara on Wednesday. It helped that Syracuse didn’t press most of the game. Because when they did it was ugly … Mullin was dapper in a suit and tie for his first appearance at MSG, but then I suspect he always dresses up when he goes to church. It seems evident to me that he’s growing into the job and is going to be as good at this as he was at everything else.

PLAYERS:  I noted last recap that I had developed a sneaking suspicion that Amar A-L-I-B-E-G-O-V-I-C was starting to resemble a basketball player. To say that Sunday reinforced that impression would be an understatement: he scored 7 points off the bench in the first half to spur SJU to their lead and finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds; he was 3 of 4 from three, including one from the M in Madison Square Garden. Whether he can sustain it is another question, but better Phil Greene for a day than schmuck for a lifetime … Mussini had 17 points, including 5 -7 from three. He had a rough postgame interview though … Speaking of Phil Greene, Durand Johnson had 15 points on 6-16 shooting. Except if PG4 had 7 rebounds and 4 assists you’d throw him a parade … Sima had 9 points and 8 rebounds and was aggressive in the high post, albeit he threw a bunch of lazy passes … Yawke reminds me either of a left handed Malik Sealy or a shorter Walter Berry, I haven’t put my finger on it yet. He’s not as polished as Sealy was as a freshman or as imposing as Berry, but if he develops even a midrange jump shot he’s going to be a difficult proposition … Mvouika had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Currently he’s 4th in the BE in 3 point shooting at 46 percent … Christian Jones did nothing worth me even looking to see what Christian Jones did … Balawho? Felix tried one of his crazy drives to the basket and was not seen again. I didn’t miss him.

NOTES: The broadcast featuring Bill Rafferty was a delight, marred only by the appearance of Steve Lavin as in stupido studio guest. Attention was brought to the fact that Lavin had last week ‘predicted’ a SJU victory (perhaps Khadim Ndiaye appeared to him in a dream), for which I mocked him, for which he must be given begrudging credit, even though it’s a chickenshit prediction: if the underdog wins you’re a genius and if they lose no body mentions it. Also chickenshit, Lavin took credit for recruiting Federico Mussini, this after Mullin in the postgame interview gave special credit to Lou for his help in that regard, whose efforts Lavin dismissed because he’s, you know, so classy. He also he said the Big East is better this year than last, which of course it is, he’s no longer coaching in it. … This week saw the passing of Adolph “Dolph” Shayes, who was remarkable not only because no one names their kid Adolph anymore after that bit of unpleasantness in Germany in the last century. Nor was it merely because he was a Jewish basketball player who achieved success at the highest levels – a select list that includes coaches Reds Auerbach and Holtzman and Larry Brown, criminal mastermind Doug Gottlieb, Bernard King’s bff Ernie Grunfeld, Amar’e Stoudemire (huh?) and former SJU target Sylven Landesberg … It’s tempting, every time one of these old white players dies, to say to yourself well sure, but how would he have fared in today’s game, which includes negroes and other minorities. And the answer is probably not as well as he did 70 years ago. Because if you figure that all the bad white players in a particular segregated league were replaced by really good minority players, the good white players who were left would have fared worse. But on the other hand reprobates like e.g. Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle would have had the benefit of trainers and drugs and other modern therapies to ameliorate their degeneracies, leading to longer more productive careers. And conversely all the really good minority players would no longer be playing against the bad minority players who populated the bottom half of their segregated league. So it seem to me to be all a bit of a wash. Ruth might not have hit .356 for his career if he had to face Satchell Paige and Smokey Joe Williams every four days, but he wouldn’t have hit .256 either … So if Dolph Shayes played in the 60s or 70s he might not have retired second all-time in scoring and third all-time in rebounding, but he probably would have been pretty good nonetheless. Against the players that were available to play against while he was playing, Shayes in high school won a borough championship in his native Bronx; went to the FF as a 16 year old freshman at NYU; and was the 4th pick in the NBA draft. He was a 12 time NBA all-star. His team made the playoffs 15 of his 16 years in the NBA. He won a championship with the Syracuse Nationals in 1955. In his career he scored more points that Earl Monroe, Rick Barry and Dave Bing, had more rebounds that Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Elgin Baylor and more assists than Dave Debusschere, Billy Cunningham and Sam Jones. After his playing days he went on to be named as NBA coach of the year in 1963, when his 76ers lost to Bill Russell’s Celtics in the NBA finals. So all in all, nice job and RIP … Speaking of cross generational differences, this week the delicate progressive flowers at SUNY Albany were once again afforded the opportunity to alleviate the stress associated with their final exams by cavorting with therapy dogs, which are paid for by your tax dollars. It’s a shame their great grandparents were not afforded the same opportunity when they were storming the beaches at Normandy, otherwise the Nazis might not have won World War II. That’s apropos of nothing, except I saw it in the paper this morning and thought jesus what a load of pussies … And finally from the where are they now file, former SJU guard Max Hooper is lighting it up at Oakland University, where he’s averaging 14 ppg and shooting nearly 50 percent from three. When he recruited Hooper Steve Lavin reported that he was the best shooter he’s ever coached since Jason Kapono, so his success three years later at a mid major comes as no surprise to anyone. What might is that Hooper’s attempted zero 2-point field goals this year and only six 2-pt field goals in three years in Division One. Now that, my friends, is a role player.