GAME: The most striking thing about Saint John’s 77-61 victory over Binghamton University Monday night at Carnesecca Arena was the normalcy of it. It wasn’t like the preseason last year, with a bunch of newcomers and ne’er do wells stumbling around the court in a ballet of incompetence. And it wasn’t like under the previous regime, with Coach Tesla starting his walk-ons and teaching future felons important life lessons and shuffling players in and out randomly under the pretense of discovering just the right recipe for success in February. Instead we got a workmanlike victory by a bunch of good looking newcomers which was all the more enjoyable because there’s no pressure or expectations. Next year this time will be a different story: next year is when everyone expects Mo’s great leap forward. This year we or at least I can just relax and enjoy it … Once again there’s nothing to be learned from looking at the box score, except to note that SJU missed half their free throws, which that can’t continue. The next two games though will tell the tale: even though little Ricky Pitino is on his way to being run out of Minnesota on a rail the Gophers are a real Division One team and Izzo is one of the great coaches of his generation. It’s be interesting to see how everyone react facing real competition …. Missus fun credited me with the fact that Mullin’s hair is back to its normal gray from the Lucille Ball look he was sporting versus Bethune-Cooke, but that seems to me a bit of a stretch. In any event, crisis averted.
PLAYERS: You might have to go back to Erick Barkely to find a freshman guard with as well rounded a game as Marcus Lovett. D’Angelo Harrison didn’t have his handle and neither Daryl Hill nor Omar Cook had his jump shot. The only thing I don’t like about his game so far is his day glo sneakers and I could get over that. Add Shamorie Ponds into the mix and you have the best freshman back court at SJU since Elander Lewis and Marcus Broadnax. Just kidding, since ever. Between them they had last night 44 points (including 9 threes), 8 assists, 14 rebounds (10 by Ponds) and 4 steals. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself but it’s scary to think how good they’ll be in a couple of months, much less a couple of years … Where that leaves great white hope Federico Mussini – who managed a meager five points in 22 minutes on 2 of 7 from the floor – and Malik Ellison is hard to say. Ellison could get some minutes at the three if Ahmed doesn’t turn things around – he wouldn’t be the first JUCO to struggle with the transition to Division 1 – but Mussini is to slow and puny to be anything but a two guard and we already have two guards … Unlike the back court, roles and minutes in the front court are a little more unsettled. Neither Yawke, Owens or Sima have much of an offensive game but all three have good enough hands to benefit from the improved guard play. Forty or fifty minutes shared between their three heads and 15 fouls seems reasonable …. Richard Fredunberg
invaded Poland scored his first points of the year. Congratulations Richard. For all the hype I heard about him in the off season so far to me the most remarkable thing about him is how much he looks like every Waffen SS officer I’ve ever seen watching Holocaust porn on the History Channel… That leaves Alibegovic and Darien Williams with garbage time minutes, which seems about right
NOTES: UB is in Broome County, which might have made for a bit of a gambol if it had been so named for making sweeping implements – like nearby Gloversville is for making gloves and the Collar city Troy for menswear – but unfortunately its named after a minor 18th century politician called John Broome about whom there was nothing remarkable at all. Neither is there anything remarkable about Vestal, where the university is located (trust me, there are no virgins in Vestal), or in fact about most of the I-88 corridor, which although picturesque is essentially a desert with trees and water. The story goes that the only reason the highway to nowhere got built in the first place is because some forgotten NY politician had a summer home in northern Pennsylvania and needed a way to get there after he was through collecting bribes while the Senate was in session in Albany …. UB’s mascot is the bearcat, which although not as apocryphal as the gryphon might as well be. Neither a bear or a cat, it’s actually a sort of weasel and native to Indonesia. How UB settled on it I’ll never know, but there are in fact ten college teams that claim the bearcat as mascot, including recent SJU victim Baruch College, which makes even less sense because that’s in Gramercy Park. At least Binghamton is in an exotic upstate NY … Other than Fordham you’d be hard pressed to find a worse CBB program than UB. They’ve won a mere 25 games in the five years since former John Thompson assistant Coach Kevin Broadus and half a dozen school officials resigned in disgrace in the wake of a scholastic and recruiting scandal that ended with the sort of sanctions the NCAA reserves for corrupt programs that don’t impact their bottom line. To show you how bad things are, current coach Tommy Dempsey was 88 and 12 in three years as a D3 head coach and won 120 games in 7 years at Rider. At UB he’s 25 and 96 and if what I saw last night was any indication things are not going to get better any time soon.