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.