I’ve been dreading this moment since the horn sounded on March 9th of 2017, when St John’s was last seen dropping a 41-point squeaker to Villanova. Not the sounding of the horn that will herald the beginning of a new St John’s basketball season, one that will inevitably end in failure and disappointment. That I’m inured to. What I was dreading was the task of chronicling it. So much so in fact that for most of the summer I considered myself retired into casual fandom: that is, one who gets drunk, watches the game and gets progressively drunker and drunker until even lobster rolls sound appetizing. It wasn’t until mid Friday morning, when I trended briefly on Twitter – just below Roy Moore, the alleged ephebophile who will be the next senator from the great state of Mississippi and just above Louis CK, a serial Onanist – that I resigned myself to my fate: writing 60 thousand words about a basketball team that’ll make the NIT if everything goes well. Because 60 thousand is a lot of words, just about a novel: Lord of the Flies and As I Lay Dying come in under that and Nineteen Eighty-Four and Catcher in the Rye just above it. And really unless you’re a gaseous hack like David Foster Wallace or a blind lunatic like James Joyce that’s all you need. My own unfinished great American novel, a tale of Jewish gunfighter in the old west with a working title of A Man Called Chutzpah (although I’ve also considered The Oy!Klahoma Kid) clocks in around there, and if I put as much effort into that as I’m going to put into this I’d be short listed for a Booker Prize come October. But really, what’s a the value of a Nobel Prize in literature when weighed against the opportunity to rehash box scores and post pictures of titties on the internets for 200 readers. I think you’ll agree I made the right decision.
About the game there’s not a lot to say – it’s still early in the season as one genyious fanboy posted during the second half of St John’s first exhibition game a week ago – and besides at this point I can hardly tell one player from another. In general they looked okay. The ball movement was there (17 assists on 25 made baskets) and there seemed to be a bit more effort on defense, although whether NOP shot 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from three because of St John’s defense or because they stink I can’t say. Lovett (23 points, 4 steals) and Ponds (12 points, 7 rebounds, six assists) looked as they are touted to be, one of the better back courts in the league and maybe the country. Clark and Simon looked like legitimate D1 players. Tariq Owens is still a twig but he had six rebounds in 20 minutes and made five of his six free throws and committed zero personal fouls and that’s not a misprint. Even Bryan Trimble looks like a player. The bad news is that the guys who’ll need to step up for St John’s to overachieve their way onto the tournament bubble – Yawke, Ahmed and god help us Amar Alibagowich – did not look particularly sharp: Ahmed had four of SJ’s 11 turnovers, Yakwe had no points and no rebounds in eight minutes, and AA was worse than those two … For his part Mullin wore most of a suit and didn’t sit anywhere inappropriate and looked active and engaged. Which is good, because this is the year when things have to start getting better.
NOTES: I had a bit of a kerfuffle with Direct TV at the start of the game, which was supposed to be on but wasn’t. Credit them though, a quick call to a beddy beddy solly representative righted things, meaning I only missed the first 10 minutes or so. The bad news is that I had to watch in real time, meaning I had to sit through at least a dozen commercials for some weird cult called values dot com that featured John Lennon caterwauling his way through Imagine, which made me want to hang myself. I know it’s fashionable to think Lennon was the genius in the Beatles but at his worst he was just as treacly as McCartney and a pretentious hypocrite to boot: a faux socialist multimillionaire junkie who described himself as bigger than the Baby Jesus explaining how we could all live as one if only we had no possessions or gods, which lyrics he wrote on a $100,00 Steinway grand piano he could barely play in a chalet he rented in the south of France where he lived while his castle was being renovated. I also had to sit through the first appearance of Steve Lavin’s double chins during halftime. I don’t remember what was said but I’m sure it was stupid and self-aggrandizing and similarly shameless… New Orleans University is located in – wait for it – New Orleans, New Orleans being located in the Louisiana, home of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, who once won the Democratic Party vice presidential primary in the state of New Hampshire. (Look it up.) Famous alums include the lesbian Ellen DeGeneres; modern first collector and Emmy winner John Laroquette; former MLB players Wally Whitehurst, Jim Bullinger (one of five pitchers to have hit a home run on his first major league pitch) and Ellen’s favorite player Randy Bush, a two time World Series champion with the Minnesota Twins; and the actor Billy Slaughter (no relation to Enos), who I’ve never heard of but who once appeared in a movie with Margot Robbie, the talented actress seen above …. New Orleans mascot is the privateers, privateers being a species of swashbuckling rapists that included such luminaries as
Harvey Weinstein, Francis Drake, Captain Kidd (whose buried treasure I searched for futilely as a child during idyllic summers on Long Island’s north fork) and Jean Lafitte, an otherwise degenerate frog whose heroics in the battle of New Orleans in 1814 are as much responsible for existence of the United States as pretty much anyone. Still, he’s french, so fuck him. (Lavin’s a POS, check. Democrats are racist, check. The french suck, check.) Despite their recent entry into Division I the Privateers have arguably been as successful as St John’s over the past generation (five NCAA tournament appearances) and in their taste in head coaches as well: Butch Van Breda Koff, Tim Floyd, Tic Price, Monte Towe (all five foot seven of him) and Buzz Williams all coached there before moving on to better things, which used to be a show Louis CK produced, until yesterday, when it was discovered that he forced women to watch him pleasure himself. So having come full circle, imagine banging this for 20 years, you’d invite Mark David Chapman in for coffee: