Amir Garrett, one of the new recruits to the basketball team, may just get drafted to a baseball team today; Garrett’s an outstanding pitching prospect with a powerful fastball. What will that mean for the basketball team, down one more recruit from the banner recruiting class that Steve Lavin has brought in? Garrett’s got a lot of skills.
Also: Mark Jackson has been hired by the Golden State Warriors. There’s a lot of chatter about Jackson’s inexperience in coaching on any level, and the pick comes with some risk. But we congratulate him anyway; Mark Jackson was a great point guard at St. John’s under Lou Carnesecca and a great point guard in the pros, despite his lack of quickness; he was very smart about the game. Some of that should translate to his job with the Warriors.
It’s been a good week. It started with the conference schedule preview and the player review of the pre-conference season. And St. John’s has taken their first three games. 3-0 in the Big East, with 2 road wins and a home win over a ranked squad? It’s been a good week. Here’s how it happened:
* So, you might have heard that the Red Storm beat #13 ranked Georgetown at Madison Square Garden. A good deal of the city is waking up to the idea that there is college basketball in New York, and it is good. The Johnnies will try to keep up the momentum; but they have a few days off of game action after the stretch of 3 games in 6 days. We did a Q and A with Georgetown blog Casual Hoya, who is keeping his hand off of the panic button.
* Before that, St. John’s squeezed out a close win against the Providence Friars on New Year’s Day, with some clutch late plays by Paris Horne.
* In the other surprise of the week, St. John’s beat West Virginia fairly handily on December 29th. The difference in score was only 10 points, but on the road in Morgantown, the Red Storm seemed to be in control of the whole game. They Johnnies dew fouls, ran their offense, got deep position… it was a tough, solid win.
Transplanted New Yorker and now Midwesterner Peter a/k/a Pico writes for Johnny Jungle, doing the Calm Before the Storm posts and also for the Church of Bracketology. Pico is also on Twitter, @ECoastBias. Add the East Coast Bias to your .rss feeds; or follow by email.
Levi Johnston dishes on life with Sarah Palin and speaks ill of her marriage to Todd in a Vanity fair article – wow, kid, milk that gossip… The US Senate, with less nepotism… Brazil’s racial problems are deep… will the lobbyists for the health care status quo – like the “Million Med March” (aka “protect the doctors’ salaries above all else”) – even listen to a possible bipartisan health care plan that triggers a public option if the insurance companies can’t meet quality/ cost benchmarks? And why is that called a “compromise” as opposed to “bipartisan” in the article? Should tort reform be in the health care bill?… On lighter notes: The end of “Reading Rainbow“… the Fast Food as the Mafia (graphic, funny, non-political)… and 12 most annoying types of Facebookers.
In honor of the beginning of college football, two fun images. First, a billboard bought by former Notre Dame player Tom Reynolds:
And if you haven’t seen this year’s Oregon Ducks uniforms, check them out when they play Boise State tonight… or look at the winged shoulders here:
In what will be a hotly-followed story, Rich Rodriguez is named in a lawsuit about a Virginia condo development… he’s been connected to a banned booster… he’s accused of violating NCAA rules on how much time coaches required players to spend working out… so of course there’s a Fire Rich Rodriguez site.
The Quad blog from the New York Times has Florida as… #2! So Texas is their #1…
Nebraska gets an extra basketball scholarship (14 total), based on an NCAA mix-up on eligibility standards.
Jim Larranaga’s leaving Twitter after poking fun at a silly NCAA rule about being able to give student-athletes bagels but no condiments/ spreads.
Mets third base coach Razor Shines, perhaps, doesn’t scout the throwing arms of the opposing outfielders.
Scout.com has their Top 75 basketball players in the nation (and Canada) for 2011.
Supposedly Nets’ owner Bruce Ratner is looking to make bank by selling the Nets at a premium price and THEN wants to get the new owners to pay him a hefty fee for the right to play in the Brooklyn Barclay’s Arena… whenever it happens. He’d then get the profits of the stadium without the financial drain of owning the team.
And now, the first of many St. John’s coach Norm Roberts job “may be” on the line if he doesn’t win this year. Of course, someone has to speak to why this year is so different than any other year, and what “get it done” actually means. NCAAs? NIT?
Coming next in the player review series will be Rob Thomas. But today – a photo set from St. John’s sports of an Outside the Lines piece ESPN will be airing on Rob, focusing on his past (it seems) being homeless at times Uptown.
I’ll be looking out for the airing on ESPN and will keep y’all updated.
What I’m reading these days:
While you try to figure out why teens are not tweeting; why passengers were stuck on an airplane for a full night on the tarmac; why in heaven’s name Kathy Griffin was at the teen choice awards, and why with Levi Johnston (you may know him from the Palin Family Values campaign tour); why Nancy Grace is writing a fictional book about… herself.
Or maybe you’re fixated on why “town hall” meetings have not only erupted into (planted) shouting matches, but now include anti-health care reform icons who need to solicit donations for their own health insurance costs, while Sarah Palin is channeling the best of Phyllis Schlafly… as Chuck Norris is ANGRY about lengthy LOGICAL LEAPS he has MADE from a few words of a document?!!
We live in a ridiculously partisan country. And celebrities are selfish, Ayn Rand-loving morons.
I am wondering how someone came up with the idea of a hand cream against sex trafficking… I think it was intentional. And the Chevy Volt’s “230 miles per gallon” number may be a bit exaggerated, dependent on where/ how far you are driving. Still, it may be time to go get your hybrid on. Please enjoy a “what Pico is reading” update, and a picture of Party Down’s Lizzy Caplan looking skeptical below. My wife doesn’t think she’s very cute, I disagree.
But this is a sports blog, and I am following a few other blog for sports news; I will be returning to the 2008-2009 player in review posts for St. John’s basketball. Technical difficulties got in the way. So to pass time in the slow part of the summer for college basketball fans, I’m checking out…
MLB’s online baseball package… soon coming to the Roku, which I own.
Rush the Court‘s “Teams of the 2000s” series, starting with #10, Maryland and #9, Syracuse. I wish I could have convinced people to use the term “the naughty Aughts” for the “zeros” or the “first decade,” but I gave up my crusade in about March of 2000.
From Welsh-Ryan Ramblings, what does need to happen for the perception of Northwestern basketball to change?
Gary Williams speaks to Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News. He is aiming at the ACC title next season (every coach is, that’s a non-story), and talks about his incoming size (Jordan Williams and James Padgett) and the criticism he received last year.
NBE Basketball has started a brilliant staff support series, with interviews with the assistant coaches who do some heavy lifting in near-anonymity.
Also: the Big East is looking to eliminate the double-byes from the conference tournament, instead pitting the #1-4 teams against the 13-16 squads… Linas Kleiza, former Mizzou Tiger, signed with Greek team Olympiakos instead of taking the Denver Nuggets‘ qualifying offer… Jamie Dixon and Pitt got a transfer from Centenary College who is eligible to play point guard this year due to Centenary’s dropping down to Division III… former Knick GM, coach, and pariah Isiah Thomas got a big-time recruit to commit to Florida International… and USC‘s football team breaks into song in a meeting:
5 Points, or, Keys to the Game
Forward Effort? Two free throw attempts by Rob Thomas. 6 shots by Sean Evans with 4 turnovers. 3 boards from Justin Burrell , and 5 apiece from the other two; the team gave up 17 offensive rebounds to a team that missed 27 shots? And only picked up 8 offensive boards on 28 misses. St. John’s didn’t just get defeated on the glass, they were mutilated. Score: F.
Young Legs: The postgame remarks below talk about tiredness, lack of energy (and preparation). The team defended poorly, got out-hustled, and couldn’t score. Score: F.
Defense and Pace: The game was at St. John’s slower pace, but it didn’t matter; the team turned the ball over anyway. Marquette couldn’t score early, but that didn’t really matter, because St. John’s scored like an elementary school team. The defense was hardly there. Score: D.
Repeat Performances: Horne wasn’t terrible, overall, but not an impact player early. Kennedy was relatively okay. Sean Evans didn’t have a repeat performance in him, and the rest of the team actually performed far worse in this matchup than against Marquette on Valentine’s Day. Score: F.
The Basics – Make Shots: Wow. They couldn’t even get shots off. It was sad, disgusting, and I still haven’t seen the second half. Score: F.
(click on the “read the rest…” to see the postgame media and quotes below.) Read more…
With the nominally employed Chris Mullin in the stands, St. John’s lays one supreme egg, losing 74-45 to Marquette. The Johnnies scored 10 points in the first half on three field goals, couldn’t throw the ball into the Hudson, and basically looked defeated with a minute left in the first half.
Hope springs eternal, and way for the Red Storm players to stomp on it. In some cases (see: Sean Evans) the effort wasn’t really there. And the talent is hit and miss, and Paris and DJ couldn’t get going. The shots didn’t fall, and the Johnnies got outhustled by a fresher Marquette team for reabounds…
But that was embarrassing.
Why is Chris Mullin in the stands when he is technically employed by Golden State (though is now a General Manager with no decision-making power)? Is Louie trying to bring one of his own back into the fold? I wouldn’t necessarily think so, but… it strikes me as curious.
St. John’s (likely) ends the season with a 16-17 record, unless the lame CBI tournament comes calling and the Red Storm want to go.
The big question for St. John’s: will point guard Malik Boothe play?
From the NY Post:
Roberts is hoping to get some minutes out of point guard Malik Boothe who underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left thumb on Dec. 21. Roberts said Boothe would not start but he’s hoping to get him some spot duty.
From the NY Daily News:
However, the Johnnies won’t get help from starting point guard Malik Boothe, who is coming off hand surgery. Roberts said he is not yet ready to play in games, but should in the next week.
Which writer is right? At his best, Malik Boothe can make the difference between a close contest and a turnover-filled smashing at the hands of the Pitt Panthers.
The Panthers, are focused for today’s game:
Since the Associated Press Top 25 was released Monday, the Pitt players have displayed a healthy mixture of pride, humility and focus.
“We know it’s out there,” senior forward Tyrell Biggs said. “But we’ve got a lot more work to do. Our goals aren’t finished yet. It’s early.”
Amazingly, Pitt is only the second program to sit atop the AP regular-season Top 25 men’s basketball poll as a Big East school in the past 19 years. The other is Connecticut, which was No. 1 for 21 different regular-season polls in 1998-99, 2003-04 and 2005-06.
St. John’s is focused as well. NY Post:
Following his team’s 71-65 upset of Notre Dame at the Garden last weekend, Roberts’ task was to make sure his players didn’t come down with a collective case of “Big Head Syndrome.”
Boston College took care of that problem. After pulling a shocking upset of North Carolina, the Eagles got flipped by Harvard.
“We saw that,” forward D.J. Kennedy said. “Coach tells us all the time that anyone can beat anyone, but when you see it happen to another team, it’s right there. You know it’s true.”
“Now they are No. 1 and trying to hang on to it,” Kennedy said. “There’s a lot of pressure that comes with being No. 1. And we come in feeling good and with nothing to lose. No one is giving us a chance in this, but no one gave us a chance last weekend.”
St. John’s (10-4) got a taste of what it’s like to send a shiver through the college basketball world when it defeated then-No. 7 Notre Dame, 71-65, last Saturday at the Garden. The Johnnies got that win by doing two things that they hadn’t: play with intensity for the entire game and not collapse in the face of adversity. When the Irish led big early, the Red Storm mounted a comeback. When its lead was threatened, St. John’s beat them back.
“We showed them how to win,” Johnnies coach Norm Roberts said. “I can’t tell you if the light went on for them. We’re preaching to them to stay focused and intense. We want them to stay confident.”
I suppose I could say something about it taking them this long to “learn how to win,” and stay focused… more on that from the New York Times:
The Red Storm underwent a bit of an attitude adjustment after a 21-point loss to Providence in its Big East opener on Dec. 31. The players said a heightened dedication in practices and the subsequent, and, admittedly, uncharacteristic effort against Notre Dame proved rewarding….
“We learned a lot about playing 40 minutes,” the sophomore forward Sean Evans said. “We have to bring this mind-set to every game.”
Evans spoke about how much more focused he and his teammates were in practice. The sophomore forward Justin Burrell said that the team was working harder in practice than he could remember, and that there was none of the bickering or distracting side conversations that had been too prevalent in the past. And the sophomore swingman D. J. Kennedy confirmed that that had been the way the team had operated since the Providence loss. Even Roberts was willing to acknowledge a rise in intensity, though he attributed it to preparing for a hard-nosed team like Pittsburgh (14-0, 2-0).
“We’ve emphasized being much more physical in practice,” Roberts said.
He showed his team on film things it did against Notre Dame that it needed to continue doing. Those things have roots in effort and determination like rebounding with both hands and playing tough on-ball defense; the Red Storm held Notre Dame to four 3-pointers compared with its average of 9.3 a game. It also includes executing the offense with patience to get the ball inside and attacking the basket in transition rather than settling for jump shots.
Again, why it takes so long to get a team to play the right way… but if they can keep it up, it will be water under the bridge.
DJ Kennedy’s coming home to play in front of friends and family.
Huge Pitt stop for St. John’s, from the NBE Basketball report.
The Vegas point spread is 19.5 points in favor of Pittsburgh..
03 Notre Dame | 11 @ Pittsburgh | 15 Connecticut | 18 @ Villanova | 22 Cincinnati | 24 Rutgers | 28 @ West Virginia
Now for the conference part of the schedule. I held off on writing/ posting this because watching a team ball against the worst teams in Division I says very little… but I didn’t think it was say THIS little. The games against three ACC teams that will not be top-4 seeds in the NCAA tourney did not hold promising results. A repeat of a chart from yesterday’s Providence pre-game post is in order. Again…
|3 Game Averages||
|FG Att + FT Att||
Note that whipping on the boards, and how each team has averaged 8 more opportunities to score (assuming that each field goal attempt has around a 50% chance of going in, so one point for each attempt. Which isn’t true, but for the purposes of this exercise, it’ll have to do, pig); if this is the result against weaker opponents, how will they fare against the superpowered Big East?
This look will also refer to the Notes on the Big East Preview I posted months ago . I’ll be using AP Poll, RPI, and Pomeroy Rankings expressed in parentheses like (AP Ranking/RPI Ranking/Pomeroy Ranking) rankings throughout.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7/80/33) basketball team is one of extremes – extremely efficient on offense and surprisingly low on free throw attempts. Good at not sending other teams to the line and bad at forcing turnovers. Somehow, I think it will work out for them. Same cast, with Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney more than making up for the lesser offensive production of Tory Jackson and Zach Hillesland, with the addition of Ryan Ayers playing well. Not gonna be pretty. Though there are more forwards to check Harangody this time around, and last time the Red Storm did slow them down.
I had thought DeJuan Blair was way too undersized for the NBA. But a guy who rebounds on both ends like that? He needs to be considered. If they can just enhance his “basketball height” he’ll get some serious NBA looks. As for the Pittsburgh (3/2/4) game, last year’s matchup against the Panthers was one of many horrifying beatings on the Madison Square Garden floor. With Pitt rolling on all cylinders, the game in Pittsburgh’s Peterson Center, and no Anthony Mason Jr. to put in 29 of 57 points that the Johnnies scored, this could be clownishly bad. They are passing well and right now are the scary-good contender for a #1 seed in March.
Connecticut’s (2/9/7) players probably started envisioning going undefeated… then Georgetown happened. I would say that it was a learning experience, but the thing I noticed was the play of Greg Monroe setting the pace early. How many high post/ 3-point shooting centers with basketball IQ who know how to get Thabeet out of the post will they face? Not that many. But perhaps the rest of the team will wake up and play a bit harder against weaker foes; Coach Jim Calhoun is good at motivating. As for this game, Calhoun loves to run it up on Coach Norm. Last year’s game involved bad turnovers and a lot of running after those turnovers. Jerome Dyson had a career day with 9 steals. U Conn is still there among the top of the league. But for today, at least, they are at the bottom. What can I say, I’m a hater and I revel in it. The U Conn fans will fill the Garden and revel in their victory.
I had some doubts about Villanova (15/35/28) but they have really honed their game. Dante Cunningham is aggressively taking shots on the inside and Reynolds and Stokes are stroking from the outside. Corey Fisher… well, he’s contributing. They clean the glass on both ends, they win the turnover battle handily, and they get to the line. College basketball really is a guards’ game for the Wildcats. After last year’s game against the Red Storm, there were longer pieces in the media about how the Red Storm were so far away from competing in the Big East. And this was after a game where ‘Nova’s offensive production could have lost it for them, but St. John’s was just THAT BAD at shooting the ball. If the Wildcats are getting their shots off, it’ll be very hard for the Johnnies to catch up.
So the “break” in the schedule comes from that Cincinnati (NR/57/55) team that has had some rough spots but also sports some talent, along with a LOT of size. This is a relatively winnable game at home, but who’s to say the Bearcats won’t be on a streak here? They have a lot of talented finishers, pass the ball very well for a team without a true point guard (passing is everybody’s job!) and are tops in the nation at grabbing offensive rebounds. The Storm and the ‘Cats split their games last year, with St. John’s winning by 12 (!) and then losing by 16 on the road without Mase.
The freshmen of Rutgers (NR/172/140) will hopefully not have grown into their games yet. Really, I see Mike Rosario coming on really strong at the end of the year; and Echenique will as well, if they find someone to get good at actually passing the ball. Corey Chandler has a high assist rate, but he also has a high “taking shots he doesn’t make” rate. There really has to be some question about how the talent that’s on the team – not overwhelming, but there – still can’t find ways to score as consistently as they need to. St. John’s won a boring sludge of a game against the Scarlet Knights last year… this one may be just as ugly, but could go either way. Right now Pomeroy’s Predictor says the Storm has an 83% chance of winning. That will change downward.
West Virginia (NR/15/3) is currently unranked. Their RPI is 15. Pomeroy’s site, which has been pretty good about calling up unknown but very good teams, has them at #3. Who’s smarter, the AP poll or the nerdy numbers? Truck Bryant (who publicly stated that he wanted to come to St. John’s) has been fantastic, as have Alex Ruoff and Da’Sean Butler. Of course they defend and of course they rebound well. Freshman Devin Ebanks’ numbers seem to indicate that he will see his sophomore year instead of a handshake at the podium with David Stern while wearing a team cap. The efforts of Joe Alexander put the Mountaineers over the top last year against St. John’s. Someone else will have to abuse the Red Storm forwards off the dribble this go-‘round as St. John’s closes out their first month of Big East play.
How many of these games do you think St. John’s will win???
(photo courtesy of AZ Central)
And not "Lieut", as they say on Law and Order.
Gary Parrish has a piece on how perhaps Lute Olsen should have resigned, that he was losing a step or had lost control. And that if he had stepped down, at least earlier in the year, the school could have found a new, high profile coach (more on that below). The AZCentral/ Tuscon Citizen has a timeline of Lute’s crazy last year, filled with drama, weird moments, and rancor.
It’s sad to see a college basketball icon go out like that. And really, it’s sad to see anyone struggle with the decision and then choose to leave at an inopportune time. As long as he doesn’t claim to be rejuvenated in a few months and asking for his job back.
But I always hate that coahces of any age love to tell kids not to be quitters… but then they quit, like Bob Knight. And they quit when their team needs him. Look, a man or woman has to know if they can fulfill their obligations. Not so far as "I didn’t blink", but at least to the point where if they accept the job, they plan on trying their damnedest to make it work for the duration of the important period of their jobs.
Coaches like Bill Parcells and Bob Knight just piss me off. It’s obnoxious to simply decide, a few days into practice, that he doesn’t want to coach anymore. If it is health related, say so. To me, sports is supposed to teach responsibility. The man could have called his retirement at the end of the year and done his goodbye tour, letting some of his assistants do some game coaching, taking a game off for "health reasons" or "chasing Arizona skirt" reasons.
The future of Arizona basketball will likely be bright. Though some top recruits have moved on (Negedu to Indiana, for example), there is some talent. And The Wildcats have a strong brand name in college hoops. Parrish mentions a couple of very likely candidates to be candidates – Gonzaga’s Mark Few and Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon. Dixon is a California guy, and has coached at Northern Arizona. he did turn down an offer to become coach at Cal – was it because he loves Pittsburgh so much or because Cal is a weaker job in the Pac 10? The Associate Head Coach, Tom Herrion, has been a head coach before.
Whoever gets a look at Arizona will start the annual coaching shuffle, where coaches are booted from their hot seats and hot coaches are elevated. Will Mark Few want the Arizona job (Gonzaga’s pretty nice and almost ensured a spot in the NCAAs)? Will Lute Olsen’s spectre loom over the program? Will Lute Olsen’s influence loom over the program? What hot mid major coach will try to make a jump (Fran MCCaffrey from Siena is the first who comes to mind)?
Will the mercurial Bob Knight make his return in Arizona (I doubt it)?
But food for thought. Any coaching names that sing out to you?