Friday, January 17, 2003

Johnny On the Spot 1.17.03

This is the St. John’s men’s basketball offense, as coached by Mike Jarvis.

Elijah Ingram brings the ball over half-court. Passes it to Marcus Hatten. Hatten dribbles. Looks at defenders. Dribbles some more. Dribbles some more. Perhaps passes it into the post if he’s feeling like a philanthropist. Perhaps receives a screen. With 7 seconds left, Hatten drives down the middle, whether he has received a favorable screen, gotten his defender off-balance, et cetera. Or he passes it to Glover who uses on of his low post moves (always in slow, fat, Clarence Weatherspoon/ undersized + fat center motion) and the team throws up a brick from some distance. Then they get offensive rebounds and can’t find the hole from one foot out.

All of this is just fine in a rec league game where short mortgage brokers repeat the story about the one time they played a guy on their high school basketball team and scored all over him. But in Division I, Big East College basketball? This is becoming a little questionable.

Not as questionable, of course, as Greasy Steve Lavin out on the west coast. As the coach of UCLA, one is held to a high standard. And Steve Lavin’s teams consistently enter the season playing at a low level. That way, of course, when they get a gift invote to the NCAA tournament, people can act surprised when they actually play (such as the time the Baron Davis/ Jaron Rush team rolled over Maryland in 1998, by a score of 105- did you show up).

This year, they have found a new bottom. They have lost to St. John’s, on their home court, in a nationally televised Saturday game. It was a bricklaying stinker, a booty bowl, an effort by both teams not to win. But St. John’s using their abilities to trip over loose balls and occasionally hit one of the many three-pointers they take, managed to squeeze a victory out.

Meanwhile, out in sunny California, Jason Kapono, star forward of UCLA talks about how the team just comes out without intensity.

A few days later, Mike Jarvis tells the media, “free throws and layups can be the most difficult part of the game. It’s the psychological side to them. So much is riding on them and this game is 90% mental.”


Well, knowing the importance of the mental side, and knowing that you can’t teach a guy to run much faster, get up much higher, or shoot straighter (that’s what training and steroids are for), then it stands to reason that the coach should handle the teaching of the mental aspect of the game. That he should keep his team prepared, mentally ready, and aggressive.


The world is already on the Steve Lavin watch. But Mr. Jarvis, I ain’t saying nothing, but… how’s your resume look?

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