Thursday, February 20, 2003

Storm Clouds 2.19.03

I walked NYC yesterday in a suit, raising my pant leg to slide by the one-skinny-man wide paths people had made at the crosswalks in Manhattan, and to walk on the kinda-paved streets of Queens. I walked through slush, high-stepped through unplowed snow paths where a few brave folks had tamped down the white stuff with footprints.

All of this to come home in time to shovel more snow and watch St. John's basketball.

I don't know why I watch. This is a team who was up 16 points on Providence College, a team with 3 Big East Conference wins aagainst 7 losses. St. John's had "slipped" to 5-5 in conference play; and they needed to win that Providence game; it's not common to receive a bid to the NCAA tournament with less than a .500 winning percentage. Okay, got that? We're all set up?

After whaling on Providence College for a half, the Providence Friars came out with this wacky new invention called "the zone." See, instead of matching up one on one, they stand there with their arms up and sometimes they inch closer to the ball. This wacky new tactic, apparently never seen by Mike Jarvis in his many years (except in the last two games, both losses), requires either 1) outside shooting or 2) a very good penetrator and a mid range jump shooter to attract the back of the zone. I know. Crazy stuff.

So St. John's loses by 6, since Marcus Hatten didn't penetrate and shoot every ball; and his teammates proved once again that the three point line is made of kryptonite-- step back more and jack it up before it gets to us!!!

That was horrible to watch.

Last night they faced the ranked Syracuse Orangemen. Those crazy kids! Talent, homecourt advantage, et cetera. But St. John's played as I remember them to-- ugly, defensive, filled with steals. In fact, they could have won. Even thought Syracuse whipped out that crazy "zone" thing again. Now, they had a plan. Wow! Anthony Glover at the free throw line, center Abe Keita looking for a pass under the basket after Glover gets the Syracuse center to commit some attention to him. A little dribble drive by Mr. Hatten.

They forgot a few things. They had chances despite 'Cuse's quickness. But Glover forgot he has the option to "shoot," Keita forgot that most big men, when covered, should bob up and down like a bunny rabbit and get someone to jump in the air; that center then pretends to shoot and goes to the free throw line (though when Mr. Keita got there he put up an airball. Nice.); and that while Hatten's not a great shooter, point guard Elijah Ingram shouldn't try to make him look good.

Elijah Ingram. Rookie from Jersey. Goofy looking high-arcing shot. Pulled a John Starks. I believe it was 2-18. Two for eighteen. From behind the three-point line. That means that he hit two shots. Fairly open. He had 16 shots that were also sometimes open. Never at the end of the shot clock. None of those went in. St. John's would rebound, they would grimace, they would struggle. Until Mr. Ingram leapt up in the air and shoot from his numbers or his ear or whatever. Criminey.

So, yeah... they lost. Again. And I just checked the stats. It's 2-20 from beyond the arc. 3-22 from the field.

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