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TD: St. John's Preview/Blog

Date: 1/28/2012

Two Dukies  
Posted By: Matt

Volume XV, Episode 6
January 28, 2012

ST. JOHN'S (9-11, 3-6 Big East) @ #8 DUKE (17-3, 5-1)

Matt's comments in blue. 
Pavor Lostell's comments in white.

BOOTSY DEPARTMENT:  So most of you know that the Bootsy Award, an exclusive, 100%, wholly-owned, revenue-generating trademark of Dukies.com, refers to those not-so-rare occasions when someone from the opposing team, usually a makeup-sporting, airhorn-blowing clown, unexpectedly lays a career high in points on Duke.  The actual Bootsy, one Marvis Thornton III, known to his friends and to Duke fans everywhere by his fey nickname, was a real-life guard for St. John's in the late nineties and early double-0s.  (Is there any consensus as to what we're calling that decade yet?  If not, I like "double-0s," even if it doesn’t make that much sense.)  Bootsy committed his first atrocity against the Blue Devils on January 26, 1999, coming out of absolutely nowhere to score a (you guessed it!) career-high 40 points at the Garden, taking that destined-to-fail-in-St. Petersburg-yet-otherwise-unstoppable-well-yeah-there-was-that-coast-to-coast-Melvin-Levett-crap-in-Alaska-too-but-anyway Duke team to OT before the Blue Devils won, 92-88.  For those of you who remember, this was back when St. John's had real players, if probably illegally recruited by Mike Jarvis, and who also happened to be head cases like, oh, say, Ron Artest and Erick Barkley - - but the series made sense because the Red Storm was about as close as the Big East got, outside of Syracuse and that RICO enterprise that I don't feel like dealing with right now, to offering up a "quality" program.  Great game.  But Bootsy wasn't done with Duke just yet.  The next season, at Cameron, he drilled a three from the extreme right wing with 11 seconds remaining to give the unranked St. John's squad an 83-82 win over the Blue Devils.  Thornton actually limited himself to just 22 points in that one, but that's all he needed.  This latter horror occurred on February 26, 2000, and if that date sounds familiar, it should!  Yes, that's the last home loss by Duke to an OOC team.  So . . . the Bootsy.         


Choose one of the following.  Use your best judgment to select one of the following answers.  Incorrect answers do not count against you, except in the sense that you don't get credit for answering correctly, so you should probably just f-ing guess if you don't know.

Bootsy Thornton's most recent gainful employment was:

(a)  Freelance Forest Hills-based hitman
(b)  Played "Douchebag No. 3" on five episodes of Entourage
(c)  Third-string shooting guard for club team based in Siena, Toscana, Repubblica Italiana
(d)  Assistant coach in Buzzard Peterson's third try as the coach of App State  

DUKE'S DEFENSIVE PLAN TO PREVENT A LATE-GAME BOOTSY SHOT:  Oh, sure, I've got that right here; thanks for asking.  Rivers will pointlessly overplay the inbounds pass, while Mason makes sure to hip-check Seth Curry into the scorer's table to prevent the latter from any needless interference with the opposing point.  Finally, Andre Dawkins will gaily launch T-shirts and other souvenir fare into the adoring, if half-empty, Cameron student section while his man, lounging unmolested 35 feet away, hits the game-winning three at the horn.  Oh, wait - - no, no.  That was the *last* home game.  Sorry.  I actually don't have Duke's plan to stop this from happening.     

DID HE SAY HE WAS WATCHING BOSTON COLLEGE AT VIRGINIA? DEPARTMENT:  Yeah, I was working (for free, of course) at my other, volunteer job in the Dukies.com Command Center the other night and managed to escape the swirling winds of excrement that NCCH's typical dismantling of the Wolfpack had generated.  On a side note, why does NCSU bother showing up for these games, whether at the Dump Dome or the ESA?  Just wait until ten minutes before tipoff and call in the forfeit to Dunkin' Donuts or wherever Swoffie has parked himself to enjoy the game "action."  Mark Gottfried - - don't let me down! 

SO . . . DID HE SAY HE WAS WATCHING BOSTON COLLEGE AT VIRGINIA? DEPARTMENT:  What the hell is happening here - - where's the Records Room?  Anyway, yes, after that ludicrous insult to its (now teeny) fan base authored by North Carolina State, and a quick tour of Big Ten impostor Nebraska unfortunately defeating Iowa on Espen Deux, I actually found myself watching, on background, Boston College at Virginia.  As you know, Boston College starts seven freshmen, and Steve Donahue sure can cure the common cold or something, because Adrian Branch was just about convinced that BeeCee was ready to rejoin the conference elite by next week, latest.  Whatever, AB!  Also, the offensive on-court stickers depicting some sort of commercial institution's service mark were actually larger, at least combined, than the Led Zeppelin Bass Player Arena midcourt Cavalier logo.  Finally, I believe Virginia finished the game on something like a 19-2 run, but that's not important.

WHAT, IF ANYTHING, IS THE POINT OF THIS STORY? DEPARTMENT:  So it finally gets to be halftime in Charlottesville, and there's only so much that Dari Nowkhah and Tim Welsh can say to each other in the studio, so they take all five of us out to watch bonus coverage of Butler tilting against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  The other four guys go off to take a whiz, and because I'm the only one watching, something absolutely hilarious happens.  The PBP guy for Espen Trois, right on cue as the switchover happens, introduces us to the late-second half contest in the 40s by saying something along the lines of "although you can watch this game on your computer, the question is - - will anyone want to?"  Then Butler, which will not be entering its third straight loss in the national title game this season, starts fouling deliberately at the end, and Captain Cheerful announces, in paraphrase, that "this will be the longest 41.7 seconds of everyone's lives."  After checking this guy's Twitfeed, I now realize that this is all part of his regular shtick, but at the time I thought he was unintentionally committing career suicide, and color guy and former Milwaukee Panther Adrian Tigert (just don't ask how I know these things) had the same idea, sounding dutifully horrified like they were going to get canned on the spot.  Will Haskett - - thanks.  I enjoyed it. 


The NYC sports media doesn't have much to talk about right now, I guess, so it's been all over the news that the Johns started five freshmen against WVU in their last game, which coincidentally was a huge win, and that's "believed to be" the first time that the school has deployed five freshman starters since 1928, Tanner Smith's second year of eligibility.  My question is - - believed to be?  Uh . . . can we check?  I mean, there are records around, right?  Or did Skynet destroy most of those in the war?  Seriously, M2D's Law #59 clearly states, and I quote: "If you're going to make a huge deal out of some statistic, please do us the solid of verifying that it's correct first."  Thanks, guys.  We will now assume that St. John's will repeat this stunt for today's game.

Sir'Dominic Pointer, 6-6 FR - - how does this work, as in, am I supposed to have stats on these guys?  Of course the names are ridiculous; it's St. John's.  The ludicrously monikered Pointer blocks shots and pilfers the rock, but is a complete butcher from the line and can't hit from outside, which, translated into Duke 2011-2012ese, means "mark him down for 14 points on 7-8 shooting from the field." 

Moe Harkless, 6-8 FR - - sounds like a down-on-his-luck drifter in an early Scorsese movie.  In actuality, he's a pretty good sanitation guy who boards well defensively and plays more of his team's minutes than all but 35 other players in Division I, according to Ken Pomeroy.   

Amir Garrett, 6-6 FR - - supposedly throws a 95-MPH fastball and, in an unrelated story, was drafted as a lefty pitcher by the Cincinnati Reds.  He's the guy who is taking the court at the opening tip so that the SJU Infominions can say that they think they're starting five freshmen for the first time since the Gadsden Purchase.  Another total subrimdweller who has no shot beyond three feet, but I think I've made the point about the Blue Devils' defense. 

Phil Greene, 6-2 FR - - the point guard, racking up a decent number of assists but also turning the ball over at a dramatic rate.  No outside shot (9-47, or 19.1% from arcland) and does a great matador impression on defense, if stats do not lie. 

D'Angelo Harrison, 6-3 FR - - the only distance shooter on the team, and I don't mean that like I usually do, where there's one guy who's pretty good, and the rest of the players who attempt triples are down in the 30-33% range.  Nay, he's at 33.6% from range, and the next best Storm member (huh?) in this category is at 25.0% (3-12).  So, yeah, guard him outside.  He's a native of Sugar Land, Texas, known to all of us as Daniel Ewing's hometown.  I miss that kid. 


Well, this won't take long.  Musburger and Vitale (oof) are guaranteed to announce that the Portajohnnies have "seven [I think] scholarship players," a trope that I'm pretty much over hearing.  A lot of good teams have only ten scholarship players, and very few teams actually use the full thirteen, plus there's walkons who get schollies, and it's really all about the quality of the players anyway, so let's put this tiresome cliché to bed.  However, it is true that St. John's has little depth and only played seven individuals against West Virginia.  I'm just sick of the "they ONLY have X scholarship players" remark, which is fast approaching "under his own power" and "fresh 35 on the shot clock" status as a federally mandated announcing bromide, and has the added bonus of quite often not illustrating that which it purports to do.   

God'sgift Achiuwa, 6-8 JR - - juco transfer from - - oh!  This is cool; he last played near some of my former stomping grounds, in downtown Buffalo for the Erie Community College Kats.  I love it.  The name, of course, is a keeper.  He's also a Lagostiff.  This guy is frankly too much.  He's actually also one of the top 100 players in the country at getting to the line (free throw rate). 

Malik Stith, 5-11 JR - - the lone returnee from last season.  He's strictly relegated to backing up Greene and has been terrible with the ball this season. 

GET WELL DEPARTMENT:  Lavin will miss this one as he continues to recover from prostate surgery, and while I don't like him and he doesn't like Duke, I still wish him the best and hope he gets back to the sidelines very soon.  Assistant coach Mike Dunlap is running the team in the meantime.  Also, I hope Bobby Cremins, whose sixth season as Charleston's head coach came to a sad end yesterday due to an unspecified medical issue, gets better soon.  One of my favorite coach-related pieces of trivia in college basketball is that those idiots at GIT named the court after Bobby after firing him . . . and then he comes back coaching strong at another school.  Love it.  Feel better, guys. 


Yeah, sort of, but it isn't rationally based.  I don't want to look it up, and I'm 98% sure that Duke's Infominions didn't tell us, but I imagine that the last time that Duke lost two in a row at home has to have been in 1995-1996, unless we dropped two straight home games in that fire drill of a 2006-2007 season, but I don't think so.  So I'm definitely not trying to answer that question more definitively, and I certainly hope Coach K sacks up and decides that St. John's, of all schools, is not going to bookend Duke's long OOC home winning streak.  They're simply a crappy team, and if the same guys who drubbed Stupidland on Wednesday night show up, this should be a 20-point win easy.  But allow a garbagetruckload of easy buckets, and anything can happen. 

And, as always, I want this useless program off of our freaking schedule already.  Will K be convinced when our otherwise unimpeachable RPI and SOS probably drop after this one, irrespective of the outcome?  Look, Mike, there's plenty of bad teams in conference that we can arrange to play - - oh, look, turns out that's (sort of) taken care of for us, even.  So drop this crap series and schedule a home-and-home (nooooooo fake home games or NBA arenas) with Kansas or Indiana or Arizona or whatever.  We seem to find plenty of ways to get to the Garden at least once every season. 

Should be an easy, unthinking, Duke win over an underpowered opponent.  There are some athletes on this squad, but there's one team in all of Division I (one Stephen F. Austin) that shoots a worse percentage from threepointdom than St. John's 24.7% mark, and you'd really like to think that these freshmen will get a little weirded out by Cameron.  Speaking of which, I'd like the students to start coming to the games already, not that I'm one to talk based on my less-than-stellar Cameron attendance record when I was there, but if I ever heard there was space, I went.  So let's cut that out.  Anyway, Terrell Stoglin and I both thought that Duke's defense looked a lot better helping to christen and inaugurate Sweaty Court, so let's keep that up and just blow their doors off. 


Duke 85, St. John's 62.

Thanks as always for reading.  The commenters last time out were fantastic; please feel free to dive in and add your two cents (or more), below. 

Last Edition
Matt 1-0

This Season
Matt  4-1 

Last Edition's Score Prediction Margin Variance

Last Season:
Matt 52-18
Guests 3-3



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Posted by: CDG Date: 1/29/2012 11:41:29 AM  
Sorry I couldn't join in with a chat yesterday; I was away from my computer and for some reason my 3G was down on my phone.


Well, that was 2:20 minutes I will never get back. This game may be what it is, but it was completely useless, as was our defense in the second half which, combined with our utter lack of offense, led to the St. John's "Shower" being way too close for no good reason.


Is this another one of those editions of Duke that perform to the level of the teams they play against as opposed to paying to the level they should? Maybe, but I doubt it. I sense there is something seriously wrong with this team which truly pains me considering the amazing progress we are seeing with the Plumlees.

I am predicting a loss at the Holes, which will be painful enough but against this edition of the powder-blue babies, is even worse.

Sad, sad, sad...

Posted by: tom Date: 1/28/2012 4:22:47 PM  
Had to get up at 6 and work OT then go and run some errands so just got down watching the DVR of the game. Yep. Mason played another great game. Kelly flopped. Matador defense. Glad to see Cook play but really didn't do much. Is it me or does Hairston actually play good defense but just can't really score? I haven't looked at the stats but it didn't appear the 3 point shooting wasn't that good again. Curry didn't seem to play well again also. And Vitale with the stat that I know he got from ESPN that this defense is the worse since 1995. That should really tell you something. I really hope the team can improve on this but I'm also ready to accept the fact that this is the team and you accept it and continue to root for them. And I don't mean that in some "sky is falling end of the world type way." Hopefully, the wind will die down so that I can have my bonfire this evening. Gene Keady is the best looking man in America.

Posted by: blueflame Date: 1/28/2012 2:41:08 PM  
I guess we'll get another quote from Coach K about how this team is still developing. Maybe, but it looks like they will never develop. They don't deserve to be ranked. Could we end the regular season in the 4th or 5th spot in the ACC? Could you imagine what place we would be in the Big East?

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 1/28/2012 2:10:27 PM  
Must EVERY game come to this type of ending?

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 1/28/2012 2:07:29 PM  
Props to Matt's Bootsy prescience.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 1/28/2012 1:39:55 PM  
Offense: scores. Stall: no scores.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 1/28/2012 1:34:46 PM  
A lead evaporating under stall ball. That's un-possible!

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 1/28/2012 12:52:38 PM  
I have only a gut feeling on this, but when Duke blows its "free" first-half timeout early, it seems like they are able to score better free-lancing than when they call that last-minute timeout and set up a play.

Posted by: Serious G Date: 1/28/2012 12:33:15 PM  
Good job running the break by RK

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 1/28/2012 12:30:23 PM  

Posted by: Serious G Date: 1/28/2012 12:13:03 PM  
He has missed some (good) shots, but I like Andre's overall game so far in this one. Passing, back on D...good stuff.

Keep feeding the post

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 1/28/2012 12:05:20 PM  
Wow. That's about the worst possible thing to start the game. Lose the alternating possession and then lose the ball...

Posted by: Ann E Wittnebel Date: 1/28/2012 11:58:28 AM  
As always, love the preview!
I heard a clever expression for the 2000 decade I would like to offer: the "naughties". For what it's worth...

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 1/28/2012 11:54:54 AM  
NCSU fans wouldn't know what to do if they'd won at UNC anyhow. I say this being a minor fan myself, as I was a grad student there during the War of Les Robinson Succession and the rise of Sendek the Pretender.

Anyhow, during the '96 season State dumped the 'Holes and so I--fortified with grapefruit-flavored fortified wine--wandered out onto Hillsborough Street, since I lived right there. A light snow was falling and we--the fans--sort of stood in a bunch, half-heartedly blocking the road. Occasionally someone would let loose a "WOOOOOOH!" But that was it, and the clot of people just sort of dissipated.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 1/28/2012 10:54:35 AM  
Matt, wholeheartedly agree with the need to schedule true home & home games against strong opponents.

But to borrow another worn out phrase: "it is what it is."

Posted by: T. Randall Taylor Date: 1/28/2012 10:19:59 AM  
Cool Singler story.


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