When he described the atmosphere at Fordham’s impish junior high-esque gym on Saturday night where Fordham defeated St. John’s 84-81, proud alum (we’re not impressed) Michael Kay used such lustrous superlatives that if you closed your eyes, or let your mind wander, or if you tuned in mid wildly exaggerated riff, you’d have thought Kay was describing Willis Reed coming out of the tunnel against the Lakers, Norwood’s wide right, or Kirk Gibson going yard while pinch hitting on a bum leg at the fall classic. If you heard or read the remarks that Tom Pecora made to the little upset specialists that could, I mean, Knute Rockne reincarnate, right?
St. John’s didn’t want any of you. They didn’t recruit any of you. And they didn’t want me.
Forgive us our lack of Jesuit sensibility, but damned right they didn’t. Pecora–who we have been exceedingly kind to in this space–has done absolutely nothing in his coaching career. He won 155 games at Hofstra in 9 years, inherited a nice little program from Jay Wright, who we apprenticed under for 7 years, won 20 games with Wright’s team, and has been chasing that dragon ever since. In his lifetime, Pecora has coached a whopping zero NCAA tournament games. To date, the finest thing he has done, in our opinion, was to some how catch Wright’s eye in the first place, to whom he owes his middling career.
Did a few small time press types link Pecora to the Johnnies job, Nassau County basketball reporters who lacked the ingenuity to put a real list of worthy candidates together, who just assumed St. John’s, because of its proximity to Hofstra, and probably because Wright has done a fine job at Villanova, thinking that Pecora was another Wright? They sure did. And Pecora obviously put on his prettiest under panties and squeezed into his tightest corset, believing such nonsense, while he waited for St. John’s to call, buying this delusion while St. John’s reached out to real coaches the likes of Billy Donovan, Paul Hewitt, and Steve Lavin.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, St. John’s! And so it was on Saturday when Pecora coached the game of his life, in the midst of the coaching job of his life, coaxing Fordham, fresh off 2 wins last year to the game of its life, by hook or by crook. Fordham already has 5 wins this year, and has notched wins over “powerhouses” such as St. John’s and Manhattan. Let’s stop the season, call off the tournament in 2011 and declare the Rams champions of the universe.
Pecora is a great coach if you want a guy to go 2 games over .500 every year. Wright is a guy who makes tournaments, recruits blue chips, and sends guys to the NBA. Sure, we get that Hofstra has changed conferences under Pecora’s watch and now has a “legitimately” more hard time winning as it did when Wright was there. And we don’t care. Hofstra is like Kentucky compared to Fordham, and we’re completely sure that Mo Cassara isn’t there to clutch Pecora’s tired excuses as the new coach in Hempstead.
Kay said that Lavin “didn’t do anything” and that he was “frozen like a sphynx” on the sideline while Fordham made its epic run. What’s he supposed to do? Put in Sean Evans? Go to a 5 guard lineup? Lavin was probably shocked by the dismal state of his surroundings, and the abysmal talent on his own bench that he is just biding his time until he can be rid of. Let’s be real. This “big time” win for Fordham, which we called ourselves on Saturday–and no one loves St. John’s like us–came at the expense of a program that has not been to an NCAA tournament in 10 years. Fordham may have that win, and Pecora his moment in the tepid sun, but the man has no class whatsoever. Lavin took his lumps like a man, has won the PAC-10 and PAC-10 coach of the year, been to the sweet sixteen or better 5 times, and has never uttered such a laughable epitath.
When Nurideen Lindsey puts up 25 on Fordham next year and Norvel Pelle has 8 monster dunks and St. John’s beats Fordham going away next year, and every other year but this one for that matter, Lavin will be a sphynx then too. And why shouldn’t he be?
After all, beating Fordham means nothing and beating Pecora happens all the time. Steve Lavin will put way more effort into picking his pair of shoes or snazzy tie than those pre-game remarks.