Fran Fraschilla


World #1, if far from best, Caroline Wozniacki (below).

It isn’t often that mystical clay court seasons just line up by the grace of gods, and the stars align to make the typical one-hander who likes to see entertaining, shot making tennis genius and the validation of such genius.  Well, there was 09 of course, when Roger completed the career slam.  We mean, the way Nadal got upset by Soderling, out of nowhere, meaning that the attacking player, the magnificent artist, the man himself, Roger Federer, was going to get the RG crown and the career slam.  And by the way.  We don’t throw the word slam around.  We are tennis purists.  There are career slams, and there are calendar slams.  You win them all in your career or you win them all in calendar order.  Since nobody ever wins them in calendar order to the point that it is rarely a discussion, you have a few slam conversations going on, but not many.

Might Clijsters get it?  Those looking at the woeful women’s tour and Clijsters fans had to think, with her flakiness, and the God awful women’s top 20 right now, that she can’t be counted on to play for too many more majors, but she could have been counted on heavily at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year.  Ah well.  There are the injuries that we are hearing will limit her.  We see a good chance for Clijsters to win these tournaments if she is healthy, and here’s why:  Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and Justine Henin are all not playing, Kuznetsova is playing as bad as she has ever, career, Sharapova is not all the way back, and there are questions as to her ability to ever return to the top of the game, and then…we mean, we could go all day.  That’s why another clay court season for the shot mking purist was last season, on the women’s side, with Francesca Schiavone winning her first major title.  I love Schiavone–the top one-handed female until Justine Henin hopefully returns, and she has great flair, but in a healthy field, we doubt highly that we are all suffering a Schiavone-Stosur finale.  These are girls that the Williams sisters, Henin, and several others trounce on a regular basis.  In fact, Venus Williams has never lost to Schiavone in 8 meetings.   Stosur?  Must we really?  A representative top ten of the most talented women in the world, regardless of who is shuttered off in a Belgian bowling alley and who, unfortunately, cut her foot and went through so many sins with recovering from that.

We are not trying to denigrate Francesca.  In fact, we’d love her to repeat.  Considering the shoddy field again.  We have got to look at a woeful top 20 right now.  Former champ Ana Ivanovic, whose game we actually don’t quite terribly mind, is outside the top 20, which says a lot about her plight, and you’ve got one of the least talented and diverse top 20’s there has ever been.  Kaia Kanepi?  Shahar Peer?  Petkovic?  Bartoli?  Radwanska?  Pavlyuchenkova?  Please don’t get us started about Jelena Jankovic, who feel is the most incomplete player in the women’s game.  Besides being an advertisement for how not to play, she hits most of her shots off of her back foot, can not take an overhead out of the air, can not make a volley, and has no serve.  This women’s game is an insult, and perhaps then we shouldn’t take as such an insult the fact that America got dusted in Fed Cup two weeks ago, but we still do.  Pitiful.

If Clijsters doesn’t play, then we’d count 5 players when healthy and right, and maybe a sixth–Ana Ivanovic as being bigger favorites going into Roland Garros than the current field.  BTW, we count Dementieva in that group.  A lot is on injuries, obviously, but we can’t tell you we are happy a Dementieva or a Henin stepped away from the game in their prime.  You watch a Justine Henin match?  Listen, she may have cheated against Serena, but her matches were beautiful things.  Her backhand is text book.  She is a beautiful shot maker and she lit the game up for almost 2 years.  It was pretty to watch.  So we aren’t too happy, and we won’t be next Thursday when the draws come out for Roland Garros.  That Stosur was such a big favorite last year, and looks so strong again?  We apologize, but we don’t feel this caliber of player deserves to win a major.  Winning a major is special.  Will we see it from Wozniacki?  When she pulls it off with those putrid vollies, and her go is death game.  And you know what?  We like her next week.  What does that say?  Because we despise her style of play.  But this is France, and the most vile style usually wins out.

Except when Roger won it.  And the time Mac had Lendl 2 sets and a break.  Kuerten?  Here’s the thing.  He didn’t have near the shot making ability on other surfaces, so we didn’t go crazy when he won here.  We rooted for Courier and against Agassi, and f0r Federer a boatload of times, and when we were young we watched a lot of guys who we didn’t have business winning majors win this thing.  But that’s the French Open, for the women especially, and it looks like we may get a very shaky champ again, which speaks volumes about the women’s game.  If Clijsters can go hard, she is going to have a great shot to pull off the career slam, because she’s the only one around with the focus and the talent.  And so you know, we hate her counter punching style, but will concede she goes for more winners now and is easier to watch.  You see, the French Open, on special occasion, has not been the home of the shittiest tennis champion of them all.  The years when a Navratilova or a Williams or a Graf didn’t win.  The years when it was the Moyas, Andres Gomez’s, Chang’s, and Costa’s.

Would those guys, any of them, win a real major on a court that required brilliance and not doggedness?  We think not.  So here’s to our Roland Garros wishes that if a shitty woman has to be champion, let it be Schiavone, because little girls around the world may model their game after hers, and so that she can build a little legacy for a one-hander, even though she hasn’t ever beaten Venus Williams.  Because that’s a lot better than one of these hacks like Wozniacki, Jankovic, and Radwanska.  Either of those three would horrible for the game.   Zvonareva?  You know we love her, and we like the way she’s went deep at majors lately, building a resume, but we’d say she has a much better chance on Wimbledon’s lawns than on the disgusting mud at Roland Garros.

Tomorrow on the women’s side in Rome:

Wozniacki:  – 200 (bet 200 to win 100)

Sharapova:  +160 (bet 100 units to win 160, plus the initial wager) 

And:

Li Na:  + 170 (bet 100 units to win 170)

Stosur:  – 220 (bet 220 units to win 100, plus initial wager)

Here’s what we think.  Even though we hate Wozniacki, she has the game for clay, if not really any true talent tennis or weapons, and Sharapova doesn’t.  It might help Maria that Azarenka retired today, allowing her to conserve energy, but we’d have to to go with Wozniacki, who is the better mover and the better clay mover.  Mark our words.  You rarely see a match won on clay on a given day by the player who doesn’t use his feet best.  In that vain, we’d have to take the exercise and conditioning freak, Stosur, who is now building quite a little resume for herself on clay, and she’s another poorly talented but favored woman of Roland Garros nontheless.  And the loss last year?  There are Australians we know who lost their shit over it.

We’re not ready to pronounce Sharapova completely dead yet, but without the lights out serve, she really isn’t gonna hurt too many people, and RG has never been her thing.  So we are thinking Wozniacki/Stosur on Sunday, and when we see the odds, we”ll give you our thoughts.  But we aren’t buying at these rates.  The biggest favorite is Stosur at – 220?  If you are going to do something, you shoud be buying dogs.

Then there’s the men where there figures to be a compelling day of tennis, even for clay.  Lines have been shifting the last few hours, as Nadal and Djokovic are becoming bigger favorites.  As of now:

Nadal:  – 1200  (wager 1200 to win 100 plus your initial wager)

Gasquet:  +700 (wager 100 to win 700)

And:

Djokovic:  – 700

Murray:  + 450

Without getting too into the RG breakdown, we’d like to give you our quick thoughts.  Much better values in the dogs once again, especially on the men’s side.  Personally, we have seen a lot of lines, and Andy Murray is probably a plus 450 2 or 3 times only in about the last 3 years.  This guy is a very good player, and the difference in odds is steep considering the match will probably be won over a couple points.  And Nadal/Gasquet?  That’s a match where you have a guy who has never beaten the other guy, and the other guy is on his favorite surface where he rarely loses.  Gasquet just does not match up with Nadal very well, never did.  Doesn’t serve well enough.  That about covers it.  Very talented player, but nearly enough weapons.  But the little extra rest a loss for either favorite might do could go a long way in what could be very close matches, ones the odds don’t seem to respect.  We wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a long day of tennis tomorrow.  And we again hope for a classic day of clay court tennis.

Djokovic goes for his 36th straight…vying to also set up a meet with Nadal, who he could conceivably beat two weeks in a row.

Catch it on TTC.

Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, http://www.crackbillionair.com)

Home team calls?  How about call.  We wouldn’t necessarily agree with Fran Fraschilla’s assertion that 4 or 5 non calls down the stretch aided St. John’s and hurt Rutgers University a little while ago on the floor of Madison Square Garden in the 2nd round of the Big East Tournament.  Fraschilla has a bit of Lavin/St. John’s envy.  That’s understandable.  After all, the guy was Lavin once upon a time, the hot new St. John’s coach who restored the program to glory and recruited with gusto, until he allegedly pulled his pants down in front of the team in the locker room, during a speech about how the team needed to show more balls.  We kid you not.

Fraschilla is a local guy from Marine Park, and he did a fine job, until the Reverend Harrington found out about the inappropriate tirade and dismissed him.  Fraschilla is a classless version of Lavin, obviously, and while he was awarding calls to Rutgers down the stretch left and right, while feeling sorry for himself.  Was Frashcilla correct that the refs put their whistles away and stopped officiating the game?  Yes he was.  But the only clearly one sided non call was the one on Brownlee who clearly went out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left.  In a perfect world, the refs spot that straight away, re-set the clock to 1.7 and let Rutgers inbound the ball and attempt to run a play.

Guess what?  The world’s not perfect.  People are crying about the great injustice of this, when it happens almost monthly in the NFL, and at best, the unlucky loser gets an acknowledgement from the league that a call was blown a few days after the incident.  Well, Rutgers got something a little better than that then.  NCAA Head of Officials John Adams called the end of game sequence “unacceptable” a mere hour after the game was finished.  So there you go, Scarlet Knights’ fans.  Enjoy the fruits of that bounty.

Obviously, St. John’s was lucky to win this game.  The Johnnies blew a 10 point lead down the stretch, fell behind a point with about a minute to go, got huge free throw makes from Dwight Hardy and Sean Evans, along with a costly Hardy turnover which gave Rutgers a chance to take the lead in the final seconds.  St. John’s got a stop and a rebound, got a make and a miss at the line from Brownlee, and then Rutgers threw the ball in from under their rim to around half court, where Fraschilla wanted a ridiculous over the back call on Hardy.  Right.  Like Rutgers had established position on 50′ pass that was essentially a jump ball.  Fraschilla called for 4 or 5 over the back fouls on St. John’s in the final 17 seconds alone.  No way.  And Hardy, on his final shot from the field had drawn clear contact, but got no whistle.  The officials wanted to let the kids play it out, which we clearly get.  That worked for and against St. John’s until the final 2 seconds, when it clearly worked for St. John’s. 

We’ll take it.  Did Lavin do the greatest job on earth down the stretch?  No.  He did a poor job.  Though he ran a play that got Hardy to the free throw line out of a timeout for the final lead, Lavin took a very curious posture when he sent Rutgers to the line to shoot rather than giving them an opportunity to tie the game.  He had a 3 point lead, and with a defensive club, a persona predicated on defense, you let your defense close out the game.  What if Rutgers makes the 1st, gets an offensive board, which they got at will all 2nd half, and then cans a 3?  They get out with the win.  Also, it’s the job of Lavin and staff to prep the team for the final seconds.  With 5.5 to go, they are in a timeout, and they have to be coached up on playing through the final buzzer.  What Brownlee did, going out of bounds with no court or clock awareness, and then flinging the ball up to the rafters, was disgusting.

You know we love Lavin, but like he says, responsibility rests with him.  If that was a Herb Brooks team, they’d be skating right now.  But there’s a silver lining.  The team will be on its best behavior for tomorrow’s Garden rematch with Syracuse, and they’ll need to be sharp.  Today’s slopfest should ensure that St. John’s has the right mindset tomorrow at 2 PM.     

Sorry if we aren’t going to cry for Rutgers.  We like their coach, Mike Rice.  He prepares his team.  We were lucky to beat them at Carneseca and lucky again today.  We rooted hard for Seton Hall yesterday because to us, that represented the much easier game.  Rice’s kids play defense, and the guy has a good attitude.  Minutes after the game in interviews, he wasn’t crying or badmouthing the officials.  He said he refused to cry over things he had no control over, like officiating.  Rice knows in the big picture, that Rutgers hasn’t done anything yet to warrant any special treatment, like the ridiculous notion that they should put 2 ticks on the clock and bring the teams back out to finish the game.

The Big East already acknowledged that there were 2 separate blown calls at the end of that game.  And that since play wasn’t initially stopped, the play was not “reviewable” or “correctable.”  Only if the officials had stopped Brownlee and St. John’s from running off the court could they have gone to the video review.  Ho hum.  No tears for Rutgers.  Bad calls happen all the time.  Officials who make enough bad calls could get pulled from the tournament officiating rotation.  That’s the most that will happen here, if that.

We respect Rutgers’ efforts and class today.  But it was doubtful they’d have gotten it done with 1.7 to play anyway.  We’re more concerned with avenging the Syracuse loss and shutting up that moron Scoop Jardine.  So we’ll give Lavin, Hardy, and Brownlee a pass for their parts in today’s chaos, as long as they do better tomorrow.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/after-bad-loss-to-syracuse-st-johns-clamps-down-avenges-loss-to-notre-dame/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/storm-warning-st-johns-smacks-uconn-msg-and-avenges-cincy-loss-lavin-still-hot-on-recruiting-trail/

Now let’s go Redmen!

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

St. John’s first big time New York City recruit under Steve Lavin, forward Maurice Harkless (above).

Silky smooth Steve Lavin, panned by many for how it ended for him in Westwood, despite 6 NCAA tournament bids out of 7, and a championship ring under Jim Harrick as an assistant, has acted quickly to make St. John’s basketball program, long flagging, relevant again.  On the quick.  Lavin, who showed his trademark poise and polish in ESPN’s television booth in the time since his UCLA ouster, has unilaterally impressed current players, potential players, and staff with his vision for the program–a sleeping giant on the NCAA landscape.

Lavin, who pounced on former Golden State Warrior and assistant coach Rico Hines, and Tony Chiles (Drexel), immediately adding the proven California and Philadelphia recruiters to his staff, worked a bit more deliberately to add legendary Rice HS (Queens) coach Maurice Hicks as director of basketball operations and lead assistant.  Hicks led Rice to substantial glory, claiming 5 state and 6 city titles, while losing only 86 games in 16 seasons.  Hicks is very well connected within NYC and represents a vast recruiting resource.  In our estimation, Hicks will be the best local recruiter for St. John’s since Fran Fraschilla, and makes St. John’s a serious player for every blue chipper in the city.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/college/2010/06/02/2010-06-02_maurice_hicks_accomplished_high_school_coach_joins_steve_lavins_staff_with_st_jo.html

Lavin’s first major recruiting coup for the Jhonnies came in from his old backyard, snagging long, athletic Los Angeles prep star Dwayne Polee Jr., one of the few remaining blue chip talents in the 2010 recruiting class.  Polee will figure prominently into St. John’s on court plans this season.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/st-johns-in-the-hunt-for-recruits-out-west/

Lavin hopes to land electric Sacramento star Remi Barry, who called his summer visit to the Queens campus “amazing.”  The coach is out west this week with 7 scholarships to give in the 2011-2012 class, and has already signed city product, 6’7 Maurice Harkless, 6’8 Ohio product Jakarr Sampson, and 6’3 shooting guard D’Angelo Harrison of Houston, Texas.  Harrison, considered a top 20 guard prospect by most analysts, is expected to give St. John’s its most legitimate backcourt scoring threat next year.

Big time success in 2011-2012 will depend on St. John’s ability to sign a top flight point guard.  But we aren’t worried about it.  After St. John’s made an initial mess out of the coaching search by striking out with big names such as Billy Donovan and Paul Hewitt, they hit an unexpectec home run with the Lavin hire, whom we have full confidence in. 

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/lavin-shapes-st-johns-staff/ 

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/college-basketball-site-rips-off-cracks-blog/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/st-johns-meets-with-steve-lavin/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/hewitt-leaves-st-johns-at-the-altar/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/st-johns-coaching-search/

Steve Lavin, in a long anticipated move, announced a most impressive addition to the St. John’s staff yesterday–5 time national coach of the year and former Purdue coach Gene Keady.  Keady comes on as a special assistant and consultant/advisor to Lavin.  The hire is an important reflection on Lavin’s character.  He created a prominent role at St. John’s for Keady, the man who gave Lavin his start in coaching, and was able to convince the legend to accept the post and relocate to New York.

http://www.redstormsports.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/101510aad.html

Very well done.  Our money is on Lavin to land a one and a quality pivot for St. John’s and for the basketball program to take center stage in the Big East, Especially in light of UConn’s recent troubles running a clean program.

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/basketball/news?slug=ys-uconnphone032509

LET’S GO REDMEN!!!!!!!

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Tim Welsh (above), on the job as Hofstra’s head basketball coach less than one month, has resigned today in the wake of his recent DWI arrest in Hempstead Long Island.

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=5158915

Fran Fraschilla, former St. John’s and Manhattan coach, and current ESPN analyst, who has expressed a desire to return to the local coaching scene, should be high on Hofstra’s wish list.  Fraschilla is thought to have an interest in the head coaching job at Rutgers, but does not appear to be the leading candidate for that post.

–Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

But what about Franny?

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/college/2010/04/20/2010-04-20_rutgers_targets_obrien.html

Rutgers seems poised to hire former BC and Ohio St. head coach Jim O’Brien, at a salary of about $850,000 annually, which begs us to ask what happened to their courtship of former St. John’s coach Fran Fraschilla, who publicly declared his interest in returning to the sidelines, and who had spoken to Iona College, but withdrew his name from consideration when Rutgers called.

http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/college/basketball/fraschilla_itchin_to_coach_again_g1mrAj2xKA9acEWaZ8XvLJ

In the above article, Fraschilla talks about his desire to get back into coaching and that his preference would be to stay in New York, where he’s most comfortable recruiting.  Fraschilla seems like a better choice for Rutgers to us.  Looking at the complete turnaround of the Scarlet Knights football program under Greg Schiano, who is poised to land two players in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft (T, Anthony Davis, CB, Devin McCourtey), and whose RB Ray Rice has excelled for the Baltimore Ravens, we feel that Fraschilla is the best man to affect that type of turnaround for the basketball program.

Fraschilla is a program builder, attracting blue chip HS players to Manhattan and St. John’s–in the same geographic locale as Rutgers.  Rutgers would be right up Fraschilla’s alley, a local guy who hails from Marine Park (Brooklyn holler!).

If and when O’Brien is officially named Rutger’s head coach, we’ll look deeper at Fraschilla’s plight to return to coaching in the New York area.

–Crack  (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)