Thursday, December 28, 2023

Rutgers Dominates Early & Late To Take Pinstripe Bowl


Kyle Monangai on his 40-yard dash down to the one-yard line that set up a Rutgers touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights won the Pinstripe Bowl, 31-24, over the Miami Hurricanes on Thursday evening at Yankee Stadium, the second time they have won the big game in The Bronx.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

St. John's Pushes Champs To Limit In What Pitino Calls "Best game we have played this year"


Chris Ledlum looking to drive the lane. @StJohnsBBall.

The St. John's Red Storm came close to pulling off a statement win on the road on Saturday night, but they came up short as they fell to the defending National Champion UConn Huskies, 69-65.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Pitino "Really proud" Of Sensational St. John's Win To Open Big East Play


Daniss Jankins burying a three-pointer in the opening minute that set the tone. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm had a sensational performance, which featured stifling defense, in a dominant win over Xavier, 81-66, at Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday night in the opener of Big East Conference play.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

St. John's Opens Big East Play Against What Pitino Terms "A team that's a much better team than us right now"


St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino during their win on December 6 over Sacred Heart. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm open the Big East Conference portion of their schedule on Wednesday night when they host Xavier at 7:00 p.m. at Carnesecca Arena on the St. John's campus.

The Red Storm is coming off an impressive 77-55 win over Fordham on Saturday in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. That gave them a record of 7-3 in non-conference play to open the season, winners of five of their last six games.

St. John's is 3-0 this season at Carnesecca Arena, colloquially known as The Lou, and this will be the first of just two Big East games played there this season.

PITINO'S POINTS: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon ahead of this important moment in the schedule:

On if the Red Storm is ready for Big East play: "I don't know. Everything for me with this team is a guess. As you look at the schedule sometimes you play - 'What would our record be?'. I was hoping at best it would be 8-2, so we are not far off that. The Boston College game (an 86-80 loss on December 10 at Barclays Center) was a very big disappointment. Not that they are not good, they are a very talented team. It's just that when you have a 10-point lead and you know you have to stop the three and then give up three threes, it's just very disappointing but we are getting better and we are improving. We are playing against a [Xavier] team that's a much better team than us right now. Not saying they have better talent, but a much better team. It's a system that beat UConn twice last year, beat St. John's twice, and they have a great system that they are playing to right now. [Xavier Head Coach] Sean [Miller] is not just an outstanding coach, but he has a great system and whether or not we are ready for that system remains to be seen."

On the Big East Conference: "It's the best basketball conference since the inception and Dave Gavitt starting it. On a given year, the ACC could be a little bit stronger, the SEC could be a little bit stronger, but the Big East, since the forming of it in the early 1980s has been just incredible. Now it's strong once again with a National Champion [UConn], Marquette, Creighton, Butler has been a big surprise. Seton Hall has been playing great, Xavier has played Houston, Purdue and Cincinnati. They have all played very tough schedules and it's going to be a heck of a year for a lot of teams."

On his feelings returning to Big East play (He coached Louisville in the Big East until 2013): "Exciting and apprehensive because you have to get ready for these teams in a very short period of time with 14 new players. Our system is not in. Our system is based off relentless defense, what I've always called the 'mother-in-law defense' - constant pressure and harassment. We are nowhere near that yet. It's going to take recruiting quickness, athleticism, speed, size to get to that point, but we are just going to keep building towards that goal."

On the improvement shown in the win over Fordham: "We took a big step forward defensively with our intensity...We still have a long way to go. We just wanted to see more aggressiveness, we wanted to see taking teams out of what they do. Taking the scouting report and saying we know what they are going to do, now take them out of what they do best, and we did a good job of that."

On playing at Carnesecca Arena: "Carnesecca Arena is a very strong home-court advantage. The Garden, not yet, but I have to say, the Fordham crowd was terrific, but Carnesecca Arena is a very strong home court, as the Cintas Center is for Xavier. Most of the teams in the Big East have a very strong home court. We have to make sure we zoom in on scouting and not the crowd because it can work against you...You have to make sure you stay focused on the basketball team."

Monday, December 18, 2023

Books: The 23 Best of 2023


Photo by Jason Schott.

This was an incredible year for new books, and Brooklyn Digest had the pleasure of reviewing many wonderful titles on a full range of subjects, from sports to politics to culture, and we are honored to present the 23 best for 2023. You can click on the book's title to access our review or author interview.


23. FehertyThe Remarkably Funny and Tragic Journey of Golf's David Feherty, by John Feinstein

22. Sixty-OneLife Lessons from Papa, On and Off the Court, by Chris Paul, with Michael Wilbon

21. AltheaThe Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson, by Sally H. Jacobs

20. Unlikely Heroes: Franklin Roosevelt, His Four Lieutenants, and the World They Made, by Derek Leebaert

19. Paradise Now: The Extraordinary Life Of Karl Lagerfeld, by William Middleton

18. To the Temple of Tranquility...And Step On It!, by Ed Begley Jr.

17. The Big TimeHow the 1970s Transformed Sports in America, by Michael MacCambridge

16. Bogie & Bacall: The Surprising True Story of Hollywood's Greatest Love Affair, by William J. Mann

15. Borderline: Defending The Home Frontby Vincent Vargas, Former U.S. Border Patrol Agent

14. Brooklyn Crime Novel, by Jonathan Lethem

13. Power PlayersSports, Politics, and the American Presidency, by Chris Cillizza

12. The Wuhan Cover-Up: And The Terrifying Bioweapons Arms Race, by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

11. The Biden MalaiseHow America Bounces Back from Joe Biden's Dismal Repeat of the Jimmy Carter Years, by Kimberley Strassel

10. The Longest Minute: The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906by Matthew J. Davenport

9. The New GuysThe Historic Class of Astronauts That Broke Barriers and Changed the Face of Space Travel, by Meredith Bagby

8. The Six: The Untold Story of America's First Women Astronauts, by Loren Grush

7. Elvis and the ColonelAn Insider's Look at the Most Legendary Partnership in Show Business, by Greg McDonald and Marshall Terrill

6. Bartleby And Me: Reflections of an Old Scrivener, by Gay Talese

5. Once a Giant: A Story of Victory, Tragedy, and Life After Football, by Gary Myers

4. Tao of the Backup CatcherPlaying Baseball for the Love of the Game, by Tim Brown, with Erik Kratz

3. American Breakdown: Why We No Longer Trust Our Leaders and Institutions and How We Can Rebuild Confidence, by Gerard Baker

2. The 1998 Yankees: The Inside Story of the Greatest Baseball Team Ever, by Jack Curry

1. The Lost Sons of Omaha: Two Young Men in an American Tragedy, by Joe Sexton


The Lost Sons Of Omaha: Two Young Men in an American Tragedy

By Joe Sexton

Scribner; hardcover, $30.00

Joe Sexton is a former senior editor at ProPublica who spent twenty-five years at the New York Times, and this engrossing book, The Lost Sons of Omaha, Sexton traveled uncovers the real story behind the tragic deaths of James Scurlock and Jake Gardner during the protests and unrest after the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020.

Sexton tells this delicate story with an empathy that will have you feel sympathy for both of these men, no matter which side of the political divide you are on.

Jake Gardner was a veteran who enlisted in the Marines straight out of high school, and earned a fistful of medals and combat ribbons as part of one of the first units that invaded Iraq in March of 2003. When he returned to Omaha, he ran one of the city's more popular downtown nightclubs, The Hive, and Gardner reinvented it in 2019, with the addition of an adjacent space, into The Gatsby. At this time, he had just restocked his bar full of high-end liquor, with a reopening from Covid lockdowns scheduled the following week. 

James Scurlock had become a father in the months ahead of the protests. The family hoped that the birth of the baby girl, Jewels, would give him purpose, but his relationship with the girl's mother, Mari Agosta, was tumultuous. There was a violent incident between them in February of 2020, and he ended up in jail before being released in the third week of May.

Sexton interviewed Mari and wrote, "Scurlock, she said, did not hide his record from her. He'd been arrested for the first time at eleven. He'd pleaded guilty for his role in an armed robbery at sixteen. But neither could Scurlock hide what seemed to her to be clear evidence of trauma, the anger and insecurities and suspicions born of poverty, family chaos, and years of his childhood spent behind bars."

When the protests over George Floyd's murder exploded in Omaha, Gardner was defending The Gatsby with two pistols and a shotgun, and on the third night of unrest, May 30, it reached his doorstep. Scurlock was one of the protesters making his way along Harney Street, and he eventually ended up as part of the group outside The Gatsby, which by that point was in ruins, and he was pressed to fight Gardner, which he did, with deadly consequences. 

Sexton looks at this at all angles, including a secret grand jury inquiry, revelatory cellphone texts, letters between lovers, nasty confrontations between investigators and witnesses, trail transcripts, autopsy results, multiple video recordings, privately recorded conversations, police investigation reports, and many on-the-record interviews.

One overriding theme is how misinformation affected the aftermath of this tragedy. These two men were made into grotesque characters - one a violent white racist, the other a Black thug - with their histories cherry-picked to fit competing political agendas. 

This story encompasses many of the pressing issues America faces today, from gun control to mental heatlh reform, and the part it played in this painful moment in the country. It is also an emotional story that will leave you, at times, in tears reading it.

The 1998 Yankees: The Inside Story of the Greatest Baseball Team Ever 

By Jack Curry

Twelve; 288 pages; hardcover, $30; eBook, $16.99

Jack Curry is an an analyst on the Yankees' pregame and postgame shows on the YES Network, where he has worked since 2010. He has won five New York Emmy Awards. Prior to that, Curry covered baseball for 20 seasons, first as the Yankees' beat writer and then as a national baseball columnist for the New York Times

In his new book The 1998 Yankees, Curry examines why this team, that went 125-50 on their way to winning the World Series, should be acknowledged as one of the greatest ever.

Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner said at the time, "Right now, you would have to call them the best team ever."

With the 25th anniversary of that wonderful season upon us, Curry revisits the season to discuss how the team was built and why the Yankees were such a talented, compelling, and successful club. 

The story of the season, which was full of memorable moments, is told through Curry's observations and reporting from that season, as well as interviews with more than 25 players, coaches, and executives, who revealed some behind-the-scenes stories about the journey they took to reach greatness. One of the big moments was David Wells' perfect game, and the story around that remarkable achievement shows what made the team special.

The players that led this team, and other championship seasons before and after 1998, are some of the most recognizable, beloved players in Yankees history, among them Derek Jeter, Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams, David Cone, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, and the uncomparable closer Mariano Rivera.

In addition, the 1998 Yankees had new faces added to what was already an incredible lineup that had won the World Series two years before. Chuck Knoblauch was brought in from Minnesota to be a solid presence leading off, Scott Brosius took over at third base and became the World Series MVP, veteran Chili Davis was a force, and, at the end of the season, phenom Shane Spencer, who did nothing but hit home runs in September. There also was addition of El Duque, Orlando Hernandez, and all the excitement around what he brought to the team, to one of the best rotations in history.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jack when this book was released in May and he said of pitcher David Cone being the true leader of the team, "Cone was very big on being a teammate in the four days where he wasn't pitching, and he said not every starting pitcher is like that, but he felt that if he could help a teammate on a day he wasn't pitching, well, why wouldn't he do that? If he knew there was something that a right-hander was trying to do to Chuck Knoblauch, he would let him know, and a lefty was doing this to Paul O'Neill, he would let him know. Some guys were receptive, some guys weren't, but yeah, they didn't have a captain back then, but put it this way, I'll take captain out of the equation, if you took a poll in 1998 and asked those Yankees players who was their favorite guy on the team, who was the most popular guy, it would be David Cone, without a doubt Cone would win that."

American Breakdown: Why We No Longer Trust Our Leaders and Institutions and How We Can Rebuild Confidence

By Gerard Baker

Twelve; hardcover, 288 pages; $30.00

Gerard Baker served as the Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief from March 2013 to June 2018. He is currently an Editor At Large at the Journal and writes the WSJ Opinion column "Free Expression," which is the basis for his podcast of the same title, where he speaks to  leading writers, influencers, and speakers every week.

In Baker's new book American Breakdown, he delivers a must-read account of how American suffers from a "trust deficit" that has weakened its landmark institutions and divided our society. That is evident from any recent poll of President Joe Biden, Congress, the Supreme Court, political leaders or the media.

This thought-provoking account, which reads like Baker's incisive columns, explores the way American have been let down and offers solutions for how to rebuild trust and reclaim purpose.

Baker dissects how, in the span of a generation, the pillars that sustained the once-dominant superpower have been dangerously eroded. From government to business, from media to medicine, the strength and security of the experiment that is America have been weakened by a widening gap between the elites who control these institutions and the public.

"This pathology of distrust across American society is eating the country away from the inside," Baker writes. 

Millions of Americans have little faith in their country's future, and no longer seem to have trust in their leaders, in their important social and civil institutions. That extends to losing faith in their common values and ideals, or ultimately in each other.

The United States itself hasn't failed - instead, its people have been failed by inept and deceitful political leaders, one failed administration from both parties after another. Baker contends that where elites lay all the blame for the country's problems on Donald Trump, there was already a massive distrust in government by 2015 when he began his campaign for president.

The American people have also been deserted by predatory and cynical corporate chiefs, and above all else, betrayed by a cultural elite that has exploited the very freedom the country provided them in order to destroy it.

The Tao of the Backup Catcher: Playing Baseball for the Love of the Game

By Tim Brown, with Erik Kratz

Twelve; hardcover, 304 pages; $30.00

Tim Brown has covered baseball for more than thirty years, including when he covered the Yankees in the 1990s for the Newark Star-Ledger. He has written two New York Times bestsellers, The Phenomenon, with Rick Ankiel and Imperfect, with Jim Abbott.

Brown's new book, which he co-wrote with Erik Kratz, is The Tao of the Backup Catcher. He takes you through Kratz's path through a 19-year professional baseball career as a backup catcher playing for 14 teams, which included a memorable stint with the Yankees in 2020. There are also incredible stories of other backup catchers just like him, who spent years performing one of the most unique rolls in sports with no guarantee of what the future might hold.

I had the opportunity to talk to Tim when it was released in July, and he said of the essence of it, "Well, let's see, the book comes out on All-Star Game day, which I think is awesome because hardly anyone in this book sniffed being an All-Star; I think the timing is perfect. At its most basic, The Tao of the Backup Catcher chronicles the journey of Erik Kratz, you know, a forever backup catcher, and the journeys of a lot of guys like him, but I think, Jason, what it's really about is all of us, and who we are when the reality doesn't quite match up to the intentions and the dreams, and how we conduct ourselves then, and what it takes to be a good friend and a good teammate, part of something bigger than ourselves, who we choose to be in all of those times."

While Kratz is the focus, there are stories on memorable familiar names throughout the years, such as Eddie Perez, who was Greg Maddux's personal catcher, Vance Wilson, who played for the Mets in the early 2000s, and Josh Paul, who played for the Angels and had an unfortunate moment. Brown said of filtering their stories into the overall story on Kratz's career, "I thought it was important, as much as I loved Erik's story, I really thought what would appeal to the reader was not so much a story about one backup catcher, but all of the backup catchers, more about the culture of backup catchers because then I start to grab onto that crossover element of stay-at-home mom or dad, or the teacher or people who think, you know, 'geez, I'm not really in the boxscore today, I didn't get my uniform dirty today, I guess I didn't contribute anything,' but what I'm trying to convince people, if they think about, is this is about all of us, this is about being the best 'you' you could be given your circumstances."

Once a Giant: A Story of Victory, Tragedy, and Life After Football

By Gary Myers

PublicAffairs; hardcover, 304 pages; $30.00

Gary Myers is the former NFL columnist for the New York Daily News and Dallas Morning News, and has covered the league since 1978. He has authored six books, including the New York Times bestseller Brady vs. Manning, an inside look at the greatest rivalry in NFL history, and recently My First Coach (please click here for our review) and How 'Bout Them Cowboys (click here for our review). Myers also was a long-time member of the cast of HBO's Inside The NFL and the YES Network's This Week in Football.

The New York Giants have won four Super Bowls since 1986, and as Myers points out, that is the most in the time period since then, aside from the six titles that the New England Patriots have won. Of course, the last two of the four Giants' championships were their stunning upsets over the Patriots.

While those two recent Giants title teams were fronted by Head Coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning, the first two championships, in 1986 and 1990, had a distinct look as well. 

Head Coach Bill Parcells and his wunderkind defensive assistant Bill Belichick were at the helm, and the team was full of players whose names are now legendary and roll of the tongue of any Big Blue diehard, future Hall of Famers and All-Pros Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor, Mark Bavaro, Harry Carson, George Martin, Carl Banks, Pepper Johnson, Maurice Carthon, and Mark Collins.

The one that holds a special place in Giants' fans hearts, because they watched the team build up to the moment, in a way a football team can't develop anymore is 1986. The Giants raced to a 14-2 record, the best record of their four Super Bowl champions. They then ran through the stalwart San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins in the NFC playoffs before dominating the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, to deliver the Giants their first ring in 30 years.

The '86 Giants are the focus of Myers' new book, Once a Giant, and while the insights on that season are incredible, it is a story of friendships, how close members of that team were then and are to this day. 

This was a tight-knit bunch that knew how to force each other to play their best, while also having fun. They constantly played practical jokes on each other, in the locker room throughout the season and at training camp, such as the day Jim Burt pulled multiple pranks on Phil Simms, starting the day by spraying a fire extinguisher into his room and leading him to think his $50,000 car was missing by parking it across the Pace campus. Hazing, which was common in that era, was nearly non-existent with these Giants, especially after Carson and Banks nearly came to blows in the locker room in 1984. 

When the gridiron glory faded, chronic pain, addiction, and in some cases, crime followed. Many football players face these realities, but the Giants have confronted and survived them as one. With unprecedented access, Myers gives a window into Bavaro's battles with injuries, Lawrence Taylor's struggles with sobriety, and the breakup and reconciliation of Parcells and Belichick. They had a falling out after Belichick reneged on coaching the Jets in 2000 after Parcells stepped down, and he went to the Patriots, where Parcells had bolted from to take the Jets job in 1997. After they reconnected, Parcells even recommended Belichick move into the same development in Palm Beach county, and when both are in town at the same time, they meet regularly for breakfast on Saturday mornings. 

Books That Are Sure To Delight The Readers In Your Life

It's now just a week before Christmas, and there is an eclectic mix of new books for the readers in your life. In this review, we will look at the following: To Rescue the Constitution: George Washington and the Fragile American Experiment, by Bret Baier; Gangsterland: A Tour Through The Dark Heart of Jazz-Age New York City, by David Pietrusza; The Queen: Her Life, by Andrew Morton; American Castle: One Hundred Years of Mar-a-Lago, by Mary C. Shanklin; Task Force Hogan: The World War II Tank Battalion That Spearheaded the Liberation of Europe, by William R. Hogan; Pele: My Story, by Pele; Joanna Russ: Novels & Stories, edited by Nicole Rudick; and Organized Living: Solutions and Inspiration for Your Home, by Shira Gill.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Red Storm Rolls By Rams At MSG Holiday Festival, As Big East Beckons For SJU


Joel Soriano connecting on a hook shot for the first points of the second half. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm rolled to a 77-55 win over the Fordham Rams on Saturday afternoon in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden.

Coming off a loss in the NABC Brooklyn Showcase, St. John's came out firing, as they raced out to an 11-2 lead in the first four minutes of played, capped by a three-pointer from Glenn Taylor, Jr.

That lead ballooned to 28-10 when Nahiem Alleyne drained a three-pointer at the 9:17 mark of the first half. 

The St. John's bench reacting to Nahiem Alleyne's three-pointer that made it 28-10. Photo by Jason Schott.

That was the Red Storm's biggest lead of the opening frame, as Fordham got back into it, and pulled to within eleven points, 39-28, at halftime.

Fordham got as close as eight points, 41-33, a minute into the second half on a Kyle Rose three-pointer. 

St. John's responded with a 12-2 run over the next five minutes to go up 53-35 at the 13:58 mark on a Sean Conway jumper. They led by as many as 25, at 75-50, with 2:47 on the clock when Brady Dunlap hit a pull-up jumper.

Joel Soriano, as he often does, led St. John's with a double-double, as he had 20 points on 9-15 shooting, with 10 rebounds and three assists. Chris Ledlum had 11 points (3-6 FG), with five rebounds.

Surprisingly, they were the only two St. John's players in double figures in points, as their production was spread pretty evenly. Jordan Dingle had eight points on 3-5 shooting and 2-2 on three-pointers, with four rebounds and three assists. Nahiem Alleyne had seven points (3-5 FG, 1-1 threes), with two rebounds and an assist. Daniss Jenkins, Sean Conway, and Drissa Traore had six points apiece.

Fordham was led by Josh Rivera, who had 15 points on 3-13 from the field, 0-2 on threes, and a near perfect 9-10 from the free throw line, with five rebounds and an assist. Abdou Tsimbila, who won their game in the NABC Brooklyn Showcase on a dunk last Sunday, had 12 points on 5-8 shooting, with seven rebounds.

Fordham was held to just 25.4 percent shooting in the game, as they were 15-59, which included 2-18, or 11.1 percent, from behind the arc. They did make 88.5 percent (23-26) of their free throws.

St. John's is now a solid 7-3 on the season, after a tougher than usual non-conference schedule, part of the effect of having Rick Pitino as head coach. They will embark on Big East Conference play starting on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. at Carnesecca Arena, colloquially known as The Lou, when they host Xavier.

PITINO POSTGAME: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media after the game.

On the Red Storm's improved defensive effort: "I think we spent a lot of time on it. I told the guys, if you are going to rely on your offense then you will finish dead last in the Big East. We have to do something about our defense. [They're] all capable of doing it and we worked really hard this week on it. We changed some things. From an offensive standpoint, we wanted to get (guard) Sean [Conway] in there because Sean moves without the basketball so well. We know [Fordham plays] about four or five different defenses and knew Sean would move. He also gets loose balls, he also gets on the glass, and we just needed more out of that position, and he gave it to us."

On the physical nature of the game: "I don't think it was overly physical, to be honest with you. I just think that we just foul too much. We've been fouling too much, and not good fouls. You know, we played a very intelligent game, but you know, you can't reach in, and just, right before the half, what Brady (Dunlap) did, and what Drissa (Traore) did on the press in coffin corner and reaches in, so I don't think it was any more physical - certainly, Boston College (Sunday) was more physical than this game, but if we don't take care of the basketball and play much better defense the next game without fouling, Xavier will beat us, but we've taken baby steps tonight, and that's what I wanted to see."

On if the Red Storm's performance in this one wins a Big East game: "Take away the fouling, yes, but you've got to take away the fouling because, look, let's face it, anytime you hold a team to 25 percent shooting, 11 percent from the three, but then they shoot 23 out of 26 from the line, so take away that. We had a low turnover first half, and then we just made some really silly plays down the stretch. I thought Drissa (Traore) did a really nice job, but he has to get in the gym and work on his free throws. You can't go out and make two three's, and then miss free throws (he missed all three he took). There's something wrong with that."

On where he sees the need improve their defense: "I wanted to get better halfcourt. The press is fine. I mean it is a little crazy that the five-man could beat our press the last few games but that's not going to happen very often. I thought tonight our rotations were very good. We got very aggressive on pick and rolls. We got very aggressive on rotations, and we were very good at cutting off the baseline to help. We did a lot of great things."

On the decision to start Sean Conway: "He obviously had a great game against Fordham last year, but I base who starts just on practice. I tell the guys, starting means very little to me, but I can't look at your resume from the past and say this is who should start because that's silly. I don't know these guys and their pasts. I'm not going to base what someone did at Penn or at Harvard as what they are going to do at St. John's and same thing with the Iona guys (referring to his players who transferred to St. John's). He had two or three great days of practice, and he earned the right to start in this game."

On Wednesday's matchup with Xavier: "We'll give everything we can in the Big East...I've known [Head Coach Sean Miller] since he was nine years old. He's one of the best coaches in the nation, bar none...His dad was a terrific coach, his brother's terrific, it's a terrific family. We're going to have to play great to beat them. Although our fans were great here, Carnesecca Arena is a tough place to play as I'm finding out."

Friday, December 15, 2023

Pitino's Points Ahead Of St. John's Meeting Fordham In Holiday Festival At MSG


Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm will take on the Fordham Rams on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden.

Each team took part in the NABC Brooklyn Showcase at Barclays Center last Sunday, to far different results. Fordham opened the afternoon with a 60-59 win over North Texas, which was clinched on a Abdou Tsimbila dunk as time expired. St. John's lost a tough one to Boston College, 76-70, which broke their four-game winning streak.

Pitino Pregame: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media on Friday morning on the St. John's campus:

On playing at Madison Square Garden: "What I've tried to relay to the guys is every single team that comes to play in Madison Square Garden this is their most famous moment. You take Fordham. In the old days, they used to play in The Garden all the time, but they don't get a chance to do that anymore. Michigan has not played as well since our game (note: St. John's lost to Michigan on November 13)...You hear it all the time, from Kobe to LeBron to [Michael Jordan] to Bird, everybody thinks it's 'The World's Most Famous Arena,' so you get everyone's best game. That's the message I've relayed to the guys. It's not about your excitement to play in The Garden, that's 'The World's Most Famous Arena' that you get a chance to perform in.'

On a surprise visit he received Sunday night after the Boston College game: "I had something really nice happen to me and I don't think I've ever seen it before. [The players] knew I was really down after the Boston College game and I had a neighbor come over after the game to try and cheer me up, so my son Ryan and I ordered a pizza. All of a sudden, the doorbell rang and I went there, Joel [Soriano], Chris Ledlum, and Daniss [Jenkins] came with the pizza and came in to try and cheer me up. They drove 45 minutes from Queens to do that and that is unheard of in my almost 50 years of coaching. They didn't eat any of the pizza either. I really appreciated that. Rather than the coach thinking the players were down and thinking we have to build them up, they went the other way. You don't see guys drive 45 minutes to try and cheer a coach up."

On building the St. John's roster: "We put together this basketball team abruptly and we tried to get as many good offensive basketball players as possible. The first year I've coached at every place it has taken time to put in all the defenses. No matter if it was Boston University, whether it was Providence, the Knicks, Kentucky or Louisville, it takes time, especially when you have all offensive basketball players. I knew that it would take time so I tried to do away with that theory by recruiting six fifth-year seniors, thinking it would alleviate the problem of taking time. Unfortunately, it didn't because four of the six need a lot of time to improve defensively in order for us to mature as a basketball team."

Books: Biographies Of Pioneering Sports Figures Mike Tomlin & LeBron James

In this review of sports biographies looking at trailblazers within the game, there is a new biography on one of the longest-tenured NFL coaches, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Tomlin: The Soul of a Football Coach, by John Harris, with a Foreword by Tony Dungy, and a look at the impact basketball superstar LeBron James has beyond the court in The Book of James: The Power, Politics, and Passion of LeBron, by Valerie Babb.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Books: Music Edition, With "Curepedia" & "Living the Beatles Legend"

Curepedia: An A-Z of The Cure

By Simon Price

Dey Street Books; hardcover, 448 pages; $35.00

Simon Price is a London-based music journalist and author. He currently writes a weekly column for The Independent on Sunday, and he wrote for Melody Maker for nine years.

Curepedia is Price's new book, and it is the definitive and truly unique visual biography of The Cure. The 40+ year history of this groundbreaking alternative band, known for such songs as "Friday I'm in Love" and "Just Like Heaven," is chronicled with hundreds of entries in A to Z fashion. It is full of facts, minutiae, and little-known details about this beloved band from the full scope of their career. Lead singer Robert Smith fact-checked the manuscript, so fans will know it's "blessed" by their favorite band.

The Cure is one of the biggest rock bands in the world, with 12 studio albums, tours that pack stadiums all over the world, including their concert at Hyde Park that drew 65,000 people; and they were the first alternative band to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019 by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Their influence can be heard in bands such as Smashing Pumpkins and My Chemical Romance.

In Curepedia, fans will be given a full-scale look at the long list of band members, current and past, trivia, tours, summaries of every album, song, films, as well as essays on the image of the band, their influence, their style, and their enduring legacy. 

The Cure is known as much for its visual style almost as much as its music, and this book will include visuals from longtime Cure collaborator Andy Vella. This will capture that style and will have cross-over appeal to fans of those creators as well. The band's style has been cited by filmmaker Tim Burton and author Neil Gaiman as influences.

Price writes of how he has viewed the band in this excerpt: "When I first heard The Cure, as a child, I already perceived that there was something else going on behind the sound itself. I vividly recall lying in the grass on the school playing fields and hearing 'A Forest' on BBC Radio 1's Top 40 countdown on my radio-cassette recorder. It wasn't for me, yet. But something about it stuck with me. 'The Walk' on Top of the Pops was my real entry point, and by the time of The Head On The Door and Standing On A Beach, I was fully on board. The Cure were my gateway drug into alternative music, holding my hand and leading the way. I loved them. I pretended not to, for a while, partly because it seemed too on-the-nose for a goth-looking guy like me to be into The Cure, and partly to annoy Robert Smith-besotted girlfriends. But you've got to get over yourself, sometimes.

One of the bittersweet things about being a music critic, as I have been for most of my adult life, reviewing records week in, week out, is that you rarely get to live with any one artist's music for as long as you would like. From about 1990 onwards, whenever a new Cure album has come along, I've listened, enjoyed, and appreciated them, but bade them farewell in the sad knowledge that my job requires me to move onto the next thing. One of the pleasures of writing this book has been reacquainting myself with those newer records. It's also been wonderful to have a legitimate excuse to obsess over some of my favourite songs ('Just Like Heaven' and 'One Hundred Years' being in the top two, for very different reasons) and write whole essays about what makes them tick.

Robert Smith, as I've said in this book, means something. (Exactly what he means, of course, is subtly different from what he intended to mean: in pop, meaning is in the mind of the receiver, the perceiver.) If you look at his face, even his silhouette, or even simply the words 'The Cure' (especially in that classic dropped-C logo), your mind is instantly flooded with associations. The word 'iconic' is over-used, but Robert Smith is genuinely an icon. Some of this book has been devoted to examining the dynamics of that. Mostly, though, it's about The Cure's body of work, and what it gives to us, emotionally and intellectually. The Cure can smell your heart, The Cure can make you dance, but The Cure are also brain-food."

Living the Beatles Legend: The Untold Story of Mal Evans

By Kenneth Womack

Dey Street Books; hardcover, 592 pages; $50.00

Kenneth Womack is a leading thinker and writer on The Beatles, as he has written many books on the Fab Four, including The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles, the Cambridge Companion to the Beatles, and a two-volume biography on Beatles producer George Martin, Maximum Volume and Sound Pictures. He is the Music Culture critic for Salon, and is a regular contributor to such outlets including Billboard, Variety, and NBC News.

Living the Beatles Legend is Womack's new book, and it is the first-ever full-length biography of Mal Evans, who has long been a mystery in the Beatles' ecosystem, an enigmatic figure who had an untold story, and was clearly beloved by John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Malcolm Evans was the Beatles' beloved friend, confidant, roadie, and personal assistant, which made him an invaluable member of the band's inner circle. He was a towering figure, at six-feet three inches, and was known for his horn-rimmed glasses, and he loomed large in the Beatles' story.

There were times that Mal contributed at times as a performer and sometime lyricist, while struggling mightily to protect his "boys." Evans was there for the length of their remarkable story, from their Shea Stadium performances to the creation of the incredible cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band, and the famous rooftop concert for Let It Be.

Evans left a stable job as a telecommunications engineer for the General Post Office to serve as road manager for the fledgling band, and he was the odd man out from the start. He was about five years older than the members of The Beatles, married with children, and without any music business experience, but he threw himself headfirst into their world, as he traveled across the globe and made himself indispensable.

After The Beatles broke up in 1970, Big Mal, as he was known, continued to work with them as they each embarked on solo careers. By 1974, he was determined to make his mark as a songwriter and record producer. He began a new life in Los Angeles, where he wrote his memoirs. In January 1976, he was on the verge of sharing that book with the world, but Evans' story came to a tragic end during a domestic standoff with the LAPD.

Mal's life and his untimely death have always been a mystery, and for decades, his diaries, manuscripts, and vast collection of memorabilia was missing, seemingly lost forever.

The Holy Grail for Beatles fans is Mal's lost memoir, and it was found in the basement of his publisher and recovered by a temp who sent it to Yoko Ono, who is John Lennon's widow. Ono ensured that the materials were returned to Mal's family, and the estate is working with Womack to bring this work to light. 

Womack was given full access to Mal's unpublished archives and he conducted hundreds of new interviews to deliver his unknown story that is at the heart of the Beatles' legend. This book is packed with many unseen photos and other ephemera from Mal's archives. Mal documented his experiences immediately, as he used his annual Post Office Engineering Union diary to capture momentous events on his first trip with The Beatles to London in early 1963 for his son Gary, who writes the Foreword for this book.

In this excerpt, Womack writes of how Evans lucked into his role with The Beatles in January 1963: "For Mal Evans, it would be nothing short of a primal moment. For the Beatles, it would be a much-cherished memory along the unsteady road to extraordinary fame. It would exist inside their collective museum of recollections as the emblem of a more innocent time and place when everyone and everything that truly counted in their world could be measured inside the cramped interior of a van.

A Ford Thames 400E Express Bus, to be exact. Cream-colored and sporting license plate nbumber 6834 KD, the vehicle had been the Beatles' workhorse since the summer of 1962, when manager Brian Epstein purchased it via automobile salesman Terry Doran, a Liverpool chum. With the Beatles' twenty-one-year-old assistant, Neil Aspinall, behind the wheel, the group had barnstormed through an incessant run of dance halls and ballrooms across Northern England, desperate to launch their debut single, 'Love Me Do,' as far up the English record charts as it could go; it reached maximum altitude at number seventeen for the week of December 27, 1962...

It was a simple twist of fate that landed Mal behind the wheel of the Ford Thames that January day. Aspinall, the Beatles' full-time road manager, had taken ill with the flu. He was hardly the only Briton felled during that unusually severe winter. During the last week of December, a blizzard swept across southwestern England and Wales, leaving snow drifts of up to twenty feet in its wake. The ensuing weather emergency came to be known as the Big Freeze, with dangerously low temperatures plaguing Great Britain throughout January.

Known as Nell among the Beatles' entourage, Aspinall had succumbed at an especially inopportune moment. The group's second single, 'Please Please Me,' had been released on January 11. When the Beatles recorded the up-tempo song back on November 26, their normally staid producer, George Martin, had gone out on an extraordinary limb. Overcome by a moment of 'bravado,' he announced, 'Gentlemen, you've just made your first number-one record.' The very notion that the four Liverpudlians would release a chart-topper was so far-fetched that 'the boys,' as Martin and manager Brian Epstein had lovingly dubbed them, promptly broke into peals of laughter. But as January wore on - and with the Big Freeze stranding millions of Britons at home, 'Please Please Me' was fulfilling the producer's daring prediction. Snowed in with radio and television as their chief sources of entertainment, record numbers of viewers watched the band's January 19th performance of the song on the popular Saturday night television program Thank Your Lucky Stars. That night, the Beatles held the lowest rung on a seven-act bill. But not for long.

With the single racing up the charts, Epstein had booked a fresh spate of radio and television appearances, necessitating the Beatles' journey to London on the day after their Thank Your Lucky Stars appearance. But on the morning after the TV show, Neil had woken up feeling feverish. When he arrived for the band's evening gig at Liverpool's Cavern Club, he announced that he would be unable to drive them to London. The Beatles were unsympathetic, saying, 'Well, you have to get somebody else, won't you?' In the fog of his illness, Neil 'didn't have a clue who I could get. I went up the Cavern steps into Mathew Street just to get some fresh air, and Mal was standing there.'

As it happened, Mal and Lily had just arrived at the Cavern that night. Having worked as a part-time bouncer at the basement club, Mal had become a familiar presence to the Beatles and their crowd of 'Cave Dwellers,' as deejay Bob Wooler had christened the Cavern's regulars.

'What are you doing for the next couple of days?' Neil asked Mal. 'Would you like to drive the Beatles to London?'

For Mal, it was a no-brainer. Being near the action was what had drawn him to the Cavern in the first place. An inveterate Elvis Presley fan, he relished the Beatles' company, swapping stories about the King and growing especially close with George, who had befriended the giant, bespectacled man. Mal enjoyed peppering the band with requests for Elvis tunes. He held a particular affection for 'I Forgot to Remember to Forget,' which George intentionally bungled, singing, 'I'm so bloody lonely' in place of 'I'm so blue and lonely.' The bandmates invariably introduced their songs for Mal by playfully altering his name: 'This one's for Malcontent,' or 'This one's for Malfunctioning,' or 'This one's for Malodorous.' Mal took it all in stride, good-naturedly playing along with his new friends."

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Mets Announce Update On Mauricio Injury


Ronny Mauricio connecting on his first Major League hit in his debut on September 1. Photo by Jason Schott.

One of the Mets' top prospects, Ronny Mauricio, who made his debut at the end of last season, suffered a knee injury during a winter league game in the Dominican Republic on Sunday night.

Mauricio was playing for Tigres del Licey, and he took off from first base, giving the appearance he would steal, but then he stopped and fell to the ground. He walked off to the field with a slight limp.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Mets gave an update on X: "On Sunday, Ronny Mauricio suffered a right knee injury while playing in a Winter League game. Imaging revealed a torn ACL, which will require surgery. An estimated return-to-play timeline will be determined following the procedure. Updates will be provided when appropriate."

Mauricio made his debut with the Mets last September and he primarily played second base. In 26 games, he hit .248 with a .296 on-base percentage, two home runs, nine RBI, seven, walks, with 31 strikeouts in 101 at-bats.

In 116 games at Triple-A Syracuse last season, he hit .292 with 23 home runs and 71 RBI, with 24 stolen bases, a .346 on-base percentage, a .506  slugging percentage, and an .852 OPS.

Books: "War Against the Jews" By Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz, one of the most celebrated lawyers in the world and was the youngest full professor at Harvard Law School, where he is now the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus. He is known as one of the fiercest defenders of Israel, especially since it suffered the worst day in its history, October 7, when it's civilians were viciously attacked by Hamas terrorists. In the aftermath of the attack, Dershowitz wrote the new book, War Against The Jews: How to End Hamas Barbarism and it will be released today, Tuesday, December 12. His 2019 book, Defending Israel: Against Hamas and its Radical Left Enablers, is also available in paperback today.

Books: "The Master" On The Brilliance Of Federer, By Christopher Clarey


The Master: The Long Run and Beautiful Game of Roger Federer - New, Post-Retirement Edition

By Christpher Clarey

Twelve; paperback (revised), 448 pages; $21.99; available today, Tuesday, December 12th 

Christopher Clarey, who was a longtime tennis writer and global sports correspondent for the New York Times for over thirty years, covered Roger Federer's complete illustrious career. He was in Paris on the Suzanne Lenglen Court for Federer's first Grand Slam match and has interviewed him exclusively more than any other journalist since he rose to prominence.

Monday, December 11, 2023

RFK Jr. Pens Substack On How He Will Lead Way On Fixing Ballot Access System


Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. published an op-ed on Substack on Monday detailing how the current ballot access system amounts to a deliberate and arbitrary suppression of the democractic process.

Kennedy argues that ballot access laws for independent and third-party candidates are among the worst forms of voter suppression in the United States today. 

"They artificially prop up the two-party duopoly, even as 63% of American adults agree that the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that another choice is needed," Kennedy writes.

In this well-thought out case for reform, RFK Jr. details the enormous hurdles an independent campaign must overcome, including the collection of over one million valid pen-and-paper signatures, deciphering arcane petitioning rules that are different in each state, and defending its petitions against the inevitable litigation from both Democrat and Republican lawyers.

Some states have massive signature requirements and tight petitioning windows. Democrat and Republican state legislatures can abruptly change their rules  to sabotage any petition drive or third party. 24 states require electors on the petition forms, while 27 require a named Vice Presidential nominee.

"To fix our broken ballot access system, the American people will need to pressure state lawmakers to build a better, more democratic process," Kennedy writes to conclude his Substack. "When I am elected as America's first independent president since George Washington, I will lead the way."

This op-ed comes on the heels of the Kennedy campaign securing its first legal victory against the state of Utah, which agreed to move its ballot access deadline for independent candidates from January 8, 2024 to March 5, 2024. 

Kennedy 24 Press Secretary Stefanie Spear said in a statement, "Fortunately, the Kennedy campaign has a massive base of grassroots supporters and a robust legal team that will overcome these restrictions to get RFK Jr.'s name on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia."

To read Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Substack, please click here. 

Strand Magazine Features Lost Poem By Raymond Chandler


The newest issue of The Strand Mystery Magazine features a lost poem by noir master Raymond Chandler that was hidden in the archives of the Bodleian library in Oxford for decades. 

This is the only poem that Chandler wrote as an adult, and it has a sentimental and mystic quality, in contrast to most of his works, which were dark and cynical. The mystery is why this was never released in his lifetime.

Chandler wrote this in 1955, after the passing of his wife, and this was a time when there were quite a few things he left unpublished. That included this poem, and a short story which was a searing indictment of the healthcare industry, which The Strand published years ago. 1955 was also the year he attempted to kill himself.

Andrew Gulli, the Managing Editor of The Strand, said in a statement, "Chandler has been cited as a formative influence on scores of crime writers from Laura Lippman, Janet Evanovich to Michael Connelly and Richard Price. After combing over thousands of pages of his manuscripts, I can safely say in a bittersweet way that is the final word from Raymond Chandler."

Here is a sampling of this newly-discovered Chandler poem:

There is a moment after death, yet hardly a moment,

When the bright clothes hang in the scented closet

And the lost dream fades and slowly fades,

When the silver bottles and the glass and the empty mirror, 

And three long hairs in a brush and a  folded kerchief,

And the fresh made bed and the fresh, plump pillows

On which no head will lie,

Are all that is left of the long, wild dream.

But there are always the letters.

I hold them in my hand, tied with green ribbon

Neatly and firmly by the soft, strong fingers of love.

The letters will not die.

Books: Christmas Stories That Will Warm Your Heart

Christmas is just around the corner, and there are five books that are sure to warm your heart at this magical time, perfect to read on a cold night curled up by the tree: Christmas at Corgi Cove, by Annie England Noblin; Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop, by Jenny Colgan; One Christmas Morning, by Rachel Greenlaw; The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, by Susan Wiggs; The Christmas Brides of Twilight, by Lori Wilde; A Christmas to Remember, by Beverly Jenkins; and A Wish for Christmas, by Courtney Cole.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

NABC Brooklyn Showcase: St. John's Blitzed By Boston College In Late Loss


Chas Kelley III taking a three-pointer that put BC up 76-70 late. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm saw their four-game losing streak end in a brutal loss late to Boston College, 86-80, on Sunday evening in the NABC Showcase at Barclays Center.

The whole game came down to a series of streaks in the second half, with Boston College having the final say.

St. John's, now 6-3 on the season, was trailing 42-38 in the opening stages of the second half when they went on a 14-0 run over two minutes and 36 seconds to go up 52-42 on a Joel Soriano bucket at the 14:55 mark.

BC responded with a 19-4 run over the next four-and-a-half minutes, capped by a Prince Aligbe dunk off a turnover, to take a 61-56 lead with 10:22 left.

St. John's then went on a 10-0 run over the next 2:27, capped by a pair of Soriano free throws, to go back up five, 66-61, with 7:56 on the clock.

Boston College responded with a 10-2 run, and then an elongated 15-4 clip capped by a three from Chas Kelley III, to go up 76-70 with 3:11 remaining.

The Eagles really sealed it when Claudell Harris Jr. was hacked across both arms by Chris Ledlum on a three-point attempt. He sank all three free throws to give BC a commanding 83-75 lead with just 1:41 left.

Boston College was led by Harris Jr. who had 14 points off the bench, on 4-9 shooting, including 2-5 on three pointers, with four assists and two rebounds. Quinten Post also had 14 points (6-11 shooting, 1-1 on threes), with 11 rebounds and nine assists - he was one assist away from a triple-double. Jaeden Zackery rounded out the trio of Eagles with 14 points (7-10 FG), with three rebounds and three assists. 

St. John's was led by Soriano, who had 21 points on 8-12 from the field, 1-1 on three-pointers, with 11 rebounds to give him a double-double, and an assist. Chris Ledlum also had a double-double with 16 points (8-19 FG, 0-2 threes) and 11 assists, with three assists. Daniss Jenkins had 10 points (5-13 FG, 0-4 threes), eight assists, and three rebounds, while Jordan Dingle and Glenn Taylor Jr. also had 10 points apiece.

Pitino Postgame: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino referenced BC's 19-4 run in his postgame comments, as he said, "When we are up 10, coming out of the timeout, I said 'look they are going to come with threes. We have to stop the three and get out and get your hands active.' They made three threes in a row. 

"We are not going to win until we get committed to defense and this group is not. It's partially our fault, we recruited offensive basketball players, trying to teach [older players] about defense, and it cost us tonight. When you take all the offensive rebounds and the fact that they shot [52.9 percent]. They were scoring almost every time down the floor. [Our players] are trying to win with offense and you can't win with offense. 

"We are very disappointed. With a 10-point lead, you have to play great defense and we didn't and we paid for it. We are pressing like I want most of the time, but the half-court defense is such a disappointment."

On the team's defense: "We have good enough athletes, but defense is a matter of will. You have to want to play defense. If you make a change and tell a guy to blitz and he stays behind him, it's frustrating. But the first year is all frustrations, that's what you get. It's not young players not being committed to defense, it's the entire team."

On tonight's game: "It's very difficult When you have a 10-point lead, you are not supposed to lose it. It's been difficult from the summer until now with defense. It's a broken record. Give a lot of credit to Boston College, they made a lot of good shots down 10. You have to give credit to them as well." 

NABC Brooklyn Showcase: Fordham Wins It At Buzzer

The celebration was on for Fordham after the buzzer beater. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Fordham Rams outlasted the North Texas Mean Green, 60-59, on Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center to open the NABC Brooklyn Showcase.

Abdou Tsimbila won it on a dunk as the clock hit 0.00. Because of the nature of the play, the referees had a lengthy review after to determine when it released his hand or when it was in the cylinder.

It appeared Tsimbila had it in with one-tenth of a second on the clock.

This completed a comeback from 12 points down at halftime for Fordham, who improved to 5-5 on the season.

North Texas led 35-23 at the end of the first half when they closed it on an 11-2 run.

Fordham responded with a 10-0 run to open the second half, and it was 35-33 NT with 16:42 left.

Fordham took the lead at the 13:22 mark when Will Richardson made a layup that put them up 40-38, which made it a 17-3 Rams run by that point.

North Texas would bounce back and take a four-point lead, 47-43, on a Jason Edwards layup at the 9:47 mark.

That would be the biggest lead from that point on, as it went back and forth with Fordham never leading by more than one point.

Fordham took a 58-57 lead with 1:58 left when Jephet Medor made a pair of free throws. 

North Texas got it back when Edwards made a layup with 1:09 left to make it 59-58.

It would stay that way until the walk-off buzzer beater for Tsimbila.

Fordham coach Keith Urgo said of the win, “I’m really proud of the way we played the second half. I think it was one of the best defensive efforts that we’ve had the three years I’ve been coaching here, and we needed that. We kind of got back to our identity that last 20 minutes, which is tough, nasty, defending and rebounding, not worrying about making and missing shots. We talked about that at halftime; we talked about how we were playing a little too soft, and they were taking it to us, and then the next 20 minutes that’s as good and physical as we’ve played since I’ve been here, and that’s what it needs to be for this team, and every day we’re getting better and better and better.”

Urgo said of the final play, “It was drawn up exactly how we like it,” he said to laughter. “We were just trying to get down on the high-ball screen. We knew they would most likely blitz or switch and make “Japhet (Medor) go to his left, but that’s the direction he likes to go. They did a great job of getting him cornered, not letting him turn the corner and they forced him into a trap, and Abdou rolled hard to the rim, sat in front of the rim - he’s been getting better understanding where he is on the court. You can see his development is through the roof his last several games, you’re starting to see how talented and the potential that he continues to have, and he’s not even close to to what he is going to be…There’s no one you’d like to see have an opportunity to win a game than this guy.”

Fordham was led by Antrell Charlton, who had 10 points in 4-9 shooting, including 2-3 on three pointers, with four rebounds and four assists. Five Fordham players followed with eight points apiece - Tsimbila, Medor, Josh Rivera, Will Richardson, and Ogheneyole Akuwovo.

PHOTO ESSAY: Fordham wins it, and they get to celebrate again after the review confirmed Tsimbila’s dunk:

The referees at the table during the review.

Fordham celebrated after their win was confirmed.