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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Johnnies

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As Frank Sinatra said about New York, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. The Hoyas will put that to the test Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden against St. John’s. Here for more are SB Nation’s resident experts on the Johnnies, Rumble in the Garden! You can follow them on Twitter @rumbleSBN.

St. John’s! What’s happened to you guys? Winless in the Big East? Seriously?

It’s a mirage! Your eyes deceive you!

Please tell me this is true and St. John’s is 2-2 in Big East play. Maybe even 3-1, that would be fun. Tell me it is so. I’m not having a breakdown, you are...

But wait! Chris Mullin! Patrick Ewing! How excited are you for a circa-1985 rivalry to be renewed on the court?

Ok. I recovered. We are all good. So here is a thing - personally, I am more amused by the idea of two of my favorite NBA Live players and favorite real-life mid-90s players to face each other on the floor. I was too young to enjoy/watch Mullin vs Ewing as Big East players, but I think a lot of fanbases have a core of fans who are of prime age to both have season tickets and relevant nostalgia.

I am also excited to see two players who I think are low-key but intriguing figures in the basketball world try to make a go at college. Neither fits the mold of the ideal college coach, and both have adjustments to make in expectations and approach. It’s also fun to watch how despearate fanbases are taking star alma-maters and how much they allow them to grow.

But as far as the rivalry? Makes for nice commercial break interludes, but I’m in the now.

Who has been keeping the Johnnies in games this season?

It’s been a team thing, but Bashir Ahmed and Tariq Owens have particularly stepped their game up. Bashir Ahmed has been a far better shooter in league games from beyond the arc and inside the arc (not from the free throw line, where he’s been struggling). When he gets the ball, he won’t get cheated out of a shot opportunity, but more of those shots are going in.

Owens is finding the stroke from outside the arc. He’s 6’11” and banging in 42% of his outside shots.

Ponds and Simon have their moments, but Ponds in particular is re-finding his game. Great as a driver and passer, but his shot selection and three-point percentage end up on the underside of your shoes if you’re not looking where you’re walking. He will get better.

How are fans feeling about this team’s chances down the road? This team has seemed to consistently be a year or two away.

Some fans think the end is near. For some of us it is, we are all day-to-day.

Now, let’s reverse that dark turn.

St. John’s has an issue right now that the bench doesn’t provide much punch in any aspect of the game and the coaches do not trust them to get some run. (The results when they do play prove the coaches right.) Next year, six more players will be added/ active and will add at least some energy and some options.

This year, some thought this team was NCAA ready but they were obviously an injury away from “this is too much”. This team will hopefully be an NIT team, and next year’s squad will hopefully have a mix of patience and cohesion and an ability to step in when needed, and that should be an NCAA squad. If the full backcourt comes back, or even if Ponds and Simon come back, there is a squad here.

Any thoughts on this season’s new-and-improved Hoyas?

Are they improved? How would I know? I’m going to regret saying this at about 8:40 PM tonight, aren’t I?

I guess they won at DePaul on the road instead of losing at home to DePaul like last year, so they might be better.

Rank New York’s five boroughs and explain your reasoning.

Depends on what you like and don’t like. Do you like the suburbs? That’s not my thing, really. Do you like action and noise and dirt? That’s ok, but gets tired. I like parkland, places that get quiet, older buildings.

5th - Staten Island. I don’t want to offend our Staten Island readers or the students on the SI campus, but I have only had fun on SI when I am very drunk and in a house with big stone lions. It’s pretty when you reach the parklands, but it just feels like a crowded version of New Jersey and it’s hard to reach.

4th- the Bronx is a parkway. But inside, there are solid hills, good cookouts (what’s up Soundview and Van Cortlandt Park). Still feels like another city.

3rd- Manhattan. So much going on. Sometimes it feels like the same multi-level overly shiny bodega, then a Starbucks, then some slush, then some really bright lights of some media company. Some pockets have amazing history. Other pockets have amazing arrogance.

2nd- Queens. Some parts are unbelievably boring, the eastern Staten Island. The development on the western edge is pretty cool, and the 7-train corridor has a lot of “whoa, I can eat that here?” restaurants. Takes forever to get into “the city”.

1st- Brooklyn. Now overpriced, but really pretty and stately. Lots of good places to hang out and eat. Could use more parkland in the middle around Bushwick.

Describe your perfect slice of pizza in as much detail as possible. I hope it doesn’t include pineapple on it, does it?

I love pineapple on pizza!

But not on my perfect slice, which has a little crust but not a lot, not like those generic street pizzas. I’ve become a fancy man and will only eat coal-fired pizza from Lombardi’s or somewhere similar, with an air of history and distinction, with ovens that have cooked pizza for famous people for over 100 years.

My ideal pizza would come out hot with a bubbling mix of mozzarella and romano, italian sausage, preferably in long thin slices that are a little crustier at the top, roasted red peppers with little flecks of burnt black. The pizza would, of course, crunch a little on first bite solid enough to hold the joys at the top but not so thick that I am chewing some childish pizza bagel.

An old favorite question of ours for you: should the toilet paper come from over the roll or under?

Under. I do not think that over people are savages; I think it can be less wasteful, I just don’t like it. That was the mildest take you’ve gotten, right?

Final score prediction?

St. John’s wins 74-72 and it is called a thriller. I need to believe this. I need to believe this...