A big thank you to faithful reader William for sending in this promotional video that was posted on YouTube Tuesday. It's called "How We Hoop," a brilliant piece of recruiting hatched by the dexterous minds of the Duke Athletic Department. The production, with its immense 'street cred,' is sure to open inroads into an urban culture the school has abandoned for the past eight years.
(Either that, or it's a shoddy piece of transparent propaganda, bound to fail with its target audience, and bursting with unintentional humor. I can't be sure. Let's do a second-by-second rundown and find out!)
Title: "How We Hoop" is a fresh and daring take on more traditional locutions like "How We Play the Game" or Coach K's original suggestion: "The Style of Basketball I Generally Like to Teach Our Kids." The use of the word 'hoop' as a verb infuses the production with a ghetto flair, and will surely catch the eye of those talented 'street-ballers' (another bit of modern vernacular) who disdain antiquated notions of sentence structure. An absolute public relations coup!
0:00-0:10: "The way we play...is the way I'd like to play," says Coach K. He has decided to utilize his trademark pedophile voice, a sure attention-grabber. The diction is slow and insinuating, re-creating the atmosphere of immediate foreboding we all experienced as children in the presence of creepy adults. The anticipation, both intense and disorienting, leads nicely into the murine coach's first meaningful declaration: "I wouldn't want to play in a...structured system." Bolstering his point is complete archival footage from each of Duke's 18 fast break points in the past decade.
0:10-0:23: Upbeat, exciting 'hip-hop' music weaves its way into our subconscious as we watch a series of loose ball scrums and near-steals, some of which may have ultimately benefited the team. Capping off this wild sequence is a stunning energy shot of Steve Wojciechowski, Duke's diminutive assistant coach. Standing at 5'3", "Wojo" is responsible for ensuring that even our most talented centers will underperform in the ACC. Directly following his outburst, Coach K makes an impassioned plea to a diverse Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd of white and Asian engineering and econ majors. A true goosebump moment.*
*If you're a white or Asian engineering or econ major.
Did You Know: Coach K went to Army, and learned everything he knew about basketball from Bobby Knight? And that Bobby Knight became irrelevant in the twilight of his career due to poor recruiting and an inability to change with the game? Don't worry, that's not mentioned in the video.
0:24: "I like to play fast," says Gerald Henderson. He stares at the camera for an extra moment, just long enough to communicate the awkward, unspoken question: "you guys know I'm going to the NBA, right?"
0:25-0:34: Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler, clearly reading cue cards, spout a series of talking points about freedom and defense. Their words, nearly meaningless, are beside the point; we're meant to focus on Singler's gentle swaying as he playfully bats the ball back and forth, flashing a seductive look at the camera and unleashing his devil-may-care grin. Looks like we're desperately courting more than one minority group.
0:35: Coach K makes his first on-screen appearance. In keeping with the young, urban motif, he wears a pair of pleated black pants that rise almost to his shins when he sits, showcasing blazing white socks and running sneakers.
0:40: "I can't teach something that I don't like, and that I don't believe in," says the guru. The editors wisely cut off the end of his statement: "and I damn well don't believe in the jungle ball these coloreds are playing."
0:49: Jon Scheyer is forced to wear his uniform, clap his hands, and slap the floor in front of a green screen. His movements look slightly less enthusiastic and more stilted than a virtual player you might see on a video game.
0:52: "We can get easy buckets off our defense," says Scheyer, in the thoroughly unconvincing monotone normally reserved for children of car dealership owners who are forced to recite a catch-phrase in their dad's low-budget commercial.
1:10: "If you come from a man-to-man program, you're going to have a little bit of an advantage going into the pros," says Czar Mike. In support, he rattles off the impressive list of Dukies who excelled in the NBA. Included are Roshown McLeod, who played less than two seasons worth of professional basketball, Mike Dunleavy, who spent his first years continually losing a starting job for the Golden State Warriors, and Luol Deng, who left Duke after one year to Coach K's enormous displeasure.
1:20: "It's just gonna prepare you for the next level," says Kyle Singler, who will almost certainly fail at the next level.
1:24: "They learn how to play basketball, and that's what our system does." That's Coach K again, speaking in the 'profound' cadence used since time immemorial by frauds who want to make an incredibly banal statement sound meaningful.
1:35: Elliot Williams, my favorite Dukie: "I watched a lot of, like...Kobe and Dwyane Wade in Coach K's system...I can learn something from that." This was a voice-over, because they couldn't find a way to edit out Coach K standing to the side, holding a gun and mouthing the words "just say it."
1:40: Remember that time when Coach K barely won the Olympics with a team that far exceeded the opposition in talent? The editors gently imply that this was an act of....geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenius!
1:48: "If you play it right, it's a lot of fun," says Scheyer. With the video director frantically making the 'cut' gesture, he continued: "If, on the other hand, you play against more athletic defenders, which history proves is inevitable in March, the rigid system that Coach K just spent two minutes trying to disown becomes absolutely limiting, and in 40 horrific minutes you will learn to hate the stifling sport of basketball, which you will never consider a 'game' again for as long as you live."
1:48-2:03: The rap music dwindles and segues into a shot of the Cameron Crazies going bananas in what I'm guessing is the late 90s. Next, a basketball hurtles into a blue background and explodes, revealing the ultra-dramatic Duke logo. Incidentally, it looks like John Wall is going to Kentucky, so, uh...we won't have a dynamic point guard or a real title shot for at least another year. Great video, though.
(By the way, it's funny how two days can almost change your outlook on a baseball season. Phil Hughes and Joba delivered big time, and suddenly we became capable of timely hitting. I still want to see us capitalize on the momentum, for once, but it's a step in the right direction. The Angels series starting today will show a lot.)