Believe me, I hate to knock my own inventions off the pedestal, but "The Three S-Keteers" has officially been supplanted as the go-to nickname for Singler, Smith, and Scheyer.
The superior replacement, as you see in the title, is Earth, Wind, and Scheyer. I really wish I could take credit for this, but it was first suggested to me by an anonymous commenter in Monday's post. I googled it, and it has showed up, albeit rarely. It seems to have first appeared in the stands at Cameron during the BC game, and then it got a little publicity on a Duke message board. But I'm co-opting it, baby! Plagiarism: it's okay if I do it.
Not only is Earth, Wind, and Scheyer clever just from a pun standpoint, but it's also pretty accurate. Singler is earthy, more gravity-based, bigger, solid, while Nolan is quick, wispy, and spontaneous like the wind. It's even way better than the Giants version of Earth, Wind, and Fire from last year. In that case, Derrick Ward was supposed to be Wind, and it never really worked for me. I went along with it, mind you. I played their little game. I laughed when I was supposed to, said all the right things, shook all the right hands. But inside, I was dying.
Anyway. Earth, Wind, and Scheyer. That's a winner.
Hey, remember when I said Kentucky wasn't that good? Yesterday? And when I said, and I quote, "some crappy SEC team will beat you on the road"? Took one day to come true.
South Carolina snapped Kentucky's undefeated season 68-62 yesterday, officially ending their version of the perfection proclamation, which, let's face it, was stealing my thunder. Now, I've talked a lot of jive about Kentucky, particularly because I've always hated that school, but I'm not going to gloat about this loss. Here are some measured thoughts instead.
*I watched the whole second half, and I'm very impressed by Kentucky's freshmen. Despite the loss. John Wall in particular is just an insane player. I love him. It's not the first time I've seen him, but every time is like the first time with this guy. I can't help imagining what it would be like if Duke had won that recruiting battle. Coach K would be spending most of his days browsing through championship ring magazines and practicing cutting down nets.
*It was absurd, absolutely, patently absurd, for Kentucky fans to think they were going to go undefeated. With three freshmen starters. Even in a weak conference like the SEC, that just does not happen. Not in college hoops. It's too easy to lose on the road, even for a very good team. If there's any gloating in me, it's directed at their unrealistic fan base. Believe it or not, I actually respect Kentucky a little bit more after watching that game. I still don't think they're a Final Four team, but if the freshmen all stay another year (unlikely), watch out. They could be great. But undefeated this year? After the narrow escapes they'd already survived? That's just silliness.
*South Carolina's Devan Downey. Holy shit. He's all of 5'9", if you believe the media listing, and 175 pounds, but the man is a little machine.
He scored 30 last night, and it was such a joyful performance to watch. He basically scooted (I think that's the best word) through the defense at will, making strange, off-balance shots and just owning the court. Sometimes it was like watching old clips of John Havlicek dribbling through defenses to kill clock at the end of a game. It looked like Downey was moving in fast motion, like only his movements had been sped up on tape to 1.5 speed.
He even did my favorite move in basketball. Hopefully I can describe it; it's when someone drives in against a defender, pulls up, turns around to the perimeter like they've given up on the idea of penetrating, and then executes a quick spin to the exact same lane, catching the defender off guard. The most famous example is the #1 dunk by Jordan in this YouTube video, 2:35 mark:
That was kind of a choppy example, but Downey did that at least three times that I saw, and each time it left the defender looking like he had gravel in his shoes. Awesome stuff. I highly recommend watching at least one South Carolina game this year.
So Kentucky will drop in the rankings, and Kansas will resume the #1 ranking. Which is probably accurate. My bias leads me to nominate Duke as a potential Final Four team, but the honest assessment of the league right now puts three teams in what we'll call the 'upper echelon.' Kansas, Villanova, and Syracuse. That's it. Kentucky, Texas, Duke, and Michigan State are all on the second tier. Nobody else is really registering with me right now. Georgetown already looks like their usual late-season fade has begun, and WVU and Purdue are both grinder teams without championship potential.
Back to the Dukies. Tonight we defend the Perfection Proclamation, taking on FSU in Durham. The Noles are 15-4, and coming off a big home win against Georgia Tech. This won't be a cakewalk by any stretch, but with four days rest and a boisterous crowd, I think we'll win by 10-15. A win tonight and at Georgetown on Saturday might mean a top 5 ranking.
In other news, Federer took care of Davydenko in the Aussie quarters, but it wasn't easy. He lost the first set and trailed 3-1 in the second before taking a bathroom break designed to buy time while the sun set and mitigate the glare factor on the court. It worked, as he won 13 straight games and took the match in four sets. According to the recape, the Russian got a bit nervy as well.
Anyway, it's now been six years since Federer missed the semi-final of a Grand Slam tournament. Read that again. Talk about excellence. It might be the greatest stretch by an individual athlete in the history of sports. I certainly can't think of anything that compares. Maybe Alexander Karelin in Greco-Roman wrestling (3 gold medals and one silver, undefeated in international competition until the last match of his career, against Rulon Gardner for the gold in Sydney), or Georg Hackl in luge (3 golds, 2 silvers, 10 world championships), or the TigerSlam, but still, nothing quite measures up to what Fed has done. The only time in the last five years when he's missed a final was in Australia 2008, when he had mononucleosis. You know, that disease that completely zaps your energy and physically debilitates you for months? Yeah, he only made the semis that year.
He'll play Jo-Wilfred Tsonga on Thursday. Tsonga beat Djokovic in five sets, despite trailing 2-1, and, surprise surprise, Djokovic had an excuse afterward. He was sick, apparently. Okay, Novak. Thanks for stopping in.
That's all for today. Go Duke.