First off, I was wrong about last night's Duke-Iowa State game being on the road. It was actually at a neutral site (Chicago's United Center) in front what looked like a pretty partisan Duke crowd.
That being said, the Windy City shall hereafter be known as SCHEY-TOWN. Which unfortunately is not my invention, just a sign I saw and liked at the game. But still, start getting it straight. This kid is motherf$ing awesome. Which isn't a new reality, but an expanded one. He's been great his entire career, but now he's in a new echelon. A possible ACC-Player-of-the-Year echelon. A possible Player-of-the-Year-Period echelon. A possible NBA-Champion-This-Year-Echelon.*
*Oops, that one is actually not possible.
But in all honesty, it's time to start comparing him to Michael Jordan. Favorably.
Okay, I'm going to calm down, at least for a minute or two. Joking aside, I can't imagine a better start to the year for someone who has emerged as our top dog. Scheyer, a Chicago native, scored 31 in last night's drubbing of the Cyclones, and he looked awesome in the process. He can do pure shooting, he can do slicing and dicing, he can do ball control, and he can do sense-of-the-moment. He's Jonny on the spot, no matter the situation, and I'm completely serious when I say he's a POTY candidate. 19.7ppg, top 10 in assists with 6.3 per game, and the best assist-to-turnover ratio of any player in the country at 4.6. He also shoots 43% from 3, and 92% from the stripe.
Silly, silly, sick stats. Screw comparisons to Jordan. I'm ready to put him up against a different Chicago personality...Barack Obama. Some other comments from the game...
*Team defense is great. The announcers made a good point that this year's team has settled into a sort of compact unit, playing solid man-to-man, rather than constantly extending into passing lanes and trying to harass other teams into bad turnovers. And it's worked well; only two opponents have topped the 70-point mark. I think Coach K realized that we didn't have the team quickness to make nonstop pressure viable, and that it would only wear us out and hurt the offensive energy. This probably should have happened for the past few years, but better late than never.
*I made the mistake of paying Zoubek a compliment three posts ago, and reader Suzann made the following comment: "Don't give too much credit to Zoubek...he's bound to disappoint again, and often."
Too true, Suzann. Last night, he looked awful. I agree with my stepfather's assessment, who called at halftime distraught with his play. "It looked like he was wearing snowshoes out there," he said. And I think that's the best possible description; Zoubek moves like he wears snowshoes.
The good news is that Mason Plumlee looks better and better, and by the time the second half of ACC play rolls around I suspect he'll be taking the bulk of the minutes from Zou-Wreck.
*Where's the Dawk? Andre Dawkins, true freshman 3-point shooter extraordinaire, has been increasingly MIA. Last night he made his first appearance with 2:30 left and the game out of reach. Is Coach K losing faith in him? Is the death of his half-sister affecting him adversely? And really, how could it not? This is my least favorite storyline of the year.
Overall, another strong effort. Saturday is our first ACC road test, at #17 Georgia Tech. It's an entirely new animal, and if the Wisconsin game proved anything, it's that we need to improve in hostile environments. This should help.
Moving on, we're at the very end of the...
BOWL PREDICTION SAGA OF MASSIVE HEARTBREAK AND MINOR REDEMPTION
I made the right analysis last night, and was correct against the spread, but my dream of .500 straight up ended when Central Michigan won in OT. That makes me 15-18 straight up, and 12-21 against the spread. There's no way to spin those records as "good" or even "average," so I will just let them speak for themselves and accept my public humiliation.
The spread I'm seeing most often for tonight is Alabama -4.5. I think that's too low, especially considering what Florida did to Cincinnati. But the good news for fans of a close game is that the Big 12 has looked okay too; Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas Tech all came away with wins. Still, I expect this game to be like the last few title games; more coronation than dogfight. And as a fan of Nick Saban and a follower of the Crimson Tide, there's no way I'm screwing around with this one.
I Like 'Bama. Roll Tide!
NFL stuff tomorrow. Enjoy the bittersweet end of college football.