(You know how it works. All this stuff was written in real time, and is unchanged here except for style and grammatical edits.)
1:28: Here we go! Duke-Miami is only minutes away, but I’m currently on the C-USA championship, where Houston just hit a 3 to go ahead of UTEP by one with 3 minutes to play. That’s on CBS, and on ABC Tennessee is down just one to Kentucky. Still early there. And over at ESPN2, the UVM local boys are working on an automatic berth against BU. Good, good stuff.
1:32: It’s Shulman and Vitale on ESPN. Last night, Georgia Tech beat Maryland and deprived us of our big chance at revenge. In the late game, NC State knocked off FSU, and all the sudden Duke has a pretty clear path to this title.
1:34: Houston is about to ruin a bubble team’s day. They just took a 6-point lead against UTEP, a team in the top 25 who will get a berth regardless. 41 seconds left.
1:37: Greensboro is a place I never visited in 4 years at North Carolina, and judging by the blimp shots before the game, I made the right choice. Inside, it’s an interesting sartorial choice by Erin Andrews…some kind of black and pink blouse where the pink part kinda looks like tie-dye.
1:39: Tip off! Miami wins, and they’re wearing dark. Missed alley-oop to start.
1:39: Singler gets it started the right way! 3-ball!
1:40: I’m torn on this conference tournament stuff. Obviously I want to win, but I don’t think Scheyer should play more than 25-30 minutes today. Everyone and their mother thinks his legs look tired, and I can’t disagree. Why risk burning him out? But if it comes down to playing him or losing, I guess you go for the ACC title.
1:41: Lance Thomas has bad instincts. He’s a banger, but he makes the dumbest passes and commits the dumbest fouls. 5-5, though, as he hits a foul line jumper.
1:41: Houston wins by over UTEP. Not good news for the Virginia Techs of the world.
1:42: Early on, Miami looks tough underneath. They’re taking it right at Zoubek and Thomas. 7-5, and they’re on the line. Last bucket looks like it should have been offensive interference, though. On that note, I don’t really understand that rule. Why would it matter if a guy makes a ball go in that was theoretically going in anyway? All it does is change who gets the points. I guess maybe it would give the offense an advantage because they could play above the rim while the defense couldn’t?
1:44: Actually yes, that seems pretty logical. Good rule.
1:44: Scheyer gets fouled on a 3, and only makes one. On a related note, I got fouled on a 3 in my league Thursday night, and made all 3. This is a big deal for me. Even though I’m a pretty good shooter from the line, making 3 in a row in that situation has always been psychologically difficult for me. There’s something about that third shot that’s just really tough to make. I'm sure I've done it before, but it's rare. Big moment in my life. Thanks for listening.
1:45: Singler with the alley-oop to Mason Plumlee! 8-7 Duke, and we’re at the first timeout.
1:46: By the way, it’s always been my basketball dream that I’ll be playing in a game where my team is down two, draw a foul on a three-pointer at the buzzer, and have to hit all three shots with nobody else on the court (when there’s no time on the clock, the other players go to the bench so the shooter is alone). Just me and the rim, baby. The ultimate pressure.
1:48: Speaking of basketball scenarios, here's one that would suck: a weird terrorist controls nuclear bombs all over the world, and has decided to take you hostage. He brings you to a basketball court, and there are cameras broadcasting the events to every home in the nation. All you have to do is dribble the full length of the court and make a lay-up, and the world is saved. The terrorist promises never to threaten us again. If you miss, he blows everything up. Total apocalypse.
1:49: It’s just a lay-up, but come on! That pressure!
1:49: Plumlee to Plumlee! Dunkeroo! Nolan Smith on the drive! Here we go, baby! 12-7 good guys.
1:51: Damn, Mason Plumlee looks awesome. Great defensive rebound, and on the other end Singler comes down with a strong board and gets hit by a bullshit over-the-back call. And I just noticed, this ref is the same moron who was in College Park when we lost to Maryland. I think his name is Karl Hess, and he sucks.
1:52: Scheyer looks pretty rough. Hate to see it.
1:54: Big Zou, Ole Snowshoes himself, hits 1 of 2 at the line. It’s amazing how much affection I have after pretty much loathing him last year. I am a fickle fan.
1:55: ZOUBEK AGAIN! Gathers in the Singler airball (slash pass) and puts it in.
1:55: Vermont up four with four minutes remaining over Boston. Back where I’m from, people care about this.
1:56: Here’s the thing: Miami is not a good team. Duke is playing kinda poorly right now, but the Canes just don’t have a cohesive offense. I’m not even slightly concerned. To me, their lack of ability puts a serious question mark on Virginia Tech’s candidacy. How could they lose yesterday? This is March, fellas. You should be better than the Miamis of the world.
1:58: Whoa! Kentucky with a 13-point lead over Tennessee. I’ve been dogging the Wildcats pretty hard all year, but maybe they’re as good as advertised. At a certain point, when a team keeps winning, it gets really difficult to call them overrated. Have we reached that point with UK? Nope: the SEC sucks.
11:09: Every single time I do a tape-delay blog, I forget to time stamp by game time remaining. I’ve done it again. Turnover Miami, 15-9 Duke.
10:30: 17-9 on a nice baseline J by Scheyer. And man, he makes what looks like a nice block at the other end and gets hit with his second foul. Blessing in disguise? More rest?
10:09: According to Shulman, the tournament committee no longer looks at the last 10 games of a team. How does that make sense? Aren’t they supposed to pick the teams that have the best chance to win? Momentum plays a big part in that, dudes.
9:32: We’re offensively stagnant. There’s no flow, no rhythm. Defense looks great, as usual. 19-12.
8:50: Double Plumlee block! Plumbleblock!
8:34: Yikes, we’re already in the bonus. Reggie Johnson for Miami at the line, and wow is this guy big. And Shulman says he’s lost 40 pounds recently. He hits both.
8:18: Nice runner by Nolan. Good to see him getting involved. And on D, some kind of frontcourt double team on the ball handler. Interesting. 21-14, tv timeout.
7:45: Dickie V says that Purdue gets the #1 seed over us if both teams win their conference tourneys. That would be quite annoying, to say the least.
7:16: Wow, Mason. Great board, switches hands in mid-air, and gets the two. Very athletic play.
6:48: Singler gets fouled and hits both. 25-18. It kinda seems like a lackadaisical game for us right now. I’m trying to look at this one with an eye on how we’ll play in the tourney, and I’m having trouble knowing what to think. Our D is tough and physical, and we’re great on the boards, but I’m still worried that a good pressure defense will disrupt us to a bad, possibly fatal degree.
5:20: A three by Singler, a steal by Scheyer, a jumper by Thomas, and we’re up 12.
4:56: Good drive by Scott for Miami, but they’re basically limited to a 1-on-1 offense. It’s easy to take Coach K for granted, but then you see a team like Miami who makes no use of their talent and athleticism, and it’s worth feeling some gratitude.
4:24: Man, it is a shitty day in New York. Gray sky, driving rain, and no sign of it letting up. Out my window, it basically looks like I’m living in a rough part of Hungary, circa 1978. Awful. Thank God for basketball.
4:08: This tape delay blog is unofficially sponsored by GUS: Grown Up Soda. Have you ever had one? It’s incredible. No caffeine, less sugar than a normal soda, and every flavor is awesome. I’m drinking a cranberry-lime right now, and it’s incredible. I don’t drink soda anymore because it tastes too sweet, so this is a very timely product. Keeps me from having to drink something healthy, like water.
3:34: UVM’s about to win, Kentucky still up big on Tennessee, and Illinois up 5 on Ohio State early. Dawkins drives, which is something new, and Miami takes a charge. Still, good to see the attack from Baby Dawk.
3:07: Grant hits a jumper, and Miami is within 5. This is what happens when you don’t have that extra offensive gear to put someone away.
2:42: Awesome interior move by Singler. A little pump fake/under-the-basket leaner. Groovy.
2:14: Scheyer is basically nonexistent. Shulman finally points out that we’re out-of-synch on offense.
2:07: Technical on Coach K! And wow, he looks pissed. His wife is standing up and screaming at the refs. Not a happy family. Not a happy Greensboro, actually; way more Duke fans in the crowd today. Johnson hits one of two, and it’s 32-28.
1:48: Scott hits a runner, and they’re within two.
1:35: Ugh, Scheyer just passed up an open 3. Has his confidence gone that far downhill in three games? Later in the possession, Thomas takes a long 2. Not what we want.
1:19: Bullshit carry call on Nolan. That technical on Coach K is not the least bit surprising. This ref has screwed us all season.
1:05: WOW. A horribly late whistle on Zoubek, who tipped the board to Singler. Coach K is perilously close to getting tossed. Big Reggie hits two, and with a minute left it’s a tie ball game.
53.0: Intense pressure on Scheyer. Apparently the word is out that he's gassed. Scheyer gets through, and misses an easy runner in the lane. Everything coming up short.
34.0: Turnover Scheyer. Miami can hold for last shot. Bad offense begets bad defense. We look so bad that part of me wouldn’t mind losing this game so we can just get home and rest.
HALFTIME: Long three by Grant, and Miami is up 3. They just closed the half on a 17-2 run. You think Duke might be a little tired?
Chris Collins, interviewed by Erin Andrews, says that the fouls hurt Duke, which is kinda true and kinda misses the point entirely.
In the studio, Digger points out that Coach K hasn’t had a T since 2003. That’s quite a run.
I take back my previous statement that I wouldn’t mind dropping this game. Not only will the extra day of rest be more or less negligible, but it would be a big confidence hit. Part of being great in the tournament is the ability to win close games and to excel down the stretch, and you need that self-belief going in. Plus, nothing is guaranteed, and I’d much rather have an ACC Championship than nothing. We need to get our shit together.
20:00: Game time.
19:30: Singler starts the second half the same he started the first: trey. Tie game.
18:58: And another! I love this guy’s heart. After a rough start to the year, he’s been nothing short of fantastic in the past 10-15 games. If he’d played like that the whole year, he would’ve been in the discussion for ACC player of the year.
18:58: Worth noting that Scheyer and Singler made first team All ACC today. Nolan got second team, and Lance Thomas was voted to the all defensive team.
17:50: Scott is a one man show here. Nice runner in the lane against tough defense by Nolan.
17:30: Singler again. This time it’s a foul line fadeaway. 40-37.
17:00: Scheyer misses the three, but gets back down for a great block. But man, I’m worried. He’s not even scaring people out there. And it seems like the offense isn’t running through him, either. Hopefully this is a strategy, and not a product of poor play.
16:11: Great pick and roll from Schey to Miles Plumdog, though. Missed dunk, foul, two shots. He hits one.
15:57: This is just the kind of game that would be really scary in round one or two. Miami has a team with one extremely talented guy who can drive and make crazy shots (Scott), one guy who can get very hot from the outside (Grant), and a big man who can make an impact on both ends (Johnson). On days when our offense is questionable, these are the kinds of teams who can pull off an upset. Grant just hit a big 3, and Miami is within one. TV timeout.
14:59: Shulman and Vitale are talking about how Atlanta is starting to get fed up with Coach Paul Hewitt and his inability to turn talent into good teams. Could not agree more. Even though they beat Maryland yesterday, I’ve never seen a division 1 team do a worse job handling a press. I think Vasquez and Bowie went a combined 3-30 from 3 (hyperbole), and the Jackets still only won by a narrow margin. Very ugly.
14:14: Three from Scheyer! Welcome back, buddy!
14:04: Singler is my hero. Great drive and finger roll, and he has 10 points this half.
13:30: Nolan with the defensive tip, Singler corrals it, forward to Scheyer for the lay-in!
13:05: AND SCHEYER WITH THE TREY! ELEVEN POINT LEAD, BABY! This old time Duke stuff! Awesome. Let’s put these South Beach punks away.
12:20: SINGLER FOR 3! VITALE IS ASKING FOR THE FIRE CHIEF! APPARENTLY BECAUSE THE NETS ARE BURNING DOWN! 56-42.
11:52: Ole Snowshoes gets hammered under the rim, and he’ll shoot two when we come back from the tv timeout. And guess what? This one’s OVVVERRRRRRR!
11:52: When you’re playing your third game in a row like Miami, there’s very little margin for error. Once things get bad, it’s easy to let the fatigue overcome your adrenaline, and then the energy is gone. I think we’re there.
11:52: Man, Kentucky is just annihilating Tennessee.
11:52: Zoubek hits both. And here’s a press from Duke. Coach K smells blood.
11:33: 15-0 run for Duke at the moment. Which is over as Jones hits two for the Canes.
11:00: At what point do you start pulling the starters? I’d err on the side of too early if I was Coach K. Of course, if I were Coach K, I’d also wear a purple top hat to every game and speak in rhymes.
10:05: HOLY SHIT! Mason Plumlee just gets a huge rejection on Jones. PlumbleGold!
9:40: Ugh. Miami within ten. But a nice steal by Singler leads to an easy lay-up for Nolan.
9:13: Dickie V going through his usual defense of Duke. “I’m tired of hearing people tell me what they can’t do!” he says. I wonder if he has this on a cue card, or if it’s memorized by now. He also made his usual joke about Duke fans scoring 1600 on their SATs.
9:00: Steal by Scheyer, ahead to Nolan for the deuce and the foul.
8:10: Almost a sweet follow-up jam by Mason.
7:53: Ohio St. pulling away from Illinois. Duke’s quest for a #1 seed is still uncertain. At the tv timeout, we’re up 12. Start subbing, Mike. At least for Scheyer.
7:30: #1 seed talk from Shulman and Vitale. If West Virginia, Purdue, Duke, and Kansas State all win their conference tourneys, things start to get confusing. Scheyer hits two, 64-50.
7:07: Grant is pesky. Another three.
6:08: And another. But Nolan answers to push it back to ten. He’s been mysteriously quiet this game. I suspect a sinister plot.
5:30: 8-point game. Let’s just get out of here, please.
4:52: Zoubek hits two ice-time free throws. He’s been surprisingly good there this year. Time for a stat check…
4:37: Hmmm…apparently he’s only a 50% shooter on the year. 28-56. Last year, he was 24-29 somehow. Color me corrected. Scott hits a 3, and now it’s a 7-point game.
4:00: Haha. Enjoyable desperation left hook by Scheyer is tipped in volleyball style by Singler, but after the shot clock.
4:00: Stepfather just called to point out that the stall offense has cost 7 points off our lead. I’m so used to this phenomenon that I barely notice anymore. But the last two times down the floor, we haven’t even managed to get a shot off. There’s such a fine line between milking the clock appropriately, and doing it too early. But Coach K always seems to be on the wrong side of that line.
3:04: Last tv timeout, and it’s a 7-point lead. This game should already be over.
3:04: Three minutes left in the Big 10, and Illinois has crept back to within 4.
2:55: 1 field goal for Duke in the last 6 minutes. Gee, I wonder why? Maybe because Coach K took us completely out of our offensive set?
2:15: Huge block by Singler on Scott. That defensive stop should do the trick. But man, things got close. Why would you stop doing what works with 8 minutes left?
1:43: And another friggin’ shot clock violation. That’s 3 in the past few minutes on Duke. Unless you have a point guard like Ty Lawson or Jason Williams, the stall offense is not effective. I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but it’s cost us national titles and ACC titles in the past, and it’s very frustrating.
1:24: Grant drives, gets fouled, hits two. 5 point game.
54.4: HUGE jumper by Nolan. What a great stick from the top of the key. And now Grant is back on the line, and again he hits both. Miami should have to foul now…
41.5: And they get Singler. Both go down. Timeout, and I’m checking on Illinois-Ohio St…yikes, the Illini are up two with 26 seconds. Please, please hold on to this lead. Buckeye ball…and Turner ties it with a nice move on the baseline…timeout Illinois with 3 seconds left. Back to Duke…
32.5: Scheyer fouled, back to Illinois, who is inbounding with 3 seconds. HOLY SHIT MISSED WIDE OPEN LAYUP…but it wasn’t in time anyway. Wow, that guy was about .2 tenths of a second from being a huge, huge goat in Champaign. Overtime.
30.0: Scheyer hits both. On the other end, Scott hits a nice turn-around, and gets a terrible foul call to go with it. Intentional miss here?
18.9: Didn’t look like it, but he misses anyway. Scott fouls out, and Singler is on the line. Great game for Scott. 21 points, 4 boards. Singler hits both…27 points for him.
9.6: Dunk by Campbell, foul on Scheyer, and that should do it. It did not come easy, though. Credit to Miami for hanging around when they looked beat on any number of occasions.
GAME: Wow, Miami hit a three to make it a 77-74 game, and then made the very strange choice not to foul Nolan with 4 seconds left. Two missed foul shots, and they would have had a chance to tie. Likely? Maybe not. But possible. Very odd right there.
Amazing game from Singler, 16 for Scheyer, a quiet 12 for Nolan, and we out-rebounded them 34-23. Offense looked just okay, only 8 people played, and the Plumlees had a nice day. One more win, and it’s another ACC title. But this isn’t a game that inspires a ton of confidence for the big dance. See you tomorrow.