Jacob Pullen, a senior at Kansas State, was a shoe-in for this year's preseason All-American team. In the minds of the voters, he was second in the country only to Kyle Singler. Last year, he averaged 19.3 points per game and led the Wildcats to the Elite 8. The Sporting News rewarded him with an All-American selection. After Coach Frank Martin revealed that he'd be changing positions this year, many experts predicted he'd be one of the best point guards in college basketball.
Jacob Pullen, they said, was no joke.
So tell me this, planet Earth: why is Kyrie Irving laughing?
Tuesday night, in front of a partisan Wildcat crowd, Kyrie Irving completely- and guys, I mean completely- outclassed Pullen. I'm trying to rein myself in here, trying to be a professional and keep my language clean, so let me just say this: in maximum security prisons, they have a name for the role Jacob Pullen played tonight.
Good God am I pumped. Anybody think Kyrie's over-hyped now? I mean, what a show. He absolutely dominated one of the premiere guards in college basketball, and he did it on both ends of the floor. He didn't even let the man breathe, and I'm pretty sure that kind of thing is guaranteed in the Constitution. Kyrie Irving violated the Constitution, and the refs didn't even blow a whistle. They didn't have time; he was too fast.
This was the first Duke game of the season I got to watch with my stepfather Tom (we're in New Jersey at a surprisingly nice hotel), and while that's always awesome, it can also be a recipe for extreme negativity. The two of us use sports as a primary means of airing our many grievances about life, and the results aren't necessarily pretty. In fact, they're usually vitriolic and alarming. My mother inevitably ends up leaving the room. Now that my girlfriend is in the mix, she encourages us to at least be quiet. When I fail her moments later, she adopts a pensive look that can only mean "I'm pondering the least hurtful way to opt out of this relationship."
But there was no negativity tonight. Not with Kyrie running the show, and the Devils dominating Kansas State in every way possible. This was a game that was never in doubt, despite K-State hanging around due to a high field goal percentage (47% to Duke's 48%). After last night's mediocre performance against Marquette, there was some question about how the Devils would fare against an even more physical opponent, especially on the road. No question now. All the people with their hands raised just slowly lowered them and said "oh...understood."
And let's spread the credit out.
1 - Coach K
800 wins at Duke. I think Tom put it best when he said that after winning with last year's team, a hard-working group that nobody thought had national title talent even in early March, he shut us up. The rumors of his death as a championship coach were greatly exaggerated, and now he's starting to put up some historic numbers. The Ole Polack is about 4 seasons away from becoming the first Division 1-A coach with 1,000 wins. Tonight, he out-coached Frank Martin from the word 'go,' and watching that obnoxious tyrant smoldering on the bench was a magnificent bonus to the night's proceedings.
2 - Andre Dawkins
Didn't miss a field goal, squashed the last possible rally with a dagger from the corner. Young Threezy got game.
3 - Seth Curry
One hell of a defensive effort tonight that included 5 steals.
4 - Singler & Smith
Huge baskets when we needed them. Not that we'd expect anything less.
Was this a perfect game? No. Miles Ho-Humlee* just keeps looking worse. The interior defense conceded 11 offensive boards. Curtis Kelly notched 19 points and Jamar Samuels added 12, almost all in the paint. The referees were shockingly bad, and most of their calls seemed to benefit Kansas State. I don't think I've ever seen more phantom fouls or ignored traveling calls in a single game. Also, someone needs to tell Nolan Smith that he's allowed to put some arc on his shot when he takes a runner in the lane. Is there an explanation for some of those line drive clankers?
*It was between that and any of the following: Bumlee, Dumblee, Stumblee, Numblee (this was close), and Crumblee.
I'm sorry, though- I have to come back to Kyrie. Did you guys see some of those passes? Did you see the bounce pass to Miles in the lane? Did you see the left-handed finish in the first half? Did you see how he could take Pullen to the hoop at will? Did you see how Pullen was utterly out-of-sorts when Kyrie was manning up on D?
Pronouncement: best Duke player since Jason Williams. Sorry, everyone in the ten years between. You were all great. Thanks for the memories. But this dude is something special.
I know what you're thinking: I should stop gushing sometime soon before I pass out from a lack of oxygen.
BUT HE JUST OWNED JACOB PULLEN!
SERIOUSLY, GUYS, HE JUST OWNED JAC-
(forty minutes pass, my girlfriend finds me on the floor here in our New Jersey hotel room shivering in a cold sweat and mumbling about how assists can be beautiful, takes me to the hospital where the doctor administers smelling salts and warns me about getting too excited at sporting events, girlfriend brings me home, I pretend to be going to get some ice in a bucket but actually race to the hotel lobby to use the internet when all of a sudden)
HE JUST OWNED JACOB PULLEN!
GET OFF ME, HOTEL GUY! YOU HAVE RAZOR BURN! YOU DON'T OWN THIS PLACE! MY PARENTS PAID FOR MY ROOM! MY MOTHER KNOWS A REAL LAWYER! HIS NAME IS BENJAMIN AND HE OWNS A SUIT! HE CARRIES A BRIEFCASE MADE ENTIRELY OF LEATHER AND BUTTONS!
Truly, this is Kyrie's coming out party. Yesterday I wrote that the various elements required for excellence were almost ready to click in the freshman's mind, and today we saw what happens when they do. A one-man wrecking crew.
Last thing about Kyrie, I promise: he's an excellent rebounder. That cannot be overlooked. I'm incredibly impressed with his ability to go among the tall trees and pluck the ripe fruit. The ripe fruit of a basketball. Metaphors: not my strong suit.
By the way, let this be a lesson for all other transition teams in the country. You might want to try a different style, gang. ESPN showed a quote from Pullen that said something about how K-State loved to run, and if it was up to them they'd never run an offensive set. Well, tonight they saw real speed. Their only defense was to foul us over and over again.
Serious question, gang: if we can get through Oregon, Butler, and Michigan State without taking a loss, can this squad go undefeated in the regular season? In a year where it's entirely possible that no other ACC team finishes in the top 25, doesn't it set up pretty well?
I know it's early, but I'm telling you this: if we win the next three games, I will be writing a post about the chance of a perfect year. And you will call me an idiot. And we will rejoice in the American tradition of respectful disagreement by calling each other names in the comments section.
Okay, I'm out of here. It's 2 AM, and I've got a lumpy pull-out couch mattress waiting for me. It's more wire than bed, actually. I'd describe as a collection of intersecting metal rods draped with a thin piece of bed-sized cotton. It's possible I will not sleep, but at least I'll have something inspiring and wonderful to think about while I stare at the ceiling:
Two dinosaurs fighting each other on the wings of an airplane. One raptor, one triceratops, but the triceratops has a shield he can carry.
Oh yeah, and this guy: