Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Worst Article Ever Written and a Duke-UVA Preview

First thing- if anybody wants to read a really, really dumb article about Duke basketball by a person named Matt Jones, click here. You've been warned. Thanks to Chris for the link. Let's evaluate this slice of compacted garbage piece by piece. Take it away, Matt Jones. You'll be in italics, my comments will be in bold.

Admit it. You enjoyed watching Duke lose last night.

The choice to make that last sentence bold is his, not mine. Jones comes from the old school of journalism, where you defend your main premise not with evidence and irrefutable reasoning, but with an emphatic font. I can tell this is going to be a really strong, thoughtful, and incisive piece.

I am not talking to you, Mr. Cameron Crazy, who took one night off from your molecular biology homework...

Wrong. English major. Don't even know what a molecule is. Sounds bad, though. go to your study partner’s house...

What sort of antiquated notion of college does this guy have where people have 'study partners' and live in houses? Matt Jones' only conception of university life comes from reading 'Anne of Green Gables.'

...paint your face blue and white, drink a couple of Zimas...


and watch your boy Mason Plumlee “do work”...

Duke students use black lingo to discuss basketball! BLACK! Before we continue, I would like to wish Matt Jones a happy 142nd birthday.

...while discussing when you will find your own “hot girl from 'Big Bang Theory'” who will look past your dorky nature and see the inner Mark Wahlberg inside.

Okay, so he got one right. Lucky guess.

I am talking about the rest of the college basketball world, who either actively despises Duke or, among the more genteel fans, simply enjoys watching the Blue Devils squirm. For those folks, games like Wednesday night’s loss to Florida State are a lot of fun.

I'm really glad somebody is finally investigating the idea that other college basketball fans don't like Duke. I honestly don't think there's enough journalistic scholarship on that topic, and for Matt Jones to examine it in a fearless, original way really heightens the discourse of sports in general.

In college basketball, Duke is without question the hall monitor.

Like, in terms of comparing basketball teams to stereotypical roles at a high school? From 1949, when you graduated? Is that the turn we've taken in this masterpiece of humor and analysis?

With the exception of Kyrie Irving (who is now hurt), there isn’t a Duke player on the roster who would be considered one of the “cool” kids anywhere outside of New Jersey and some parts of upstate New York.

If you were waiting, like me, for Matt Jones to elaborate on why New Jersey and upstate New York presumably have different definitions of 'cool' than the rest of the country, you will be gravely disappointed. However, I've decided to make a list of what stereotypical high school roles each Duke player fulfills:

Cool kid - Kyrie Irving
Dork - Mason Plumlee
Slut - Ryan Kelly
Dumb Jock - Miles Plumlee
Broken Toilet Filled with Human Feces - Matt Jones

Sorry, I didn't get very far.

All of Duke’s players have appropriate haircuts, say “yes sir, no sir” and occasionally even help old ladies across the street.

What the hell is he talking about? Does this make even a lick of sense? First off, I guarantee Matt Jones has never seen a Duke player help an old lady across the street or say 'yes sir' or 'no sir.' But I understand he's using some kind of rhetorical technique and that we're not meant to take this seriously. But honestly, WHAT is the point? That Duke basketball players are nice? Would he prefer that Andre Dawkins be charged with aggravated assault in downtown Durham? Would he enjoy it if Kyle Singler took suspicious liberties with an intoxicated freshman?

They have all the swagger of Mark O’Meara, combined with the street cred of Glenn Beck.

OHHHHH SHIT! Motherfucker gone and dissed us proper!

Hilariously, the bold font is once again all Matt Jones, not me. Here's a conversation that almost certainly occurred:

CBS Sports Editor: Matt, we understand you're on the verge of writing a hilarious article. Can you please bold the most hysterical parts so the reader's eye is immediately drawn to your wicked stylings?


CBS Sports Editor: Why did you laugh when the Germans sank the Lusitania?


Coach K complains to the refs incessantly and the players always seem incredulous at the mere thought they could have committed a foul.

Wait, I thought all Duke players said 'yes sir' and 'no sir' and helped old ladies across the street?

When other players engage in any action that is not basketball the “Duke way” (such as oh, I don’t know … being interesting), K and the players go running to the principal, tattling and threatening to tell their NCAA sugar daddies. It can all be a bit much.

I really hate when columnists use quotes as if they're writing something that is constantly invoked by a third party. As though Duke fans are always rambling on about "the Duke way." I guarantee you I have never used that expression once in my entire life, and if another Duke fan did I would pounce on them like a cat and try to bite their face. That's not how we roll. It's just not the Duke way oh FUCK I DID IT MATT JONES IS RIGHT.

Also, I like how his ongoing high school metaphor changed without warning, in a single sentence, to prostitution. We started off running to the principal's office, and then ended up 'tattling' to a pimp. As Matt Jones might say, it can all be a bit much.

That is of course combined with the continued reality of every announcer, pundit or writer falling all over herself to let us know that Coach K does things “the right way” and that the players put the word “student” into “student-athlete.” To watch a Duke game is to be berated into accepting that you have drifted upon a set of players that are a physical embodiment of a mix between Oscar Robertson and Socrates...

Bolded passage number 3. This time, it's a tortured description asking us to imagine a combination of a great basketball player and a Greek philosopher, and then, if we haven't already, to translate that into a 'physical embodiment.' If you have no idea what the fuck he's talking about, join the club. Membership is open. We meet on Tuesday nights outside Matt Jones' nursing home. If you don't own a torch, we have extras for you to rent.

To those that pontificate on basketball, Duke is what A.J. Leibling’s “Sweet Science” is to books about sports, a dash of exquisite college basketball literature in a world of mediocrity and drivel.

I think I managed to parse this latest blather: Matt Jones believes that "Sweet Science" is the only good sports book. Which, again, confirms his idiocy. To those who enjoy judging other humans, Matt Jones is what Matt Jones' "Admit it...watching Duke lose is fun" is to articles written by morons, a dash of repressed insecurity and envy in a world of laziness and incompetence.

It can all be a bit much.

Don't worry, you probably haven't used that expression already in this article. It's probably not like two paragraphs up. It's not worth going back and checking. Forge ahead, Matt Jones, something tells me there's a stunning conclusion in your near future.

But when Duke loses … well those of us in the unwashed masses have something to celebrate. The “know-it-all” at the back of the classroom asking if more homework is going to be assigned or if the NCAA can crack down on this bully who is trying to recruit my players, gets his comeuppance in the most profound way. And then, when that loss comes from a team that is actually a football school and sees basketball as a hobby instead of a way of life…well that is even more grand.

That's #4 on the bold-o-meter! And even I have to admit, this one is hilarious. He took the high school thing and just really heightened it to the point of comedic dizziness. Sorry, pardon me for a second while I vomit onto a YouTube video of Louis C.K...okay, I'm back.

And nice work on the slick transition from the theoretical 'know-it-all' asking a question in high school to then asking the NCAA about recruiting violations. Smooth and intuitive. I mean, seriously, is the first time Matt Jones has written words?

Such a game happens every season. Nearly every year, Duke goes into some ACC team’s home arena, usually Florida State or Virginia Tech, puts their arms around each other in a little-too-tight huddle, sprints to Coach K’s every beckon call and looks terrified of the big, bruising bodies that are taking over and rudely beating them at their own game.

It's "beck and call," you horrible, horrible writer.

Then as the minutes wind down, Coach K goes from cursing at the referees to inner acceptance of his fate and the players hit the one great moment where they no longer believe they will win and realize that for the first time, life is truly not fair. I love that moment every year and if you are honest, so do you.

That's the end of the article, and bolded passage #5. Let's take a quick look back at Matt Jones' bold highlights:

1. "enjoyed watching Duke lose"
2. "They have all the swagger of Mark O’Meara"
3. "physical embodiment of a mix between Oscar Robertson and Socrates"
4. "asking if more homework is going to be assigned"
5. "I love that moment every year and if you are honest, so do you."

Is it possible to put this list in a museum? I think the Louvre would be appropriate, but I suppose the Guggenheim or the Met could work too. Maybe the Basketball Hall of Fame? I just think future generations deserve to share the experience of reading the emphasized poetry of Matt Jones.

Dear CBS: Please fire this clown. Not for us; we can choose to ignore his articles. Do it for Matt Jones himself. He's making a fool of himself, and he needs to be cut loose so he can come back to reality and pursue a second career as one of those singing fish that assholes mount on their living room wall.


Let's move on. Please. First, some quick orders of business before we got the preview:

1- Hot Potato was in yesterday's post, and it's Nolan Smith. I'm also offering a bonus point if you tell your favorite or least favorite Duke story.

Apropos of nothing, reader Craig J. came up with yet another awesome nickname: 'Knowlan Springs.' As someone who wastes a ton of time coming up with nicknames, I have to admit that Craig's recent work (which includes the classic D'andre D'awkins) has left me feeling both inspired and threatened. I stayed up all night yesterday trying to come up with a really great one for Singler, and after a lot of sweat and tears and crumpled notes thrown into a small trash bin, here's what I've got: Kyle "Sting"ler the Stingy-Stingy-Sting Buzzin' Bee-Dog. Did I nail it??! I'm honestly asking, I'm on no sleep and totally out of sorts. Would it help if I spelled 'dog' like 'dawg'? Would that make it awesome?*

*But seriously, though, Boom Radley is Singler's nickname.

2- I have no idea why, but while my girlfriend was at work (you guessed it, stripper) last night, I watched almost an entire Blazers-Suns game. And it was truly, truly awesome. Also, they announced that NBA League Pass is giving a week-long free preview starting Monday, and I got excited. Things are turning around. I think I like the NBA. And I really like Steve Nash. When I was young, John Stockton was one of my heroes. I have a thing for crafty point guards. That is my type. Which is why a non-Dukie, Stephen Curry, is my favorite college player of all time.

The Suns are a really fun team, as usual. In the past couple years they've gone from high-flying space benders to savvy old vets, and last night former Dukie Grant Hill scored his 16,000th point. I thought this post-game quote was atypically sincere:

"It's certainly special," Hill said of the milestone, "to be able to continue to play after a lot of injuries and still be out there. Sometimes I get depressed because I could have more, but I will take the 16,000 and won't be greedy."

3- NFL picks! I know you guys are dying to hear these after my 1-3 finish last week. The Seahawks are going to cover but lose, New England will win by like 30, the Ravens and Steelers will have an intense battle like every other year that Pittsburgh wins by like 4, and the Pack will take down the Falcons in a tight one. If you have wet cement and a reliable stick, write it down.

Okay, so, what should we expect from today's 2pm game at Cameron?

Simply put, expect a massacre. Duke are 21-point favorites by almost every measure, and coming off a loss they'll be eager to make good on that line. Also, the last two games have featured especially poor outside shooting performances, and this team is too good to stay slumping forever.

Pomeroy's UVA scouting report tells us that they do the following things well: avoid turnovers, shoot threes, and grab defensive boards. And they do the following things poorly: defend the three (311th in the country), grab offensive boards, get to the line, and score inside.

In other words, this is a guard-heavy team. Their average and effective height aren't terrible, but their best big man, Mike Scott, who averages 16 a game and has the potential to make the Plumblebees look foolish on occasion, is out with an ankle injury. Their scoring will primarily come from Farrakhan, Harrell, and Harris, the three guards.

Duke eats up guard-heavy teams. Which is why you can expect Assane Sene (7'0") and Will Sherrill (6'9") to get more than their usual 17-20 minutes per game. Virginia coach and famous crooner Tony Bennett has to go big to have a chance. Otherwise, Harris and Harrell, the freshman guards, will be harassed and harried in their first Cameron experience.

But even if he leaves the bigs in all game, it won't work. The frontcourt pressure should give the Cavaliers nightmares (I wouldn't be shocked to see Coach K put on an early press), and the scouting reports don't seem to indicate that their bigs are skilled enough to damage us the way Johnson, Williams, and Singleton have. I hope that statement is more than just wishful thinking, though. My only worry is that Sene and Sherill will create a lot of second chance points and diminish our pace.

Personally, though, I think Duke will come out gangbusters. I'm looking for big performances from Dawkins and Curry in particular. I think this will be the kind of game that makes Duke nation start to feel really, really optimistic.

The difference in this game will be Virginia's inability to defend the three. Given enough chances, we will light it up. And though they started their season scoring 70+ in seven straight games, UVA has only topped that number once in the last nine. This team is not Florida State; they're not keeping us under 70. I even doubt they can keep us under 80.

Final prediction: Duke 87, Virginia 62


  1. Great post as usual. Matt Jones is a huge UK fan. Btw, we don't have to worry about Mike Scott since he's out for the year with an ankle injury.

  2. Haha, thanks Hackey. I love how I made a ridiculous mistake in the same post that I called out a CBS writer for being a moron. I edited the post.


  3. For Dylan: girlfriend says 22, Tom says 25. I say 18.


  4. One of my favorite Duke memories - Waiting in line for the 2009-2010 season opener (against UNCG I believe). They said the student section was full and encouraged us to go back to our dorms, but some of my friends and I refused to leave the line. Eventually they rounded up unused tickets and we ended up getting fantastic seats a few rows behind the bench. I was next to this crazy old man who snuck bourbon into Cameron, was drunk by halftime and was yelling absurd things at both teams' players during free throws.

    Nolan for 22

  5. Ummm, I'll go with 17 for Nolan

  6. Eek, I'm very behind in reading/interneting and coming up on game time. Just saw the point for the favorite Duke memory.

    My favorite Duke memory was getting Grant Hill's autograph when I was in 3rd grade. I had won the "read with the blue devils" contest at school (*dork*), so I got to go to the awards banquet. I waited outside Cameron with my Mom. He came out and kept walking as he gave me the autograph, and I practically had to run to keep up because he was so much bigger. He's still my favorite Duke player of all time. I would say the national championship game from last year was my favorite, but I think the stress took about 10 years off my life.

  7. 22 for Nolan.

    Favorite memory forthcoming.

  8. Best Duke Memory:

    Jan. 2, 2000. William and Mary cheerleaders traveled to Durham to cheer on the the Tribe as they were blown out by Duke (by 50ish points). Officials in Cameron were perplexed as to why the opposing team brought cheerleaders, but I didn't care...I was in Cameron. We sat on the floor and did the pompom thing. Midway through the first half, Shane Battier hustled for a loose ball underneath the baseline and was pushed out of bounds. I scrambled to get out of the way, but he landed on my leg. People ask me, "When did you become a Duke fan?" I tell them, "When Shane Battier stepped on me."

    Touched by a legend. A fan was born.

  9. Favorite Duke memory- summer trip to campus where Cameron was left unlocked and we were given free reign to wonder around inside while Tom gave me a detailed history of the Dukie's past championships.

    I really need this extra point!
    -the girlfriend

  10. I'm sure you know that Matt Jones graduated from Duke law school.

  11. OK sports fans, if it did not make sense before, I said I would keep using it till the game where everyone knew why; may I now (re)Present to you the moniker that shall be his "I'm now a grown-up, motherf-ers" moniker:
    "D'agger Beast Dre"

    Wow, way to come in a game and just announce to opponents, "you thought we are starting a little run? You THOUGHT we were starting a run? listen up bitches, I'm here now, and we ARE on a run!"

    Nice game Nolan, no surprise there. A real sign of improvement is Nolan & company starting to figure out how to feed Mason so he can stay within himself (Kyrie was great at this). I believe this is one of the things K is really focusing on.

  12. Support from opposing coaches...

    From AP: "The third of Dawkins' three 3-pointers during the run stretched Duke's lead to 62-52 with just inside of 7 minutes left, and Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett called those shots "the dagger."

  13. The Suns became my favorite NBA team last year. They've got Hill, of course. And I'm with you on Nash -- there's a level of artistry to his game that is a joy to watch.