But enough about me. Let's get to the game I'm winning: HOT POTATO.
(In case anyone is curious, this is a simple game where people pick the points scored by a given player chosen by me before a Duke game. The difference between their pick and the actual points scored is their total for the day. Low score is better. If anyone misses a game, they get the average score of that game plus 3. If anyone hits the nail on the head, they get a -3 bonus. People can join at any time since we use an average rather than a total. You can view the current standings here.)
I'm at a bit of a crossroads with Hot Potato. So far, in five games, I've used Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, Mason Plumlee, Andre Dawkins, and Seth Curry. That leaves Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly as the only two unused Dukies who get regular playing time. Should I use them all, or just cycle through the first 5 since they score more and there's more room for variety? Tough question. Today I'll use Kelly, and see how it goes. It's less fun if everyone guesses 4 points or whatever, but I think he generally scores enough to make it worthwhile.
TODAY'S HOT POTATO IS:
Kelly went to a high school in Raleigh called Ravenscroft, hence the nickname. Just kinda floating a trial balloon on that one, I'm not married to it. But it makes me laugh because a) putting 'white' in front of anything is funny (one of my friends from high school is nicknamed 'White Jesus'), and b) it makes him sound like a badass character from a terrible sci-fi novel. Yea, though the forces of evil do beset us, hope yet remains! The White Raven cometh 'pon wings of glory!
If anyone can photoshop Kelly's head onto a giant white bird that might be a raven, I'll paypal you five dollars. Ten dollars if it's awesome and includes some Duke reference or if he's just thrown a fireball at Harrison Barnes or something.
Make your guesses before tonight!
Speaking of, tonight we take on UAB. The University of Alabama at Birmingham. SNORE. Wasn't this game supposed to have happened already? Isn't this a December game? Don't get me wrong- I'll watch. I'll even enjoy it. But damned if I'll praise it.
Wait, hold the fort a minute. Just checked UAB's profile and they're apparently a 10-2 team in Conference-USA. Which means they'd probably be third or fourth in the ACC. Their two losses are by 3 at Arizona State, and by 2 at Georgia. Granted, we're still going to murder them, but it might not be the runaway I expected.
According to Pomeroy, these guys are small, defend the three really well, are terrible defensive rebounders, mediocre on offense, and never get to the line. We'll mostly be seeing man-to-man.
Here are a few things I expect to see:
1- Mason Plumlee will start. Coach K has an instinct for when players need a good game to get back in the flow of things. You saw it with Miles throughout our scrub December schedule. Now Mason's in a bit of a struggle, and I imagine he'll be a focal point today. With UAB's lack of size, it wouldn't surprise me to see him score in the 16-20 range.
2- Nolan's going to distribute and score fewer points. Either Curry or Dawkins will score a lot of points tonight, and Singler should have an absolute field day against whoever tries to guard him.
3- UAB's style- small and fast- plays right into our hands. If we can overcome their perimeter D and hit threes early, this one will be over in a hurry.
That's the extent of my analysis. This game isn't necessarily useful for Duke. I like to see us play against big, athletic, power teams. That's the kind of squad that'll challenge us and threaten the repeat run. We don't need any more practice beating guard-heavy teams. Even the loss of Kyrie didn't slow us down up top.
Next week, though, is a doozie. First we have Maryland at home, which is always awesome for its intensity, and then we take on FSU on the road. That always seems to be a tricky game. It's usually close, and we lost in Tallahassee in '01-02, '02-02, and '05-06, each time with vastly superior teams. For whatever reason, it's tough for Duke down there. We've won the last two, though, so maybe the trend is reversing.
In other news, did anyone see that goddamn Arkansas-OSU game last night? In my bowl pool, I would have been right in the money mix if Arkansas won. Instead, they dropped pass after pass and made endless dumb mistakes to give it away 31-26. I was going to write a long diatribe complaining about their play and their coaching, but I realized it was motivated by a gambling loss, and that would be really boring for everyone else to hear. Suffice it to say that I've always hated both Ohio State and Arkansas (the former because they're a boring Big 10 school, the latter because of Nolan Richardson and his bastard 1994 team), and today I hate them both a little bit more.
Last thought before closing: I was checking out my Robinson Cano bobblehead doll last night, pretending it didn't look like Tiger Woods (You've ruined it for me eternally, commenter Jonny. A plague upon your house.), and all the sudden I started thinking about my future children. If I had kids right this moment, which isn't happening, I could expect that they'd start getting into sports when they were 5 or 6, right? Add 2 years for the minimum amount of time before said kids are born, and that's a best case scenario of 7 years before any progeny of mine are invested in sports. Even then, it'll be a little kid investment. Everybody knows you don't get serious until you're like 8 or 9.
Robinson Cano is 28 years old. By the time my oldest kid can enjoy him even a little, he'll be 35. AT LEAST. 37-38 by the time the kids truly care. And he'll probably be a fat, roided-up David Ortiz by then. No, strike that. It will never happen to Cano, he's too pure. But here's my point: my children will grow up in a world that's basically bereft of Robinson Cano. And that is a total, complete, absolute mind-bender. I'm going to have to fucking tell them about Cano, and Lord knows they won't appreciate it. They'll have their own players to like, players WHO AREN'T EVEN CLOSE TO ROBBIE CANO BECAUSE HOW COULD THEY BE?, and they'll ignore me as I blather on about his sweet, sweet swing.
I'm already annoyed at both the kids and the future players who take Cano's place. If Cano was around in that hypothetical future, boy, he'd show them a thing or two about baseball. Did I ever tell you about his double play turn? BEST IN THE BIZ. They sure don't make them like they used to, and GET OFF THE TOP OF THE COUCH IT'S NOT YOUR PERCH YOU LITTLE DISAPPOINTMENT!
And it's not just Cano. My other favorite athlete, Rafael Nadal, will be in the same position. He may still be playing, but it's doubtful he'll be any good. I'll have to show them highlights, or tell stories, or just give up. YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW TOUGH THAT SPANISH MAN WAS, YOU SPOILED INGRATES. HE GREW UP IN MALLORCA. AND NO I WON'T HAVE A CATCH, GO ASK YOUR MOTHER.
Nadal and Cano are both pretty young. But consider people like Roger Federer, Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, or Tom Brady. They'll all be completely out of the athletic picture in seven years. My kids will only see them when they're involved in some kind of ceremony or just spectating. "And hey, folks, look who's in the crowd today...it's Alex Rodriguez! He used to play baseball!" It's like me watching Bjorn Borg show up at Wimbledon to watch Federer break his record. I mean, I get that he was awesome, but it's nowhere near the same. And it's not like I'm going to put the time in to go back and watch old Borg matches. Because let's face it, that guy sucked.
Then there's a whole other class of great athletes they could conceivably go their entire lives without hearing about. I'm talking about players in important but peripheral roles in my sporting memory. Jon Scheyer comes to mind. Jon Scheyer will play absolutely no part in my children's lives. They won't even know what he looks like. They'll never hear his name if I don't indoctrinate them. Hopefully Duke will have like 5 more titles by then, so that one won't even stick out in history. Ditto for Zoubek. The world of the future is Zoubek-free, and that is a tragedy.
The only athlete who's great now who could conceivably still be great in ten years is Tiger Woods. Golfers can dominate until they're like 55, so that's still in the realm of possibility. But it's just as likely that he'll go completely to the prostitutes or give up golf or just be average by then. Plus, it's golf; is that really something I want to share with kids? I hated watching golf until I was like 15 or so, and I'll still only watch the majors or the Ryder Cup. If I try to bond with my kids over golf, they'll end up with posters of Ronald Reagan in their bedroom.
Also, if you haven't noticed, the current generation of kids are idiotic. I haven't met a mentally functioning human under 18 in a long time. 99% of people currently under 21 should be institutionalized and re-programmed. I know it's drastic, but time is running out. Our country is totally screwed. The Chinese are watching us with glee as our future is sacrificed. Kids now are about 10% human beings, 40% fleshy extensions of handheld technology, and 50% metaphorical embodiments of annoying irony and amorality. I might have to raise my kids in a forest.
TIME MUST STOP PASSING IMMEDIATELY.
Reality at 28: birthdays turn you into a grumpy, paranoid old man. These are the thoughts that arise when January 5th rolls around. Happy Wednesday, readers. Never forget how awesome the present is! Sports just aren't the same in the future. And kids are less respectful. Starting now. (And...now.)