1. The FoxSports Award for Terrible Television Production Values
And the Cammie goes to...Fox Sports! Let's be honest, this one was never really in question. With 10 minutes of botched audio to start the game (I'm no expert, but I think approximately .5 out of every 2 seconds was dropped), a complete refusal to show crucial replays, and an obsession with crowd shots, Fox Sports is the runaway choice. In fact, they've won the award so many times in a row that it's officially been named after them. Also, their sideline cameraman dropped the ball at one point and revealed that Jenn Hildreth is pregnant.
2. The Casey Sanders Award for Committing Dumb Fouls
The Cammie goes to...Mason Plumlee! This was always going to be contested between he and Miles, but Mason got off to a strong start early in the first half when he ran headfirst into a guard 10 feet beyond the three-point arc and then flopped backward in a really poor attempt to draw a charge. After that strong start, he needed only 28 minutes of playing time to foul out.
3. The Karl Hess Award for An Egotistical Referee With Itchy Lips Who Blows His Whistle at the First Sign of Contact Regardless of What Actually Happened and Seems to Always get the Call Wrong.
And the Cammie goes to...
Sadly, Karl couldn't be here to accept his award as he's currently calling a charge on Nolan Smith for buying a bagel on campus.
4. The Shane Battier 'This is Why We Love You' Award for Constant Effort
And the Cammie goes to...Kyle Singler! He secured this one after hustling for a long rebound in the first half, out-fighting two Yellow Jackets for the loose ball, then finding Nolan for an open 3 on the wing. As the shot went down, the cameras caught him in the background pumping his fist emphatically. Despite his recent struggles (which showed real signs of ending yesterday, by the way), the Sing still lives to play Duke basketball. He's physically incapable of playing at less than full tilt, and his satisfcation after a gritty play, which didn't even end with him scoring, shows what the man is all about. This is why we love you, Kyle.
5. The Joe Girardi Award for Firing Up Your Team by Going Bonkers on a Ref/Ump/Official
And the Cammie goes to...Coach K! It began when Nolan drove down the lane and Karl "Marx" Hess got suckered into calling a charge when the defender fell over and screamed like he'd been shot. The next time down the floor, Tyler Thornton fought through a screen while guarding Iman Shumpert and got a forearm to the face as a reward. Hess' reaction? Foul on Thornton. That's when Coach K took it to the next level. Great coaches know when to send themselves a step over the edge, and the timing here was impeccable. After Shumpert's 4 free throws, Tech led 18-13. But the fans and players were riled, and they finally shook off the cobwebs for good. A 24-10 run ensued, and by halftime the good guys led by 9.
6. The "I Bite My Thumb at You" Award for Best Old School Jeer
And the Cammie goes to...the Cameron Crazies for the timeless classic, "I'm blind! I'm deaf! I want to be a ref!" I laughed out loud when I heard this in the aftermath of Coach K's technical, and I was fervently hoping they'd segue into "A rope! A tree! Hang the referee!" They didn't, but it didn't detract from the greatness of the original chant. That's the kind of good stuff you rarely hear these days. Later, the Crazies started to sing the "Ole!" song, which was cool but entirely unpredictable. Strange night in Cameron.
7. The Moody Blue Award for Most Brutal Chant
And the Cammie goes to...the Crazies again, for the cruel and unusual "Daddy's better!" chant when Glen Rice was at the line. Fox managed to aim their cameras in the right direction for once, and you could see Rice shake his head in something like disappointment and annoyance. It clearly bothered him, and he missed the foul shot while the crowd went crazy. The most personal thing you can say to a dude is that he's not as good as his old man, and for their incisive cruelty, the Crazies deserve our acknowledgment (if not our respect).
8. The Reggie Miller "I'll Bring us Back" Award for clutch deficit shooting
And the Cammie goes to...Seth Curry, who hit a gigantic three with 7 minutes left in the first half to give Duke its first lead (23-22) since the very beginning. Like Reggie, he seems to love shooting bombs while his team is down, and more often than not he's the guy who brings us over the hump.
9. The Mark Madsen Award for Awkward White Guy Celebrations
And the Cammie goes to...Mason Plumlee! After a jam in the first half, he did his own little imitation of the Smitty Shimmy by giving a soul-mama head shake to the baseline camera. Again, I hope somebody captures this, because it was pretty hilarious. And how much would you pay to see Mason dance like Madsen in the video linked above?
10. The "What Happened to Mom" Award for Best Commercial with Sad Family Undertones
And the Cammie goes to...Just for Men! This is the commercial played about 5 times during the game where the two daughters go up to their dad with some Just for Men coloring gel and say "it's time, dad...you'd be a really good catch for someone!" So he gets rid of the gray, goes on a date, and sends a cell phone picture of him and the new lady to his excited daughters. But wait a second...what happened to mom? Did she leave? Did she get caught with another guy? Did she...die?? Is she...in the army? No, that wouldn't make sense. But you have to wonder if the first line of this commercial was originally something like, "Dad, you've been depressed ever since mom's been with Jeffrey. Why don't you color your hair?"
11. The "Emerald Nuts" Award for a Totally Meaningless Commercial
And the Cammie goes to...Chrysler! This commercial was played approximately 38 times during the course of the game. It's the one where the REAL HARDCORE MAN NARRATOR talks about how Detroit is actually a great city because it doesn't have a bunch of prisses like those prissy New Yorkers and it's really gritty and then the opening strains to "Lose Yourself" by Eminem come on and they trot out their latest car. The best line of the commercial is when the guys goes, "this isn't the story you've read in the papers." Correct, narrator; this is the story some suits in an Chrysler ad agency are shoving down our throats. The truth is, Detroit is a festering sinkhole, a shining exemplar of America's industrial failure in the last 40 years and a dire warning about what happens when big business isn't made accountable to the people. Also, the Japanese make better cars.
12. The Stepfather Tom Award for Hilarious Grumpy Conservative Commentary
And the Cammie goes to...Tom, my stepfather! He and my mom are in town visiting, and last night he took issue with the Chrysler commercial for reasons entirely different than mine. After it ended the first time, before I could say anything, he was on his game. "They're the only company who hasn't paid the government back for the bail-out, you know," he told me. Meanwhile, my mom was sitting on the ground playing angry birds on her cell phone. Needless to say, we are not Chrysler's target audience.
13. The Greg Paulus Award for Devastatingly Slow Defensive Rotation
And the Cammie goes to...Miles Plumlee! Part of Duke's man-to-man defense is that the bigs step out on perimeter picks to make the guard go around them and waste time. The ideal play is to take a jab step, pose an obstacle, and then pivot back and cover your man. Miles Plumlee is absolutely terrible at this job. Not only is he slow, but the minute he gets on a smaller guard his eyes light up and he thinks he can get a steal. This usually ends up in a dumb foul, or, after a series of easy passes, an uncontested bucket inside. Rumor has it that Miles might play volleyball at Syracuse for a year after he graduates.
14. The Elliot Williams Award for Freshman Intangibles
And the Cammie goes to...Tyler Thornton! The Boy with the Thorn in his Name just keeps delivering those quality minutes. He's good with a pass, borderline great on perimeter D, and money from the foul line. When you think back on this season, it's difficult to remember many Tyler Thornton highlights, but the truth is that almost all of his contributions have been positive. I really, really wish we had the big man equivalent of Thornton this season. Then we'd have a clear shot at the title.
15. The John Stockton Award for Sweet Steals and Assists
And the Cammie goes to...Seth Curry! He led the team with 6 dimes and 2 steals, including a sweet pickpocket effort on Rice late in the game. He started the second half with three straight assists, one to Singler, one to Mason, and the excellent dish to Nolan after Mason sparked the fast break. The dude is brilliant on the court.
16. The Kevin Love "I can't believe THAT guy is making great passes" Award
And the Cammie goes to...Mason Plumlee! Seriously, where are these dishes the past few games coming from? And why do a weirdly high percentage go to Ryan Kelly, of all people? Seriously, though, I know I've taken my shots at Mason, even in this post, but he had another stellar game yesterday. Aside from the five fouls, his line is pretty great: 4-7 from the field, 9 boards, 3 assists, and a block. I thought for sure he had more than 3 assists, but I guess the awesome dish to Kelly and the two kick-out threes to Seth Curry were it. But he had at least two excellent outlet passes to spark a break (if this were hockey, where they gave assists to two players, he'd be good), and a number of other kick-outs for open threes that were missed. I hate to jinx it, but all the hopeful Dukies out there might be right; he's starting to look like Zoubek circa spring 2010.
17. The Dennis Rodman Award for Distracting Your Own Teammate
And the Cammie goes to...Mason Plumlee! Apparently I'm unable to compliment the guy without giving him a hard time immediately after. This one made me laugh; at some point in the second half, with Nolan on the line, he clapped right as the shot was going up. And this clap came from nowhere; it was totally puzzling why he'd do it right at that instant. Total Mason Plumlee move. (Nolan made the shot...the only thing that could distract him is facing Nolan Smith on defense, and anti-Duke scientists have yet to make that nightmare a reality.)
18. The Harry Houdini Award for Best Disappearing Act
And the Cammie goes to...Andre Dawkins! I don't know about you, but I haven't seen him since Christmas.
19. The Nolan Smith 'Oh No I Think He Might Transfer' Award
And the Cammie goes to...you guessed it, Andre Dawkins! I just thought of this last night, and it sent a little shiver up my back. Tom brought up the fact that we have Rivers, Cook, and possibly Sulaimon coming in next year. Thornton and Seth Curry will be back, and there's an outside chance we'll have Kyrie too. Things do not get any easier for Andre, and it seems pretty clear to me that there's some kind of issue between he and Coach K. Seems like the perfect storm for a transfer, right? And that would be bad; despite the disappointment of this year, we know Andre can light it up, and I personally like him. I'd hate to see him go.
20. The Miles Plumlee Dry Joke of the Night
And the Cammie goes to...Tom! When Plumblebum the Lesser checked in for the second half, Fox showed up a close up. "Oh good," said Tom, his voice betraying nothing. "Maybe he can pick up four fouls." And on the very next possession, he body checked Shumpert on the perimeter. Fortunately for Duke, it was the first time all night Hess kept the whistle in his mouth.
21. The Karl 'Magic Eyes' Hess "That Was a Terrible Call Even By Your Standards" Award
And the Cammie goes to...Karl Hess! Daniel Miller, the big white ogre for Tech, decided to thug it up a little in the second half, and on one Nolan drive he sent him sprawling with a hit that would've been a five minute major if both dudes were wearing skates. For the second time and final time all night, Hess and his henchmen just sat there staring. Seriously, these guys could not have been worse. Even Tim Brando, who spends most of every game refusing to watch replays and change his blatantly incorrect opinions despite the presence of real video evidence, took the refs to task for that one.
22. The Dr. J Award for the Most Graceful, Glorious Jam
And the Cammie goes to...Kyle Singler! It happened on an assist from Nolan with about 12 minutes left in the second half, and it was a surprisingly smooth, aesthetically pleasing effort from our senior. Now I ain't saying he's the good Doctor or nothing, but it wasn't half bad. And despite his poor field goal percentage (5-14, which seems about par for the course this season), I think this game was a step in the right direction for ole Boom Radley. He grabbed 9 boards, had 2 assists and 2 steals, and generally seemed more in the flow of things. I'm hoping this is a gateway to the Singler we know and love, the guy who can light it up and score 25 on a good night.
23. The Chris Duhon Award for Most Unselfish Dish
And the Cammie goes to...Nolan Smith! With 28 points late in the game, he received a pass on the fast break near the foul line. He could easily have attempted the drive, and he probably would have at least been fouled. But instead of gunning for the 30-point milestone, he dished to Seth Curry for the lay-up. Less than thirty seconds later, he was out of the game for good. This award is named after Chris Duhon not just because he made great unselfish passes all the time, but because in 2001, with the national championship game winding down, he had the presence of mind to pass the ball to Jason Williams, who had told his team that a dream of his was to hold the ball as the clock ran out in a title game.
24. The Michael Jordan Award for the Sweetest Finish
And the Cammie goes to...Seth Curry! On that same pass from Nolan, he took the contact, contorted his body, and sort of did a twist underhand no-backboard reverse lay-in. Amazing.
25. The "You Owe me a Tall Boy, DUDE!" Award
And the Cammie goes to...Josh Hairston! I made a bet with my friend Chris, easily the most negative Duke fan around, that Duke would score 80 points against Georgia Tech. The wager was a tall boy, which is what we've been betting all year. On every occasion, he takes the anti-Duke side, and I support the team. With 8 minutes left, Duke had 67 points, which far surpassed the 80-point pace. But like a tiring swimmer racing the world record line, they flagged as the game wore on. By 5 minutes, they were barely ahead of the pace with 73. Then the subs came in, and they ran the clock down on each possession and then failed to score. At 77-57 with a minute left, I knew it was the last possession where we'd shoot. Thornton ran the time down to 50, then 40. I was watching Seth Curry the whole time, screaming for him to come off a pick and get open. Instead, Hairston drove the lane, put up an ugly shot, and missed. End of story, end of tallboy. Ryan Kelly got a dunk at the end, but it wasn't enough. Alas, another Coors Light slips away.
The doldrums of the schedule are over. We finish the year with Temple, V. Tech, Clemson, and UNC. The perfection proclamation is so close I can taste it, and the ACC title is near enough to be tantalizing. Have a great day.