This is like when someone scores their 19,600th points. Come back to me in 400, a-hole. It's also the problem with anything aging. I thought the 50th post was a milestone. 100? Definitely. So was 200, and even 300. Then 400 wasn't, and I had to wait until 500. Now? No milestones until 1,000. Total bullshit, guys. You know I'm in this for the milestones.
This is how babies must feel when their parents stop talking about their age in terms of months. It's a hard life, kids. Once you stop being cute, you're fucking dead to the world.
So, a couple quick points before the preview.
1- Here's a video of Jim Boeheim being a total dick to a couple newspaper beat reporters. The reason? Apparently he's all pissy that a couple of them wrote that he'd lost six straight times to Rick Pitino. Which is true. As some of you may know, I like Syracuse, and I like Boeheim usually, but this is a really sad display. He vacillates between angry and passive-aggressive the entire time, and his one big 'gotcha' moment is when he asks a reporter if she knows his record against some West Virginia coach. "Why would I know that?" she asks, fairly, and he says "then you don't know your business."
Here's the thing; being a sports reporter for a newspaper blows. Every athlete and coach thinks you're a piece of shit, and you have no power to write anything interesting or deep. The two reporters in this video come off as incredibly weak and supplicating, but they probably have to in order not to screw up their future access. So they have to take this little pissy rant from Boeheim lying down, when any rational human would tell him to grow up and fuck off. And all so they can keep getting banal quotes from him in the post-game. It's really sad.
And Boeheim is a jerk for taking advantage of that dynamic. He's like a domineering father preying on the fear of his kids. The reporters depend on him in this sad one-way dynamic, and his abuse goes unanswered. It'd be one thing if they were going to write something great as a result, but they won't. Think of the last 10 interesting things you've read about sports, and then ask yourself how many came from a newspaper. For most of us, it'll be a big goose egg.
Blah. It gives me a rotten feeling at the core. It's also why I put his name in the title of this post. Hopefully someone googles him and comes here and sees that, yes, he's an occasional prick, and he publicly embarrassed a couple reporters who were just doing their (boring) job. All because he's pissed that Pitino owns him. You deserve an unflattering picture, sir!
2- On the flip side of crappy newspaper writing, some dudes can really swing the ole pen. I've recently been getting into CBS' Seth Davis. I always sort of assumed he was a dull talking ahead, and I only really noticed him when he went overboard this year to tell everyone that Duke was overrated after the St. John's loss. Davis is a Duke grad himself, and every year it seems like he bends over backward to say something negative about Duke. Either there's some lingering bitterness there, or (more likely) he wants to show that he's unbiased.
In any case, I finally started reading his articles, and I have been missing out. He's got a great mind for the game, and he seems properly obsessed. he can also write a great feature. I really, really enjoyed this piece about an obese shirtless fan in Utah State called "Wild Bill." He really does a nice job getting beyond the usual bs. Here's a sample:
Then one day out of the blue, Sproat started feeling lightheaded. He asked his sister to get help. Next thing he knew, a nurse was standing over him pressing a defibrillator machine to his chest. Sproat's heart and breathing had stopped for seven minutes before he was revived. He was as good as gone. "Everybody asks me if I saw a light or anything like that," Sproat said. "I don't remember seeing anything. I just remember feeling kind of disappointed to be back, to be quite honest. It was almost like a good feeling to be away on vacation."
It didn't take long for Wild Bill to be revived as well. "The first thing I said was, 'There better not be any BYU fans in here. I'd rather die,' " Sproat said with a laugh. "Of course the nurse who was doing the chest compressions on me was a BYU alum."
3- Remember when I went off on a post-Super Bowl Groupon rant? If you don't care to review, the basics are that Groupon released a pretty offensive commercial about Tibet, exploiting all the shit they've gone through for a little publicity and a bad joke, and it annoyed me. And I'm very rarely offended or annoyed; I will go to almost any length for a laugh. Even a smile, really. Hell, I'll do it for negative feedback. I'm just desperate for attention. But this went too far, I thought.
Anyway, since then a lot of my friends have been talking about sweet Groupon deals around the area. Apparently the company is really extending themselves because they're afraid the bad publicity from the commercial will hurt their financials. And I'm not the kind of person who's going to take a stand in public. I don't think anybody wants to hear me tell them they should turn down that series of $20 coupons to every restaurant in Chapel Hill that they're all excited about. I really don't care, first off, and second off I'd be a self-righteous douche if I made a big thing of it.
With one exception. Monday, my girlfriend came back from work and told me she'd just bought 12 movie tickets for $20 to the Varsity Theater downtown. Because she's my girlfriend, I believe I have the right and privilege to be more of a pain in the ass to her than anybody else.
"Just tell me it's not Groupon," I said.
She went silent, and her tight grin told me everything I needed to know. I put on my best self-righteous douche look, and held her with it until she had to talk.
"It's movie tickets!" she said. "It's not like I bought the Taiwanese stuff. I wouldn't buy that."
So here's the recap of what happens in America: because Groupon's deals were too good to resist, she limited her protest to 'Taiwanese' restaurant offers. Which punishes exactly one group: Taiwanese restaurant owners. And that would be bad enough, but the people in the commercial were Tibetans. So really, one small nation oppressed by the Chinese were exploited in the commercial, and the fall-out, at least in the person of my girlfriend, hit another small nation oppressed by the Chinese. Brilliant.
Don't worry, guys, I made fun of her relentlessly. When I told her I was writing about this just now, she wanted me to make sure I mentioned that the deal also included 6 large popcorns. Which, I gotta admit, is a pretty sweet perq.
4- On a more important note, the practice of hiring fake Jewish ringers in all-Jewish soccer leagues has become an epidemic. Thanks to Jim for the link, and let's not forget who started the whole thing:
There's no WAY that guy's Jewish, right??
5- Commenter Eric brought this up the other day; apparently you can watch a live feed of just Nolan Smith on ESPN3 for tonight's game. ESPN will dedicate an "isocam" to our man Showtime. It's kind of interesting, I guess. I'm not clear on whether we'll be able to watch it after the game on replay, because that would be cool. If not, maybe we can keep it on our computers while we watch the normal feed on tv? Because I'm certainly not going to watch just the isocam.
Okay. It's time.
Here's a snippet from TarHeelFanBlog, which, despite being a product of the enemy, is a pretty good site:
Since Pomeroy began ranking teams in 2003, the ACC has had only one team ranked worse than 100 and that was 117th ranked Clemson in 2003. This season there are two: Virginia at 113th and Wake.
That being said, UVA has played better of late. Their last 3 games are all sorta/kinda impressive in an underwhelming way:
L: UVA 56, FSU 63
L: UVA 68, Miami 70, OT
W: Clemson 47, UVA 49
The win against Clemson is pretty incredible, even at home, and I think we should probably read that as an anomaly. It's not often Clemson will score 47 points, or that any team can win with only 49. That game must have su-ucccked. But the road performance against Miami is really surprising, and they didn't fare too badly at FSU either. Before that, though, they lost to Wake, and other than an early-December win against Virginia Tech (total stumper), they don't really have an impressive win.
-Keeping other teams off the line
And the weaknesses:
-Defending the 3
-Getting to the line
The profile that emerges is pretty clear. Other than a puzzling aptitude for defensive boards, we're looking at a guard-reliant team who can't mix it up inside. The player profiles confirm that impression. Mike Scott was a strong 6'8" force for the Cavs, averaging 16 a game and 10 boards. He was injured in early December, came back for one game before Christmas, and hasn't played since.
Now, they rely on Mustapha Farrakhan (13.2 ppg), Joe Harris (10.5 ppg), and K.T. Harrell (9.3 ppg) for scoring. The last two are freshmen, and none of them are taller than 6'6". The only really big guy who sees playing time is Assane Nene at 7'0", but he's not much of an offensive threat (33 points combined in his last 6 games).
The three guards can light it up from three, but that's basically the only trick of the UVA pony. And as we've said time and again, you don't beat Duke with guards. You beat them with balance, and a crucial ingredient to that balance is an athletic big man who can score against the Plumlees. Most ACC teams seem to have someone like that, but Virginia is an exception.
The formula for this one is pretty simple- Duke will play smothering perimeter defense, allow the guards to drive into the middle if they want, and take the chance that they won't kill us by dishing or getting around the Plumlees. UVA averages about 62 points per game, and I don't see them getting much higher than that tonight, even in C-Ville.
Here's what I'd like to see from the good guys:
A: Some sign that Andre Dawkins is still among the living.
B: Some sign that someone is working with Mason Plumlee on his routine defensive mental mistakes. To recap the five most prominent from Monday:
1 - Stand still, hands in the air, while the player goes around for an easy lay-up.
2 - Go for the impossible steal and give up the lane.
3 - Wildly flail at a block attempt that he has no chance of getting.
4 - Leave his man for an incredibly ill-advised double team.
5 - Foul somebody else's man.
C: Working Singler back into the flow. I thought this Monday comment from an anonymous reader was spot on:
"Singler has trouble playing with a guard who can create his own shot. See 2 years ago with Gerald Henderson. Henderson and Singler just could not play together. I think possibly Singler doesn't know what to do when he doesn't have the ball and can't put himself in position for a kick-out, which leaves the only option left to dish off to one of the Plumlees.
I think this was not a detriment last year due to the fact that Scheyer was there to hit the three if need be when Nolan drove. AND, Zoubek rebounded 40% of our misses.
I'm just rambling at this point, but the point is, as good as Singler is, he doesn't do well being 2nd fiddle."
Couldn't agree more. The feeling that Singler is some kind of foreign element has been nagging at me for a while. He plays great defense and never stops working, but it never feels like he's actually in the mix. It just seems that we call 15 plays a game outside our offense so he can curl off screens and shoot medium-percentage jumpers.
Hot Potato is coming, but before we get there, it's time for a new feature:
Today's winner is Maryland coach Gary Williams, who spoke after last night's loss to Virginia Tech.
"You're close, but that doesn't mean anything. You might as well be far away."
Great work, Gary! Your prize is a tattered copy of "Walden." Seriously, though, this loss basically ends Maryland's NCAA hopes, barring a conference tourney miracle. You have to look at them as one of the more under-achieving ACC teams this season.
And now the Hot Potato. Here are the updated standings:
The Hot Potatoes for Duke-UVA are:
That's right, folks, things are now getting racial. Guess how many combined points will be scored by Singler, Kelly, the Plumlees, and any number of walk-ons. Have your guesses in by game time.