Yesterday, the commentariat got good and frenzied about Mormonism, premarital sex, and my tendency to compare almost anything I disagree with to religious terrorism. That was fun for about six seconds, but I'm more than ready to put it in the rearview mirror. Today, I'd like us to turn our unified attention to Bleacher Report.
Bleacher Report is, quite simply, the greatest sportswriting site on the internet. They elevate the entire genre to a new level. With typical humility, they bill their content as "Entertaining Sports News, Photos and Slideshows." What Bleacher Report actually does is take mere games and transform them into fine art.
Okay, I'm being sarcastic. Bleacher Report actually sucks harder than Khalid El-Amin trading stocks from a cell phone on a yacht in a corn field for a Calvin Klein commercial. Two days ago, I started noticing a ton of hits coming my way from their site. Being an American egomaniac, I tried to find the article citing this blog, but it proved impossible. I think they put it in a newsletter or something. In any case, I should probably be grateful for the traffic, but I despise Bleacher Report so much that instead I'm going to bite the hand that fed me. Let's get crazy.
The deal with Bleacher Report is that anybody can write for them. You could sign up and write for them tomorrow. They care less about content than maximizing their search engine optimization metrics (I'm probably using all these terms incorrectly), meaning that despite the fact that the website is literally composed of fecal matter, they turn up really high in most sports-related Google searches. They're kind of like the Wal-Mart of the internet, if Wal-Mart only sold defective batteries.
In the process of trying to find out why all this traffic was coming my way, I read way too many Bleacher Report articles on Duke basketball. And now, in the timeless Fire Joe Morgan style, let's analyze some of these gems. Their writing in bold, mine in good, clean, unaffected American font.
#1 - College Basketball: Why Duke Will Not Repeat, by Chris Carson
I sincerely love articles like this. Ever since reading Pat Forde's brilliance on the same topic before last year's tournament, I actually begin salivating when this type of title comes along. SHOW US THE LIGHT, CHRIS CARSON!
The Duke Blue Devils have one of the all-time greatest basketball coaches, one of the best guards in the country and a top-five ranking in the national polls.
That's three facts NOBODY can dispute! Great start. I now believe that contrary to the post title, Chris Carson is not just some Duke hater. He's a reasonable man who can recognize the merits of Duke basketball. Hey, call me a sell-out, but I instinctively trust him. Because he complimented Duke basketball, everything he says afterward, no matter how contentious, can be taken as absolute truth.
However, the defending national champion Blue Devils will not repeat.
In fact, Duke will not even make the Final Four.
Who are you, Chris Carson, and why have you just turned my world upside down?
When looking at Duke's lineup, there is a big gap.
"Seriously, there's a big white gap with some smeared ink. My editor faxed me the lineup, but the machine was out of toner. All I can see is that Ryan Kelly and someone named Mason Plum start for Duke. Beyond that, I really don't know what's up."
More specifically, a 7'0" 260 pound gap left by Brian Zoubek.
"Foolishly, in some kind of misguided tribute, Duke has only played four players at any one time since his departure."
Zoubek came alive in last year's NCAA tournament—scoring well, rebounding better, and filling the lane with his big, physical and slightly dirty presence.
Brian Zoubek: Knock knock.
Gordon Hayward: What?
Brian Zoubek: I took a shit in your locker before the game.
Let's take a moment to pause and see where Chris "Kit" Carson might be going. It looks like he's taking the old "Duke doesn't have any good big men and thus can't win a national title" article. Which is fine; we've all said or thought some variation on that idea three thousand times in the last 24 hours alone. Most of us have bad dreams where Miles Plumlee trips over sidewalk curbs. BUT WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT OF THIS ARTICLE? WHY AM I READING THIS? WHY IS CHRIS CARSON REGURGITATING A MINDLESS BIT OF ANALYSIS IN THE MOST BANAL FASHION IMAGINABLE? WHY DOES BLEACHER REPORT EXIST? WHERE AM I?!
This year Duke has the Plumlee brothers, who are both big, athletic and highly capable on the glass.
I'll give you "big."
However, Duke does not have the big defensive workhorse to stop other bigs like Purdue's JaJuan Johnson, Syracuse's Rick Jackson or Wisconsin's Jon Leuer, just to name a few.
What about the guard play? Shouldn't we look at an entire team's capabilities before we start speaking in generalities? Syracuse lost to Villanova at home this year, and Villanova is a team composed entirely of elves. The big man is not some magical phenom that automatically wins games.
Oh God, it's happened: I'm engaging him.
Furthermore, Duke does not have a consistent scorer on the block. In close games, especially in the one–and–done style of the NCAA tournament, teams with solid post scorers have a greater chance at winning because they can dump the ball down low for quick baskets or play the inside-out game for open jump shots.
Which is why teams with superior big men- such as North Carolina's John Henson and Tyler Zeller, Miami's Reggie Johnson, N.C. State's Tracy Smith and C.J. Leslie, and Maryland's Jordan Williams- are undefeated against Duke this season.
Also, what the hell does the "one-and-done style" of the tournament have to do with anything? If anything, one-and-done is more conducive to teams who can get hot from three and steal a fluky win from a superior side. You know, like every upset that's ever happened. The pressure and nerves of a close tournament game are far more likely to disturb a team's typical halfcourt offense, which limits post play and gives the definite advantage to teams with guards who can penetrate and shoot.
Duke is a good three point shooting team, and they shoot them often. Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins have taken more than 500 three-pointers this year.
Bullshit stat. Those four are basically the only ones who shoot threes on the team, so the balance is disproportionate. If you look at three-point rate, which measures how often a team takes a three-pointer compared to a two-point field goal, Duke ranks 105th in Division 1. Which is basically average.
Live by the three, die by the three, as the annoying saying goes.
Again, Duke is 105th in Division 1 in three-point shooting rate. But understanding that would require Chris Carson to understand statistics beyond 'height.'
To be fair, though, he seems to have totally mastered height.
Duke is limited offensively. They will have to rely on good shooting for four or five games in a row.
"I have taken a class in persuasive writing. It is good to state facts. Do not confuse your readers with numbers. I enjoy watching sports. My hand is made of skin. I hate commas. In the mornings I like to prepare a bowl of cereal. Rhythm is the devil. Only a weak soul uses a contraction. Duke will need to shoot the basketball into the hoop. The sun is a hot thing. It is right and proper that people speak words. I am allowed to vote. Sports are essentially a simple thing. Oh no, I said essentially. Oh no, I used a comma. Oh no, I feel a strange music coming into my fingers. Oh God what is this? Is it what father warned me about sitting there in his armchair dreaming of everything he never accomplished while the old clock on the mantle ticked his minutes away, counting down the time to evermore, the ghosts of each passing second haunting the nicotine stained fingernails a thwop-thwopping on the Saturday Evening Post and a skip-bop-a-doo-bidda-bang-bop-boom I AIN'T DONE LIVING YET OLD MAN a-doobie-doo-wah-singing-skit-a-bop-bang AIN'T YOU KNOW MY NAME? I AM THE LOCO CONTAGION, THE BAYOU CAJUN, THE PARAGON A'RAGIN, DIRTY CHRIS CARSON COME TO RATTLE YO CAGE WHILE THE PAINT DRIES, fifth horse of the apah-co-lips, the bringer of furious prose who suggests you DIG IT OR LEAVE IT cuz son I ain't fleein' or retreatin', seethin' and bleatin' truth to power, THE VERTIGO FLOWER, risin' and shinin' while the derelicts cower!
EVERYBODY JIVE! EVERYBODY QUIVER! EVERYBODY GROOVE LIKE THERE'S WHISKEY IN YOUR LIVER!"
That puts a lot of pressure on Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. Both are talented players, but the two can't carry Duke to another National Championship.
What a snooze-fest. I'm so indifferent right now I could just tip over. Fuck you, Bleacher Report.
#2 - Duke Basketball: They Need a Crucial Third Scorer To Go Deep in NCAA Tounament?, by Ro Shiell
Along with articles written by simpletons about how Duke can't win, I love titles that are statements followed by a question mark. Also, "Tounament" is their typo, not mine. This should be awesome.
No team has ever won the tournament in the last 20 years just relying on one person.
"Bleacher Report has pored through the box scores of every national title game dating back to 1991, and in every single one, each winning team played at least five players. But that's not all: when we looked deeper at their actual rosters, we found that these teams universally carried at least double that number. Yet only one of those teams, the 1994 Arkansas Razorbacks, had a mascot that was a pig.
Historically, only one team has won a national title by relying on one player. That team was Oral Roberts University, who won with exactly one player, Oral Roberts, in 1876."
(Did it mess with anyone else that 20 years ago was 1991? Where has my life gone??)
BYU fans salivating at the thought of Jimmer Fredette shooting them to the NCAA championship are severely delusional especially now that low post threat Brandon Davies being suspended for Honour Code violations.
I'm not sure what amuses me more in that sentence: the fucked up verb conjugation, or the British spelling of 'honor.' Just for kicks, I googled 'Ro Shiell' and found his Bleacher Report profile. My favorite part was this: "I welcome any positive feed back about my articles."
I also welcome positive feedback from my readers. But ONLY positive. I also welcome raspberry danishes mailed to my apartment.
Carmelo Anthony has been credited in earning Jim Boeheim, his lone championship in his 35 years at Syracuse but that team had great balance.
Wow, I'm starting to feel like kind of a douche making fun of him. English is either Ro's 8th language, or he's foreign and using some kind of online translator. However, going back to his Bleacher Report profile page, he has earned 25 "achievements & awards," including a platinum medal for getting 10,000 reads on an article about Lebron James. So he's a public figure, right? An open target?
Gerry McNamara took care of business from downtown while Hakeem Warrick posted and rebounded. This allowed Carmelo to operate at his strength from mid range.
This is, I'm happy to report, somewhat accurate. Nice job, Ro! What else you got for us?
At the beginning of the season Coach Krzyzewski went to great lengths to stress that this team was different from last year’s which won the championship but that team also had balance. They relied on three main scorers, and when one was flailing the other two stepped up.
"Coach K even had a parade to emphasize the difference between the two teams. He called it the March of Change, and Barack Obama came by accident."
Also, dude, I had almost managed to forget the image of Jon Scheyer flailing. THANKS A LOT, RO. Why did he have to flail so much? *Shudders and feels very cold*
At the moment this team has only Nolan Smith as a consistent scorer. Kyle Singler is second in scoring with 17.4 a game but he has struggled ever since it emerged that he could become a top five all time scorer at Duke.
The enormity of that accomplishment, and the consequent fame and fortune, froze Kyle Singler right in his fucking tracks.
Tonight against Clemson and Saturday at North Carolina they have to be victorious if they want to win the ACC outright and be in the running for a number one seed in the NCAA tournament.
"It's two games that we know we have to win," Smith said. "It's kind of like the ACC Tournament right now. Win two and you're a champion. Wednesday night is the semifinals, and the next game is the championship."
WAIT ONE FUCKING SECOND, HERE. DID THIS FUCKING HACK GET TO TALK TO NOLAN SMITH?!?!
I do not feel bad anymore. Why the hell does he get to talk to Nolan? I WANT TO TALK TO NOLAN! I WANT TO!
Okay, I just googled it and he stole the quote without attribution from this News & Observer article. You are a real card, Ro!
The trouble is Clemson wants this victory just as badly as Duke or even more. Duke is playing for a higher seed in the tournament and Clemson is playing for an invitation.
Old British detective voice: Hmmm, troubling indeed. It appears, ladies and gentleman, that we have a classic...conflict of interest. How shall we resolve this calamitous dispute? Perhaps a game of "basket ball" might settle the feud. And yet...perhaps it will only stoke the flames of hatred ever higher. After all, shall we expect the loser to be assuaged? To traipse home, content in the new, degraded role of the conquered? Ha! I think not! A conundrum, friends, with no apparent resolution. Perhaps this "basket ball" ought to be canceled after all...
Clemson is 13th in the nation in points allowed per game even if Duke has yet to lose at home this season.
In fact, these two things may have nothing do with each other at all.
There's a ton more crap in that article that I do not feel like getting into, but eventually he mentions Kyrie Irving for no apparent reason:
Duke is currently 26-3 so these guys have done a good job to date but no one can rely on freshman sensation Kyrie Irving to come back this season. He has done enough to prove he should be number one in the upcoming NBA draft and any play right now can only hurt his stock.
Not that anyone is suggesting that he should play it cool until June or this is what he is thinking but NBA general managers have a history of drafting on potential. That’s why seniors fare very badly in the draft because they see too much of them.
USE A COMMA, DUDE. Seriously, I read that article and he uses exactly three commas in a 925-word story. That is too few, my friend. That's incredible. I've used more commas just in this paragraph, once I include this final clause.
That aside, I like the idea that Kyrie Irving might return and be so incredibly bad that nobody wants to draft him. "Man, why did we ever think he was good?" every NBA GM will ask in unison.
Okay, Ro, take us home.
So tonight is a pivotal game for Duke, they are at home and they normally play very good after a loss. Add that with Clemson’s desperation and this looks like a very good game in the making.
I read that last sentence just before tip-off Wednesday and got so psyched that I actually slammed my head against a plaster wall. I suffered a concussion, and woke up just as Nolan Smith was giving his post-game senior speech on ESPN3 and thanking me personally. That's when I realized I was still concussed.
And that is the end of this experiment. Bleacher Report will continue polluting sports discourse on the internet, and I'll continue hating them to no effect. As long as they continue to operate, though, you can expect these posts on Fridays.*
*Except during the tournament.**
**And except during Pick Six.^
^So basically never.
Before we leave...
A Very Important Note:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN of the Duke-o-sphere: In the lead-up to the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament, I would like to run some stories from real human people about Duke's national title in 2010. Where were you? What did you do? Did something crazy happen? Did you sit on the couch and try not to have a heart attack? Were you so drunk you started reciting poetry? Was there a MURDER?
Seriously, I think it would be neat to have some fun stories about the game, or even the weekend as a whole. If you're a Duke fan, great. If you're not a Duke fan but still have a good story, great. If you want to be anonymous because your story is so wild, that's fine. Just drop me an e-mail at shane.spr8 at gmail dot com. I've already recruited three people to tell their tales, and the more the better. Let's rile each other up before the big dance! (That's what she said...before a prom...to her prom date...before they took their pictures and corsage and stuff oh damn I'm over-telling this joke aren't I?)
One More Very Important Note:
We will be taking on other members of the Duke Blogosphere in a March Madness Bracket Challenge for Pride and Internet Supremacy. The final details aren't set in stone, but I know of at least two other teams who think they know more basketball than the readership of Seth Curry Saves Duke!
So here's the deal: I need 25 of my hardiest readers. Preference will be given to those who comment with some frequency, but if you get in quick I'm sure there will be slots available. WE NEED TO COME HARD, GANG. E-mail me or leave a note in the comments if you want in. It's free, and we'll do it on ESPN.
WE AIN'T GON' BE OUTDONE, SCSD! TO HELL WITH THE REST OF THE INTERNET! WE'VE ONLY EVER NEEDED EACH OTHER!
Our team name will be "The SCSD Moody Blues."
Less Important Notes:
*The Friday Pick Six will return, but only after the NCAA tournament.
*The Duke-Carolina preview will come tomorrow.
The ACC title is up for grabs tomorrow. Enjoy the calm before the storm, and let me know about the Duke stories and the Duke Blog Bracket Showdown.