Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Humanizing the Evil UNC Basketball Team

Good morning, pals. I got to see exactly 0% of the Yanks-Blue Jays game last night due to school work, and I'm kind of glad.

After holding a 5-3 lead into the ninth, Mariano blew it and the Yanks lost in extra innings. Man, I hate that guy. WHEN IS GIRARDI GOING TO FINALLY BENCH HIM?!

We're going to be quick as hell this morning again, but luckily I've got some goooood shit to share. My boy Daniel over at Reesenews has unleashed a killer video that deserves to go sports-viral.

The idea was that when the UNC men's team went to Newark to play their Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games, Reese would give a camera to D.J. Johnston, one of the 'Blue Steel' walk-ons. Johnston agreed, and came back with almost 50 minutes of footage.

Daniel, who has a seriously deft editing touch, put it all together into a compact, fascinating package. Yesterday he asked me to watch it with another staffer, and the girl I was with asked how long it was. "12 minutes," he said, and I felt my stomach drop. Twelve minutes is an eternity to watch bad video.

Lucky for me, it kicked ass. Warning to Dukies: this might make you like UNC basketball players on an uncomfortably personal level. D.J. Johnston himself is bright and hilarious, and the perfect guy to be holding the camera, but some of the big names are pretty good too, especially Kendall Marshall. And what's really great about the whole thing is that it presents an unfiltered snapshot of the players' personalities at a time in big college sports when that is really, really hard to find.

My favorite part comes with this exchange in the team bus at 6:20:

D.J. Johnston: My argument is that the north is better than the south. The argument is that there are people around.

Voice: There are people?

D.J. Johnston: There's no people in the south. Hey Dex, the north better than the south?

Strickland: Absolutely. I mean, look at the view.

(Camera pans to the Newark landscape.)

There's also the hilarious part where they make Zeller lead off a beat game, play catchphrase in the locker room, and have a discussion about David Dupont's undiagnosed tuberculosis.

Definitely do Daniel and his partner Pressley a solid and go read the story at Reese.

Video below; let's hear your reactions, Dukies.


  1. I am a UNC fan... but bias aside.. this was really funny. Its nice to get to see kids acting like kids, and not always put up on that pedestal by the fans. Well done, Blue Steel!

  2. Forgot where, but I saw a piece where some ACC (including UNC) and Big East players went on a bowling trip. In general, all the ACC kids were participating, while the Big East kids were a little 2cool4skool to go bowling. I thought that was a nice little metaphor for the conferences.


  3. Nice vid. Good kids. If you're a fan of this rivalry, you like the vid. Those who demonize the players cause they hate the team are Homers. The DPB clips helped send a great message about Duke kids this past couple of seasons in the same way.

    Can't get your Yankee's blog title out of my mind. Why not protect the brand, embrace the irony, and go with:
    "Seth Curry Saves the Yankees"??
    (one of your crude photoshops of Seth wearing pinstripes in Yankee Stadium has instant classic potential)

  4. Very cool. The Blue Steel guys were funny. We didn't see nearly as much of the stars as we did of Blue Steel but that makes sense—those guys already have a camera in their face all day and this is the walk ons' chance for some spotlight. Agree that this is like the DBP clips in that everybody on camera seemed fun and personable.

    To me the most interesting part was that everybody seemed so happy on the bus ride back. I was there when Duke's bus got back to Cameron (a full day later, not the same night like UNC's return from Newark) and none of the guys looked like they had been singing. Quite frankly they just seemed pissed. Not sure that either attitude is BETTER, but it made for an interesting contrast.

  5. Can you please call the new blog Mashed Potatoes in a Cup?

    Apropos of nothing.

  6. ohhhh shiiitt! they did a little "Symphony" action at the end!!!!

  7. Sick. Thanks for posting, Shane!

    @Anonymous (the one two above me): The footage actually ends after the Heels won the Marquette game, so they were in a good mood.

    And I heartily agree with Carrie.

  8. Carrie, the second time he said that I almost died. It was mildly funny the first time, but to repeat it like that like it was a hilarious joke shows that D.J. Johnston has some real 'funny' chops.

    Anyway, I agree with all above. You always assume that Duke and UNC players are cool guys, and this kind of thing shows it. Not afraid to be themselves.

    Anon - I saw that. And they were immediately awesome at it. Our failures at parties are now even more said. Only conclusion: we need more black friends.


  9. I'm struggling to make it past the 4 minute mark due to bordem. Aside from the Friday lyrics, I don't think anyone besides Johnston has actually used a real word. Everyone else is just making noises strung together. Conclusion: UNC basketball is even more lame than I thought pre the first four minutes of this video.

  10. Thanks for posting this, Shane. We (i.e. Tarheel fans) already knew these were great kids, but it's good to get the word out to those on the other side of the rivalry.

    Personally, I try to combat the *dookies are evil* mentality on the Carolina boards. Duke players generally strike me as good kids, and anybody on either side who has to fabricate some story about the players being evil in order to justify their fandom has a deranged view of sports.

    I'd really like to see the mutual humanization efforts prolonged and intensified.