Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Embarrassment and More Bad News


I don't particularly want to talk about the loss, which ESPN called a "stunning romp" (as if St. John's was a giddy Victorian-era British girl who scandalously stripped to her bloomers while running through her Uncle Nigel's tulip garden) and it's not because it was too painful or heartbreaking or anything like that. Yes, it was embarrassing, and yes, it showcased a truck load of Duke weak spots yet again. Yet. Again. St. John's isn't a team we'd lose to very often, but the stars happened to align yesterday and we were on the business end of an ass-kicking. Bad luck played its part, as it usually does in these kinds of losses, but that's not the whole story. We can't just discount the same crap we're seeing time after time.

Here's what I'm hearing from everyone, and I'll admit to thinking it myself, at least the first part:

"This is just like the Georgetown loss last year, and look how that ended up."

It's a tempting thought, but in the end it's a crutch. It's bullshit, actually. It's a crutch of bullshit, and it collapses under logic just like an actual crutch of bullshit would collapse if anyone was stupid enough to put their weight on it. It's the kind of bullshit that we can work past, that will hopefully be the refuge of the people on DBR who self-flagellate while weeping before their shrine to Coach K.

Gang, this ain't last year. Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas aren't walking through that door. St. John's isn't Georgetown. And this team isn't going anywhere but home in the Sweet 16 unless Coach K performs a healing miracle on a toe.

Okay, so here's why we lost.

1) St. John's shot 58.2% from the field. They usually shot 45%. They couldn't fucking miss.

2) Duke ended the game on a 4-5 three-point binge. Just an absolute tear. Just excellent shooting. Oh, and before that, they were 1-21. Which is a mark they could probably have topped if instead of shooting, they turned around and tried to kick the ball backward over their heads.

3) Apparently we can't stop any perimeter player from driving to the lane while we turn and look on in utter befuddlement.

4) The Plumlees are the worst thing to happen to Duke University in years. I'm serious. And I don't give a shit how impressed Clark Kellogg is that Mason Plumlee can grab 12 boards over Wake Forest. These. Guys. F*&#ing. Stink.

And by the way, Mason had four rebounds today against a team that didn't play anybody over 6'8."

And by the way, Mason thinks it's legal to pass the ball to yourself.

5) The minute we started to make a comeback, the referees made sure to screw us on like five straight possessions. And please, don't take this as me blaming the refs. I know we lost the game fair and square. But unless Ryan Kelly can foul somebody with his mind, and unless it's legal to dry hump Seth Curry, and unless Tyler Thornton has body odor that constitutes a foul, we got jobbed. The one thing that pisses me off to no end is when the refs are enjoying the home upset as much as the crowd. It's easy to tell; the minute they're being ridiculously emphatic when making a call the home side will love, and acting timid and apologetic when making a call for Duke, you know you're in for a long one.

Good for St. John's. Good for them for kicking our asses. I've had a longstanding debate with my friend Chris, who is somehow even more negative than myself, about whether or not Duke could be blown out this year. I said no. I said Smith and Singler were too good and had too many guard tools at their disposal. We could lose, but we'd never get creamed. He took the opposite position, and he was right.

It's bad times all around. The slow three-point shooting starts are becoming an epidemic. And I got news for you: this team won't win without the three-point shot.

Let's pretend for a minute that last year never happened. Let's pretend we lost in the Sweet 16 to Purdue because we had on off shooting night. Or pretend Zoubek never emerged, or Thomas got hurt, or whatever you like. Pretend it didn't work out. We'd be looking at, wait for it, 9 straight years of Duke teams with great guards and no effective big man. We'd be looking at yet another team that can be very fun to watch but is just not constituted to win a title. If you want to look at things historically, last year was an anomaly in a string of similar failures. And it's not set to change. Next year we're seeing another great guard class, and our lone big recruit is:

Marshall Plumlee Harvey Suckwald.

On the bright side, I've been looking for a great excuse to use 'the three stooges' as a group nickname. It never quite worked when I would scream it at the Powell brothers during Syracuse lacrosse games. They were just too good to make it stick. No pun intended. Crap.

For real, though, I have no idea how good Marshall Plumlee will be, and yes, I do feel kind of like a dick for making fun of him already. But hey, I'm a Moody Blue. It comes with the turf. I throw rocks at houses and swear at children.

I could have used a little Moody-Blueness from Nolan yesterday. Sure, he scored a lot, and he got into that scrape with Burrell, but I got pretty sick of seeing him pat everyone from St. John's on the back and go out of his way to help the other team up while his own guys stood around like frightened deer. Also, this is the kind of game where Coach K getting tossed would have been appropriate. Maybe with like 7 minutes left, when the calls went against us. Girardi picks his moments to go apeshit on umpires, and it's always calculated to fire up his team. All I saw Coach K do was sit there with his disbelieving grin like he just couldn't fathom how bad things were going.

But back to Nolan for a second. He ended up with 32 on a respectable 10-19 from the field. He had three steals and seven boards. It's hard to complain too much, but at the same time it really felt like he was on an island out there. I realize the rest of the team's shooting woes are partly to blame, but for the first time all year I think we saw the effect of not having a true point guard. When the rest of the team isn't clicking, Nolan doesn't have that extra gear to integrate everybody else. Kyrie had it due to his absurd talent. Scheyer had it because he worked like crazy and kept improving. But Nolan, one of my all-time favorite Dukies, is a scorer. He's not a distributor.

As for Singler, I'm starting to wonder if he's even a scorer. After struggling during most of January's ACC play, he had yet another tough shooting game. 7-17 this time. He ended up with 20, but really, what half-decent player wouldn't end up with 20 taking that many shots? His field goal percentage since conference games began is 40%, which isn't that noteworthy until you consider that his lowest season average of all time, last year, was 42%. He's taking more shots per game this year, 14.14 as compared to 13.75 last season, and his scoring is up to 18 from 17.7, so maybe he's being consistent after all. But that takes the beginning of the season into heavy account, and he's only had two good shooting games in his last nine. Long story short, it's high time for Sing to get hot again.

Commenter NastyEmu and I had a discussion the other day about Dawkins' shooting struggles in ACC play. I dismissed it in part as small sample size, but that's getting harder to defend with every game. He was 1-6 yesterday, and you can say what you want about the difficulty of shooting in MSG, but he's now 12-42 from 3 in 2011, for a dismal 28.6%. This from a guy who was 31-58 (53.4%) before January 1st. The attempt totals are getting closer to each other, and the small sample size argument is disappearing in quicksand. He's almost half the shooter he used to be. We may never know the whole story, but diminished confidence and fatigue probably play a sizable role. Seth Curry has had some nice games, but he hasn't shown that he can completely fill the Dawkins gap, and our team is worse off without Young Threezy's production.

I wish I knew what happened on defense yesterday. That fact that 6'7" Justin Brownlee ate our lunch doesn't surprise me, but I did not expect 6'2" Dwight Hardy to score 26. That doesn't usually happen against Duke. Their guards drove past us at will, and the reasons confound me. It's not usual for our backcourt to play as though their shoes are filled with cement. Maybe it was just part of the miserable day, another intangible gone awry. We woke up slow, or something. I hope to hell it's not a trend.

Because there's bad news awaiting us in Maryland. The Terps got a very big win on the road last night, beating Georgia Tech 74-63. You all are probably sick of me talking about Ken Pomeroy, but you've got to brace yourselves for one more story. I sent him an e-mail a few days ago pointing out the ridiculous home record of ACC teams in intra-conference games. I asked him if he had numbers on the all-time record for highest winning percentage. Two days later, he was nice enough to respond:

Hi Shane,

I don't know the all-time record, but the highest since 2000 is the 2000 MCC which went 44-12 (.786) at home. Average win% is 62% in conference play.

Ken

This brief, two-line note was a little like being blessed in person by the pope while the ghost of John Lennon plays "Imagine" on a couch a few feet away, smiling at you. OMG YOU GUYS HE KNOWS MY NAME!

Anyway, the ACC home record in conference games is now 30-11 (.732). With a strong streak to end the season, they could easily challenge that MCC mark, and they're annihilating the 62% average. The aforementioned NastyEmu compiled numbers for the ACC for the past few seasons, and they've all been right around that average. This is a strange year.

Which is why Maryland's win last night is so impressive. Georgia Tech was 3-0 at home in ACC play, with quality wins over UNC and Georgia Tech. Maryland shouldn't have won, and they definitely shouldn't have won by 11. As of now, the Terps are a huge anomaly in the ACC. They're 3-1 on the road, and 1-1 at home. But they've now won 3 in a row, and they'll be psyched beyond measure for Wednesday's battle in College Park. The Maryland faithful have dubbed this "Beat Duke Week," and it's easily the biggest game on their schedule. If we bring anything but the A-game, it'll be lights out in front of the world's most obnoxious fans.

And if I'm being honest, this is also the game I most want to win on our regular season docket. It really is. I just hate Maryland. I grew up in upstate New York, so I guess I don't full understand the Duke-UNC thing. I never hated UNC, and I don't now. It's not ingrained in me. I only know what I see, and what I see is that I abhor everything about Maryland. This is the team I want to beat. I'm not going to hedge my bets; it will be immensely, immensely disappointing to lose to that team.

Speaking of Carolina, here's even more bad news: they're getting good. I went to Saturday's emphatic win over State with my friend Justin, and I must admit that it was fun to watch. Harrison Barnes scored 25, and he was pretty exciting. Justin even tried to high-five me after one of his early shots, and I felt the brief tug of wanting to comply. I'm a Moody Blue, so of course I headbutted him and threw a soda at a veteran, but the instinct was there.

UNC is going to give us fits. They have a guy in Barnes who can drive and finish inside, they have two big men in Henson and Zeller who might score 40 points each if Roy is smart enough to give them the ball, and their point guard Marshall should be able to penetrate at least as well as the St. John's guards. Carolina's one weakness, and why they probably won't go anywhere this season, is that they can't shoot. At all. But if Duke has a poor shooting night, Carolina is an all-around better team. They are very, very capable of beating us.


It took until halftime of Saturday's game until I got some good anti-UNC feeling going. After the teams left the court, Butch Davis and the Tar Heel football team took the floor to raucous cheers. I had to listen to Davis talk about the resilience of his team, and thanks the Ram's Club (the rich, boring fans) effusively while barely mentioning the student body, while memories of his awful clock management and overall incompetence festered in my head. Justin summed it up nicely: "They're basically celebrating the fact that there's no 10-second run-off rule in college football."

Exactly. Butch Davis is annoying. His stupid team and their stupid violations ruined my one chance to be an actual on-site college football fan. Carolina fans should be pissed, regardless of the fact that they overcame their coach's idiocy to beat a mediocre SEC team in a mediocre bowl. Screw you, Davis, and the donkey you rode in on.

That's all I've got in the tank this morning. This is FMW. The M stands for Maryland, the W stands for week. You can fill in the blanks.

Tell me your worst or best Maryland story. The gem in my life was watching the Dukies roll them at home in 2002. My fellow freshmen and I had been camping out for two weeks, and the day before we watched old games on a big screen in K-Ville, including J-Will's Miracle Minute from the season before. Then the game happened, and it was the craziest I've ever seen Cameron. It was total destruction; 99-78, and they went home with their tail between their legs. Later that year they'd destroy us at home, and then go on to win the national title when Duke suffered its most disappointing loss maybe ever against Indiana in the Sweet 16, but that day was absolutely perfect.

See you tomorrow. Enjoy Drew Nicholas' smile. This was night J-Will broke the ESPN audio feed.

"This is absolutely scary. Maryland has played a brilliant basketball game. Duke hasn't been anywhere near the top of its game. And guess what? Duke's back within two!"

The St. John's Hot Potato

If you see this in time, bless you. It's 10:47, 2 hours before game time. This is a specific reward to people who get lucky and anyone who compulsively checks the blog. Your behavior should be rewarded.

First, the standings:



Today's Hot Potato is:

The Sing

Picks by 1, my friends.

What Ken Pomeroy says about the Johnnies:

-St. John's isn't too big - their only true post player, Justin Burrell, is 6'8"
-They don't get offensive boards
-They can't shoot from distance
-Teams shoot 2-point field goals pretty well against them
-Teams shoot 3s really well against them
-They can force turnovers

Anyway, the old adage applies here: you don't beat Duke with guards. And their home court will be negligible since all the Duke i-bankers will be flocking from Wall Street. I also hear tell there's a strong Moody Blue contingent. They're bringing chainsaws and rope and shit that makes you immune to tear gas.

82-63. Go Duke.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The SATURDAY Pick Six!

Holy crap, am I sick. My girlfriend has been sick for about a week, and it's finally caught up to me. Last night I had a choice of staying home, resting, and waking up rejuvenated, or going to play poker. Of course, the Gods of Sick made me feel just slightly better right before poker time, so I went. I fell headfirst into the gambling and the social drinking, and it was 4am by the time I got home. As I was driving back from Durham, I realized exactly how stupid I'd been. I felt utterly depleted. Fifty bucks richer, but basically constituted like a walking ache. I took three ibuprofen, got in bed, and spent the next six hours moaning and sweating and waking up with a start because I couldn't breathe through my nose.

Everybody: feel sorry for me. I'm the first person to ever get sick.

The real annoying part is that I think it's karma. On about Wednesday or so, my girlfriend got her pout on and asked, "why aren't you sick?" I haven't been sick in a long while, like years, and I really milked the moment. "Look," I said, using the most matter-of-fact tone possible, "I'm healthy as a horse. I eat an orange every morning, I take my Vitamin D, and I work out." She told me she hated me, and I went on with my healthy day. Even my friend Nick got very sick, and I imagined myself as carrying germs back and forth, but totally immune to them myself. Like some kind of superman, or maybe a rat that sneaks into the hold of a ship and brings the black plague to Europe.

Anyway, any higher karmic force witnessing my behavior must have been like, 'good God, what a douche. Here's a cough, a flu, and a gallon of sweating to be used over the next three days.'

HOWEVER. This Pick Six is pretty awesome, featuring a "Marry, Fuck, Kill" by our old friends Carrie and Jill (they call it "Chuck, Fuck, and Marry"), a great docket by Jim, and some quality rants by our contenders about Marc's name. Let's DO THIS!


THE FRIDAY PICK SIX


VOLUME THREE, WEEK FOUR



The Friday Pick Six is an original SCSD! game where six people make six predictions for six weeks. Along with their picks, they're allowed and encouraged to submit a 'sound-off' on any topic, sports or otherwise. When it's all done, the winner earns great honor among the people, while the two losers are exiled in shame and the three middle finishers go to purgatory, with the chance rescue their good name up to three times. To learn more about the rules, and about the current contestants, read below:

-Volume Two champion and intros to the new class
-Week One
-Week Two
-Week Three

THE HALL OF ANGELS: OLD CHAMPIONS

1. Tom.
2. Mike

Let's check out the updated standings after Week Three:

1. Monty: 15
2. Marc: 14
3. Dylan & Patrick: 13
4. Swetha & Sabreena: 11
5. Nick E.: 9
6. Spike: 5

Monty held on to his lead by virtue getting three points out of the scrabble category (Spike ate my lunch and played the Q), but Marc and the D&P tandem are looming in second and third. The old schoolers are faring poorly in 4th, 5th, and 6th. Spike in particular, despite his scrabble heroics, has to start coming to terms with a third straight loss. Be gentle with him; it can't be easy.

Ole Jim is back with the docket, so let's get it going. He named this week's installment the "Moody Fucking Docket."

Hey Shane, since I forgot last week I figured I would send my docket early this week. But not because I'm sorry. I going to be busy at the UNC Miami game headbutting the brains out of some Miami Sugarholes. No not those assholes, these ones.

1. NFL Pro Bowl. I know its lame, but the reason I will be watching is this man: Marc Mariani. He is my Mother-in-Law's "favorite fan" and he hails from Havre, MT. He is a kick/punt returner for the Tennessee Titans. How many total return yards will the young lad get?

2. Tubby!!! Minnesota v Purdue ought to be great. Purdue's only Big Ten loss this year was to the Gophers. Now they're playing in Boilertown. Its gonna be a brawl.

3. Georgetown v Villanova. I think we all know who we WANT to win this game... but I don't think influenza is going to be making any big plays this early in the season.

4. Louisville v Connecticut. I love these two coaches, they are like cartoons. Rick Pitino and Jim Calhoun are always a couple of wild cards. Can Louisville slow down the Huskies?

5. NHL All Star Game. I know what you're thinking, its silly. It should be kept in Canada. But darn it, I think that in measured doses professional hockey came be somewhat interesting. My favorite part is the NHL All-Star game. Did you know that the NHL picks captains and they they select a team? Should be a great shootout!

6. NBA. Lakers and Kings. One team is too old to win, the other just plain sucks. Whats it gonna be boy?

And ladies, and gents, we have a new special feature:

BEAT THE JILLARRIE


Our old friends Jill and Carrie our back with a special category that will allow the players to gain extra points...but only if they can Beat the Jillarrie.

Briefly: Jill and Carrie pick the winner of three categories. If the contestant is bold, he/she/they can earn three by points by getting more correct picks. But if they fail, they lose 3 points. An ultimate temptation! Tie goes to the Jillarrie. The contestants can also choose not to face the Jillarrie, in which case they lose one point for cowardice. Take it away, gals, with your picks and rants:

Our Picks: N.C. State over UNC, Nolan Smith scores more than Kyle Singler against St. John's, and Shaun White wins GOLD at the Super Pipe Men's X-Games Final.

Charged with the task of writing some off-topic rant (which? is that even what you asked us to do? I'll admit, I never really knew), I confess, I was concerned I wouldn't be able to diverge so far from a linear path. But Jill talked me through and provided a number of topics on which we could riff. They ran the gamut - that girl can generate ideas like nobody's business- but ultimately, we came down to a good old fashioned game of Chuck, Fuck or Marry: Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre or Rex Ryan. The Jill portion of the Jillarrie deserves special recognition for not only writing her own response, but also giving mine the old law review treatment and bringing down a robust 1400 words to like... 470. Everyone is thankful.

JILL:
Good god. The Rapist, Creepy McCreeperson, and Foot Fetish Fatty. I would rather join the Red Terror or give birth to the next useless Plumlee child than sleep with any of them and that says a lot. Right off the bat, I would chuck Big Ben, the brutal bathroom barricader, off a very high cliff. He is disgusting and quite frankly, the thought of marrying him or even entertaining his dinglehopper makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Let’s move on. While I am not proud of it, I am somewhat of a Fattist, i.e. those who are not turned on by seemingly obese whalecows. Which means that sex with Rex Ryan is just never ever going to happen. But I would totally marry him, as long as we came to an understanding that I am permitted a lover. Yes, a lover. I guess I would settle for cardio sessions with Mark Sanchez. Please just keep Antonio Cromartie and his super impregnating penis away from me. Rex is hilarious, talkative, passionate, loyal, geographically convenient, and gainfully employed. Sign me up, suck my toes, whatever, I’m cool with being Mrs. Ryan. So that leaves us with fucking Brett Favre. Literally. Sigh, I could be persuaded into it with enough vodka, but only if he removed his Crocs and agreed that he would not sext anyone else until at least the morning, when I am at Planned Parenthood being tested for STDs. I am going to go take a long, hot shower in acid now. Thanks.

CARRIE:

You guys, I actually have a crush on Rex Ryan. It's not yet in the stratosphere as my Pete Carroll dreamboy crush, or even my inexplicable crush on Bill Belichick. But, the guy's got spirit. And, he can rock a mock turtleneck. And he is clearly just delighted every day by his job. That's basically an ideal husband right there. Plus, he would be able to hook me up with all the Jets swag I want, thereby allowing me to own my very own dream Jets cap. And I get why people are all in a tizzy about his foot thing. Like I GET that feet are inherently weird and that fetishizing them (even casually, which is all I am willing to ascribe to Rex and his "current" wife) is even weirder, but can I get real with you all? It doesn't bother me a bit. Feet don't freak me out. I even kind of like them. So yeah, for sure marry Rex Ryan. Like, not even a challenging decision. Like might do it if he were up against Tom Brady and Drew Brees too. (Whoa, get a grip, Carrie. That's nuts.) (But true.) (Not Peyton Manning though, Rex wouldn't stand a chance.)

The chuck and the fuck, however, get a little more complicated. I do actually believe that Ben Rapistberger is a rapist, otherwise I would not eagerly employ that slanderous nickname. And, rape is not okay. It just isn't. I want to be really clear that I do not think it is okay. Even a little bit. Buuuuuut, Brett Favre is a huge douchebag, y'all. You can just TELL. And his retirement antics have made me - a casual football fan at best - super exasperated. Like I get it, you were great. And you are not that bad for being real old. But, enough's enough. Know when your time is up. He should have left last year. But no, he monopolized another year's worth of sports news cycle that could have been better utilized by either Tiger Wood's goatee or LeBron James' superman complex. I genuinely would have preferred that to all the Brett Favre preening and ugh, just ick ick ick. He makes me so mad. Not in a "gosh I'm so mad at you, the only response is to have sex with you" sort of way. In a "please leave this planet, post haste" sort of way. So, I guess what I'm saying is that, prior to living in wedded foot-loving, chest-bumping cuddly bliss forever with Rex Ryan, I would... oh lord, I guess I would have consensual S-E-X with The Rapist. I don't know if that takes the power back or what, but I do know that I would vomit if I even ever got near enough to Brett Favre to make sex happen.

Scintillating. If you're not aroused right now, you're not human. We begin with Monty, the man who retains his lead:

Monty


The Jillarrie. Cause there's no reason to fear.

- UNC. They seem to be on an upswing. Plus, the Red Terror get nervous
when they're that far away from home.
- Smith. Singler's in a mid-season 'slump'
- Platinum. He's going to win gold by so much that they're going to
have to make him a new medal.

For the Pick 6.

1) How many punt return yards will Marc Mariani get in the pro bowl?

The pro bowl is a dream for offensive players, because nobody on the defense cares. Marc is going to return for 123 total yards.

2) Minnesota v. Purdue, CBB

I can't believe I'm picking Purdue to do anything except suck. But they just lost to Minnesota at Minnesota by 3. This one's at home, and I doubt they're going to lose 2 in a row.

3) Georgetown-Nova, CBB

This is the second week in a row you're making me care about the outcome of a Big East game. For that, expect a box of dead chickens to show up at your doorstep, because that's what I think of the big east. Dead chickens. Plural.

Oh, and Georgetown is going to pull of the 'upset' over schizophrenic Villanova.

4) Louisville-UConn, CBB

More Big East? That means more chickens. You're going to think you live in Arkansas.

Ok. Seriously... as wonderful as Rick Pitino's hair is, it can't beat UConn all by itself. I mean, UConn has Emeka Okafor AND Donyell Marshall.

5) NHL All-Star Game: Who wins? They pick by captains, so it's Team Staal v. Team Lidstrom

I know next to nothing about Hockey, except that the canadians and the russians seem to like it. BUT, if sportscenter has taught me anything it's that there are only two players in the league whose names I need to know - Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. I'm not sure why, but Crosby seems to be not playing this year - so I think that means that Team Staal will run away with victory.

6) Lakers-Kings, NBA

The Kings haven't won any games since 2006 and Sacramento isn't a real town. I mean, the Lakers drive me nuts, and I think they're completely boring... but at least Los Angeles is an actual city and the Lakers actually suit up basketball players on their team. I believe he last time the Kings played, it was comprised of 12 goats and a lemur. (If you can't tell, I'm picking LA)


Marc, aka Mr. Intrigue


Well, well, well. A brand new day, a brand new pick six with a twist. A dilemma. Do I go for the pick nine or stay with the pick six? "Go big or go home." That's what I tell girls after the bar. They usually go home. But I won't be a wussy like them. I'm going big time. Here I come New York City. With my MBA from Harvard I'm ready to conquer Wall Street and fool Americans into thinking that Republicans care about the little guy.

1. Punt yards in the pro bowl. They punt in the pro bowl? I've never seen a pro bowl and I'm not even going to go to google to search for pro bowl punt yard statistics. The fact that he shares my name means that Marc Mariani is a wonderful individual. I'm guessing his full name is Marcus like mine. I wonder why my parents named me Marcus, but insisted on calling me Marc. I rebelled in my teenage years for a few weeks to return to Marcus, but to no avail. I guess it's a good thing. When I think of the name "Marcus," I think of big sexy black men. I fulfill none of those qualities, so I guess it's better I don't disappoint people. Anyways, this "Marc," fellow shall return 46 yards of punt return glory!

2. I've read a lot of headlines about Minnesota falling apart. I don't actually read the articles so I'm not too sure on what is happening there. But I think there's a lot of broken restraining orders and broken ankles. Those two usually don't go hand in hand so I'm assuming two players are out for Minnesota. Plus Purdue is at home! Can we talk about Robbie Hummel for a second? Everyone thinks he's as good or better than Kyle Singler. Everyone is an idiot. There's only one super good white basketball player in America and that's Jimmer Fredette. Fredette is a mormon, so all he does is play basketball, get subjected to electroshock therapy, and go on mission trips to convert naive tribespeople around the world. He doesn't get distracted by girls, or alcohol, or green tea. Kyle Singler could beat him up in a "who's cooler" fight. I'm guessing Singler can talk to girls without freaking out or needing to do a Christian Side hug. Robbie Hummel would be sad because his knee is as old as Helen Thomas. I'm off topic. Purdue is going to win.

3. We've got a wonderful team that starts five shooting guards against the most overrated team of the past decade. Villanova has had its share of tumultuousness. Last year all their players slept with Scottie Reynolds girlfriend and he wasn't very happy about that. Well Scottie, you should have brought her flowers and chocolates once in a while. It might have been Corey Fishers girlfriend, but he's another shooting guard so it doesn't matter. Regardless of their team chemistry Villanova will defeat the backdoor cutting asshole Hoyas (seriously do a different play for once).

4. Oh man, I know my post has talked about sexual things, and some of you may be getting uncomfortable. Possibly blushing at this point. Maybe looking behind your shoulder for your wife because you feel like you're watching pornography. I'm sorry, it's just who I am. And I can't stop now, with the most hilariously sexual person on the planet Rick Pitino. Now I won't go into detail because this is a family blog, but I'll try and use a clever euphemism to describe Pitino's sexual prowess. Imagine a stopwatch. Now press the start button, now the press the stop button immediately afterwards. Boom! Rick Pitino! That was cleverly disguised wasn't it. I think Louisville will start out strong but run out of gas prematurely and Connecticut will end up the victors!

5. More hockey. Ffffff. I blew the last hockey question because I have no idea what's happening in hockey. However, I did some pretty intense research this time. One of my professors asked for a case memo about an industrial disaster, but I wrote about Eric Staal instead. When I got the memo back he wrote "A+++ (yup, a triple plus). Thank you for enlightening about the magical Eric Staal. Good work Mr. Intrigue. Permanent A's forever." Therefore Team Eric Staal will win.

6. I hate the NBA. Because this question can legitimately exist. The Kings are terrible. TURRRRRBLE. The Lakers should be good, but they're all older than Robbie Hummel's knee. They're waiting for the inaugural season of the WNBA (no not women silly, wheelchairs). To answer this question I decided to go to my music playlist. I put it on shuffle. If the next song is a hiphop/techno/rock/classical song then I go with the Kings. If it's a hipster/indie/soul music (shitty surf music) or anything else I go with the Lakers! Oh snap dawg, shitty surf music song! Donavon Frankenreiter - What'cha know about! Lakers win! Now I have to turn off this music before I road rage in my living room.

Now onto the Jillarrie. This is tricky because when I did all the math calculations it seems that attempting the Jillarrie is a losing proposition. I'm a history major, so math is my strong suit, trust me on this. I created a little flowchart after Shane inspired me. Starting at the top I had two options: Attempt and Don't Attempt. Don't Attempt = -1. Attempt = Win, Lose, Tie (lose). 2/3 probability of losing. Going by straight odds. However, after thinking it through, and realizing I was amazingly brilliant I knew I had to attempt the Jillarrie. I'm not going to reveal my epiphany because I don't want to help my fellow competitors (you guys should not attempt the Jillarrie, you'll lose). Here goes.

A. UNC takes it. I vomited through my nose writing those words, so UNC better fucking win.
B. Smith over singler
C. Gold

I just want this weekend to hurry up and go so I can revel in my domination of the Pick Six come Monday. Yea I start my weekends on Wednesday nights. An alcoholic's dream and nightmare. Let's go Duke!


Dylan & Patrick


Now, I’m going to be real for a minute. I talk to my dad pretty much every day. I can tell when something’s up, and this was one of those times. I feel like through the Pick 6 my dad is getting a wrap for being a short-tempered jackass. So I do want to say, my dad is not a short-tempered jackass. He’s a nice guy whose competitive nature can come off a little strong.

CB: Hey dad, how’s it going?
D: Great actually! Had a good week. Weather is a bit cold but I'm dealing.
CB: (whew) Well, you ready to talk about the pick six picks?
D: THOSE GODDAMN MOTHER...
CD: Dad, calm down, what brought this on?
D: You following those other teams? What a bunch of assholes!
CD: What do you mean?
D: Well there's that Marc guy, Can’t even spell his name right, he copied our picks. COPIED THEM! EVERY one of them. You sure he hasn't hacked Shane's account and reading our emails?
CD: First of all, nice job getting Shane’s name right. I’m sure he really appreciates that from you of all people. After that scrolling duck, you owed it to him. But Dad, you don't even know Marc. Lot’s of people spell Marc that way, and while most of them are assholes, he's probably an exception. Just trying to win the contest like the rest of us...
D: Yea, well what about that Monty guy. What kind of name is Monty? Like Monty Hall the game show guy. Can't ever trust those game show guys. That’s why I hate Alex Trebeck and Pat Zajak. Can't trust them games show guys. Look at Regis, he’s all into drugs and stuff, getting kicked off The View.
CB: Wait, what? Regis wasn’t on The View, The View is that show with the 4 women, Regis had his own show, live with Regis and Kathy Lee or something like that. And besides, I’m 90% sure it was a contract issue, where did you hear he’s into drugs?
D: I just assumed, you’d have to be high to hang out with those women on The View all the time, have you seen that show!?
CB: Are you still working? Did you quit your job or something? Why are you watching The View?
D: Anyway, whats the deal with that Spike Lee guy. Can't pick his way out of a paper bag but creams our good friend Shane in Scrabble. What kind of guy is an "expert" in scrabble? I'll tell you what kind.
CB: No dad! No more trash talking. Lets just look at the games for this week and do the best we can, OK?
D: OK, but I want to encrypt our email to Shane so that rat bastard..
CB: Enough dad, enough. Lets do our picking...

So after looking over the Jillarrie, we realized that that great sucking sound was not jobs going to China but Pick 6 Teams being sucked into a sucker bet. They take the underdog in one game and hope or expect you to take a chance on the underdog bet 2 times with a triple penalty for playing it. Sorry we'll pass and just give up the 1-point. Now as for the regular docket, this is what we get:

1) No one watches the Pro Bowl to see the punters, as a matter of fact, no one watches the Pro Bowl in general. Teams rarely try to punt anyway, preferring to run up and down the field as the defenses are hamstrung and the offense looks to do its dance. We figure he gets three shots at a punt return and makes 33 yards, no TDs here Marc...

2) Purdue is home, is undefeated at home and is higher ranked. Purdue wins...

3) Nova is home, is undefeated at home, is higher ranked. Nova wins...

4) UConn is home, is unbeaten at home, is higher ranked. UConn wins...

5) All All Star games are crap shoots. We know, we know, the chicks dig the TD's, goals, home runs and slamma jamma's but could care less for well pitched games or team defense or cross checks. What does MLB say about their All Star Game. This year, for sure, seriously, its gonna count for something. In hockey they don't even bother giving the team a regional identity any more. No north vs. south, no east vs. west, no canada vs the world, no midgets vs. dwarfs, none of that. So in the spirit of just how important this game really is, we are going with Team Staal because that has 2 "a"s in it and you cant spell gooaaaaaal without a couple extra "a"s. The only city that cares about this game is Las Vegas...

6) Finally in some knock down drag out, NBA action, the Lakers make a mess of the Kings. Kobe score like 150 points by himself and in an act of selflessness allows that tall white guy to score 2 points, but only because Kobe had the assist.


Swetha & Sabreena


Beat the jillarrie - unc, smith, gold

Btw, we miss Jill's awesome ex-boyfriend stories and Carrie's fearless battle with the temptress.

1. Not entirely sure what this stat means or even what order of magnitude I'm going for, but let's say ten?

2. Purdue.

3. We hate Georgetown. Jay wright wears really nice suits. Nova.

4. Going with our boy, Simba walker. Uconn.

5. Team Staal. Only because I had a John Nash moment and saw the word moist in lidstrom and thought of how I met your mother.

6. Lakers. Being from LA, it'd be sacrilege to pick the queens.


Nick E.


1. I've always wondered how the pro bowl selection works for special teams non-skill positions. Is there someone out there that brags about being the starting B-gap position on the pro bowl kickoff team? I know I would. Anyway, 40 YARDS

2. I was really hoping Purdue would knock off Ohio State, but instead they got absolutely rolled. Oh well, it's probably better when Duke isn't ranked #1 for little bit. MINNESOTA

3. Between Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns, 'Nova's backcourt is absolutely deadly. VILLANOVA

4. Obviously Kemba Walker is having a breakout season. The interesting thing though is that it seems his production (24.4 ppg) is largely just a product of having more shot opportunities. His points per shot has been relatively stable over his three years -1.37 as a freshman, 1.32 as a sophomore and 1.34 this season. Although it should be noted that it's tougher to maintain a good PPS when you take more opportunities, because you're forced to take some of the tougher shots. I like UCONN at home.

5. This is absolute crap shoot. Lets go with whichever STAAL is the captain.

6. Is this a joke? LAKERS

And finally, it's tough not to take on the JILLARRIE when they make it so easy. I consulted my Payoff Matrix and have determined that the optimal strategy is to isolate one weak pick and pick the same in the others, as a tie results in a loss. Lets go with UNC, SMITH, and GOLD. Damn you, Jillarrie, for forcing my hand on the Heels.


Spike


UNC, Smith, Gold

0
Purdue
Nova
UConn
Staal
Lakers


**********************************

I'm back briefly tomorrow morning with some thoughts on Duke-St. John's and the latest Hot Potato.

Friday, January 28, 2011

B.C. Sleeps.....Alone Tonight

Best win of the year. No doubt, no question, no hesitation. We just witnessed, for the first time since a beautiful toe was mowed down in the prime of its youth, some legitimate Duke Basketball. Oh my, those runs! That sequence where Nolan shook the shoes right off an Eagle with a behind-the-back dribble-juke, fed Snowshoes Junior for the jam, then watched as Seth Curry knocked down a leaning three and sent the Crazies into spasms...Sweet Moses that was delightful. Sweet, smiling Moses on a mountain.

GRANTED. BC did not match up well with the Dukies. There's this blogger called Seth Curry Saves Duke! (I don't get the name, I mean sure, I like Seth Curry, but didn't they win a national title without him??), and here's what he had to say about the game yesterday:

Folks, I am here to tell you that you won't beat Duke with guards. And you won't beat them with the 229th-ranked defense in the country...To put it mildly, this is a match-up nightmare for the Eagles. Their only hope is to out-shoot us, and that's no hope at all...We're going to beat them by 15-20.

The final score was 86-64, 16 points. Hey, say what you want, that guy knows his basketball!

(Google image searching 'smug asshole'...)


Man, that guy gives me the willies. He's less smug than like calmly picturing how I'd die if the world was all in anime. (Answer: electrified with something called a 'lightning foot sword.') I'm really considering deleting that photo...AND YET I CANNOT!

Let's do some grades.

Seth Curry: A. Coach K's quote from the press conference sums it up pretty well:

"Even though he hasn't shot the ball well until tonight in the ACC, his play has gotten better," Krzyzewski said. "We've seen him growing. The thing that you would expect from him -- to shoot -- he wasn't doing that. That's going to come as he gets into that, it's not just physical shape, it's the shape of playing a game like that, what level of concentration you need to have when you're doing all these other things."

Just unbelievable. 5-7 from three, 20 points, 3 assists, 4 boards. Best game of the year, obviously, for the man with the proper genes. This is what I was expecting two years ago when he announced his transfer from Liberty. And I agree with Coach K; aside from the N.C. State game, where he was jobbed by the refs and got in early foul trouble, he's been just waiting for one of these break-out performances. I expected him to score 16-20 against Wake, but it took an extra game. And once again, he was great on d. 3 steals, and time and again he showed unbelievable anticipation. I love watching smart players in action, and Seth is brilliant. He can pick out tendencies within a game and use that knowledge against an opponent as time wears on.

The perfect example last night was BC's use of the backdoor pass in the first half. They scored a couple easy buckets that way, particularly because Duke was on the look-out for the three, and it even helped create open shots. In the second half, Seth came from the weak side to nab a couple steals on attempted back door cuts, which is a perfect way to defend it without sacrificing man-to-man pressure. His help defense was a big reason why BC only hit 3 treys in the second half, with one of them coming in garbage time. And he always seems to get a couple offensive boards, too. His anticipation is top notch, and if the shooting from last night becomes a staple, the rest of the ACC can kiss the conference goodbye.


Knowlan Springs: A. Player of the Year. Not just ACC, but nationally. Look, as the time gets closer, I'll do a full-on investigation of the stats between he and Jared Sullinger and Jimmer Fredette and Harrison Barnes (stifled laugh), but I don't see how you can possibly look at anybody else right now. Forget the fact that he leads the ACC in scoring and assists, which is fucking insane when you think about it. But leave that aside; he had to switch positions! One of the best players in the country went down, and he had to switch from shooting guard to point guard and lead the re-definition of an elite team. It took him all of two games to get it down, and now he's dominating on a consistent basis. He has meant literally everything to this team. Our success starts and ends with Nolan, and he's been fantastic.

Let me put it this way: if the Mormon gets Player of the Year because he's white and takes 80 shots a game in a shitty conference that doesn't play defense, I will be pissed.

Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly and Singler hit the big shots that brought BC to its knees, but Nolan's constant forays into the middle weakened the defense and made it all possible. If we compare it boxing, his play was the continual body blows that weakened the other guy's mid-section. Eventually, a boxer that takes enough shots to the stomach starts to lean forward unconsciously, moving his gut farther away from the next punch. But it brings his head into range, and that's when you ring his bell. Nolan's almost-unabated driving made the BC defense sag, and it let the others deliver the kill shot.

Part of the reason it was all possible is because BC doesn't have many competent bigs. Other teams, like Florida State, could live with Nolan driving because they'd have tall, athletic interior guys who could block his shot. The defense wouldn't have to sag, and the ensuing threes would be contested rather than wide open. And that's why you don't beat Duke with guards. Offensively and defensively, it takes size.


The White Raven: A. He continues to be great. What would you think if I told you even three weeks ago that by the end of January, he and Seth Curry would both be getting 30 minutes per game? YOU'D PROBABLY PUNCH ME RIGHT IN THE FACE! And I'd deserve it for making outrageous claims.

At one point last night, Kelly was like 5 baskets from setting an NCAA record for most consecutive shots made. That's incredible. He lost it on a put-back that rolled off the rim, but he finished at 6-9 for 14 points. You really cannot expect any more from Kelly; he's playing perfectly for who he is. The development says a lot for his work ethic and intelligence, and he's elevated Duke to a different level over the last four games. I love him. He won't see quite as much playing time when the opponent has more size, since he's not quite strong enough underneath to handle the really good power forwards, but he's become an excellent compromise between size and skill for a team that often can't afford two Plumlees clogging up the offense at the same time. If he could penetrate and use his quickness to get by slower-footed big men, he could even overcome his limited strength, but I think we're still a year away in that regard.


Plumdog Billionaire B. And that's a solid B. He was strong on the boards (12 in all), he had maybe two good post moves, and he was pretty smart with the ball. This isn't the first time we've seen him thrive against smaller teams. If he can use the momentum and confidence of last night to hit the boards hard against guys his own size, we'll really have something. But for today, I can be positive. In his 23 minutes of playing time, he performed well. I'd like to see him move his feet quicker when he's forced to guard someone on the perimeter, and I'd really like if he stopped getting out of position going for stupid steals on ill-advised double teams. But any progress with the big man is good progress.


PlumbleBee the Lesser: C. Of all the things I don't like about Miles, I think it's the stupid fouls that aggravate me most. He is the king of slapping a guy ineffectually when he already has an easy lay-up, or going for a stupid steal in the open court against a guy about eight times quicker and bumping him hard with a hip. He's full of useless rhythm-stoppers that take a team out of its flow. To give credit where it's due, he had four nice steals in his 14 minutes. But 3 fouls in that same amount of time doesn't help us at all.


Boom Radley: B. The usual big shots at the big moments fell, and he played a pretty consistent game on defense. I'm maybe slightly worried about his shooting, though, and an emerging habit of forcing his offense. The tricky thing about Singler is that for all his smarts and work ethic and talent, he's not quick enough to create his own shot against good defenders. That's why I never really bought into the Player of the Year talk before the season started. Since ACC play started in January, he's had a few games like last night, where he was 5-14; 5-15 against Miami, 5-18 against UAB, 6-16 against FSU, 6-18 against N.C. State. Now, please bear in mind that I'm cherry-picking his worst performances, but his field goal percentage in those five games is .333. Not great. And that's using 5 of his 7 January games, so we're talking about a pretty solid majority.

I don't know exactly what I'm saying. I think, basically, we have to live with Singler's style to reap the benefits of his pressure play and the occasional hot all-around game. But I'm seeing a lot of forced possessions in the interim, and I wish there was a better way to get him in the rhythm of the offense.


Young Threezy: C. This is a huge downer. I don't know what's happening between he and Coach K, and I really wish I did. The way he started the season was so promising, and now he's getting ten minutes per game and taking one shot. That stinks. There's something going on, but we're in the dark. Every Duke fan I've talked to feels a little down about the disappearance of Baby Doc. It's the one black mark on last night's win.


Team Defense: A-. Very nice. I guess Reggie Jackson was playing with the flu, so he may have been limited, but we defended the three pretty well against a team that can really shoot, and we shut down the back door stuff by the second half. We also managed to force 13 turnovers, and it would have been more if Coach K didn't go into a stall with 8 minutes left. A solid performance all around against a team missing the main size elements that give Duke nightmares.

You may have noticed no Pick 6 today. With the Duke game happening on a Thursday, I wanted some time to expound on the subject, and instead of relegating them to second-tier status, I'll put it up tomorrow morning.

Duke eyes are smiling. See you all tomorrow.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The ACC Basketball Fiefdom, and Duke-BC Preview

Oh my sweet goodness, we have some basketball. It's been five days since the last game, which is cruel and unusual punishment in January, of all months. I'm fully in favor of the NCAA adopting a baseball-like schedule. If teams only had one off day per week, they could play 80 games alone between December and February. Amazing! A winter of bliss! As it is, I think we coddle these athletes.

Before we get going on the preview, let's break the ACC teams down into their proper social strata with roughly a third of conference play in the books. Let's do this with a medieval fiefdom metaphor, howsaboutit?

Royalty


Duke (5-1), Florida State (5-1)

These are two very different teams, but they could both be reasonably favored in the rest of their games this season. Duke has one of the two the best backcourts in the country, and they're near the top in most offensive metrics. Florida State's unbelievable defense is second in the nation in adjusted efficiency, and they regularly hold top teams below 60 points. Duke has serious problems inside with the mostly-awful Plumlees, and Florida State's offense can go cold for entire games. But at 5-1 in conference, both have shown they're the best the ACC has to offer in the early going. Duke will contend for a 1-seed in the NCAAs, and FSU will probably be a trendy pick to make the Elite 8.


The Mysterious Knight


Virginia Tech (3-3)

One of the most decisive and impressive ACC wins this year was Tech's 74-57 trouncing of Maryland in College Park. Taken with their 12-point home win against Florida State, it made them look like a potential top 2 team in the ACC. Now, though, they're only 3-3 in conference, with a close loss to UNC on the road and a thumping two days ago at Georgia Tech. We haven't seen the true measure of this team yet; next week's consecutive road games at N.C. State and Boston College should tell us more. Malcolm Delaney is one of the best guards in the conference, but Tech has trouble on the boards and turns it over too much, making them vulnerable in close games.


The Aspiring Feudal Lords


UNC (4-1), Boston College (4-2)

Despite a big set-back in Georgia Tech three games ago, Carolina keeps looking better and better. Last night's win at Miami proves they can win on the road in conference, and they've taken 7 of the last 8 overall. Roy Williams' continued blathering about their team defense turns out to be true, as UNC is 8th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. Their offense is very boring, and Harrison Barnes looks totally out of sorts until the last few minutes of close games, but John Henson is an athletic patroller underneath and Kendall Marshall looks decent since mostly taking over for Drew at point guard (though Drew's 5 assists to 0 turnovers last night may renew the debate). On the negative side, they can't shoot foul shots and they can't shoot threes, so it'll always be tough for them to run with a good team on a hot streak.

After a nice road win at Maryland to start ACC play, Boston College is starting to be exposed. Their defense is very, very bad, 200-something in most major categories, and lately their strong offense has had trouble disguising that weakness. Their last three games tell a harsh story: an away loss at Miami, an escape at home against UVA, and the rout in Tallahassee. With Duke and North Carolina next on their list, it wouldn't surprise me to see BC at .500 in conference this time next week. They'll make easy prey tonight at Cameron, but more on that later.


The Tribalistic Vassals


Clemson (3-3), Georgia Tech (3-3)

No mystery here: both teams are 3-0 at home and 0-3 on the road. Tech has nice wins against UNC and Virginia Tech at home, but they've lost by 8 or more to UVA, BC, and Clemson. The Tigers took down G. Tech, Miami, and N.C. State at home, and fell to FSU, Carolina, and Maryland on the road.

We pretty much know what to expect from these guys. Like actual vassals, they'll defend their turf viciously. Away from the manor, they're ineffectual. Of the two, Clemson seems the superior. They have more consistent rankings on offense and defense, and unlike Tech can actually shoot. Their road loss to FSU was only by 6, and they came within two of taking down Maryland. Tech can't shoot, but they do play pretty effective defense, particularly in the backcourt. Still, the ceiling for either seems to be 9-7 in conference.


The Laboring Serfs


N.C. State (2-4), Maryland (2-3), Virginia (2-3)

All three have shown promise, but the promise has faded. Fans of all three should be pretty cynical by this point in the season.

State has dropped 4 of its last 5 after opening with a rout of Wake Forest, and the only win in the recent bunch came in a squeaker at home against Miami. Granted, they played 4 of the better teams in the conference, but a 50-point performance at Clemson was a new low point for the season. They have another tough test on the road at Carolina on Saturday, and it's at the point where you can almost consider the rivalry game a must-win. But they give up a lot of offensive rebounds, and though their overall offense is semi-consistent, they don't have anybody who can light it up in a big moment.

Maryland and Jordan Williams looked very tough at Cameron in a close loss, but home losses to Boston College and Virginia Tech show that they don't belong in any discussion of the conference's best. Among this triumvirate, they have the best chance to break into the middle of the pack. The Terp defense is ranked 5th in adjusted efficiency nationally, and they excel on the boards. Their big weakness is shooting, and it's what kept them from upset wins against Duke and BC. A good win tonight at UVA could set the tone for a strong second half, and they'll definitely be looking to surprise Duke at home in a week. For now, though, cynicism prevails.

In late November and early December, Virginia beat Minnesota and Virginia Tech back-to-back. Since then, it's mostly bad news. They've dropped 5 of 8, including an awful home loss to Seattle. They shoot well and avoid turnovers, but they can't play D and they can't rebound. Tonight's home game against Maryland is a must-win if they want to stay away from the conference cellar.


The Dog that the Serf Children Hit with Sticks


Miami (1-5)

They lose close games at home and on the road. A few points here and there and they could be middle of the pack, but it hasn't panned out. Their only conference win is a decent one, by 2 over Boston College. Reggie Johnson is a very good big man, and their overall offense is actually pretty solid. They even have a few shooters. But the defense isn't strong, and they can't seem to pull it together in the clutch. This has all the makings of a 4-12 in-conference team who makes a crazy run in the ACC tourney and loses to Duke in the last game. A challenging road game with Virginia Tech looms this Sunday, and a surprising win in Blacksburg still gives the Canes a chance to turn the ship around.


The Debased Court Jester


Wake Forest (0-5)

Dude can't even juggle.

No O, no D, and no prayer. They may go 0-16 in conference this year. They closest they've come so far is losing by 19 at home to Maryland. If they do win, it's going to be super embarrassing for the opponent. Hopefully it's UNC.

*****************************

Okay. I promised you a Duke-BC preview, and I shall deliver:

We're going to beat them by 15-20. Their offense is ranked 6th in the country in efficiency (measured by how many points they average over 100 possessions), but it comes mostly from the guards. They're very suspect on the offensive and defensive boards, and they almost never force a steal. Reggie Jackson scores most of their points, and he can really shoot the 3 (46%). Joe Trapani, at 6'8", is their only big guy who can score, averaging 12.8 per game. After that, it's guards, guards, and more guards.

Folks, I am here to tell you that you won't beat Duke with guards. And you won't beat them with the 229th-ranked defense in the country. I know BC is 4-2 in conference, but as mentioned before their recent record indicates a downward trend. That will continue tonight. We'll keep their shooters in check, and we'll steamroll them from the guard positions. They don't defend the 2 or the 3, they don't get blocks or steals, and they don't keep teams off the offensive glass. The only thing they do well on D is not foul, but Nolan and Kyle should put enough stress on them that they're forced to become physical.

To put it mildly, this is a match-up nightmare for the Eagles. Their only hope is to out-shoot us, and that's no hope at all. I've never liked the team, and it will be a pleasure to watch them leave Cameron with their tails between their legs.

Let's do some Hot Potato and then get out of here and enjoy the beautiful North Carolina weather. Carrie is still our leader, and she's still doing that annoying thing where she's like "oh gosh, I hope someone makes a comeback and knocks me off!" She's a snake in the grass, folks. Make no mistake.

I'm trying out a new table format, let's see how this works:



PlacePlayerPoints
   
1Carrie48
2Jill57
3Mr. Intrigue58
4John64
5sanfransoxfan69
6NastyEmu71
7Swetha71
8Dylan73
9Jonny75
10Jordan76
11Laura79
12Marion81
13Jacob "The Destoryer"81
14Spike83
15Sharona84
16Tom85
17Shane89
18Jo89
19SYu89
20The Girlfriend90
21Craig J`90
22Keith91
23Craig B92
24Dr. Kenneth Noisewater93
25Khalid95
26Chris H95
27Dave96
28Gary97
29Shaker98
30Claire100
31Jenni102
32Daniel102
33Matlock103
34Jason L103
35Dick K104
36Monty104
37William104
38Eric104
39Tim104
40Emily104
41CLykinsBlog105
42Wingfield1105
43Robin107
44crheery107
45Ty107
46Lisa109
47Whitey110
48Lawrence111

The Hot Potato for tonight's game is:

The White Raven

He has been hot as a frying pan lately, and I'm expecting big things.

Hot Potato is a game that anybody can join at any time, and all you do is pick the points the chosen player will score in that day's game. Have your picks in by tip-off.

GO. DUKE.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NOOOOOO RAFFFAAAAA!


Oh sweet God, break my heart. Break my heart and mail it to Australia. Put it in a fucking kangaroo pouch and hop it all the way to Melbourne, where you can dump it in the damn ocean, if they have one there. I'm not up on Australian geography. There's probably at least a river, or a community swimming pool. A river would be better; you'll scare some kids by dumping a heart in a swimming pool.

The quest for the Rafa Slam is over. He suffered some kind of thigh injury, and his friend and countryman David Ferrer beat him in straight sets.

Nadal, who appeared to have tears in his eyes during a changeover while trailing 3-0 in the third set, took a medical timeout for an apparent leg injury after three games and was clearly out of sorts, failing to chase down balls that he would ordinarily return easily.

Rafa crying, and I didn't even see it. It started at like 3:30am, and I woke up this morning all ready to preview the possible Federer-Nadal final. We're one match away, I would have said. Then I would've reviewed all the classic slam finals when the two met. The French blowouts; the Wimbledon classics; the Australian miracle.

After losing the second set, the usually fidgety Nadal slumped in his chair at the changeover, completely still with his head bent.

The crowd cheered almost exclusively for Nadal -- "Come on, Rafa," -- they roared, while often applauding Ferrer's errors.

All, eventually, for nothing.

What a downer. It's raining this morning, and this is a real poor way to start the day. I'm having a second orange, I don't even care. I need two oranges to get through today. Even the pine trees out the window seem sad that Nadal lost. I can almost hear them whisper, guys. I can almost hear them weep.

As usual, though, there's something uplifting about Nadal's loss. He carried himself with incredible dignity, and refused to talk about his injuries after the match. He wanted Ferrer to get the credit, despite the fact that he hit a wall and couldn't compete at a high level. This article talks about his resilience, even when victory was impossible.

Rafael Nadal had already broken every tennis heart around the world when he soldiered through his quarterfinal match against David Ferrer, clearly injured, clearly in pain, but refusing to do himself or his opponent the ignominy of retiring. And the Spaniard clambered even further into the public's affections when he sat in front of the world's tennis media to explain the reasons behind that decision.

"I had a problem during the match, in the very beginning," said Nadal. "After that, the match was almost over. So that's what I can say. But you know what, for me is difficult come here and speak about. In Doha I wasn't healthy. Today I have another problem. Seems like I always have problems when I lose, and I don't want to have this image, no? I prefer don't talk about that today. If you can respect that, will be a very nice thing for me. Thank you."

Rafa, you are a fucking warrior. Nobody thinks you're weak, or a malingerer.

"The tennis career, you have higher moments and lower moments. I had almost all the time very, very happy moments and very nice moments in my career. That's part of the sport. Last year I was very lucky. I was healthy most of the year. I was playing unbelievable during all the year. This year I did I think all the right things to start the season playing really well. And, seriously, I was playing like this in the first exhibition in Abu Dhabi. After that starts the problem. Was a difficult month for me, no? That's part of the sport. Accept; keep working; try my best in the next tournament. That's what I can do."

Can people see why he's my favorite athlete? How the hell does someone get that wise and that classy at 24 years old? And he's been that way since 18! I'm not exaggerating when I say this guy is the #1 role model in sports. What a good, good person.

And he inspires a lot of support. Search "Nadal sad" on twitter. You won't find that kind of emotion for any individual athlete. He's got the kind of spirit that creates fans around the globe.

And now, you'll probably be happy to know, you won't have to hear about him in this blog until the French Open this summer. As for the Australian, I'm pulling for Ferrer. He's a class act too, and he plays Murray the whiner next. On the other side, you've got Djokovic, who nobody can stand, and Federer, who desperately wants and needs this title, and whose constant eye on his legacy means he's probably very glad Rafa didn't get the calendar slam.


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Okay, you've probably noticed we've taken a three-day hiatus from Duke basketball. After the Wake game, which was hugely uninspiring and frustrating, I thought it would be a good time for a break. Consider this the brief holiday before the final push. February is almost here, we're in the thick of ACC action, and we've got a tough Boston College team coming to Cameron tomorrow. In the morning, we'll get back to the good grind.

For now, check out the Moody Blues post from yesterday. We're finally revealing ourselves as the incredibly partisan extreme wing of the Cameron Crazies. And there's also a facebook group. Join it or don't; If I gave a shit, I wouldn't be a Moody Blue.

Here's a couple quick Duke hits to get you through to tomorrow:

-The good folks at DukeHoopBlog wrote a great piece about how Dawkins is being under-utilized. Somehow, he's used in less than 15% of Duke possessions, even lower than his numbers from last season.

-Here's a good interview from ACCSports' David Glenn with Coach K.

-In other college basketball news, OSU established themselves as the deserving #1 with a laugher against Purdue, and two more ACC home teams rolled, with Clemson topping NC State and Georgia Tech beating Virginia Tech on Shumpert's triple-double. In the first inexplicable Boeheim-loss of the year, Cuse got rolled by Seton Hall at home. What? And finally, UConn is looking better and better all the time, even on Kemba Walker off nights.

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I know it totally got overshadowed by the more-important Rafa news, President Obama gave his State of the Union address last night. To close out today's post, here's a few of his actual lines followed by how he should have ended them if he was a total douchebag comedian. The model:

Actual Line: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

New Ending: We're fucked. Thanks for coming out, and have a great night.


AL: It's no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two years. The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that's a good thing.

NE: (long, awkward pause) Sorry, I was holding for laughs.


AL: Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown.

NE: And by "good job," I mean "horrible job." But it was work. Now you can't even get a horrible job. Unless you win a presidential election. HEY, I'M JUST KIDDING, FOLKS! But seriously, this is awful.


AL: You didn't always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors.

NE: Not some some son of a bitch in India whose first words out of the crib were "java script." Am I right?! How about a little anger, gang? How about a little anger for India? How do you all feel about them as a possible scapegoat? Times are roughhhhh.


AL: Just recently, China became the home to the world's largest private solar research facility, and the world's fastest computer.

NE: That's right: it came in second to Usain Bolt in the latest 100m sprint world championships. (look of defeat) Jesus, who wrote that one?


AL: So, yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn't discourage us. It should challenge us.

NE: In some ways, it should challenge us to be discouraged. Can you do that for me? Because I'm sort of at a loss. Feeling pretty iffy in terms of stability, you know? I have a feeling I'm going to stop making sense in a second here. Tigers coconuts and a bashful salamander. The cry of midnight. Jefferson Davis and the Moonshine Quartet. Hogwarts.


AL: No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We're the home to the world's best colleges and universities...

NE: ...and we also have N.C. State. HEY-OH!


AL: We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit and reform our government. That's how our people will prosper. That's how we'll win the future.

NE: But look, I'm not optimistic. I'll be completely honest and tell you I don't think I've got the talent on my roster. I was out for a walk on the mall today, and sweet Jesus, there are a ton of fat people in this country. I mean, a ton. What am I supposed to do with that?


AL: Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn't even there yet. NASA didn't exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets;

NE: WE BEAT THEM INTO THE COLD SIBERIAN GROUND! REMEMBER THE MIRACLE ON ICE? U-S-A! U-S-A! PS Vladimir Putin is evil.


AL: Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. (Applause.) This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down.

NE: But hey, some of us don't mind the pat-down, right? I'm looking at you, Pelosi. (nervous laughter) I don't want to tell tales out of school, but the last time Nancy went through airport security, she had her first orgasm in years. (a few scattered giggles, mostly silence) I mean, really, it was the first time a guy had his wand out in her presence since the Ford administration. (silence)


AL: There are 12 different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different agencies that deal with housing policy. Then there's my favorite example: The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in saltwater. (Laughter.) I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked. (Laughter and applause.)

NE: And even more complicated when Todd and Sarah Palin are slapping each other in the face with the Alaskan kind in some kind of weird sex game. (stunned silence, angry boos) Come on, folks, you know it's happening.


AL: And on the Korean Peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons.

NE: But keep in mind, we're talking about Kim Jong-Il here. That's like asking a crazy guy not to play with his own shit.


AL: Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders."

NE: In North Korea, they're known as "Glorious Instructor of Many Fact of Peoples Divine Leader Glorious Nation Kim Jong-Il or Become Execute."


AL: This March, I will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new alliances across the Americas.

NE: My hope is that the next American war will be fought entirely by El Salvadorians. They're stupid, but fierce.


AL: Our troops come from every corner of this country — they're black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay.

NE: I mean, you only have to see the way they prance around in those uniforms. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, gang. But hey, at least they always pass the cleanliness inspections, right? Right?!


AL: And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.

NE: But if there are options on Jupiter, let me put it this way: I'm listening. If they can overcome the toxic gas issue, I'll pay a visit. Of course, I could say the same thing about Biden. Ask my wife; you always know when Joe's been in a room.


AL: That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working-class kid from Scranton can sit behind me. (Laughter and applause.) That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father's Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth.

NE: Hey, I didn't say it was all good. Sometimes the American dream makes mistakes. That's part of the deal too. Hey, Boehner, your tanning bed called. They said you're overdue on rent again. No, I'm teasing, but seriously, I worry. The other day I was in the White House garden, and Bugs Bunny was sitting there chewing on John Boehner. No, but really, you have to give him credit; he's the tallest oompa-loompa I've ever seen. Great, guy Boehner. Wonderful man. If he ever goes to prison, he'll be the only guy who doesn't have to wear a jumpsuit.


AL: We have to do better. America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, constructed the Interstate Highway System.

NE: But between you and I and the assholes in the Supreme Court over there, it's pretty much sucked since FDR.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Moody Blues

Alright, listen up. It's 7:30am and I'm sick of folks not being the baddest cat on the planet. I don't know about y'all, but I woke up in the middle of the night, walked to the sink, looked in the mirror, and saw a Moody Blue.


Oh Goodness, Sir, What is a Moody Blue?

If you're a historian, you would say that the Moody Blues are an ultra-extreme sect of the Duke University basketball fanbase, an immoderate extension of the Cameron Crazies. The name was conceived by a Moody Blue named Jim right before he went to a Wal-Mart, stole a leather jacket, and kicked 8 grown men's asses before strolling out the door like he was any old dude. The name is semi-derived from a band that used to have songs.

If you're a citizen, you might get a worried look on your face and be like, "um, what are you guys so angry about?" And we'd be like, "what ain't we angry about!" Five minutes later, your door would be kicked in and we'd be throwing the meanest party every right in your living room. We would strongly suggest that you order up some nachos from wherever does that around here.

If you're a Cameron Crazie, you might be like, "aren't you guys taking this a little serious? I mean, I love Duke, but it's just basketball." Moody Blues consider this a teaching moment. We staple the lapels of your jacket to a wall so you're hanging about a foot off the ground, and the lecture begins. Moody Blues are about basketball, but then again, we're not. Some of us aren't even Duke fans. We're American hooligans. It's a lifestyle that most folks only hear about in cafes. It's the feeling you get when a dude or a system tries to step on your toes in the course of you just deciding to wake up.

After the lecture, we remove the Cameron Crazie from the wall. If he or she sulks away, we know they didn't learn a thing. If they get angry and sputter and etc., we hear them out and send them on their way. But if they calmly hay-make our face with a dirty roundhouse on the principle that being stapled to a wall ain't on the short list of things a human should abide...

THEN WE KNOW WE HAVE OURSELVES THE LATEST MOODY BLUE.

We pay our taxes, we vote, and we wreck the shit out of clowns who earned it by leaping from trees.

I don't usually post about when this blog gets linked on forums. For one, the feedback is almost always positive, and that's weird on the internet. It's like finding an archeologist who doesn't get a boner from dinosaurs- know what I'm saying? I think you do. But yesterday, some folks at "StateFanNationsForum," which is a site for people who have been tree-wrecked by a Moody Blue and want to whine about it, went and linked to an SCSD! post about Duke taking over N.C. State's gym. You can read their words here.

These are the folks who wear shirts saying "Red Terrors," like they got to tell the world just how rough they are. The last time I saw a Red Terror, I shot him a look so severe that now he can't be around a basketball court or he gets tremors. Even seeing a net of any kind sets him off. He used to love movies about fishing. Not anymore.

PackMan2012, one of the participants in the forum, took issue with a part in the blog post where I talked about headbutting an N.C. State fan because she made a light-hearted comment about my Duke hat. Suffer his words:

I'd be embarrassed as a Duke fan if I saw this:

"Don't get me wrong, I still headbutted her. She made her choice."

Wait I didn't think he was being serious at first, what a jackass either way. Everyone deserves the right of freedom of speech, but some people shouldn't use it. I also get the feeling this guy has no connection to the school whatsoever.

I have some rebuttals.

A. Class of 2005, compadre. Not that it matters. Being a Moody Blue doesn't depend on what education corporation gave you the slip of paper.

B. OH HELL IF I WASN'T BEING SERIOUS. WHEN YOU'RE A MOODY BLUE YOU DEFEND YOUR TURF WHETHER YOU'RE ON IT OR NOT. SHE GAVE ME A LOOK. SHE IMPLIED SOMETHING ABOUT DUKE. I DON'T KNOW WHAT. I'M NOT A MIND READER. BUT I DON'T NEED A STAMPED CERTIFICATE FROM ZSA ZSA GABOR TO TELL YOU IT WASN'T GOOD. SHE DOESN'T EVEN GIVE CERTIFICATES. CALL HER AS MUCH AS YOU WANT, IT WON'T HAPPEN.

AM I PROUD OF HEADBUTTING A LADY? HELL, I DON'T KNOW. HER KIDS TRIED TO MAKE ME FEEL GUILTY. SHE WAS PRETTY OLD, THAT'S FOR SURE. I ADMIT THERE WAS A MOMENT WHERE I WONDERED IF I SHOULD HAVE HEAD-BUTTED AN OLD LADY FOR MAKING A HARMLESS JOKE. BUT WHEN YOU'RE A MOODY BLUE, YOU LET THOSE MOMENTS PASS AND GO ON BEING RUDE.

C. What standard are you using when you call me a jackass? Are you judging me as a Cameron Crazie? Look, the Crazies are okay. They're okay people. They've got their heart in the right place, and they try their best. But for God's sake don't compare me to the Cameron Crazies. Some of them are Moody Blues. Some of them roll with both fists flying. But some are just trying to have fun and watch basketball, which isn't what we're about.

TEN FACTS ABOUT THE MOODY BLUES:

1. We wear whatever damn color we please.

2. When Christian Laettner made his shot against Kentucky, we turned to our parents with a stoic expression and said "goddamn right." We were all about 9.

3. I'm not about to sit here and read you our roster, but I will say that there are fewer than 100 of us in the world. When we see each other, we have a secret handshake that doesn't even use hands.

4. About half of our members are in prison.

5. There hasn't been an ACC game in 16 years where a Moody Blue didn't represent live and in person.

6. Our all-time record in fights against other fans is 187-0-1. The draw came when a Moody Blue fought an entire kennel of Indiana bulldogs before the national title game last year. By the time it was over, the bulldogs had accepted the Moody Blue into their pack, and he's still there today.

7. At any point in the day, there is a Moody Blue within 60 feet of Coach K.

8. The official Moody Blues song is the transition between "Golden Slumbers" and "Carry That Weight," starting at the 1:25 mark in this video:


Instant. Fucking. Mayhem.

9. There is one Moody Blue congressperson. That's all I'm going to say about that. You already know too much.

10. We care about the environment, and will bring holy hell down upon any man who gets fresh with mother nature.

BONUS: Part of our initiation is we tell the new person we invented the steering wheel. If they call us liars, they don't respect the group. If they claim to believe us, we know they're cowards. The correct answer is: "Hell if I care, the steering wheel's just a thing that gets me to a game."

Here's a list of our rivals:

The Red Terrors (N.C. State): They wear t-shirts and ask their mothers for permission to make basic phone calls.

The Powders (Carolina): They get uncomfortable if they can't look around and see something with a madras pattern.

The Haunted Forest (Wake): Always getting mixed up with the KKK because they wear white ghost sheets.

The Irish Golds (B.C.): Wet the bed 2 of every 3 nights.

The Ramblers (Tech): Irrationally afraid of bullfrogs.

The Wicked Chiefs (FSU): Houses made of a straw-like material called 'bayou grass.'

The Sugar Canes (Miami): This is actually an all-female a cappella group. The Moody Blues got a bit confused and fought them once. It wasn't our finest hour, but we finished the job.

The Pride (Clemson): Still haven't admitted a Jewish member.

Turtle Time! (Maryland): A cappella, again, this time all-guys. The Sugar Canes regularly beat their asses.

Dear Old Thaddeus (UVA): You lure them in with mint juleps and beat them with their own pastel belts.

The Tractor Army (V. Tech): This is the only group we won't fight on their turf. Shit gets weird in the mountains.

And now you know the world of the Moody Blues.

LISTEN UP:

I made a facebook group this morning. Here's the link. If you think you're a Moody Blue and you want to be involved in a legitimate social movement, and you also don't mind getting your kicks the hard way, e-mail me about joining up. Or don't. Hell if I care.

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Some things of note:

-Rafa is playing in the quarters at like 3am tonight in Australia. We're about one round away from me actually getting up to watch.

-Notre Dame beat Pittsburgh by playing 1930s ball on the road. This article from the AP, which seems to be the only source everyone uses, does a good job of not explaining what the hell a "burn" is, but by the score I can only assume they burned the shot clock on every possession. Interesting. I would love to see the Irish try that garbage against us.

-Purdue-Ohio State tonight at 9. Maybe the last best chance for the Buckeyes to lose before the Big 10 tourney.'

See you all tomorrow.