Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Holiday Gift: A Clarification


Patrick Kendall (rivalblues.com)

I want to go on record up front that the omission of Danny Green was the only error I intend to apologize for from last week’s blog. I’m a little surprised at myself that he was left out of the comparison so as a result I will amend my Forward analysis and call Green/Stephenson/Thompson a Push against Singler/McClure/Thomas (two names that weren’t mentioned either in the last blog.) As for Marcus Ginyard, he plays solid defense but offers very little in terms of offensive potency so he does not sway any argument except to strengthen my assessment that UNC has more depth in the front court. If you put him in as a guard he is outclassed by Duke’s players.

Also, I notice that only omissions from UNC’s side were pointed out which I take to mean that the Duke fans got the point of my analysis while Heel fans just felt the need to complain about the unfairness of the comparison to their team – the one currently ranked #1 in at least one poll and the one I picked to win the title in ’08. Boo hoo!

So, on to the clarification.

First of all, I’m VERY disappointed at the lack of comprehension by the Heel folk who took my blog as a head-to-head analysis of players and not positions. So, this time I’ll write slower.

Backcourt – Duke has better depth at each position. Starting talent at the Point Guard spot goes to UNC because Lawson is so dangerous but Nolan Smith is better than anybody that UNC can bring in for Lawson’s relief. At Shooting Guard I’ll call the starters a push assuming you compare Ellington vs. Nelson. They each have different strengths but at this point in the season Ellington is only shooting slightly higher from beyond the arc than Nelson and Nelson finishes better at the rim. Also, Taylor King and Jon Scheyer come in off the bench at this spot and Bobby Frasor is not either of them in terms of pure talent

Frontcourt – Carolina has better depth at these positions overall, but the starting forward talent is a push. Henderson vs Green is a push and Singler vs. whomever favors Duke because of his outside shooting. Ginyard, Stephenson are strong in relief here because of their defensive abilities but UNC has no backup whatsoever for Mansbrough. When he is out there is no advantage for UNC because all of Duke’s players (Zoubek withstanding) can score from long range. Also, keep in mind that Coach K can use Taylor King as a shooting forward because of his size.

Overall, I give Carolina the win here because of Mansbrough

So, it was pointed out to me that UNC has chemistry and Duke has talent, and that my blog may have been misnamed. In reviewing my facts I concur. Duke has MORE talent overall than Carolina and is playing BETTER overall basketball right now.

Say what you want about schedules and home games, Duke is beating the teams that they are playing. If you want to go and look at same opponent facts, then you only have Davidson – a team that gave UNC much more of a scare than it gave Duke. Duke led the whole game while UNC had to come back and steal the win. Good guards impact games more than good forwards in college. That’s a cold hard fact.

Even if you argue Greg Oden I’ll point to Kevin Durant. Oden played down low and only touched the ball when it came to him; Durant brought the ball up many times and could impact the game from more positions as a result. He was a guard in a forward’s body. Duke has couple of those players this year – not at the same caliber but in greater numbers.

I’ll stick with my final assessment – Duke wins the ACC; UNC wins the title.

Now, Heel fans – quit whining and enjoy the season.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Carolina has the Talent, but Duke has the Chemistry


Patrick Kendall (rivalblues.com)

I’m happy.

You want to know why?

Because this year the rivalry between these two great and historic programs can be assessed on more than the enmity that exists between the campus bodies. That was not the case last year where the Heels had a decided advantage at every position and also had more depth so they could finish as strong as they started.

However, with all that talent, UNC still had issues with chemistry. At points during the season (and especially against Georgetown) they really didn’t know who to turn to when the game counted (Roy Boy has to take a hit for this as well) and sometimes the lineups just didn’t gel.

This season Ty Lawson has settled down (not slowed down, just settled down) and that shouldn’t be a problem – provided he stays healthy. Make no mistake though, UNC is NOT the same team with Frasor or ‘Q’ running the show. They’re still good, but they aren’t SCARY good without Lawson.

That said, just like last year, I do believe that they have the right lineup to win it all in April but like last year, chemistry will make or break this team.

Duke on the other hand has no chemistry issues at this point whatsoever. They go ten deep and are an interchangeable unit that notices almost zero loss when substitutions are made. I can’t tell if this will be a good thing all year or not but if Coach K can continue to get these guys shots and pile up ‘W’s then good things will continue to happen.

The chemistry between this VERY young team is amazing. They lock down on defense like the best Duke teams (though they don’t always do it for forty minutes – yet) and are equipped with enough athletes and shooters to go for 100 every night.

Also, with ten players dressing and playing every night (so far) they’ve obviously addressed the depth issue (and then some) by putting together the deepest perimeter-capable team in the country – by far. No other program can boast SEVEN different players already hitting MULTIPLE three pointers especially this early in the season.

Best of all, this depth will ensure that Duke can also finish at the same pace that they start a game – and if you factor in that Duke is historically a second half team then you could argue that they are playing harder and faster at the end of games right now. Of course it’s a long season and they play a LOT of games at home – though the match up with Pitt next week at Pitt should be a great gauge for where this team really is early on.

Duke is looking so good right now that Bob the Terp at work has pledged his loyalty to the Blue Devils and jettisoned his misguided allegiance to the University of Garyland (I’m still suspicious – I think he has a fiendish plan to somehow “Tonya Harding” Coach K when Duke arrives in College Park. I’ll have security ratcheted up obviously).

So, what can we expect when the Devils meet the Heels this year? Best guess, at a minimum, we can expect more equality in terms of talent (though Mansbrough is having a great year and continues to dominate in the post – not sure what Duke can do about him -- whacking him across the nose last year just made him mad – that dude is scary!)

By position here’s how I see it:

Point Guard – UNC gets the edge in starting guard here but overall I like Duke because they have a more capable back up in Nolan Smith. He can score and defend better than Frasor or ‘Q’ so in a pinch, Paulus and Co. is my choice.

Small Forward – Push. Gerald Henderson is not the shooter that Wayne Ellington is but he is a better slasher/scorer. On a team with less scoring on the wing Henderson would easily match Ellington’s production. Long and short of it, you can’t go wrong with either.

Power Forward – Duke. Stephenson is a strong body and better post obstruction on defense but how can you not pick Kyle Singler as your choice here. He’s not a true power forward but at 6’8 he has the height and he plays hard all around the basket. In a lot of ways he reminds me of Mansbrough Lite. And he can score from anywhere.

Shooting guard – Duke has it all over UNC here because all of their players can hit from downtown. Jon Scheyer is a proven entity and DeMarcus Nelson is a linebacker in a basketball uniform who can force his way to the basket almost at will.

Center – Mansbrough – hands down. He is the X factor in this matchup. If he can get to the line 12 to 15 times and create foul problems for Zoubek and Co. then I see it being a tough night for Duke.

If Duke can dictate tempo and negate the half-court dominance of Mansbrough then I like Duke.

I’m taking the coward’s way out at the moment and calling for a split in the matchups – each team holds serve at home. I am however predicting that Duke wins the ACC regular season and tournament again.

They’ll also be a very tough out in the big tourney in March.

Both teams make it to the Elite Eight; Carolina advances to the Final Four and cuts down the nets giving Roy Boy his second title.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Top Ten Reasons to Smile this Holiday (Basketball) Season


Patrick Kendall (rivalblues.com)

This holiday season I find that there are many things to be grateful for. For instance, I’m grateful that my daily commute isn’t longer than it is given the cost of gas. And I’m grateful that my house isn’t fully operated by gas appliances given the rising costs of that fuel source. Also, I’m grateful that the taxes in my bonus check this morning only hit me for 40%. But mostly, and most importantly, I’m grateful that the season is underway and that things are going very well for my two favorite teams.

Actually, in a somewhat startling turn of events – at least as far a my humble expectations anyway – it could be argued that Duke is one of the great surprises so far this year but we’ll save that full argument for a later date and time. Right now it’s time for me to release my Top Ten Reasons to Smile this Holiday (Basketball) Season (in case the title of the article didn’t give it away already).

Number 10: the ACC wins the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Again

Now obviously this only rates if you’re an ACC fan but since I qualify the judgment stands. Nine years in a row. It has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?

Number 9: Bobby Knight is alive and well in Texas

As long as this remains true, there will always be a chance that a fight will break out on the court or at a press conference.

Number 8: UCONN looks average again

For all of us Duke fans, this is really good news. Normally I would match Coach K against anybody in a title game but for some reason Calhoun seems to have his number in the big game – you can have your shot block records, just stay out of the tourney and I’ll be good.

Number 7: Freshmen look like freshmen again

Now that Greg Oden is in the Pros (injured but getting his checks – nice!) freshmen have gone back to looking their age. I don’t about you, but I find comfort in that. Oden reminded me of Morgan Freeman – only older!

Number 6: Jay Bilas was wrong!

He inaccurately predicted that Wisconsin would handle Duke’s pressure and cause problems on the boards because of their size – the 24 point beat-down they laid on the Badgers seemed to argue against that so better luck next time. Hey didn’t Jay go to Duke or something?

Number 5: Missouri whipping Maryland in a consolation game

I don’t know if this was a surprise to anyone but the look on Bob the Terp’s face the next morning here at the office was priceless – therefore it had to make the list.

Number 4: North Carolina seems to be rounding into form—again

Obviously, if you’re picked preseason number 1 (though not all polls have kept them there) then you’re doing something right, but it’s nice to see Carolina getting Ellington and Thompson more into the game offensively. They need the support if they expect to advance to the Final Four this year – remember: Georgetown is still out there and they’re still good too.

Number 3: North Carolina vs. Kentucky

An early season treat that is going to test Carolina in a very hostile environment. I love that they don’t fear the road. Wouldn’t mind seeing Duke take a page from Roy Boy’s play book in this regard.

Number 2: Duke’s guards are the deepest and best overall in the country

Duke can hurt you with five different guards and that doesn’t count Kyle Singler, who can handle the ball away from the basket at 6’8. If they all buy into Coach K’s system all season and continue to work together, this is going to be one very tough out in the tourney for any team in the country.

And my number one reason to smile about this holiday basketball season...

Number 1: No Joakim Noah!

Need I say more?

Happy Holidays!

Monday, March 19, 2007

All Aboard the Carolina Express


Patrick Kendall

Ahhh, the sweet smell of sixteen...teams that is. The dust has settled from the first week of March Madness and as expected there were plenty of close games, some upsets and a lot of great basketball match ups between historically significant programs (Kansas v. Kentucky anyone?).

But before we dive into the deep end of this great time of year, let's take a moment to bow our heads at the supreme "averageness" that was the ACC this year. I can't remember a time where only one ACC team emerged from the field of 64 through the FIRST weekend and now I must face facts: the ACC was NOT the best conference in the country. In fact, they weren't close.

Let's consider: Virginia is picked to finish 8th in the conference pre-season yet winds up tied for first. Underrated? I don't necessarily think so. Great guards can put you in a position to win games but a solid big man is what wins games in March, and there UVA was woefully undermanned. Virginia Tech was a potent offensive team the could run with any of the team's in the conference...of course, they could also get run out of the gym by those same opponents – and of all the upper echelon ACC teams, they had the worst losses if measured by the points they got beat by. And where the hell was their offense in the tournament?

Maryland was probably the most experienced team coming out of the ACC but when faced with the prospect of playing against a team of smaller players (on average) with less talent who could shoot from the outside, the vaunted Terp 'D' that gave UNC and Duke fits this season just wasn't there. Consider this: Miami actually matched up better with Davidson and Butler for purposes of exploiting strengths and from that standpoint would have made for a better matchup if the focus was to push an ACC team into the Sweet Sixteen.

BC came up against the toughest of the opponents in the opening round and made a game of it until the end where it looked like they just ran out of gas. Georgetown is a team to watch in this tournament though so there was no shame in this loss at all. Georgia Tech made a game of things against a surging UNLV team that just made it into the Sweet Sixteen by taking out a 2 seed (Wisconsin). They look a lot like Georgia Tech, only they executed better down the stretch and so they got the win.

Now we get to Duke, who treated its fans to the most inexcusable loss of all the ACC teams. This was a team that early on beat Georgetown, Gonzaga, Indiana, and BC twice. All of these schools were tournament teams. Granted, the VCU squad was a scary fast, athletic group of kids that were fired UP to play Duke, but they were so small up front that McRoberts should have gone for fifty exploiting his height advantage. Of course, his game isn't built for that kind of output (but it cost them AGAIN!) so we'll take up the call of all the other programs that aren't Duke and as fans we can only collectively say "Wait till next year."

So finally we get to it.


The lone warrior left standing. And after a rousing win against a very well-coached Michigan State team people are back to being talked about in terms of possibly winning it all. What I like is that they are riding on the backs of their two best players of the last month (Mansbrough and Lawson) – after all, why break a system that isn't broken. So if the Heels can continue to dictate the pace and pound the ball into the post (remember, Brandon "Generally Does It" Wright is still set to have a big game at some point in the tourney – against Florida in the Championship would be okay with me) then you have to like them against anyone.

The matchup against USC should be interesting. The Trojans (tee hee) are by all accounts a veteran-led team that relies on all the components working together to be successful – plus I read that they are athletic to boot, so they should be a good test for the Heels. But, they said the same thing about Arizona in January and we all remember how that turned out. The most important thing for UNC to remember is play to their strengths. They have body after body after body to throw at the other teams. Now they need to all climb on Mansbrough's giant shoulders and let him carry them all the way to Atlanta.

Then, I'll finally get my chance to watch the girlie, baby-faced, goofy, long-haired, doofus of a big man with the Gator uniform who runs on eternal energy get steam rolled by a horse of a kid from Missouri who runs on nothing but will power and determination. Given those variables, I'll take my chances with the corn fed farm boy every time.

Go Heels!

Check us out at www.myspace.com/rivalblues

Monday, March 5, 2007

The End of the Duke/Carolina Debate


Patrick Kendall


Now we know. Even Coach K said it.

Carolina is the better team. All the excitement, all the hype, all the taunting and all the conjecture can no longer hide that fact.

Duke vs. Carolina ’07 is in the books and the year belongs to the Heels (though Maryland really has the last laugh from that standpoint — they are the best team in North Carolina -- from Maryland).

But that said, I was happy to see that Duke did not go out without a final parting shot. For the whiners out there who cried “cheap shot” at Henderson’s foul on Mansbrough, I can’t deny that it didn’t reek a little bit of frustration on the part of my man Gerald, but anyone who has ever been part of an historic rivalry that dates back to the 1920s (I’m sure that there are a lot of us nodding in experienced understanding right now) is likely to get a little bit frustrated when coming out on the losing end of the rivalry two times in a row. Mansbrough isn’t hurt; Henderson gets a suspension so let’s get over it and move on.

As for my analysis of the game post facto, it’s pretty simple: too much Mansbrough and Lawson (and every one else from Carolina’s side – seemed like everyone contributed yesterday) and not enough Duke defense. Looking at the box score for Duke, their normal guys played well. Paulus and Henderson were great, Scheyer, Nelson good, and McRoberts played a statistically sound game (save for a pile of nasty turnovers that put them in a hole early). What deserted them this Sunday was stops on the defensive end.

Lawson drove at will; Mansbrough was an animal; Terry got free for a couple spot up threes; back door cuts were available; Wright got to the rim whenever he needed to. None of these things were a surprise to Duke and therefore they should have been more ready for them. Coach K has gone against Roy Boy enough times to know what to look for so I contend that Duke’s offense was not the issue (necessarily) and for only about the third time this season, they could not rely on their defense (the sixth man?) to help them control the pace.

That said, you have to give all that credit to UNC, which employed another great game plan and then executed it nearly flawlessly (makes me wonder how they can lose to G. Tech and NC State when they play like this – but I guess that’s water under the bridge at this point). Lawson shredded Duke’s man-to-man and found guys open all around the rim. It’s the easiest way to beat a team (any team) without shot blockers so kudos the Heels.

What I think is such a shame is that they basically backed into a regular season title thanks to UVA's loss, even though I can't imagine anyone outside of Charlottesville (that's a city in Virginia for you Carolina folks who don't keep up with geography beyond the Research Triangle) actually believing UVA is the better team.

Of course that’s just sour grapes on my part. Were this Duke in the same predicament I’d happily take the “back in” method to winning championships.

So, a toast to Roy Boy Williams and his merry band of Tar Heels. Congratulations on a season that was probably a little disappointing considering early season hype and some of the losses incurred (I can’t just hand out compliments – that is my “back hand” method).

The ACC Tourney starts Thursday and Duke will be playing. I predict that they will win that opening game then fall on Friday. UNC doesn’t play until noon on Friday and will most likely line up against Maryland. I NEED UNC to win this game. Bob the Terp is on a nasty roll here at the office and someone needs to slap him down. To Hell with the Shell! Who’s with me?

In conclusion, this was not exactly the year of the Blue Devil and its too early to tell if the Tar Heels can bring the Championship Trophy back to ACC country.

But I’ve got my ticket to Atlanta just in case.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Duke vs. Carolina – the Anti-climax


Patrick Kendall

So this is what it all comes down to...nothing but bragging rights in state. No national status is at stake here, no real standings in the ACC, no opportunity to leap frog the other and secure a top seed in the conference. It’s been a long time since, as my good friend just put it, Duke and Carolina were both coming off losses going into both of their conference games creating a more deflated opinion of themselves across the basketball landscape.

All year long you could see that Duke was playing the same way I ski, which is to say, that along the run they were headed for a crash at least four times. The fact that they really only stumbled in two big stretches (so far) simply means they got lucky (wish I could have said the same on the slopes myself). Anyway, most people would agree that somewhere about mid-season, Duke began getting the benefit of their history when it came to rankings, but no one really believed that they were one of the Top 25 for nearly the entire year (though it was the only thing I could hold over Bob the Terp’s head – until the sweep. Now I have a nice drawing of a turtle holding a broom on my whiteboard. The art sucks but the message was still clear. Damn!).

Carolina has also benefited from over hyping and now we’re seeing the true fruits of their over ranking as well. It took longer but for the most part there should be no surprise. They are too young to really be a great basketball team; plus they play piss pour defense and can’t make quality stops at key points in the game; therefore they leave themselves vulnerable in tight games. So, vanity from the UNC and Duke camps this year has led us to eerily similar situations: seasons that fail to meet expectations from either side.

Of course, both teams are going to the NCAAs this year but that is somewhat diminished by the lack of importance of this last meeting from a national standpoint. Truthfully, outside of the regular Duke/Carolina faithful who could give a rat’s ass about this one? In a way, I’m more disappointed with UNC only because I still believe that their losses are a result of a deficiency in their execution or preparation. They either don’t rebound well, or they don’t hustle after the ball, or they choose not to play defense – something that could be remedied by every bad basketball player’s greatest weapon – effort.

Duke is easier to diagnose. They will play hard every night (with the exception of the first Maryland game) but just don’t have the legs to compete for a full forty minutes. They are a true middle of the pack ACC team this year (ouch!) but you can’t really overcome talent issues if the other team plays AS hard (or harder, i.e. Maryland – sonsab*tches).

So we roll into Sunday in a kind of pre-post-season malaise on both sides. Carolina’s loss to Georgia Tech is another UNC example the better team allowing the worse team to set the pace and dictate the level of effort while the same can NOT be said of the Maryland/Duke game. There, the painful fact is that Maryland is the better team. They may also be better than UNC and you can chalk it all up to having a handful of upperclassmen that refuse to go out quietly so they play harder. It’s that simple.

The good news is that it still is a Duke/Carolina game and thus we (the true fans) know that the game itself still holds the allure of a possible “great” game. So we’ll all be excited to see if that materializes.

The bad (and shocking) news is that we (the true fans) are the only ones who care about this game at this point because there is no need for the rest of the nation to watch.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tar Heels, take a step back.

Since the union of the University of North Carolina and basketball, we UNC fans have been a fickle bunch. None of us were conscious during the early struggles of the Coach Smith regime. UNC students and fans wanted little to do with the short, large-nosed, young man who dared to think he could take over the program Frank McGuire built into a national power. They hung him in effigy...twice. They berated him in the student paper. No one outside of his close friends and the Athletic Director supported the no name from Emporia Kansas. Imagine where UNC would be had it listened to its fickle fans then.

During Coach Smith's 36 years of unmatched excellence, we as a fan base became "fat and happy" (to borrow one of Coach Williams' terms). ACC title after ACC title. Final Four after Final Four. National Titles. Collegiate and NBA superstars. Man, its good to be king, huh? Duke went back to back, but we answered and now they are struggling to even challenge Wake Forest. UNC is the dominant program in all of America.

Then came the summer of 1997. The end of an era. The saddest day in my entire life. On that day, Dean Smith stepped down and handed the reigns over to his longtime assistant and friend, Bill Gutheridge. Now, in interests of space, I will selectively skip the Gutheridge and Doherty eras as its impossible for UNC fans to agree on who's to blame. Regardless, the IBM of the college basketball world tumbled into mediocrity. The proudest and most arrogant fan base in the land was smacked with the ultimate insult: irrelevance.

Coach Williams' arrival changed all of that. He taught his first team how not to lose. In 2005, he tought UNC how to win. Oh, how quickly we arrogant Heels forget our lessons.

Was that 2005 team not comprised of the same characters who blew lead after lead in the '03-'04 season? Was that not the same team that squandered a 20+ point lead at halftime against FSU and ended up getting embarassed? The very same team who had its heart, will, and desire questioned game after game, week after week? The team loaded with talent, yet never quite doing what we expect?

Its amazing what a national title will do for our memories, isn't it? All people seem to remember is the great leader and game breaker Felton became, not the horrendous shooter and turnover machine he was the previous years. We remember how Sean May became an animal in '05, a double-double machine. We forgot all about the soft as Charmin May of '04. The do-all-the-small-things mentality of Jackie Manuel and Jawad Williams is adored by Tar Heels the world over. They never seem to mention Jackie's terrible shooting, bad free throws and turnovers. Or Jawad's shying away from the hoop.

That 2003-04 team was comprised of mainly sophomores and juniors. Not just that, but they were learning a new system under a new coach. They might as well have all been freshmen. They were a young team who's bandwagon emptied as much as it was filled. They were a team that everyone became convinced would never allow the team concept to penetrate their talent and ego riddled minds.

What happend? Time. Practice. LEARNING.

Roy Williams took a group of kids that had never won anything of significance at the collegiate level and in 2 years turned them into national champions.

So, the next time UNC blows a lead they shouldn't, the next time Brandon bricks a free throw, the next time Lawson attempts a pass he shouldn't or the next time the Heels look lost during an end-game possession, remember one thing.

The 2003-04 Heels looked even worse. And how did they turn out?

All the talent in the world is great. I wouldn't trade UNC's future for anyone else's. It is common for young teams to be really, really good. They are, however, seldom great. We are being treated to a great season. And you know what the best part is?

Its only going to get better.

- "UNC" Charles

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Heels Can’t Find Their “Way”

Photo by ROBERT WILLETT - (Raleigh) News & Observer


Patrick Kendall

You have no idea how much that title hurts to write. The Tar Heels have no idea how difficult they made my Monday (what with Bob the Terp and all). Now, Virginia Tech and Maryland have both given losses to the two top ACC programs of the past twenty-five years and I’m left speechless at the fact.

Duke is easier to explain. They don’t have the talent. Carolina is harder to explain. They have the talent. They just don’t have the “Way.”

What is the Way, you ask?

Prepare yourselves for a journey to the Far East (of Basketball anyway) as we head to the streets of DC and NYC where the Way is sought, studied, and in some cases – attained. The Way is a mythical experience that provides guidance and calm to competitor warriors during pressure situations. Like “chi” (and the Force), the Way binds all things sports related; it surrounds athletes; it protects them. But in order to achieve Way, one must believe.

What the Heels have done instead of believing, is buying into their own hype. They believe that talent alone will be enough. They believe that by throwing bodies at the other team and trying to run them out of the gym, they will succeed. They believe that intensity is a switch that can be thrown any time, and that momentum (Uncle Mo in my house growing up) only matters when going downhill. The Heels can’t find their Way, and they will not win the Championship without it.

In 2005 Sean May was the Way. He became a force of nature on the floor; unstoppable, unyielding. Heels ’07 needs the same beacon to come to light now. Hansbrough could be the Way, but he still misses free throws at game’s end, or turns it over critically in situations that require doing the opposite. That is not the Way. Reyshawn Terry would like to be the Way because of his senior status, but he is a guy who unfortunately is only good enough to play for the Heels AFTER all the talent leaves the team.

Ty Lawson is learning his Way but he’s not ready. Freshmen rarely are. Carmelo Anthony and Pervis Ellison leap out at me as freshmen who were the Way but those guys are few and far between (17 years in fact). Brandon “I’m Still Learning How To” Wright is a little slight, a little young, and a lot deferential.

So, who can this young team turn to in its time of desperation and need?

I submit that Roy Williams must become the Way.

Think about it. In 1991, when Duke was again faced with that juggernaut of an opponent, UNLV, just one year after getting waxed in the most lopsided Championship game ever by this same exact team, Coach K had to become the Way in order for those guys to succeed. His certainty (not belief, for you must believe in the Way, but it must be done with certainty) in his players showed them the Way, and their belief brought them victory. It’s time for Roy “Where There’s a Williams, There’s a Way” Williams to follow that same path.

Now is the time for Roy Boy to pick up the torch of his forecoaches and pursue his destiny. It will not be an easy journey. His faith will be tested (by Maryland and another Williams no less!). His answers questioned. His leadership challenged.

But in the end, the journey will pay for itself because it will teach him the Way and in return he will show a young, talented group the same.

Then UNC can go out and rip Florida a new one in the Championship game and all will be balanced in the Universe.

Friday, February 23, 2007

It's Hard to Like and Dislike this Duke Team


What I like about this Duke team is the exact same thing I dislike about this Duke team: they are unpredictable. I can’t think of any other K-coached team that has gone through the (pardon the cliché) “ups and downs” this team has. They’re like a Maryland team – start off hot; fall apart; regroup; then wilt like daisies (can’t wait for that to happen – I’ll get to watch Bob the Terp’s heart literally explode from the experience). So when I chart the progress and decline of these Devils it’s difficult for me not to get excited. They play a smothering brand of defense (albeit not always for a full forty minutes) that of late has allowed them to build up leads then withstand furious rallies for the win.

But what is also apparent to me is that Duke IS getting better. Their offense is beginning to catch up to their defense. They CAN score 80 points if they have to, but the pace of their weave offense (for lack of a better word) sets them firmly in the high 60s and low 70s for a comfort level. They continue to be plagued by quick, slashing, scorers (Thornton and Singletary come to mind immediately, as does Dowdell from Tech) but they aren’t the only team in America that gets pasted by that kind of player. They still lack a firm “go to” guy at the end of the game, though McRoberts showed some good court sense to take the ball all the way down the court last night and score an uncontested layup. He took what the defense gave him and capitalized. Personally, I’d like to see more of that kind of play because he still, in my mind anyway, is a tremendous matchup problem.

Let me be honest for a minute: I don’t see Duke winning the ACC Tourney, nor do I see them making it to the Sweet Sixteen this year. But as I watch them, I see a true team concept playing out there. It reminds me of the mid-major programs that always sneak up on the power conferences come March. Of course, having DUKE across your jersey doesn’t allow you to sneak up on anybody, but they do play the kind of basketball that will give teams fits in March.

Historically, you prepare for Duke in two ways: 1) you must be ready to withstand Duke’s high powered offense and not wilt from the pace of it, and 2) your defense has to key on the offensive focal points with superior athleticism. Those aren’t the easiest things to do. It’s not like you can run out to Dick’s Sporting Goods and pick those things up off the end cap, so Duke has always had a statistical advantage over most teams they face.

That’s not the case for this team.

This team is only going to beat you if all seven players in the rotation show up and work together. They won’t beat you with talent, and it’s obvious they won’t beat you with fear. I haven’t even seen the same heart that Duke Teams are famous for, but that doesn’t matter. This is a dangerous team to play anytime and anywhere because you as the opposition don’t know who to focus on, and you have to stand up to the pressure of their half court defense, which still (for the most part) holds teams in the sixties and below.

Drawing up a game plan for this squad means you have to consider everyone – even down to Hocius Pocius (when he magically appears in the games anyway). Ignoring Paulus’s outside shot puts you at risk of him going for a surprising twenty; give Nelson the lane and his slashing game, and he’ll go for sixteen.

McRoberts is not the player I hoped he would be, but he IS one of the most versatile players in the country because of his ball handling and passing skills. And Scheyer would have to be considered on the short list of freshmen who have had an immediate impact on their respective teams, though he is not ready to beat you night in and night out (sorry for another cliché).

The point is… who do you trust on this team? Who do you fear? Who do you zone in on and who you concede shots to?

If I’m playing against Duke, I hate each and every one of those questions because this team is unpredictable.

And like I said earlier, that’s not always a bad thing.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Chemistry For A Carolina Fan"

written by Hooper

"Chemistry For A Carolina Fan"

Did you see it? Did you see him? Jay Bilas said he's like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is "a mathematical limit on the accuracy with which it is possible to measure everything there is to know about a physical system." It basically says, that by the time you are able to predict where a particle is in an atom at a given moment, it is already gone (that's as far as the chemistry goes... I promise). I'm sure Heisenberg spent countless hours in a lab figuring this out, when all he had to do was watch Ty Lawson play basketball.

When I watched Ty Lawson on Youtube before the season started, I was ecstatic. I could not wait to see this kid in uniform. When he got on the floor in the beginning I saw flashes of Raymond Felton. But that's only what they were. Flashes. Some games he would completely disappear in games. Against Tenessee, he had me singing his praises to everybody I knew. Then against Kentucky, I wondered if he got more than 10 minutes.

After the Georgia Tech game, Roy Williams told Ty Lawson that he needs to use his uncanny ability to create for himself as much as he does for his teammates. It's been very noticeable that someone lit a spark under the McDonald's All-American. Since the remark, Lawson is averaging 14 points per game and about 6 assists per game. The thing that amazes me when I watch him is his sudden confidence to take big shots. His play has been phenomenal as of late (Duke and Arizona come to mind). Every time that Boston College made a run tonight, by the time they accounted for him on defense, he was reversing in mid-air finishing a beautiful layup. He only had 11 points, but I can remember just about every time he scored. Once, it was hitting a deep three with the shot clock about to expire. Second was after a nice take by Rice to cut the game to three or four. Lawson went coast to coast in (no lie) about 2 seconds. It got to the point where I was wondering why he didn't just fly down the court every time and score from 3 feet. And the third that comes to mind, were the two game clinching free throws he hit at the end of the game.

We know about Hansbrough. We know about Wright. We know Roy can coach. It seemed like, that with Bobby Frasor sitting with a nagging foot injury, the Heels really just needed someone to be a catalyst for their offense. I don't think there is a better suited point guard for this team than Ty. Bilas said he made Heisenberg proud, and he gets no argument from this Chemistry major. This kid is going to be a stud.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Surprising Parity in the ACC Keeps Duke and Carolina Off Balance


Patrick Kendall

The ACC currently has two teams ranked in the AP Top 25. North Carolina is one; Boston College is the other. In an effort to not beat a dead story too badly, Duke is an obvious absentee from this week's poll – the first time in over ten years that Coach K has not read about his team in that situation. And so, this by itself makes for a "BIG" story, but in my opinion the bigger story should be that the ACC currently has ONLY two teams ranked in the AP Top 25 yet experts are predicting that the conference will send the most teams to the NCAA Tournament this year. Depending on who you listen to, the ACC could send anywhere from seven to nine teams to the Big Dance this year. My gut tells me that nine is unrealistic, but eight is very likely.

Why, you ask?

Easy. At various points this year six ACC teams have found their way into (VA Tech is most likely to become the seventh this next week) the Top 25. BC, Clemson, Virginia, Maryland, and of course Duke have all enjoyed some time on the list, while UNC remains in the Top 5 (probably Top 10 after the their loss to VA Tech), which means, that seven of the arguably Top 25 teams (at various points) have been battling one another at least once, and sometimes twice, leaving scars in the form of losses that would seem to, on paper at least, indicate a danger of not making the Tournament.

I am going to submit my argument for the teams that I believe are a lock to make it in from the ACC as well as the "bubble" teams, then finally, the teams that could be surprise entries into the Tourney.


UNC – an obvious choice, although their sweep by VA Tech and the loss to NC State puts them out of consideration for a number 1 seed. Look for them at number 2.

BC – still sitting near the top of the conference, they are in good shape for a number 4 seed.

Virginia Tech – a sweep of UNC and the win over Duke, along with their position in the conference are good for a 3 or 4 seed. If Tech wins the ACC conference and regular season I see them at a 2, which would be incredible.

Virginia – if they can remain at the top with the other three then I see them as a solid 4 seed in the tourney as well.

Duke – wins over Gonzaga, Indiana, Georgetown and a sweep of BC ensure that Duke is in the tournament. They begin the second tier of teams to get in and could be anywhere from a 4 to a 6 seed depending on how they finish up in the conference and conference tournament.


Clemson – 17-0 to start the season, they have run into some ups and downs, but I believe if they win at least two more games in the conference it will be enough – 21 wins overall and 7 in a tough, deep conference will get them in at a 6 or 7 seed.

Maryland – they need a good run to finish up because of the hole they dug for themselves but I see them at a 6 to 8 seed, provided they get two more wins and one in the conference tourney.

Georgia Tech/Florida State – GA Tech is not the better team but they have one fewer loss at this point and if that holds they will get in. If Florida State leapfrogs them, pencil them in. Either of these teams, if they get in, will be an 8 or 9 seed.

So, there you have it. I don't see the ACC tying the Big East's record of nine teams (although it could be argued depending on how GA Tech and FLA State finish up in the standings) but in terms of talent from top to bottom, I think it is hard to argue that the ACC is the most deserving conference for consideration of the most teams. Of course, since I'm not on the committee (yet!) it's impossible to say that anything is certain.

Since this is a site dedicated to the rivalry between Duke and UNC I shall leave on this parting shot:

Duke is currently enjoying a one game win streak over a ranked opponent, while UNC is the throes of a one game losing streak to an unranked team.

The times, they are a' changin'.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bleeding from my heart, But my blood is still DUKE BLUE.

written by Trinity

I finally pulled myself to my computer.

I am down but not out. And same can be said for DUKE.

I have recvd prob. 10 emails from young DUKIES saying WHAT IF??? NIT???? ????????

I want to scream my head off. This is DUKE BASKETBALL. A program that is one of historys finest.

Can we not have one season where we are in a drought?

When do people realize that you do not lose a JJ & a Sheldon & then ask 2 sophomores to step up to the plate and defend DUKE BASKETBALL the way it has been defended the last 10 years. How unfair is that?

We lost some players to the NBA like Luol Deng who would be a senior right?

Just imagine?

I want to tell everyone that this is not a bad thing.

This is a freggin foundation that is being laid for what will be in the next few years, a National Champion caliber team.

This is one of the first DUKE squads to be faced with losses & lack of true leadership from the court.

Josh & Greg are awesome but they are sophomores and they think like sophomores. They should not be blamed for that.

There is no JJ or Sheldon to guide them, give them the support they need, they are like orphans in a way.

But instead of getting our support, some of the DUKE fans are being bigger asses than our cryolina counterparts.

Coach K is remarkable. Most college teams face these droughts (rough seasons) every 2 season or so due to losing kids to the NBA.

K doesnt lose kids to the NBA often. He does not heavily recruit kids who he feels are just a flash in the pan.

Clint (unc fan) always cries, "UNC prepares kids for their future careers so williams applauds them when they leave early".....ok-- so say i am a unc student & i want to be a lawyer...would any other UNC athletic coach ENCOURAGE me to leave early for my future career? HELL NO. SO why should a basketball coach be excused for "supporting" a players decesion to leave early for the NBA?

K did not want Luol to leave, would not have imagined him leaving. Had DENG not left, this would be a diff season.

He left & so we deserve this drought, its the first in 10 years.

K is not God. K is a man, just a coach. He is no miracle worker.

Steps have been underway to garner a stronger bench, recruit nationally ranked teams and season the players who are currently wearing DUKE on their chests. This is what coaches do.

These kids have not had a bad year. Most of our losses have been decided by less than 5 pts, only 2 were 10+ digit losses. WE BEAT FREGGIN GEORGETOWN who right now is kicking WVA's ass who just beat freggin UCLA on Saturday.

We beat Aif FOrce, we killed Gonzaga who slam dunked UNC. Hammered NC STATE who nationally embarrassed UNC.

Wheres' the love?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Times Have Gotten Hard for Duke

by Tasha

This year has not started off very well for me in the sports world. The Cowboys...two words: Tony Romo. I won't go any farther than that.

And now, Duke has officially dropped out of the Top 25 today after four-straight losses.

I'll be 100 percent honest in saying that I don't get excited watching this year's Duke team. Something about them is just...different (and no...it's not just because they're not winning). I knew it was going to be a transition from last year. What team wouldn't go through a transition after losing two incredible players, two incredible people, and an incredible inside-outside duo? If anyone had any doubts as to what J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams meant to Duke basketball, they shouldn't have any doubts about their importantance and contributions to the team now. On top of losing Redick and Williams, I think that this team really misses the leadership of players like Sean Dockery and Lee Melchionni.

So I knew going into this season that we would be awfully young. Our "captains" on this team are even young. DeMarcus is a junior and Josh and Greg are only sophomores. Everyone else on the team has had no experience at the college level, much less at the DUKE level, until this year.

Even though I knew the transition would be difficult, I did not think it was going to include a four-game losing streak in which we gave away a win at home against UNC and were completely embarrassed by an unranked Maryland team. And to think: Our ACC record could possibly be even worse because let's face it...we got lucky in the Clemson game.

Josh, Greg, and DeMarcus have disappointed me this season. I was never expecting them to completely fill the shoes of J.J., Shelden, Lee, and Sean, but I at least thought that they'd make a better showing than what they have thus far. I just don't feel the passion from them. I could be wrong - I know that those boys love Duke and I know that they really give it their all, but I'm a stickler for looking at people's facial expressions and body language. From their expressions and the way they carry themselves on the court, on the bench, and following games, I just don't get a good feeling. They seem to have a blank, expressionless look on their faces...A LOT. That frustrates me.

The freshmen: Other than Scheyer, none of them have really stood out to me. Henderson, Zoubeck, and Thomas are all but invisible to me during the games. None of those guys have stepped it up for this team when it's been really needed.

Something about this team doesn't scream "Duke" to me. We as Duke fans have become awfully spoiled. I have not had the heartbreaks of the same magnitude that I have had with the Cowboys because Duke is pretty consistent with how they play and how they go about their business...simply put, they win, they typically win by a lot, and they win with a certain arrogance that only Duke fans can love. This year, Duke is not winning and I'm realizing just how fragile college basketball dominance really is. We haven't seen anything like this for more than ten years.

The game is crazy: Just think of the players that have left us: Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, William Avery, Luol Deng, Shaun Livingston... We could have had at least one more championship if any of those players had stayed with Duke longer. But even though many players have left prematurely or not come at all, Duke has still continued to have success. Someone has always stepped up...someone has always found a way to ignite the team...someone has always been "the guy" after the previous year's guy left us. But we don't have that with this team. No one has filled one-quarter of J.J.'s or Shelden's shoes and we're feeling the sting of that right now.

The one positive I can see in all of this is that we can finally unload all those bandwagon Dukies. I see another positive when I think of how the boys will grow from this season and hopefully come back even stronger next season. This season can be a learning experience from the top on down, from Coach K, to the players, to the assistant coaches, and to the fans. Winning, especially when it's done consistently and seems to come so easy to a team, can be taken for granted. I for one think that this season will be an eye-opener to many people.

I don't want this blog to come across as me thinking that our season is over, but we need to right the ship (borrowing that from Kristi ) right now. We have more road games left on the schedule compared to home games, and anyone that knows the ACC knows how big homecourt advantage is. This team isn't a national championship contender - I'll go ahead and say that right now. If we don't get back on the right track, I could see us losing early in the ACC Tourney, getting a mid-to-lower seed in the NCAAs, and losing in that tournament fairly early as well. That won't affect the love I have for Duke, but dang...how weird would that be?

So all in all, I want this team to make me feel like they're DUKE. And by saying that I want them to make me feel like they're Duke, I don't even necessarily mean by them winning because it's not all about wins, it's all about how a team conducts themselves through the good times and through the bad. I just want them to wear the uniform and to perform like all the other Duke teams have - show some intensity, show some passion, and most importantly, show some PRIDE.

Bring back the old Duke.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Night Duke Finally Broke My Heart


Patrick Kendall

Some of you may have pieced together a few things about me in our brief time together (sixteen blogs and growing. For instance, I am a longtime Duke fan. I watched from a hotel room in Long Beach as that great1986 team came up short against Louisville (it nearly killed me); I watched with horror as UNLV ran straight through Duke in the most embarrassing championship game I've ever seen in 1990 (almost destroyed my love for the entire sport); then I watched with a mixture of pain and anguish (and more pain) as Scotty Thurman staked me through the heart with his game winning 3 pointer in 1994 (was paralyzed by the memory of that shot until about 1997).

I have been with Duke as they have endured gut wrenching hardships; I have grown up with the players who came along in the 80s as if they were family. Christian Laetner and I are the same age. I played a pickup game with Grant Hill when he was a freshman in high school. When Phil Henderson dunked over Alonzo Mourning in the NCAA tourney in 1989 I felt such joy that it's hard to even write about it without crying a little bit over the beautiful memory.

I sat through the worst part of Coach K's entire career when he handed the reins over to that poor overmatched SOB – Pete (can't even say his last name it hurts me so bad). All of this I shouldered internally, pressing it downward into the dark corridors of my tortured soul because I knew that always, ALWAYS, something good was on the horizon. Well, all that changed for me today. Changed as a result of one game. One, singularly unimportant in the grand scheme of things game that may have finally taken my tortured soul and kicked it into that abyss of Carolina Blue – and away from my beloved Blue Devils -- forever. I just don't know if I'll ever recover.

You see…I hate Maryland. Hate the program in an irrational way that even an educated, supremely articulate guy like myself could never adequately describe. If the world was the prize and Martians were trying to destroy it and only Maryland stood in the way of our survival, I would take up arms with my Martian brothers and lead the charge against Maryland with the most blood-curdling battle cry ever uttered in the history of warfare. And then some. Ever since Gary Williams took over the program at Maryland I have felt an unease, like the feeling a sick antelope gets just before a lion comes down on him and devours him mercilessly and without warning.

No…it's worse than that. It's more like after the Tribulation has begun and one-quarter of the world's population is literally torn from this realm, and another quarter is lost to God's wrath as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride roughshod over the entire planet and the way is paved for the anti-Christ to come and take control of the Earth for 1000 years and it turns out that the anti-Christ is actually Gary Williams and the mark of the Beast is actually a turtle, A TURTLE, branded on the betrayers' foreheads. Now we're getting close to how I feel about them.

So to watch my beloved Blue Devils come to Comcast and play like elementary school kids and basically get blown right out of the gym in a span of about 10 minutes is more than I can bear. I mean it! My world is ruined. I can deal with a lot: I've been divorced and that woman was not very nice at the end, but I survived it. I shouldered the burden and kept moving on. But I don't know if I've got the strength to get through what I watched tonight.

I have never understood how Maryland could insinuate that it had a claim to calling a Duke/Maryland game a rivalry. Based on what? Based on who? They don't have the pedigree of a Duke or Carolina. They've always been a notch below the likes of Coach K and Deano and now Roy Boy. Who do they think they are? I do have to admit that one of my best nights of sleep ever came on the night Jason Williams brought Duke back from 10 with a minute to go to win the game and shut that thuggish, object throwing at players' moms Cole Field House crowd down into a catatonic state, all while Juan Dixon and Steve Blake looked on in amazed shock from the court. Ahh, I love that memory.

So how could Duke do this to me? How?

I'm sorry. I'm not coherent right now, but I can't justify the atrocious play that I watched from Duke as they dug themselves a 20 point deficit. I can't stand how Grievous Vasquez woofed again and again as he had his way with the entire Duke defense, a defense I just singled out Wednesday night for playing tremendously against UNC. Where the hell was the defense? 40 points in a half, against a second rate group of pretenders that bark a lot but bite very little – except for tonight. Of course. Naturally.

JP Strawberry (I refuse to call him by his correct name) thumped his chest, made faces and suddenly looked like a D1 basketball player again after basically wasting his scholarship by crawling up his own butt for the last month and our boys couldn't finish him off. Couldn't reduce him to the state that their play reduced me to. It's not fair! Fear the Turtle? Are you serious? That's is the worst slogan for the worst mascot in all of sports (except for maybe that sweater-wearing turkey down in Blacksburg) yet Duke played like scared little babies as Maryland swarmed around them and basically took the ball right from Duke's hand any time they wanted.

I can handle the fact that Duke is young. I can handle the fact that McRoberts is not the player that I expected him to be. I can even handle the fact that DeMarcus Nelson airballed a layup tonight. But when they go on the road to THE hostile environment outside of Chapel Hill and roll onto their backs like a pack of submissive dogs, well it's more than I can stand. Now, I love Duke Basketball. I look forward to it the same way I look forward to the arrival of an old and dear friend each and every fall for the last 25 years but tonight I saw something that reminded me of something I hadn't seen in nearly as long.

Twenty years ago my high school coach accused our team of playing with no brains and no heat. In fact, that's what he wrote on the game stats the next day: NO BRAINS; NO HEART. That was it for stats.

Duke's play reminded me of my old coach's game analysis: they played with absolutely no brains and no heart and in playing like that they broke my heart in the process.

Plus, I've got to go to work and deal with Bob the Terp. Damn you for that, Duke! Man, do I hate Mondays.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Duke/Carolina Breakdown (Mostly Duke)


Patrick Kendall

So, I gave myself a full day to recover from what I thought was a well-played basketball game (for the most part), but I would be remiss if I didn’t do two things: 1) praise the good play and 2) bash the bad stuff. So off we go.

Good Stuff – Stand out performances from both sides

Duke defense – against any other team in the country (in my humble opinion), Duke’s smothering defense would have resulted in a win going away. The only way to fight against that kind of problem is by throwing bodies at it, which Carolina has and did, in abundance. Doesn’t hurt that all those Carolina guys are pretty good ballplayers to boot.

Good job, Duke.

Greg Paulus – did a solid job for the most part keeping himself between Ty Lawson and the basket, while putting up some offensive numbers himself. Nice work.

Brandon “Gets It Done” Wright – man, are his arms long. I tried to throw a piece of paper into a trashcan next to the TV during the game and I’ll be damned if Wright didn’t block my shot…plus he was like Kevin McHale in the paint – unstoppable. Great game.

Roy Williams – his strategy was perfect. Keep the game close until Duke tires from continuous full court pressure. Add in the fatigue from Duke’s own defensive effort and it amounts to 35 minutes of great basketball – problem for Duke was the game lasted 40 minutes. Great coaching.

Gerald Henderson – some absolutely beautiful plays on both ends of the court – even his goaltending calls were sweet. I have a good feeling about this kid.

Jon Scheyer – brilliant game. Fatigue obviously got him so hopefully he’ll learn from this and borrow from J.J.’s workout regimen to ensure he has enough gas for a 50 minute game. Still, outstanding play from a freshman guard against one of the top five teams in the country.

Wes Miller – hard to see his stats on the sheet but he played hard-nosed defense when he was in there and really hurt Duke with his follow-up three and a couple free throws late in the game.

In the Middle Stuff – didn’t help but didn’t really hurt either

DeMarcus Nelson – can’t tell if he just isn’t the player he was in terms of explosiveness or not, but it looks to me that he doesn’t get to the rim with the ease that he did when he was healthy in the early part of last year. With the void left by Redick and Williams’ departures, I thought for sure he and McRoberts would be in a constant battle for those extra points available and I just don’t see it.

Reyshawn Terry – I can’t seem to get an interview out of my head where I heard him say that this was his last chance to show the NBA that he can play and so now when I watch him I wonder about his commitment to his team. For a senior he made some seriously boneheaded plays that could have hurt them if they didn’t have the kind of depth they do.

Bad Stuff – the kind of things that can kill a team

Tyler Hansbrough – what happened to this kid? Pre-season All-American, pre-season ACC Player of the Year? This is the third time this season that I’ve watched him disappear from the stat line. Tyler, Tyler, Tyler…you’ve got to do better than that if you guys have any hope against Ohio State or Florida.

Josh McRoberts – the charm of a point guard wrapped in a big man’s body has worn off for me. To me he looked a man without a country out there. Couldn’t make up his mind whether to post or face the basket. And then he bricks (badly bricks) critical free throws as Carolina is taking control AND his third and fourth fouls were just stupid on his part. His absence for extended periods cost Duke this game.

In the end, the proof was in the pudding though. I said it earlier and I’ll restate it here: this rivalry is in as good a shape as it’s ever been. I also predicted that each school would win on their enemies court (at least I think I predicted that – if not I’m predicting it now) so I’m sure that March 4th in Chapel Hill will be another monster.

Hopefully Scheyer and Co. are out running wind sprints to get in the kind of shape it’s going to take to play 40 hard minutes with Lawson and Co. Either way, I’ll be glued to my set again (same as I have been for the last 72 meetings between these programs).

My last advice is for both schools: be sure to remind Hansbrough and McRoberts that they are the BMOCs for their teams and suggest they show up next time. Imagine how good the game could with those two playing in it.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

College Basketball Super Bowl Eve (Part 1)


Patrick Kendall

Losses over the same weekend haven’t diminished the excitement for Duke and Carolina fans…in fact, it heightens the tension for a few important reasons:

a. Duke doesn’t want to lose two in a row at home and three in a row overall.
b. Duke doesn’t want to fall to 5-5 in the conference after climbing back from an 0-2 start.
c. Carolina doesn’t want to lose two in a row.
d. A loss for Carolina puts them in jeopardy of losing a number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

So there we have the incentive for tomorrow night’s slugfest. Let’s drill down to the five Key Points for each team I’ll start with UNC.

Key Points

1 UNC must be able to run the ball, get out into transition, and take advantage of their better depth and quickness in order to wear Duke down in the second half.
2 Hansbrough and Wright have to be effective down low.
3 Either Reyshawn Terry or Wayne Ellington has to be effective on the perimeter so that the middle opens up.
4 Ty Lawson has to be a factor offensively, including both scoring and assists while keeping turnovers to a minimum.
5 UNC can’t be out rebounded like they were in their ACC losses because it negates their ability to run.

For Duke it is even tougher because they don’t have some of the personnel luxuries that UNC enjoys.

1. Duke has to control the tempo. The score must be in the 60s, and Duke should really try to be on the high side of the score this time.
2. Paulus has to be able to control (somewhat anyway) Ty Lawson. Better to have him shoot from the perimeter than get to the rim.
3. Jon Scheyer needs to be effective from the three-point line, otherwise Duke is finished. No one else brings consistent long range shooting to the lineup.
4. DeMarcus Nelson and Gerald Henderson must attack the rim and get out in transition in order to get easy points or get to the free throw line – then they have to convert those opportunities into points.
5. McRoberts has to insert himself into the offense from the outset and establish some consistent flow. He needs to score against UNC because he presents a unique match up problem that can be exploited.

If either team is able to achieve these respective Key Points, then they will be in a good position to come away with the win.

In terms of who needs the win more at this point I think it’s a push because there are ramifications for whoever loses. My first instinct is to say that Duke needs the win more at this point simply because they haven’t lost three in a row in seven years and they still have to face Maryland on Sunday. But then I look at Carolina’s side and a second loss in a row knocks them from even a tie for first place in the conference and begins to move them away from a number 1 seed in the Tournament so there is plenty of motivation for them as well

The plain facts are these: Duke and Carolina have played against one another since 1920. Recently, Duke has won 16 of the last 20 games in the series for the last 122 meetings at least one school has been ranked in the AP Top 20 or AP Top 25. Carolina beat them last season at Cameron on Senior Night and celebrated like it was a National Championship.

Both schools boast ridiculously impressive stats. They are two of the five best basketball programs in college history. The programs hate one another. The schools are entirely too close for anything other animosity and even the winner of these games gets state bragging rights for an entire year.

Forget the NBA and their slogan.


I love THIS game.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Carolina Rule


Patrick Kendall

First of all, I have to admit up front that I didn’t watch the entire game last night and here is why: blow outs are boring.

This, I believe, is the curse that will fall upon the ‘Heels as they continue to build momentum and dominate conference teams the way Twinkies dominate a fat man’s food obsession.

I mean, who cares about the second half of a blowout if it’s just more of the same from the first half, only the other team is more tired and beat down? And it’s not Carolina’s “fault” per se, but maybe they could toy with teams a little more, then run them out in the final 37 seconds. Then at least their could be some “pretend” tension.

My college roommate and I used to go the courts and find people who looked like decent players and challenge them. We would try to figure out their strengths, then dominate their weaknesses. Sometimes we would only shoot from the three point line; or we could only drive to our lefts (I promise we are both right-handed); or my roommate could only go in for a layup and score if he could dunk it (he was a pretty good jumper for a six foot white boy – I, on the other hand, jumped…lower).

The point is we played like arrogant jerks and it infuriated the other guys we played against but it DID make them play harder (not better, but harder). So, if Carolina adopted a little more of that kind of personality it might be more entertaining for fans and viewers in the latter parts of the game. Granted they will be hated and reviled for this kind of behavior but so what? They are the most talented team in the country (no apologies to Mr. Noway down in FLA), what do they care what people think of them?

The only cog in my design comes in the form of their coach, Mr. Roy Boy Williams. I suspect that he is some kind of “gentleman” of the sport, who doesn’t want to engage in this kind of behavior but I think he’s being short-sighted. This isn’t just about winning. It’s about putting out a product that people will enjoy.

You all remember “New” Coke, right? Well, this is the same principle (stay with me as I really sttrrreetttccchhh for this analogy…), but if Coke had continued to make a product that nobody cared about, wouldn’t the business world at large have considered that to be a “wrong” move? I think so. So why wouldn’t it hold true for Carolina Basketball? They are in the business of producing basketball for their fans and if the fans are bored with the product then Carolina Basketball should necessarily change it.

I should also point out that the fan I’m speaking about is the TV viewing fan at home and not the rabid UNC fans who frequent websites and boisterously reply to blogs and editorials. And my suggestion is simply made from the perspective of “entertainment.” No matter who you are, a rout is a bore. Advertisers hate them; commentators hate them; and the losing coach certainly hates them. It’s just a bad business all around. The only people who really like them are the scrubs on the winning team who finally get to show their faces during game time (for the scrubs on the losing team, it’s just embarrassing so it’s really bad for them as well).

So, I suggest that we petition the ACC to adopt a new “no routing” rule that plainly states a team must compete “less hard” when up by more than fifteen points so that the lead never builds over nineteen. The rule should also require the leading team to allow for a final frenetic “come back” to within one basket (a free throw, two-pointer, OR three-pointer) that creates a false sense of hope (ergo, increased tension and drama), before the winning team can reassert its dominance.

With respect to the dominant team of the moment (UNC) we could call the Carolina Rule (see how accommodating I am even as a Blue Heel? You won’t find that everywhere, believe you me).

In conclusion let me wrap this up by simply stating this is an attempt on my part to find new ways to market dominance and fight boredom at the same time. My belief is that rivalries are almost always more enjoyable when both teams are involved and my fear is that UNC is forgetting that. They seem content to decimate the opposition with little or no regard for the traditions and history of the rivalry.

Fact is, they’re being selfish and I don’t think we should have to stand for it. They need to be stopped and if the other teams in the conference aren’t able to do it, then they need to do it to themselves.

Carolina Rule rules!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

An Ending Worthy of a Duke (Blue Devil That Is…)


Patrick Kendall

Coach K is the King of Duke and during his reign he has had some of the greatest warriors in college basketball fighting for him on the court. This year was NOT supposed to be one of those years. But something strange and wonderful has happened in the land of Kryzewskiville: the emergence of a surprise freshman stud shooter (sound familiar?) is turning this season into one of Coach K’s finest coaching jobs ever, capped off beautifully by Thursday’s win over Clemson. Let me put it into some perspective for you.

The ending to the Duke/Clemson game Thursday night was the best ending to a basketball game this season and here’s why: the play relied on said freshman moving past pressure on the inbounds, going to half-court, finding the open man streaking to the foul line and then making a perfect pass resulting in a tricky front-rim game winning shot as time expired (and never mind the shot clock because Duke had nothing to do with that).

Yessir, the best finish to a game all year orchestrated by the most important freshman in the ACC.

(Insert UNC groaning, whining and/or having a stroke here…go ahead…I’ll wait)

For Duke it did two important things in my mind: 1) it kept them in second place in the ACC, and 2) it validated Duke’s ranking becauseit was a big home win that many (including Bob the Terp at work) thought would be a sure loss.

More importantly, it showed off all the talents of Jon Scheyer and left me wondering if maybe he isn’t better than Redick (at this stage).

(Insert gasps from Duke fans this time here…once again…I’ll wait)

How can say such things, you ask?

Consider this: at this point in both their careers Redick was averaging 15 a game while Scheyer is averaging 12.5 (though his average is higher in ACC play and he is playing 3 fewer minutes a game), but Scheyer has already shown that he can run the point adequately, and I submit that so far he is a better on ball defender and passer at this stage. Plus, he is slightly taller than J.J., which presents nice match up problems as teams pay more attention to him.

Keep in mind, Redick was the first or second option on his Duke team from the get go, while Scheyer was considered a third option AT BEST, and that only if Paulus did not score while running the point. Some might argue (I certainly that Scheyer is the reason that Paulus is not scoring as much as anticipated.

Now we’ve seen that Scheyer can make a winning pass as well as hitting a big three (at the half and near the end of the game – something Paulus did as well) in the midst of an uncharacteristically bad shooting night to keep momentum from shifting.

But, better than Redick?

Not a better shooter, but maybe a better player anyway, especially if you take a quick look at stats across the board. Scheyer is averaging more rebounds and assists at this point, while his three point shooting average is respectable (38% but higher in ACC play) and he is an 86% free throw shooter so he compares favorably to Redick in those categories as well. My point? We’ve got someone to watch for the next three and a half years…that’s great news.

But just so Anyone (if Anyone is even still out there) doesn’t accuse me of bias, let me go on to say that for as good as Josh McRoberts played on the offensive end his inbound passing and passing out of the press as the game got tight nearly cost Duke a victory. McRoberts has got to learn how to keep his composure if he insists on being an integral part of the ball-handing for Duke as the season progresses. So, let me state that while I’m a fan of the idea of a ball-handling and passing big man, I’m a much bigger fan of an EFFECTIVE ball-handling and passing big man.


Though the schedule doesn’t get any easier this week, I now know that Duke is in good hands while Scheyer is on watch. Frankly, with McRoberts reluctant (or unable) to dominate games night in and night out, I’m making the prediction that this will BE Scheyer’s team by the time we’re done with Duke Basketball 06-07.

So I’m left to retract my statement that Scheyer is too young to lead this team. He is as tough a competitor as Coach K has had (as far as I can see anyway), which is saying something considering the long history Duke has had with outstanding freshmen talent.

And better yet, if his work ethic is anything like Redick’s was, I think we can look forward to many more endings, which will definitely make the King happy.

The ‘Heels are the Scariest Team in America


Patrick Kendall

Anytime you can go into someone else’s home, a recent National Champion with a long legacy of success no less, coached by a Hall of Famer known for putting tough teams together on the floor, and hang the worst home loss in that Hall of Fame Coach’s career on that squad, then you are scary. Add in the fact that your second best player is not playing and now you have the stuff of nightmares – at least for every other team in the country.

Finally, we got to see the kind of Carolina team that people have been dreaming about since this recruiting class got to Chapel Hill and the future never looked better.

I hope that Joe Kim Noway and his boys down at Florida were watching this debacle I can almost hear the puckering now, followed by Billy Donovan being forced to take out his tape measure and do the Gene Hackman scene from ‘Hoosiers,’ “Ten feet. Same as back home…”

That’s the way it plays out in MY head.

Best of all, I got to see what the team will look like when Ty Lawson decides to run it like a point guard with the ability to get into the lane, score, or dish. Nice to see you, Mr. Lawson, I’ve heard a lot about you.

The problem with constantly gushing about UNC is that it is so easy. They’re deep. They’re fast. They’re strong. They have a great coach. (About the only thing they can’t do is pass Duke’s entrance exams and be called true student-athletes.)

So, how to find new angle on an old theme?

My answer? Let’s do a version of Trading Spouses (we’ll call it Trading Arm Chair Coaches)

Today’s player is Clint, one of the many fans who comments on my editorials.

*I do not know Clint so any similarities between my Clint and the one who responds to these articles is purely coincidental.

Here we go.

Fade In:

Int: Dean Dome

Where we watch as the UNC Tarheels take the court against the Arizona Wildcats. Coach Lute Olson sits with perfect white hair and a smart suit – epitome of class. On the other bench sits Clint, unshaven and wearing a badly stained Hooters sweatshirt. He sits with his hand in his pants (think Al Bundy). We see Lute walk over.

Lute Olson

Good luck, Coach.

He sticks his hand out. Coach Clint spits in his hand, then wipes his nose across his nasty sleeve.


Go f*ck yourself, you white-haired geezer.

Lute performs a perfect spinning back-fist that leaves Coach Clint with a “shiner” before tip-off. In the stands, the UNC AD rolls his eyes.


(to himself)


We are invited into the pre-game huddle and hear Coach Clint’s words of motivation.


These f*cknuts think they can play

basketball. Go out and rip their heads

off and sh*t down their necks!

The players stare at one another. Tyler Hansbrough clears his throat.


Uh, Coach? What kind of plays should

we run?

Coach Clint breaks his clipboard over Hansbrough’s head then benches his star for the game.


Anyone else feel like coaching?

All heads shake with fear and confusion. The game finally starts. Unfortunately, the Tar Heels, although the deepest and most talented team in the country, only know how to run a high school Flex offense, which ‘Zona shreds defensively, holding the ‘Heels to 9 points for the half, while running off 82 of their own.

During halftime, Coach Clint suspends all of his scholarship players and promotes the team manager, mascot and three of the male cheerleaders to the starting lineup. What follows is the most lopsided loss in the history of Division I basketball (or any division for the matter – the Globetrotters never won THIS big). Final score: 210 – 16. Coach Clint is fired immediately following the game. As he leaves the building he strikes a fan then starts a fight with the security personnel.

After watching the horror from his home in Kansas, Roy Williams makes a phone call then announces the next day that he will be the new head coach of the Tar Heels. They go on to win 19 straight before losing in Cameron. Ultimately they win the National Title and Coach Clint’s tenure as coach is stricken from all UNC records.

Clint serves 18 months in a minimum security facility, then takes a job at the University of Kentucky as their new head coach upon his release. He refuses to trade in his Hooters sweatshirt.

Fade to black.

Next week we’ll examine the coaching “strategies” of ChrisCreech.

In the meantime, rest, relax, and drink in the fact that this UNC team is playing like a team intent on reaching Atlanta, then taking that poor city in its Mansbrough-sized hand and throttling it into submission until it has no choice but to hand over the Championship trophy.

I predict that Mansbrough will be drinking his victory champagne from the severed head of Joe Kim Noway, even while his body continues to thump itself stupid as the cameras continue to roll.

That’s the way I see it anyway.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Duke-Carolina Secret


Patrick Kendall

Psst. I have a secret. Come closer. A little closer.

But before I blurt it out and start a cataclysm of comments and insults, let me first say how much I have enjoyed our time together. Any fan knows that misery AND jubilation are best enjoyed in like company so riding along with other Duke fans and UNC fans as the first half of this basketball season winds down (schedule-wise; not yet conference-wise) has been sweet. Even the mumbled, garbled rants of the loonies have made for some memorable sport and I intend to write for the duration of the regular season and throughout the Tourney as well so I hope you’ll all come along.

But now, on to the dark, terrible secret that will expose me as the worst kind of basketball hypocrite. Drum roll please.


Hmm, hmm…I graduated from Virginia Tech.


Sigh again.

Yep. It’s true. I’m a Hokie. I even tried out for, and made (briefly) the team at one point, though the ACC was a long way from Blacksburg then (metaphorically speaking of course; geographically, it was right down the road in Charlottesville, but I digress.)

But before the eye rolls, groans, and “I knew its!” start flying, let me state that I am no FAN of the Virginia Tech program. I have nothing against them either, but I have a difficult time thinking of them as an ACC program because of my own personal experience. I still think of them as a Metro Conference laffer that Southern Miss, Louisville, Memphis and Cincinnati (to name a few) all had their way with. Back then, we were as sure a thing (in terms of beating) as a paid off hooker on Prom night.

So, I am not one of THOSE Hokies (along with Bob the Terp here at the office, I also work with Megan the Hokie – she IS one of those). Anyway, that’s not the worst of it

The true secret is this:

I am a Blue Heel.

Now for those of you who don’t know what a Blue Heel is (and at this point I won’t insult your intelligence other than to explain EXACTLY what one is) let me enlighten you.

A Blue Heel is a fan of 1) Duke and 2) UNC. Here is the only way you can be a Blue Heel:

You can’t live in now or have ever lived in the state of North Carolina.
You can’t have attended either Duke or UNC for ANY academic or athletic purpose.
You must live in presently, or have lived in during your formative years, ACC basketball territory (i.e. Virginia, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Maryland, and now Massachusetts).
You can have no direct relationship (immediate or extended family out to the second generation) to any current or past (or even future) attendee of either school.
You must always be loyal to Duke over Carolina, to include unseemly conduct such as spitting at your UNC friend who you may have just drank beer with three days before while watching the ‘Heels beat some other ACC opponent.

If you meet all five of these criteria, then you can be a proud member of a small but powerful lobby of fans that by virtue of their very existence confounds the normal Duke and Carolina fan but in many ways represents the highest evolution of either. Think about that for a moment.

I should also mention (though I have to do it in a whisper otherwise I call down an ancient curse upon myself, my family, my children, my children’s children – well, you get the idea) that there also exists a bastardized version of the elegant Blue Heels.

They are a raucous, uncouth, uncivilized species that stands in stark blue contrast to Basketball Nature itself.

They are called Tar Devils.

And for the life of me, I cannot understand how they live with themselves.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Live from Chapel Hill, It's the Heels!


Patrick Kendall

One of the great ironies of life is what gets taken for granted. Take college basketball games for instance. Now I had not been on a college campus to watch a basketball game (the ’05 ACC tourney at the Verizon Center doesn’t count) in fifteen years. Well, Saturday my buddy and I made a road trip to Chapel Hill to see Carolina beat up on Georgia Tech. I’m hoping he’ll post some pics because no matter what you think about UNC you can’t help but be impressed by the sight of an ENTIRE coliseum full of people dressed in Carolina Blue. I had never been to the Dean Dome so for me it was a lot like entering one of the world’s great churches (the House that Dean Built is very apropos).

Another thing that struck me as we watched the game – not a particularly pretty one but I’ll get back to that in a minute – was how tough Mansbrough is in the paint. I have never seen a college ball player as targeted down low as this kid. I thought people were applauding him each time he went up for a shot but it turned out it was Georgia Tech hacking him with all twelve players and a couple assistants off the bench.

And to look around the crowd and see people from four different generations enjoying the same event was amazing; for good or ill, there just aren’t many things that grandparents, parents and children can all enjoy equally. No offense to Disney on Ice but regardless of what the commercials say, it’s just not an equal distribution of enjoyment. I was stunned by the number of people my parents’ age or older that were dressed to the nines and making an evening of it. Of course that number was offset by a greater number of badly dressed college students.

Now back to the game for a moment. I think what worries me most about Carolina is that they have the firepower to win big in spite of playing a fairly ugly game. Even Reyshawn Terry, who had a great game overall, made some boneheaded decisions offensively in terms of shot selection that in a different ballgame would have been the difference between winning and losing. Of course that’s being awfully picky so I won’t stick on that point. All I’m saying is that UNC can still rout a team in spite of itself.

Still, I was NOT blown away by Ty Lawson. He IS fast though. Funny thing is that I can think clearly about Terry’s game, which was very good; Wright’s game, which was pretty average for him; and Mansbrough’s game, which was exceptional considering his foul-shooting percentage based on the number of times he went to the line. I remember clearly that Wes Miller came in and gave “energy” minutes and even drained a nice three pointer and I did remark that Ellington continues to struggle with his shot but is very smooth on the break, but for the life of me, I can’t remember thinking one thing about Lawson other than, “Wow, he is fast.”

I looked at his box score and saw that he had seven points, four assists, and four turnovers. A one-to-one assists/turnovers ratio is unacceptable for the floor leader of the second highest scoring team in the nation. I hate to say it (but I must); but Duke scored more points than Carolina did this weekend, which, given the difference in overall talent between the two, is more of an indictment against UNC’s offense than it is praise for Duke’s.

All that aside, UNC is still the power in this year’s ACC because they are the only team in the conference (one of the few in the country) that can beat you with more than three different weapons and so they remain the toughest team to prepare for given their firepower. Oh, and they don’t get tired either. That helps too.

My final complaint is that I am not sure that they know how to play with real “fire.” The gauge that I use is that damn Florida team. Much as I hate watching that snarling, string bean with a ponytail, there is no denying that he is THE catalyst for firing up that team and I worry that that trait is a difference maker in a big game (see their domination of Ohio State for evidence). I don’t see anyone on UNC with that level of passion on the court and I think they are going to need that if they plan on taking the Championship from that big, lanky goofball of a Gator.

My final compliment is to the Dean Dome itself. I have watched Carolina basketball since James Worthy was a sophomore so I have seen my fair share of Carolina “greats” go through in that time. Stepping into the House that Dean Built was a religious experience, the equivalent of arriving at Mecca for an ACC basketball fan. The Dean Dome is one of THE great venues for college basketball and if you have never been and get the chance to go, I highly recommend taking the opportunity because the atmosphere alone is more than worth the price of admission (which in my case was face value of the ticket, so it was all the sweeter).

On my list of basketball “things to do” before I die it ranks second just ahead of going to a Final Four (which I will also scratch off this year when I arrive in Atlanta).

But seeing a game inside Cameron still ranks number one for me.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Duke is Back in the Picture


Patrick Kendall


This is much better. Comfortable wins, stifling defense, and a controlled game pace. Staples of Duke Basketball. A couple things happened last night that I think may have helped turn the tide of Duke’s fortune in the ACC, which SHOULD spell (nothing definite of course) frustrating trouble for some “other” schools in the conference.

First of all, Duke finally beat a team with a legitimate low post threat (Kyle Visser) and a speedy guard running the point (Ishmael Smith). Having said that, Wake Forest is not a threatening team this season – any other time, this would have been an expected win, but for those of hitched to Duke’s wagon, we know that expectations are fragile creatures that can be easily dashed and so nothing can be taken for granted.

Secondly, I was comfortable enough to switch away from the game to watch Smallville (I always hope for Lois in a bikini but it was another week of disappointment from that standpoint) without fearing that the lead would dwindle away when I turned back (I’d use the PIP feature, but I also fear that Lois will be directly behind the PIP box and I’ll miss said bikini shot).

I know UNC fans (yeah, the mouthy ones who respond to my editorials – you know who you are) will decry the victory as nothing more than a mediocre team beating a bad one, and that may prove to be the truth, but Duke is not yet a mediocre team by strict definition of it’s conference record so we’ll stay tuned.

By the way, I’ll be in Chapel Hill to watch UNC pummel Georgia Tech (fingers crossed – it’s a long drive for disappointment).

[This statement is a paid endorsement for the UNC program made possible by the pleadings of my friend/editor who is a UNC fan but can’t write for himself]

So if any of you are there as well, come and see me. I’ll be easy to find – I’ll have on a UNC shirt and baseball cap (but I’ll be wearing my Duke underwear – though not on the outside, sorry).

So, while it’s still too soon (maybe all season will be too soon) to say that Coach K has righted the ship, I will say that at least Paulus seems to gotten the message that he needs to perform on the court rather than just show up. Funny thing though, whenever I read McRoberts’ stat line, I think his numbers are more in line with a point guards and then I wonder, “Why not make him the point guard?”

That way Zoubek could get more PT in the post; Paulus could back McRoberts up; Nelson and Henderson could play the wings and McClure could round out a nice four-guard attack with Lance Thomas the first guy off the bench to help in the paint. And wouldn’t McRoberts be a match up headache as Duke’s PG?

With NC State, Clemson, BC, UVA, Florida State, North Carolina and Maryland coming up next, the only “sure thing” I can be sure of is that Duke will NOT go undefeated during that stretch – it’s even conceivable that they will actually go DEFEATED in that stretch.

That said, I’ll finish with a statement that sums up my feelings adequately and accurately about the current Duke program.

I believe they will win nearly every time they score more than their opponent.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tarheels Fall Flat Against Hokies; Duke Rolls Over Miami

Tarheels Fall Flat Against Hokies; Duke Rolls Over Miami


Patrick Kendall

So, after calling Duke out for two atrocious games, they put together a nice road win against a Miami team fresh from its own road win over Maryland. Duke shot over 60% from the floor, scored over 80 points for the game and hit consistently from the free throw line. They also held onto the ball in the second half and never led by less than 10 for the last 25 minutes of the game. They reminded me of a Duke team I once knew and it was nice to see the effort. I'll withhold judgment on their resurgence until after I'm sure that they are resurging.

Also, Greg Paulus showed up IN UNIFORM. Welcome back, Greg. You were missed my friend, missed. And I might have to rethink my assessment of Jon Scheyer leading the team in scoring given how he lit it up on Sunday. If he continues to play with that kind of confidence it's easy to imagine him becoming Duke's best overall threat. But he is still a freshman, and I still think that leaves them vulnerable as conference play continues and tournaments loom. But, as a half-full kind of guy, I'll take the win on the road (coupled with MD's loss last night – Bob from work is going to have a LONG day today—I can tell you that).

Now, let's move on the shortest #1 stint in the history of UNC basketball.

This is a test. There is only ONE right answer and no room for essay responses. Take your time, relax, and good luck.

Okay, one of two things is true regarding the 'Heels/Hokies' game this weekend:

The Hokies are the best team in the ACC
Carolina looked right over Tech and got blindsided

If you take the position that Virginia Tech is the better team then one of the following is also true:

You're an idiot
You went to Virginia Tech

If you knew going into the game that Tech would lead by 20 with 6 minutes to go you are either:

a genius
a point-shaver

If you believed, before the start of the game, that the better guard play would come from guys wearing blood colored uniforms with pumpkin colored accents then:

You're an idiot
You went to Virginia Tech

But sadly, Virginia Tech outplayed UNC at every position. They outran UNC in transition; they out-hustled them on the important plays; they played with more energy for the bulk of the game; and basically, after UNC let Tech storm back in the first half and take a lead into halftime, the game looked over from my vantage point (in front of an HD screen – not a bad seat all things considered).

Actually the game has made me rethink my assessment about Carolina as a championship-caliber team. Champions win with heart. Carolina showed none. For that I blame Roy Boy Williams. His JOB is make sure his team is prepared and the 'Heels weren't. They came out and played for about five minutes before they decided that it wasn't worth their time. For their trouble they nearly got blown out of the building.

Then, for another five minutes they come back to the court, made the score respectable, then ultimately lost – and make no mistake, they lost like losers no matter what the score was, not winners. Winners play for an entire game; they don't turn it on and off the way the 'Heels did.

I get it; it's one game, but talk about lousy timing. They barely had the #1 ranking long enough to hold it above their heads and show it off before a team with the ugliest colors in the conference streaks past and rips the ranking from their hands and gives it directly to the chest thumping, long haired girl of a guy from Florida who I despise – so thanks 'Heels for THAT as well!

Carolina has no true point guard – Ty Lawson is a great talent, but I don't know if I believe he is a great basketball player. Not to put too much of a fine point on it, but Greg Paulus led the ACC in assists last year with only TWO true weapons at his disposal. Lawson has 16 weapons to use and that doesn't include the team manager who once erupted for 27 in a Team Manager/Janitorial Staff game in the Dean Dome in the off season.

What I'm saying is that as long as he is struggling to run the team, the team is OBVIOUSLY vulnerable. Now they have to go and play Clemson, a team with a huge chip on its shoulder after losing for the first time this season. This should at least show me what kind of heart UNC has inside of it.

My fear is that Carolina may be one of those disappointing teams that is described as having "all the talent" and "tremendous potential," but disappears into obscurity simply because history is replete with teams that "should have done more" but didn't.

Remember the Fab Five? No? I didn't think so.

They had all the talent and tremendous potential and should have done more but that was it. Hopefully UNC wants something more.