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.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mr. K's Neighborhood

Mr. K's Neighborhood


Patrick Kendall

After watching Duke fall to 0-2 to start their ACC season I was struck by two things initially:

Defense wins championships…in football; offense still rules in basketball.
Bob from work is going to be impossible if the Terps beat Miami.

Fortunately the Terps lost and remain 0-2 in the conference as well. That's MY silver lining.

I don't know what to say about Duke other than right now they are painful to watch on offense. I really am reminded of the 1995-96 team that was so bad. Obviously losses to two most likely mediocre teams does not bode well for Mr. K (he's been demoted temporarily because anyone can coach a team to losses – I could manage that – shoot, give me the clipboard and I'll show you how to tank for the rest of the season).

I know, I know, a true fan doesn't bail on his team during dark times and I'm not bailing, but as a fan of the GAME of basketball first, I must keep my true loyalty to the sport so I have to call people out.

First of all, coaching: Mr. K has got to run his offense through McRoberts in the LOW post the WHOLE game. McRoberts is the best offensive weapon on that team. Nelson needs to get back to slashing and finding opportunities to get to the rim and either dump it off TO McROBERTS, or draw the foul himself. He's the best athlete (maybe Henderson is better but how could you tell?) but seems content to swing the ball back and forth across the perimeter until a three point miss opportunity opens up.

And for the love of (basketball) god, Scheyer should NOT be leading the team in scoring during the regular season – yet! He is a solid complimentary player who stays within the scheme and does not know how to take over a ball game when they need it. In other words, he's no Redick – yet! I'll be happy to revisit my assessment in two more years to see where we stand.

Henderson needs the opportunity to slash with Nelson. Dunks, layups and mostly midrange jumpers should be their bag of tricks with an OCCASIONAL three point attempt to keep the defense honest.

Finally, what in the hell is going on with Paulus? Six points, three assists, three turnovers? And he is NOT leading the team in assists this season – McRoberts is! No offense to him (literally AND figuratively) but if Paulus is not going to score or run the offense and protect the ball, then what good is he?

Now I know this sounds harsh and I remember Hurley's freshmen year where he fell apart at various points and looked a big baby (especially when UNLV came a'callin') but at least he was a FRESHMAN. Paulus is a team captain. He led the ACC in assists last year. He has to STEP UP! When I look over the box score to last nights game, everyone on that squad appears to be a supporting player – no one knows how to grab hold of a game, throw it on the ground and step on its neck until it is no longer moving! (My dad was a pretty demanding coach, but look at me today as a result of that!)

Where is the grit! We need Laetner to come in and step on someone's chest. We need Battier to coolly come in and immediately draw 62 charges. We need Grant Hill to leap over someone, catch an alley oop with one hand and start the game off RIGHT! I remember reading a quote from Redick at the start of last season claiming that he had NEVER seen a better dunker than McRoberts. Well, the rest of us – the rest of the conference – need to see that.

When a team like Virginia Tech comes in and beats Duke at home in the ACC opener it sends a clear message: no fear.

When a freshman on a so-so club like Georgia Tech makes a statement saying "I wasn't gonna let us lose" about a Duke team, we have a problem. Fortunately I have the solution.

Next game, McRoberts needs to adopt a prison inmate mentality. Right after the jump ball he needs to go down, find the biggest guy on the other team and literally pull the guy's head from his shoulders then ferociously dunk that head through the basket so that it explodes when it hits the floor. Talk about sending a message. Believe me: fear will no longer be an issue.

He does that and I truly believe that Duke will be just fine.

And then Mr. K can have his Coach back.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

A Fan by Any Other Name

A Fan by Any Other Name
Okay kiddies, there seems to be some confusion over what a blog is and how it should be used. I was hoping to refrain from reacting to a specific comment about my blogs because my belief is that a blog should engender conversation – communication – even smack-talking. But FAIRNESS? Are you joking?
But in an effort to avoid name calling, I will henceforth and forever more – at least for the rest of this blog – refer to the specific person who sticks out in my mind (craw) as “Anyone.”
So, with that said, does Anyone know what FAN is short for? It’s short for FANATIC, which defines as someone “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion.” A blog, according to this same source, is “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.”
Now, I could be wrong, but nowhere in either of those two definitions does the term “fairness,” “partisanship,” or “unbiased” show up. For clarification, this site is dedicated to amateurs by amateurs. We aren’t paid for our work; we do it because we love college basketball: specifically Duke and UNC. And I don’t write articles, I write editorials, which my good friends at (for payment I get to add a new word to their site each time I mention their name) defines as “a newspaper or magazine article that gives the opinions of the editors or publishers; also: an expression of opinion that resembles such an article .”
By the way, I must take umbrage with a criticism of my unfair, partisan opinion (because as a “fan” I’m entitled to be this way – same as Anyone): can Anyone tell me where my facts have erred? Furthermore, since nothing specific was pointed to when criticizing me (I promise I will ALWAYS be specific about MY criticisms to avoid confusion), I will assume that these errors were leveled at UNC and not Duke.
And so Anyone doesn’t creep out of her, uh, um, I mean, THE woodwork again to call my facts into question for EITHER Duke or UNC, let me tell you that my argument for Duke’s tougher schedule is based on’s ranking of both RPI and SOS (Strength of Schedule), which Ranks Duke as Number 4 vs. UNC’s Number 6 when considering both. Now those aren’t numbers that just Anyone can make up. They are based on formulas and variables that only NASA scientists could understand (provided that they attended Duke).
So, back to the question of “fairness….”
(longer pause)
Sorry, I was still laughing about the idea of “fairness” regarding a website that calls itself And to make sure that Anyone can understand my idea of a rivalry I return to (another word for me – cha ching) for clarification:
Rivalry: the act of rivaling : the state of being a rival : COMPETITION.
I put my glasses on, looked really closely, and I still don’t see “fainess,” but I digress. Getting back on point, I think that it’s important to keep in mind that I never misled Anyone because I stated up front, and make no bones about the fact, that I am a Duke fan. But, because I like to poke, tickle, and generally irritate people by scratching in uncomfortable places I have also confessed to being a Carolina fan – when Duke is not playing them. I plan to write a blog defending THAT at a later date – but Anyone is invited to read it upon completion.
Okay, in conclusion, and in hopes of balancing this response more fairly, I now make the following declaration so as not to offend Anyone as we move forward with this site (read: rivalry).
UNC is the greatest school on the planet! (except for Duke).
Does Anyone notice how much bigger the font is for my statement about Carolina is than the one for Duke? Or how about the font type?
Believe me when I tell you that no other sentence in ANY of my blogs has been treated to that size font and I have never, EVER, in my life used Broadway as a font type – I swear.
But Anyone is invited to check my facts on that one as well. How is that for fair?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A Rivalry to Write Home About (UNC vs DUKE)

A Rivalry to Write Home About

For those of you just getting to know me (three blogs and growing), I have to confess that I (like many other fans) was a little nervous about what to expect from Duke Basketball 06 – 07. But rather than rehash why I felt this way I will instead focus on a small spark that I saw this weekend while watching Duke v. SJSU.
With a fourteen point lead in the first half and eight Duke players in the scorebook by that time (including Martynas Pocius, whom I affectionately refer to as Hocius Pocius for his ability to disappear from the stat sheet) Duke decided to take a little break from scoring while SJSU reeled off six straight and cut the lead to 34-26 by halftime.
A little more about me before I continue: I'm a glass half-full kind of guy so at this point in the game I chose to focus on the fact that Duke still held a lead and the Lithuanian Houdini – Pocius - had magically poured in four points. Of course, as soon as the game resumed SJSU went on a 7 – 2 run that cut the lead to three and had me pacing the room in a near glass half-empty malaise.
But here comes the spark I referred to: over the next three and half minutes McRoberts grabs an offensive board and gets fouled; hits one out of two. Duke clamps down on SJSU and gets the ball back; Jon Scheyer misses. Another stop by Duke and McRoberts steps out and nails a three pointer for a seven point lead and some breathing room. Then McRoberts rebounds on the next stop and fires it out to McClure who sails in for a layup. Two plays later Paulus hits a three and Duke leads by 12. At that point, even with 14 minutes to go, I could see that the game was over. So could SJSU.
Of course, SJSU is no UNC, but Dayton is no Duke either. So say what you want about Duke's schedule at this point, but when I peek at UNC's sched it is not so impressive itself on closer inspection. Consider the "marquee" games: a squeaker win over an Oden-less Ohio State team that was later DEMOLISHED by Florida WITH Oden; a nice bounce-back win over a surprising Tennessee team; an ugly win over an ugly Kentucky team that will be lucky to win eight games in its conference. And please, PLEASE, include Gonzaga in your really tough schedule (two games outside of the state of NC, both in NY, same place as Duke's out of state game – weird, huh?) argument – the same Gonzaga team that beat down the vaunted 'Heels and yet couldn't find the basket against the Blue Devils. Defense, anyone?
Now, before everyone in Powder Blue country gets in a huff over this, I'm not saying that Duke is the more talented team (they're not). What I'm getting at is that I saw something this weekend – eight guys scoring, none wilting – that suggests that Duke is not in the dire straits many of us feared, which leads me to believe that the rivalry between these two storied programs is more or less in tact and definitely gives me a reason to circle February 7 and March 4 on my "must see" basketball for another season.
I wrote in my last blog that I predict UNC will leave Atlanta this year as the NCAA champs and Roy Boy Williams will collect his second ring and I still believe that.
I just don't happen to think that UNC will leave Durham with a 'W,' which for us Duke fans will mark the '07 Champs season with an asterisk.
And given the youth of both squads, the future continues to look bright for this rivalry. Of course I believe that UNC fans will have to say goodbye to Tyler Hansbrough and Brandan Wright after this season, which tilts the balance back in Duke's favor for next season.
In the end, UNC may own the rest of the nation, but the battle for the state of North Carolina will be a split.
I think Duke fans can live with that…for now.