TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XI, Episode 8
December 1, 2007
#7 DUKE (7-0, 0-0) v. DAVIDSON (3-2, 1-0 Southern South)
Fun story of the day: the Official Syracuse Guy in my office came to see me and we talked some sports. Thereís at least one Syracuse Guy working in every medium-sized to large business in the Northeast, but this cat is really terrific, a genuinely nice person, and he knows a heck of a lot about sports. Two amusing anecdotes from our discussion. First, there was apparently a thread the other night on the primary unofficial Syrexcuse message board (Iím not sure what site he was referring to, which sort of leads me into my point) in which the topic was . . . brace yourselves! . . . what a shill for Duke Dick Vitale is. I gave my buddy some tips on helping the BBS in question extract itself from that nettlesome time warp itís trapped in; it must be hell discussing topics that everyone else beat to death about seven or eight years ago. Hopefully heíll pass on my warp-dissolution tips and they can move on to more current matters. I also told him that there was no thread this week on TDD BBS examining why the Orange was losing at the Carrier Dome to UMass in an Association-like 107-100 contest. I didnít know a 2-3 zone could actually surrender that many points, quite frankly, but anyway.
Second, and of perhaps more interest, he told me that his UNC-CH friends (of which he has several) have been e-mailing him concerning the weakness of Dukeís schedule relative to that of their own little unit. Now, there is at least one piece of merit to their complaints, which is that the Twinks are playing four true OOC road games this season and Duke is (of course) playing none. Point taken, anonymous Tool fan(s)! Well put. However - - you didnít pick the venue for the Ohio State game; Gardner-Webb on line two for you to explain how difficult Rupp is to conquer this season; and the other two true road games are at the Palestra and the RAC. Iíve been to both, and the RAC, in particular, is quite a hostile environment - - but leave us not make much more out of this group of four games than they deserve. We are, after all, reasonable people. And now, departing the realm of the slightly plausible point these AnonyTools might have made and moving on to the evident gravamen of their comments: if youíre e-mailing a friend who went to Syracuse about college basketball on November 30, is there some reason why you need to be defending your schedule and attacking Dukeís? Tee hee. A little sensitive on this point, are we, Tool Nation? Well, I guess playing Ohio State probably lifted the Twinksí SOS number above the Mendoza line (or did it - - yes!!!!!!!! A titanic 137 according to Ken Pomeroyís RPI estimate, and all the way up to 95 in Kenís own rankings, both well below Dukeís standing at 88 and 67, respectively), but, um, your schedule sort of blows, chums. And if youíre desperately trying to get your Syracuse friends to agree with you, and assault a team that has beaten Illinois, Wisconsin and Marquette, all pretty convincingly, then Iím guessing that you probably know that. Ah, good times. I hope you can survive that game against Penn. Yikes!
In an unrelated story, canít wait for February 6 in the DumpDome to find out how the Tools and Duke stack up this season? No problem, as the Davidson Wildcats are only too happy to offer up a ready comparison. Dave & Son have even done their best to equalize all variables: the games are occurring only seventeen days apart, and theyíre both being held in the glittering new environment of Charlotte Bobcats Arena, which, in an amazing development involving any piece of significant architecture located in the Mecklenburg County seat, is not named for a bank or some derivative shill organization. Of course, any game in Charlotte is a home game for the Soiled Pedestrians, and for Duke, not so much - - but close enough on the comparison. Overrated UNC struggled with the Wildcats, winning 72-68 by building a margin in the last two minutes or so with some slightly questionable, starry-eyed officiating. In the interim, Davidson de-solidified its cred by dropping one at Western Michigan, 83-76. And now, here comes Duke. Will Davidson rise up and offer a challenge?
Thereís little doubt that the presence of 6-2 sophomore Stephen Curry alone means that McKillop has more talent than ever at his disposal. Intent on illustrating this premise, Little Dell tallied 38 of his squadís 71 points (53.5% of the scoring output if you donít have a calculator handy) against App State in an intriguing sort of matchup - - a November league game. Hmmmm. Iím visualizing a movie scene here, where some ACC minion stumbles into Swoffordís office, bruised and bloodied from an encounter with a mob of harrowing antagonists and/or Maryland, College Park fans, while Dr. Jellydonut slowly puts down his meal to call for medical assistance. Haltingly, the hireling gasps, ďI have it, Fat Man - - the secret formula . . . it . . . can be . . . done - - with games . . . in . . . NOVEMBER.Ē And then the poor guy lapses into unconsciousness, but is later saved and goes to work for the Atlantic 14. And actually, more games in December to get closer to a round-robin would be fine too.
Oh - - Curry. Sorry. Yeah, heís good, but donít you think DeMarcus Nelson is probably going to guard him slightly more intensely than anyone from App State, UNC-CH, or any other North Carolina-based directional school did? 9-16 on three-pointers (his App State numbers) against Duke? Iím going to have to see that to believe it. And if Curry does get held to, say, 18 points or so, then the rest of the Wildcats are going to have to step up, which they decidedly did not against the Mountaineers - - 6-2 senior point guard Jason Richards tallied 2 points on 1-9 of shooting, and NYPD Blue and Saved by the Bell star Max Paulhus Gosselin, a 6-6 junior, pitched a 24-minute shutout. The frontcourt, consisting of 6-8 seniors Boris Meno and Thomas Sander, had 23 points combined, and the bench chipped in eight. The game *was* at the Holmes Center in Boone - - remember UNC-CH traveling there a few seasons ago? Everyone should immediately e-mail their Syracuse friends about that. Still, Iím not overwhelmed. Davidson made it to the line twice against the ĎNeers (Curry 1-2), and neither their defense nor their ballhandling has been particularly fearsome. The crowd will probably be a mixed bag.
I donít know. I like Davidson quite a bit, but . . . well, Duke just absolutely dismantled Wisconsin, and that was a Big Ten team with, at least on paper, a ridiculous size advantage over the Blue Devils. (I told you Bo Ryan wouldnít exploit that! Hey, I have to trumpet my blind-squirrel-nut-finding abilities, although it should be noted that no one is better at nut-finding than Rick Majerus.) Maybe Curry will go off, and some of the lesser lights will leverage some seam in Dukeís defense to seize control of the game, but I am really having trouble seeing how. As commentators around the country are starting to realize, this is perhaps Dukeís best team, relative to the national competition, since 2001. Paulus, Scheyer, and King bombing from the outside, the defense and athleticism of Nelson and Henderson, and the all-around brilliance of Kyle Singler, combined with great support from Nolan and Zoubek, and yea verily even Lance Thomas if he gets going (which, against a small Davidson team, he very well could) - - it just seems like far too much for the Wildcats, who need a secondary threat to complement Curry. Anything can happen, particularly since Duke is unfamiliar with Bobcats Arena, but I think this is win #8. If Davidson keeps it close, perhaps Iím underrating them, or overrating Duke, but it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of blowing Bucky out of Cameron.
As a final note, I see that The Sports Guy wrote a "letter to himself" explaining something about the NFLís blackout rules. I countered by writing a letter to myself telling The Sports Guy that if the Patriots can be made to look silly, old, and slow by A.J. Feeley (sorry, Donovan who?), then they probably arenít going to win the Super Bowl.
Davidson keeps it close early but loses handily as Duke continues a great run and goes to 8-0.
Duke 82, Davidson 68.
Duke 84, Davidson 65.