TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIII, Episode 15
January 9, 2010
BREAK OUT THE BUG SPRAY EDITION
Matt’s comments in blue.
duhomme's comments in red.
“bonus coverage” comments in violet.
#5 DUKE (13-1, 1-0) @ #20 GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (11-3, 0-1)
Thanks for joining us back here today, folks. We really appreciate having all the new readers who joined us after getting a look at some sort of piece of correspondence was nailed up on the front door on Wednesday night, and now, it’s back to business, so we hope you stay.
Unlike the Cylons of Iowa State-Chicago, today’s opponent needs no introduction. By all rights, I really should include two paragraphs of material concerning Connecticut and Georgetown, since we’re all going to be forced to miss about the first four minutes of Duke-GIT action while the conclusion of that game is prosecuted, but hey, who really worries about the little things? Plus, doing something like that would be a cheap stunt to which this site would never stoop.
When I was a Duke student three millennia ago, the Georgia Institute of Technology was a fun men’s basketball opponent for the Blue Devils. Twice yearly, no less! Bobby Cremins was a little dopey at times once the ball was tossed up, and didn’t seem to understand where he was or what he was doing half the time, but he knew how to sign excellent players from faraway lands, and understood enough to hand them the keys to the car and just get out of the way. Then Cremins got fired, and *then* the school put his name on the court, which is sort of like a large font-sized, permanent apology. SORRY WE SH*TCANNED YOU COURT. This is actually a common practice these days even when coaches depart under weird circumstances, and you’ll have to defer to me on this, because I’ve been to a bunch of arenas, folks. Here are some other examples:
Rutgers: KEVIN BANNON MADE PLAYERS PRACTICE NAKED COURT
Northwestern: KEVIN O’NEILL IS SUCH A TOOL COURT
Marquette: LOOK, HE WAS EVEN BIGGER DICK HERE, FELLAS COURT
Long Beach State: WE LAUNCHED THE CAREERS OF THREE SCUMBAGS COURT
Now, after last season’s 2-14 campaign by the Jerkets during ACC play, it looked like there was a very good possibility that we might see “Paul Hewitt Coaching Box on Cremins Court” painted on the floor of the Leakydome. But the power of blackmail or whatever is keeping Hewitt in his current position is strong with the Force (dark side, obviously), and here we are again, dealing with this clown. Just to stave off his eventual dismissal a bit longer, Saint Paul made things interesting in the offseason by landing a six-man recruiting class, somehow bribing Gani Lawal to get his name out of the clutches of NBA drafters, and just generally doing what he does, which is to bring in a certain level of talent and then promptly underachieve with it.
So far, so good. The Ramblin’ Drek is already armed with an uninspiring in-league home loss to Florida State, and has also dropped games to Dayton and, in their most recent outing, significantly subpar Georgia.
Before turning in depth to what Duke is facing on Saturday in snowy (??) Atlanta, let’s examine some of the macroeconomic factors that have been plaguing the 28-county metro area for years
GALINDO: Hi, Lowell Galindo in studio here folks, and now we take you out to a cloned cellphone being used for texting somewhere in Lawrence, Kansas. Jay and Hick with the prognostication. Hick?
TWO JAYHICKS PRICK THE BIG TEN FINGERS + TWO TOES
THINK IT’S 20-TEN NOW, NEED NEW DEAL WITH DAYS OF WEEK ON IT
Howdy, pardners! In tonight’s action, KU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! will be taking on Arkansas-Pine Bluff, coached by some guy. UAPeeBee (hee hee) has more than five mofos who try to put the ball in the basket. This is what Doc Naismith did NFK!! Me FTW! We invented this game, suckas!!!!! Oh wait we’re actually playing Tennessee my bad! But there just isn’t no answer for She-ron ron ron Collins and Coal Aldrich, and for my burger money, there gotta be some award to do right by Marcus Morris and MarkiEEEEff Morris, the bestiest pair of sophomores (spell check got that yeah boy thanks, Spell Check Guys!) in the Younited States with the same initials, last name, and Facebook status. Brady Morningstar for All-Conference, bro! Somebody in my dorm read (out loud!) an article to me today that says Brady is the most deficient player in the country, and that it sez that online so must be troo. Tight!
Hey wassup with these Volen - - Vahlun - - Vols?? Does that stand for volume, because turn it down!! Anyway I can’t hear you over the sound of you gettin’ arrested LOL.
We like to score and just have to score more than these guyz to win. Like we did when we played the chewing gum team Wends - - Weds - - tha other night! Tweetin’ it! Don’t get shot guys by these gangstas. Peace out homes!
Kansas We Rule 175, Penis-See 40 (40 guns in the car that is!!)
[seamless, smooth transition]
GALINDO: Lowell Galindo back with you in our studios in Bristol, and Jimmy Dykes, there was a lot to like about how Hick presented his material there.
DYKES: Well, I tell you what, Lowell, there really was, and no one could stop ‘eem! Right now Jay and Hick are the best pair of website bloggers in the country, hands down, no contest. And if Jay ever picks up his game, semen in practice, look out, and it’s another title. In Lawrence.
LAVIN: You know, Lowell, when I look at Jay and Hick, I see a couple of guys who really showed me something tonight. You can’t ask for much more than they did, and they gave 110% and really grabbed that brass ring and just took it away. And no one’s going to take it back. And when I’m in Lawrence I eat at the Red Lobster, which has some of the best crab dip in town.
DYKES: And it’s got a great place where he can grease up his hair!!
GALINDO: Okay, and if you were doing something else before this, folks, we will see if maybe you can resume that now. Unknown. Lowell Galindo here at ESPN HQ in Bristol.
[women’s basketball promo ending with “We promise to show it to you - - really!”]
[commercial for 21st Century Auto]
[eyedrops commercial featuring unfunny blowhard Ben Stein]
. . . and so it isn’t very surprising, given the bruising fight over renovations to the nation’s busiest airport, continuing battles over funding between the State of Georgia and city officials, the Michael Vick fiasco, and the fading memory of the Olympics, that Atlanta has suffered, economically, demographically, and in terms of civic morale in recent years. And it’s not like the BugThugs, who are utterly disconnected from and seem to have no common identity with the city in which they play, will change that.
Turning to the Ambercoats’ on-wood performance this season, it never ceases to amaze me how Hewitt - - who admittedly has not grappled with a tough slate of OOC fare this campaign - - spreads the minutes around. He’s the anti-Krzyzewski. Georgia Tech has nine players averaging in double figures in minutes, and two players just below. (It’s true that Duke has ten players posting double-digit minutes, but one of those is Olek Czyz, so we probably won’t count him, and another is Ryan Kelly, who is likely, and sadly, about to fall off the map in terms of that mpg figure, after either this game or the next.) Moreover - - Gani Lawal at 26.8 mpg? Derrick Favors clocking in at 26.1? Aren’t these guys supposed to play at the next level? Hewitt does this every year, and it’s fairly strange, because it often seems to prevent the Bees from getting into a rhythm on either side of the court.
In the last two games, Hewitt has changed this tendency, and suddenly, it’s a seven-man rotation, which has resulted in a nine-point win over Charlotte at Halton Arena and an embarrassing 73-66 loss to ridiculously downtrodden Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum. Nice true road games, but not so good with the results. Duke, as you’ll recall, showed Charlotte the Cameron exit with a 42-point beating back on November 17. The 49ers are the only opponent that Duke and GT have in common.
Right now, the BugThugs are alternating between 2F-3G and 3F-2G starting configurations, probably based on Hewitt’s horoscope, as there is no other readily discernible reason for the switches. Up front, 6-9 junior Gani Lawal and 6-10 freshman Derrick Favors make a pretty good tandem on paper, but while Lawal has been very good (15.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 55.5% FG, 69.9% FT, 1.67 PPS), closely replicating his numbers from last season, Favors (12.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.2 ppg, 2.9 pfpg, 58.3% FG, 69.9% FT, 1.47 PPS) has probably been something of a disappointment to everyone expecting him to lift the Yellow Jacket tide (huh?) with a sterling one-and-done season. I’m looking forward to seeing if, for the third straight game, Lance Thomas can cement his sudden status as a lockdown defensive forward and contain a future Neeba first-rounder, this time Lawal. Favors, meanwhile, will be challenged by the Plumlee rotation and Zoubeard, and considering that Derrick has been doing himself no - - nah, too easy - - good with that ridiculous foul-dealing against less than stellar competition, Duke might actually have a frontcourt edge - - again. I’m not used to typing these words. Meanwhile, Lawal’s defense has always been a question mark, and he’ll probably be called upon to check Singler. Singler didn’t solve his offensive efficiency problems against Iowa State, and his shot selection has got to improve; against an average defender like Lawal, who is not comfortable being pulled outside on defense, the chances of that happening are far better than even. The third sometime starter in the frontcourt is Zach the Hatch Peacock, who did it in the conservatory with the lead pipe. Professor Plum here, a 6-8 senior, is averaging 10.0 ppg and 4.6 rpg on very impressive .598/.889/.476 (10-21) shooting, and might draw the start or at least more minutes than third guard Iman Shumpert here, given the altitude that Duke has been deploying lately.
In the backcourt, the locks to see major minutes are 6-6 senior D’Andre Bell and 6-2 freshman point Mfon Udofia. Bell’s main contribution is not with the ball (5.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, .397/.808/.364) but without it. His career at Tech has been riddled with injuries (including a scary bout with spinal stenosis from which he is returning for his final season of eligibility, having graduated while recovering), but when healthy, he is a top-flight perimeter defender specializing in ball denial and using his height and long arms to bother opposing shooting guards. Interestingly, when he last played regularly two seasons ago, Bell didn’t usually guard the opposing point, but in this situation I think that Spewitt pretty much has to go all in and do anything he can to stop Scheyer, who was practically unguardable on Wednesday night, or so I’m told by people who were at the game and got to watch it. Unlike many of the Jackets, Bell is a player that I like, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Scheyer struggle a little bit, at least early. However, Bell is just an average offensive player at best, and despite a tryout at the playmaking position at intervals in his career, he’s not a natural passer either, so when he’s in, the GIT offense can stall. Udofia, who averages 10.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.0 vowels per four letters of given names, and shoots .417/.636/.298, is still a mystery just 14 games into his college career. His A/TO ratio is just a smidge above even, and he’s neither a huge ball thief nor a threat to score from distance. I think he’ll struggle to stop Nolan Smith, who is playing very, very, very well. Backing up Bell and Udofia are two former starting point guards, 6-5 sophomore Iman Shumpert (8.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 3.3 tpg, 2.9 pfpg, .365/.667/.280) and 6-2 junior Moe Miller (3.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg. 2.4 apg, .283/.708/.111 in fairly limited minutes). Both of these guys lost their jobs for a reason - - Shumpert is an awful defender and really racks up the boners, while Miller is neither tall nor particularly quick, and is a below-average shooter at best.
Bench support comes from 6-6 freshman Brian Oliver (nope, no relation, just a funny coincidence that would fry the circuits on Tim Brando’s “ironic”-o-meter within seconds) (7.0 ppg, .415/.714/.410), 6-5 freshman Glen Rice, Jr. (okay, this time there is a relation) (3.4 ppg), 6-5 junior Lance Storrs (2.5 ppg) and 6-3 sophomore Nick Forehead (1.9 ppg), a running joke that amuses me because I’m five years old, and given Hewitt’s capriciousness with his PT distribution, maybe even 7-0 junior and stiff Brad Sheehan (1.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg).
Georgia Tech, right now, is subject to the familiar caveat that most of their statistical accomplishments have been racked up against a bad schedule. And frankly, most of their stat profile isn’t that great. They are very efficient defensively (Ken Pomeroy has them ranked 13th nationally), they get a load of offensive rebounds, and their opposing three-point percentage of 29.2 is #29 in Div I - - although Duke is actually even better, at 28.4% for its opponents from the wing, #17 nationally. However, the Institutional Insects are awful with the ball, and hardly ever take it away - - not a good recipe for success against this Duke edition. Their team three-point shooting totals and foul shooting are just about at the midpoint nationally; as you know, Duke is in the top 5 in Division I in both categories.
Look, I’m as surprised as you are that Duke is contending with opposing teams so well in the post. Even when Shelden Williams was patrolling the paint, he frequently had to operate without help, but this season, with Lance turning up the defensive heat several notches and the Plumlees and Zoubek rebounding the hell out of the ball, it’s just a different story. Further, GIT has only two reliable three-point shooters in Oliver and Storrs, plus Peacock, who is exactly That Frontcourt Guy who will land at least one triple in this game, guaranteed. And Oliver is a freshman and Storrs can’t seem to get on the court. Bell and the three-headed point guard combination are shooting dreadfully from range this season, which means that a large lead and/or a comeback from a big deficit are not exactly mortal locks. The Yellow Jackets will have to find a way to capitalize on their excellent rebounding from Lawal, Favors, and Peacock, and hope that Duke doesn’t score much from either the line or the stripe. Meanwhile, the typically lame Ambercoat crowd won’t be much of a factor - - in this building, the chief danger is the possibility that it will be snowing inside.
The Windbreakers could certainly put everything together to post a narrow win, but I doubt it. Duke played at inclement Alexander Memorial last season, winning 70-56, and as long as Duke isn’t intimidated by the road atmosphere as they seemed to be at Wisconsin, this one should turn out just fine.
Duke 87, Georgia Institute of Technology 74.
Well, looky here, it’s time for another league game. Awesome! Looks like most of the rest of the conference is interested in this very same activity. As Matt probably mentioned in the blue font above, that means we get to spread our already meager analytical skills even thinner by giving you our picks of who will win in every game litigated in the Swoff-hard empire.
This time Duke faces off against the fearsome Bees of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Now, sit down for this, despite all efforts by the Duke staff, this game will not be held in the NBA arena used by the Atlanta Hawks. Nope. This game will be on an honest-to-God homecourt for the opposing team. Of course, the last time the Blue Devils attempted this, it didn’t work out too well. But, maybe they’ve learned a thing or two since then.
Now, keep in mind that playing basketball in any supposedly-roof-bearing facility in the state of Georgia carries the risks of unexplained precipitation, meteors crashing through the dome, toilets erupting, cups of soda spontaneously combusting and biblical plagues. Hopefully, that won’t be the case today at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Oh, and if you are wondering, “Alexander Memorial” is apparently not a bank, telecom provider or overnight delivery company. Even the McDonald’s moniker has been gone for several years.
And speaking of indoor weather phenomenon, the last time we saw Duke (well for w awhile, anyway) they were completing a thorough domination of the Cyclones from Iowa State. Once again, the defense was the key, holding one of the best three-point shooting teams to only two successful tries in the evening. For the second game in a row, Lance Thomas was assigned to the other team’s top player and made a future lottery pick largely irrelevant. The team also forced 18 turnovers while allowing only 10 assists. When the Devils had the ball in their hands, made nearly 43 percent of their toll calls and missed only two of 21 coupon shots.
On an individual level, well, you all know about Scheyer’s performance. Not to slight the guy, but there’s really not much to say that hasn’t already been said, other than the guy has become the best player – not just scorer – Duke has had in years. On the other hand, Singler should probably add the Bulls to the list of NBA teams that shouldn’t draft him (the Knicks have sued him to recoup expenses to repair the backboards at Madison Square Cameron), after that five of 15 shooting performance at the You-Center. Then there was Nolan Smith with a whopping five turnovers, nearly half the team’s total, which I honestly didn’t notice during the game. But, if he wants to offset that with 20 points, all is forgiven. Treebeard managed not to score, but pulled down an orphaned shot every two minutes he was on the floor. And, in retrospect, I was a little harsh on Singler, who turned in eight rebounds and four assists, then hung around afterwards with a blowtorch to help the maintenance crew reshape the rims. Oops, there I go again. Before this gets out of hand, let’s turn to . . .
WIN OF THE GAME: This is going to be an unusual one: the lack of whistles and Duke’s reaction to the situation. It has been reported that two of three officials assigned to the game were suspended for making “finger guns” at each other during the pre-game warm-ups. The only one left suffers from a lung condition rendering him nearly incapable of exhaling with enough force to make his whistle audible. The result: lots and lots of unpenalized thuggery under the basketball. Why on earth is this a win? Because, too many times, Duke players assume they will get the foul. In games like this one where a different rulebook, containing blank pages, is in use, it’s infuriating to see the guys attempt half-assed drives, get hacked, fall to the floor, and then check to see if they have suffered some kind of temporary neurological probelm that prevented them from hearing the whistle that, goodness me, absolutely must have been blown. While the other team plays five on four. But not this time. Duke, and especially Scheyer, figured out that foul calls were going to be as rare as winning lottery tickets, toughed it up and went to basket with the purpose of scoring, rather than trying to get bailed out.
FAIL OF THE GAME: It’s all right here folks, and explained much better than I could. Not only did we miss some crucial minutes of the scheduled contest, but had to be subjected to Jimmy Dykes’ hyper-babbling in one of the few evenings he wasn’t assigned to a Duke contest.
On to Saturday. Didn’t anyone order a second helping of Jay Bilas? Someone did! He’ll be braving the indoor conditions in Atlanta accompanied by Brad Nessler, who supposedly, at some point, was the color commentator for the Georgia Tech basketball radio broadcast. I have to use that qualifier, as I got that information from Wikipedia. The last time I relied on that site, I was fooled into believing FDR was still in office and making postmortem executive appointments. I was also fooled by the collective sports reporting world into believing Tech recruit Derrick Favors was the next coming of LeBron James (whose mother should have watched out for the “shift” key when typing the application for his birth certificate). Um, dude, 12 and eight ain’t gonna impress anyone. Neither will the Buggies’ schedule to date. Chattanooga? Winston Salem State? Arkansas-Pine Bluff? Kennesaw State? And, folks, that wasn’t the November tune-up selection. That was all done last month. Plus, they barely beat Charlotte and then lost (LOST!!!!) to Georgia. Yes, they should be admired for playing a true road game, but they should be soundly mocked for shooting under 40 percent and handing the ball over 20 times. Favors was so necessary in this game he played only 21 minutes. Other losses include Florida State, the Century 21 Jackets’ first foray into league play, and Dayton.
Against this monstrous group of opponents that would have most coaches wetting themselves, the Honey Bees have been, well, pretty average. They barely outrebound opposing counsel, and have more turnovers than assists. They’ve be ripped off nearly as many times as they have committed the same crime. Hell, the other teams have made more three-pointers. Four double-digit scorers, including two who just barely meet the standard.
You know, many of us on the series of tubes have questioned Paul Hewitt’s coaching ability for years, particularly whether he was capable of altering his team on-the-court performance even the slightest bit after tip-off. Now there is matter of what, if anything, he’s doing in practice to mold what is a fairly talented group of players into a competitive basketball team. Other than encouraging his players to engage in goonist behavior, it’s becoming clear he sets up some meaningless drills, then pulls out his iPhone and updates his Facebook status for a couple of hours, irritating all his friends with such announcements as “Had a sandwich for lunch,” “Gonna see a movie tonight” and “Just crossed my left leg over my right.”
Hopefully, if this year’s version of Pollen-Spreaders doesn’t achieve some kind of success, and it doesn’t look like they will, the university will rid itself of this pugilistic enabler and hire an actual coach. It would be nice if some school in this conference did.
Duke 82, Georgia Institute of Technology 76.
The race for the top draft pick “heats up” in Raleigh. I don’t think pop crooner Tony Bennett was necessarily the best answer in C-Ville, but he wasn’t a bad choice at all, and he’s got the personality and the heritage, so we’ll see. Everyone knows that Sid Lowe is time-limited.
North Carolina State 2, Virginia 1.
North Carolina State 65, Virginia 60.
Clemson 79, Boston College 58.
Clemson 74, Boston College 4.
Wake Forest 75, Miami (Florida) 68.
Wake Forest 82, Miami (Florida) 80.
Not a bad recovery so far by Listless Len from the devastating loss of Toney Douglas; the Noids have won seven in a row and could still use more from the tiresome Chris Singleton and inconsistent Nerdwin Breakfastroom. UMCP is pretty embarrassing.
Florida State 80, Maryland, College Park 73.
Florida State 77, Maryland, College Park 65.
Get ready for people to start talking about the Tools again in about a week, as they rack up a few wins against incompetents like Baldy and take advantage of their usual cushy schedule. We, and College of Charleston devotees, know better.
North Carolina-Chapel Hill 88, Virginia Tech 74.
Regardless of our promise to write about Duke and provide picks only for the rest of the conference, I will be giving short comments about Virginia Tech in memory of my cousin who was sent to her maker way too early in the Blacksburg massacre. The Hokies have been pretty good this year. Minus Delaney, who had been accounting for something like 90 percent of the team’s scoring, they recently posted a nice win over Seton Hall, with 103 points in 45 minutes. However, even if Delaney is back, I don’t see this happening again. The Bald Nut is one of those coaches who sees light blue and then passes out.
North Carolina-Chapel Hill 89, Virginia Tech 77.