TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIII, Episode 35
February 25, 2010
MORE STRANGE WEATHER EDITION
duhomme's comments in red.
Matt’s comments in blue.
TULSA (19-8, 8-5 Conference USA) @ #5 DUKE (23-4, 11-2)
Regrettably - - likely just to me and no one else - - I have to be much briefer than usual today, but I’ll try to hit on all the topics.
In looking at the NCAA brackets, I guess Duke wants, and barring a big fade should be headed for, Jacksonville in the NCAA Tournament. I previously thought that Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena was some crumbling arena downtown, but given where the NCAA likes to place games, I should have known better; it’s actually a seven year-old facility where the J’ville Dolphins of the A-Sun play their home games. Not too far from Durham as the choices go. This is a strange year in that there are no State of North Carolina venues in the Tournament, but since Duke usually has the choice of playing in Toolfan-infested Bobcat Arena (corporate shillname deleted), an enemy arena in Raleigh, or (the best choice for us) the Greensboro Coliseum, it’s not all bad. And yes, Tool Nation would have been out in force this season to cheer against Duke irrespective of the fortunes of their own pitiful little squad.
The Bald Bastard of Blacksburg, not too long from now, is going to order a hit on an opposing player that gets someone seriously hurt. This man is a blight on this conference and on college sports every bit as bad as Calipari and his ilk and needs to go. He’s disgracing a VPI program that I used to like back in the days of Ace Custis. Love the technical on Nolan for . . . yeah, not sure what that was all about. Another fave from the game was Delaney swinging his arm into Nolan in a blatant gate-opening maneuver and . . . getting a blocking foul called on Nolan. A blocking foul? I don’t think that’s even the right call in that situation most of the time as far as a foul on the defender. Ugh, the ACC.
Condolences to Purdue, which just lost junior Robbie Hummel for the season with an ACL tear, and to Missouri, which experienced the same thing with forward Justin Safford. Hummel was Purdue’s second-leading scorer and rebounder at 15.7 ppg and 6.9 rpg and is a really nice kid. I don’t think I’ve seen much of Safford, but he’s the Tigers’ fourth-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder at 8.6 ppg and 4.1 rpg. Huge blow for Purdue and a pretty serious hit for Missouri as well. Both kids are juniors and should be back next season, unlike Easy Ed Davis, who probably has a “24”-like clock in every room of his manse counting down, audibly, the seconds until he can declare.
Impressive win by Duke over VPI, and as I mentioned before, I’m pretty sure that Singler’s last-second three was authorized by Coach K. Krzyzewski used to show disgust in postgame pressers with coaches who play Thugball (like when Gaudio despicably coached the Black Knights of Army to engage in small unit tactics and close combat techniques against visiting - - !! - - Duke about a decade ago), but doesn’t seem to bother him as much anymore, which is fine with me - - it’s like Goonberg and his hoods should be beneath mention. duhomme has more on this below.
One meme after the game is that “Duke only has three guys.” Well. This actually doesn’t really worry me that much. I mean, I know that I’ve dismissed opposing squads before, in previews, as “one-man teams” or (SPOILER ALERT!) “two-man teams.” I don’t think I’ve amused myself cracking up too often at “three-man teams.” It’s like this - - three guys are actually 60% of the people you can have on the floor at one time, and when the other two guys who are usually playing are (1) a fierce defensive stopper and (2) an Ent who wants to play out the Lord of the Rings story about being suddenly awoken to great, unexpected acts of scary power as closely as possible . . . I just can’t get too excited in a negative way. Yeah, balance is good, but you can argue that when you have the third (Azzkiz just barely passed him), sixth, and eighth-ranking scorers in the conference, that’s balance. Another positive is that any team that wants to shut down all three of them has to have a dude who can do more than get Nolan’s license plate number post-blowby, a guy who can cope with a 6-8 inside-out forward AND someone who can guard a 6-5 point. Clearly, Duke should be zoned at every opportunity, and that’s fine too. I don’t know, folks - - the season feels good to me right now. And if someone else finds their licensing key like Zoubek has in suddenly activating his operating system software, such as, e.g., Dawkins (who certainly had the trigger going against VPI, anyway), well, we’re in fair shape, in my opinion.
The defense against the Pollys was just outstanding - - almost beyond belief. Nothing from the wing. Sure, Delaney scored 19 points - - with a PPS of 1.0, or 19 field goals, if you’re scoring at home. Allen was just shackled. Cuffed. Jailed. Bye, Jeff. That’s the second time Duke has won this season while shooting below 30%, and those two victories were by nine (Connvictecticut) and twelve. Not bad. I wonder if defense is the key to an NCAA run this season or something.
Tulsa is an interesting program; I’m glad they joined CUSA, because it’s given that league some vitality. TU, as the locals call it, is a very small private school that has fewer than half the yearly undergraduate enrollment of Duke and, in fact, is even smaller than Wake - - WFU has about 50% more four-year diploma candidates. This is a pretty classy opponent. They recently built a new arena (in 1998), scandals are mostly a stranger, and as most of you almost certainly know, they were The Coaching Springboard there for a while, spawning Nolan Richardson (his era is the only time when they were really dirty), failed head coach and Rrhoid Rrhight Hand Man Steve Robinson, Bill Self, and then, in a hilarious attempted career climb that failed, mediocre signal-caller Buzz Peterson. Several editions ago - - like back in November, I think - - I said I would chart Peterson’s slow rise and meteoric fall. Here we go! All years refer to complete seasons, designated in shorthand by the second of the two calendar years in which action occurred.
Appalachian State 1997-2000 (CLIMB)
Tulsa 2001 (CLIMB)
Tennessee 2002-2005 (FIRRRRRRRED!)
Coastal Carolina 2006-2007 (left to go work for his college roomie in Charlotte)
Appalachian State 2010
. . . and we’re back, ten years later. Nice going, Buzz! Surely a coach of consummate skill and professionalism. I wonder what sort of clauses ASU put into his contract for the second tour; many, I hope, that are favorable to the school should this dolt decide singlehandedly to fund Bible Belt (hey, THEY call it that!) moving companies again.
Also possessing an NCCH connection is current Tulsa head coach Doug Wojcik, but there, we and Buzz must part company, because Wojcik is a real coach. Just as Matt Doherty, who brought Wojcik with him from Notre Dame to be an assistant at Chapel Hill, angering the Bluehairs in what was the first Official Bad Sign (how long before they turn on Roy, he asked deliciously?). Just as chilling ghoul (but better operational coach than his successor) Doh! experienced a career renaissance in CUSA, so too has Wojcik. The Golden Hurricane (huh?) (yeah, it’s singular, and no, Tulsa and for that matter landlocked Oklahoma, of which it is a part, don’t get too many hurricanes) has won 25 games in two straight seasons and is a long shot for the school’s first NCAA berth since 2003. In fact, they’ll be on the warpath for this one and could give Duke quite a game.
One final historical note about Tulsa - - sometimes you may see me refer to the Seals-Wheat Foundation or the Seals-Wheat Society. Membership in this elite organization is limited to those (Malcolm, stop making people commit blocking fouls against you by contacting your outstretched hand!) with extremely low PPS figures who become, or come close to becoming, their school’s leading scorer by virtue of taking shot after shot after shot from the field. DeJuan Wheat fell short of leading scorer honors because of injuries, but Shea Seals made it. But look - - Seals was a great, solid, four-year kid, a nice guy, and a fantastic defender. So it’s not meant to be an entirely derogatory nickname. I really liked DeJuan Wheat, too; he just shot the ball too much. These guys would be viewed differently today with the increased emphasis on efficiency metrics and the coming of sabermetric analysis to college basketball.
Hey, Tulsa is a . . . two-man team! Actually, they’re not - - they’ve got three really good scorers, but I had to get some semblance of a joke into this edition. Now I feel about as successful as Buzz Peterson. The Faux Tornadoes get production from 6-3 senior point Ben Uzoh (16.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2.4 tpg, .473/.792/.357), 6-4 junior Justin Hurtt (13.8 ppg, .418/.800/.384), and hoooo boy - - 7-0 senior Jerome Jordan (15.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, .553/.706/.000). They do not, however, have a shutdown defender or a 6-8 “tweener,” and their overall team defense is suspect. The other starters are 6-6 senior Bishop Wheatley (5.6 ppg) and 6-7 sophomore Joe Richard (5.9 ppg), with the only depth coming from backup point and 6-1 freshman Donte Medder (5.0 ppg) and 6-10 sophomore post Steven Idlet (7.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg).
This is not a bad team by any means, and while I’m usually frustrated at this February OOC juncture in the season because we have to risk injury by confronting Thugball practitioners St. John’s, thankfully we offloaded them to December (pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaase keep that up) and brought in a serious, quality opponent for this slot. If we must not take a break, this is the way to do it. Tulsa has lost three straight, but they mostly lose because of weird things like sending their opponents to the line too often. This should be a good one.
Duke 79, Tulsa 72.
Before we get started, I would like to thank all of you who joined me in remembering Reema, the wonderful person who was taken from this place way too early. Especially those who posted some really touching and thoughtful comments. That’s a hard game for me, but having you all with me really, really helped.
Unfortunately, Slime Greengooze couldn’t be bothered to join in, and once again unleashed his post-apocalyptic gang of marauders (that’s him with the microphone) on Duke in a failed attempt to intimidate the Devils. Not the first time this year, and it won’t be the last. Speaking of which, if anyone can point to a game this year where that tactic worked, please let me know. It continually bothers me that Reema’s memory has to be associated with this jerk, but since I don’t make hiring decisions at Virginia Tech, that can’t be helped.
However, the Turkeys did get a big help of “just desserts” in their next outing, as they got their tail feathers handed to them last night by BeeCee in a 20 point loss that was really never in question. Enjoy the NIT, boys. And, yes, Seth, I am sane.
Regular readers here have seen Matt and I handing out “Bootsy” awards, named after former St. Johns player Bootsy Thornton who had never been heard of before but lit up Duke for 40 points in 1999 and is now given to any middle- to lower-tier player who has the game of his life while seeing our favorite team playing defense. In a unilateral move I have no authority to make, I am creating a new one: the “Deron.” Remember famed Va-Tech hitman Deron Washington, who got 98 percent of his press coverage from his over-the-top thuggery whenever the Blue Devils were on the court? If not, check out this refresher of the time his stomped Lee Melchionni in the face. (Note to Kentucky fans: THAT’S what a stomp looks like.) The inaugural winner of this fine honor is Dorenzo Hoodson, who smacked Nolan Smith in the face after the two exchanged words. Even better, D’oh!Renzo backed that up with an awesome 3-12 shooting performance. Of course, the incident resulted in a double technical – one for Hudson hitting Nolan, and one for Nolan getting hit. We haven’t finished designing the Deron, but here is a prototype that will most likely get approved.
With that out of the way, how about some …
WIN OF THE GAME: Um, Treebeard, did you really have 16 rebounds? Just eight days after having 17 against UMCP? Tell you what, do that one more time, and you will be nominated for the WIN Hall of Fame.
FAIL OF THE GAME: Not only did the Ess Brother score 63 of Duke’s 67 points, they took 51 of the 62 shots (and five of the other eleven were by Dawkins. That leaves six attempts from five other players). I could understand if the rest of the team was chucking up pieces of I-40 all evening and the backcourt had to take over, but to not even try to get the ball in the direction of the round thing with string hanging from it? Let’s hope that was an aberration due to a strange game against an even stranger head coach.
As President Bartlett on “The West Wing” would say, “What’s next!?” Well, sir, this is that time of the year when Coach K gets tired of Swof-Hard’s silly scheduling and figure, hey, if I’m only going to play several ACC teams once per season, why don’t I play one from Conference USA once as well? This will be on ESPN2, where Mike Patrick will have the misfortune of yet against being saddled with …
[We interrupt this material for an important announcement. Using an inside joke that about three or four people will understand, a certain reader of this webpage should not read the next line or click on the imbedded link until he has put down his beverage or backed away from his computer keyboard at a distance of at least six feet.]
… Len Elmore, whose mouth looks something like this. Supposedly, each of his teeth has a sign that says, “Last tooth for 100 miles.” I’m not going to pretend to know anything about the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes, other than to point out that Tulsa is located in Oklahoma, that someone who regularly beats me in the season standings around here used to live in Tulsa, that I don’t understand how a Hurricane can be “Golden” and that I’m not aware of any part of Oklahoma that is regularly beset by Hurricanes. According to Wikipedia (remember, this is the same authoritative site that claimed FDA was currently nominating Supreme Court justices), the name was originally “Golden Tornados,” but the school was beaten to the spot by none other than Georgia Tech. So, hurricane subbed in. I guess “Golden Sh …” Oh, we won’t go there.
What else can I tell you about Tulsa? Well, the team website is really, really bad, with the stats page not fitting on my monitor and lacking any mechanism to scroll right. (I’m using Google Chrome, and refuse, at 11 o’clock at night, to open a new browser. Join the 21st century, guys.) But the schedule/results page works (YAAAYYYY!!!!). This team has lost to Knee-braska, UAB, Marshall, Misooo State, Nevada, Memphis (Hi, Elliot!) and twice to UTEP. Their one impressive win of note was against … Ummmm … Sorry, please hold for a moment …
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Duke 88, Tulsa 75.