TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIII, Episode 41
March 12, 2010
ACC FRIDAY - - WITH DUKE! - - EDITION
Mattís comments in blue.
duhomme's comments in red.
(9) VIRGINIA (15-15, 5-11) v. (1) #4 DUKE (26-5, 13-3)
Iím not sure Iíve seen more mysterious coaching than that proffered by the Nutcracker against UVa on Thursday. Trailing for much of the game, the slackjawed nemesis of Almond Nation and leadership genius put in the weirdest lineup youíve ever seen, purportedly one that was defense-oriented, although that didnít explain the inclusion of Tyler Roche, whoís Taylor King without the suspension. Elmore was out there, Southern was out there, Dunn was out there, and Trapper Joe, benched for the final 12-15 minutes of the game, looked like he was ready to roast a few scary-looking wooden toys with the heat of his eyes from the pine (which was also charred from his glare). He had plenty of company, though, as Raji and even Mr. February joined him for long stretches. Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, Virginia cemented its advantage and ran away with the game despite the best efforts of Rakim Sanders, the only real contributor that Principal Skinner (TM duhomme) left out there. What in the hell was this all about?? Message, Spock? I guess so, Captain, but Iíll be damned if I can figure out what it was - - particularly since that was the end of the Eaglesí season. However, since Roche (whom the Nutcracker obviously disliked) was the squadís only senior, I guess you could call that a SERIOUS teaching loss.
And letís take not anything away from Virginia - - who, as often seems to happen, are actually better without Landesberg serving as a distraction. Mike Scott, who hadnít been sighted near a statistic in about a month, made several clutch baskets, Zeglinski was on fire, and Jontel Evans played excellent defense throughout the contest. Naturally, Meyinsse continued his just-in-time career ascendance and chipped in with 12, and even Minister Farrakhan chipped in with three key field goals (in nine attempts - - hey, one win doesnít cure all).
Hereís the problem for Virginia - - Mike Krzyzewski is not as dumb or brazen as the Nutcracker, and likely isnít going to use the ACC-T to make a point to his players, or disregard it entirely, like some clowns we know who are already back home with boxes of tissues at the ready. Moreover, as the formidable duhomme points out infra, Duke has already faced the Landesbergless lineup, and blew them away at I Have Not Yet Begun To Play Jerome Meyinsse Arena all of twelve days ago.
Another issue is that Zeglinski and Evans (who is a good defender, but - - well, keep reading) simply arenít quick, strong, or tall enough, at 6-0 and a generous 5-11, respectively, to contain Scheyer (who should have a really clear view of the floor) and Nolan Smith. I project several Nolan blowbys in this one, and I should add that Jeff Jones and Farrakhan, who are both 6-4, are subpar defenders. Then thereís the frontcourt. I bet Meyinsse gets his points again, although I hope he doesnít re-Bootsy us, but Virginia just doesnít have anyone - - Sene barely played against the Sugar Plum Fairies - - who can contend with Zoubek inside. Yes, I just indicated that there is a subset of people who cannot contend with Zoubek inside. And that subset is growing. Basically, Virginia played six players against the Dew Drops - - Scott, Meyinsse, Zeglinski, Jones, Evans, and Farrakhan, with four ticks for Sene and six for Will Sherill, who is either 46 years old and a regular in the New York City Downtown rec league, or my eyes are completely deceiving me.
The level of cooperation needed from Duke to blow this game and give it to Virginia - - all due respect to their very impressive win on Thursday and Bennettís obvious coaching skills, particularly when measured against a cretin like the Nutcracker - - is going to have to be monumental. The Yahoos did play good defense for much of the season, and they are motivated, so it wouldnít shock me if the first half was close, but when thereís no real defensive stopper on the team except for Evans, and therefore few Cavs can stop Scheyer, Smith, the Forest Rangers, and especially Singler, I donít think this one is going UVaís way. But, as we all know, Iíve been wrong before. Come on, Blue Devils.
Duke 72, Virginia 59.
Before we get to the business at hand, let me apologize for waiting this long before giving a massive internet cheer to the Duke womenís team for their ACC-T win. I swear I thought about it several times, but never when I was in front of a keyboard. We donít really deal with the other half of the basketball program around here, because, frankly, we normally donít have the resources to do it. Thanks to a congressional earmark, I was able to hire enough staff to follow them through the NCAAs. Unfortunately, I just brought in former U.S. Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) to be the H.R. director in the Dukies.com Washington Bureau, resulting in multiple complaints in his first several hours on the job. Letís just say Iím going to be spending A LOT of time in depositions.
Another thing I meant to include in my recap of Dukeís game against the Washington Generals was that if someone had come to me at any point this season and said, ďHow about your team loses a close game on the road, on senior night, to a team that desperately wants to be your rival even though you refuse to even contemplate the idea, but the Blue Devils then get to beat their actual, real and historical rival so badly that Rameses drives himself to the slaughterhouse?Ē I would have responded, ďIf you have the agreement with you, Iíll sign it right now.Ē
Yet another thing I keep forgetting to mention. We love writing song parodies, and you apparently enjoy reading them. Mattís right when he says itís easier that actual analysis. As someone who did several last season, I should mention the workplace hazard associated with doing them. The song I used would get stuck in my head. For days. And days. And more days. OSHA has not responded to my complaint.
As I write this portion of the material, itís Wednesday night, and none of the games has been played, but I am NOT going to wait until the conclusion of Thursdayís action to get started. (For fun, the DVR replay of Saturday nightís broadcast of Duke playing five-on-two is running in the background.) So how about some filler? Good, Iím up for it to. Open your coursepacks to the section entitled ACC Conference-Only Statistics and see how Duke stacked up. Letís review:
Scoring Offense: Second, with 73.5 per game.
Scoring Defense: First, allowing the other side to put up an average of 61.9 points in each meeting.
Scoring Margin: A whopping 11.6. But, keep in mind that was inflated with a couple of games against the Chapel Hill Cub Scout Troop.
Free Throw Percentage: Third, behind the Virginia members. But missing the top spot by only .010.
Field Goal Percentage: Only sixth, at .421.
Field Goal Defense Percentage: Fifth, with .412 allowed. That one kind of surprised me.
Three-point Percentage: Third, but with the most successfully place long-distance calls of anyone in the 12-member club.
Three-point Defense: Tops in the league. Nice.
Rebounding Margin: Tops again. Nice, and kind of strange to see. But, most welcome.
Turnover Margin: Yep, best there too.
Assist to Turnover Ratio: Third.
Offensive Rebounds: Tied for first with Weak. (Thanks, Treebeard!!!).
Not bad, huh? Anyway, looking forward, Duke gets the Whiches, hoo did us all a favor of ending the self-flagellating exercise of writing about amazingly dull Bee, See? for this season, at least. Having not seen this one in person, I reviewed the box score and figure the real difference was freethrows (UVA was 14-20, the Birds were 7-8), and the fact that no one who attends class on Chestnut Hill could defend Virginiaís Sammy Zamboni, who was so appreciative of that courtesy he lit them up for 21 points. Other than that, the teams were pretty even in nearly every statistical category.
That was NOT the case, when Duke last played to Owl Sounds just three games ago in a 67 to 49 road win. The Blue Devils low output was a combination of Bennettís style of limiting the number of ballads sung and the mood Duke was in at the time of emphasizing defense over offense. The hero of yesterdayís game, Zeglinski, was, well, Zeclankski against Duke with a 2-9 shooter performance. Franky, if Mysissy hadnít somehow managed to put 21 points in the box score, the mercy rule might have been employed. Keep in mind, this was a game in which LanDísburg didnít play, so Duke is familiar with that particular look.
This one might not be a total blow-out, but shouldnít be in question for long. As a parting note, check out this photo of two of Royís charges playing lock-down defense on Kyle Singler. Itís almost as if they didnít realize the game had started.
Duke 78, Virginia 65.
(12) MIAMI (FLORIDA) (19-12, 4-12) v. (4) VIRGINIA TECH (23-7, 10-6)
Preliminary note: itís virtually impossible to cover what happened the day before AND discuss whatís going to happen today in three sentences, so for these previews only, a six-sentence rule is in effect. And no, this sentence doesnít count, because there are at least a couple of people reading who are going to be sitting down there in the comments section counting the sentences.
Dino Gaudio - - pick up your check at reception. Seriously, you have got to be kidding me, dude - - youíve never heard of a zone before? And a team that won four games all season in conference, including exactly none outside the friendly confines of the Conversation Center, uses it to blow you out by 21 points, in a game that was actually never really close, and in fact was a Never-Trailed Game for Miami??? Well, we saw two coaches that should be fired in that game, but after the result (by the way, Wake was 1-2 against Miami on the season), Iíve reordered my recommended action list for Donna Shalala and Ron Wellman; it can be a blink-first sort of thing, like the House and the Senateís current standoff on the health care bill. And hold that axe at bay, former HHS secretary - - the Mime of Miami isnít done, and will now face off against the ACCís most disreputable coach and his disgusting thug-laden squad, which split with the Hurryclowns this season, winning in Blacksburg 81-66, but losing in Coral Gables, 82-75, in one of those four aforementioned league wins authored by the Faith in Haith Movement, Extremely Ltd. The usual meme in these sorts of contests is to assume that the overachieving squad from the day before used up all its energy and will have nothing left for another Cinderella run, except that Miami used virtually no energy in destroying Wake - - it was almost effortless. Seventh sentence to note that I imagine that VPI will figure out to go inside and get to the line to beat the zone, which is what happened even in their loss against the Clowns - - the Hokums shot 20-24 from the line, 20-34 from two-point land, and would have overcome their pitiful 5-19 showing form the wing except that in all the excitement, they played no defense, and the CandyCanes shot an eye-popping .632/.781/.529. Eighth sentence to suppose that Miami will not shoot that well again, and is likely not going to pull off the double upset (which is too bad, considering the opposition), but if they play well, the NIT should give them a bid despite their small arena size.
Virginia Tech 78, Miami (Florida) 68.
After discovering that Goofio somehow got stomped by Miami, it got me wondering, who is the worst coach in the ACC? The contenders are the aforementioned Lunar Face, Lid Slow, Hank No Faith, Screw-it and the Boston Ball-buster, with Slow getting to take home the trophy. Gaudio and Hewitt (I just went to the Silly Nickname ATM for a withdraw and apparently I have exceeded my available joke balance) can recruit, and maybe sort of develop players, even though once the jump-ball occurs, both have about as much of a clue as to how to manage the on-court action as the popcorn being sold at the concession stands (which is kind of mean thing to say about popcorn). Principal Skinner (I am so used to seeing him referred to as the ďNutcracker,Ē I forgot his real name for a moment) has that Gary Williams-esqe knack of bringing in players no one else in top conferences was interested in and molding them into credible players, even if that talent somewhat escaped him this season. The only reason Slid beats out Haith (just barely) is because to relation to on-court success and on-campus interest in the sport. Wow, Iíve totally blown the sentence limit here, so I might go ahead and mention that these teams played twice this year (WooHoo!!!!), with each winning at home, but, for all of his numerous faults, Goonberg is a pretty good coach in the ACC-T, while Haith is never a good coach in any circumstance.
Virginia Tech 74, Miami (Florida, Florida, Florida, Florida, Florida Ė Iím behind on my payments) 67.
(7) GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (20-11, 7-9) v. (2) #19 MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK (23-7, 13-3)
I wonder if Sweaty is crying or has yet cried about the fact that three of Thursdayís four underdogs won - - and heís the only one who doesnít get to reap the benefit (if it is a benefit). Relax, Hypothetical Sweaty! Itís Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech, which actually found itself being BLOWN OUT BY THE TOOLS in the first half (well, by 13) before mounting a comeback, which - - you may want to be sure that youíre seated for this - - all of the Coaching Tactics of Rrhoid (UNC-CH Information Ministry Press, Chapel Hill 2009, fore-Ford by Jeff McInnis) were unable to combat. Just a moment to lather some more praise on the Tools - - they shot .333/.714/.125; Stick Figure, the supposed Jesus of the reborn program, authored up a statline featuring 3-7 from the field, six boards and four personal fouls in 18 whole minutes before Favors and Lawal accidentally shoved him into the city limits of High Point, ending his night; they outboarded the Jerkets 46-37 and STILL lost by four following a (-14) second-half scoring margin; and poor Roid could do nothing about it. I think the test for the NIT should be as follows: does anyone really want to see these guys play again this season? The answer in every quarter, including the offices of program patriarchs Badodor and Swoffie, should be a firm no frigging way. Seventh sentence to note that UMCP and GIT only played once this season (heavy sigh), on February 20, which was the famous Cliff Tucker NO NO NO NO NO YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!!! Game - - Favors had 21, Lawal had 12, and Shumpster the Dumpster (before disappearing for about two weeks afterward) pumped in 17. Eighth sentence to note that I suspect that 6-6 DíAndre Bell and 6-5 Glen Rice can guard Azzkiz, and if they can put that containment effort together, GIT might actually win this one, because - - who else is going to step up for the Twerps? The Ferret? Milbourne? You, Lieutenant Weinberg??
Maryland, College Park 78, Georgia Institute of Technology 77.
As Matt duly noted, song parodies are much easier to write than actual analysis, especially when you have to hang around until around midnight to find out who gets to take on Florida State. Plus, his awesome one the other day inspired me to post a partial one Iíve been noodling over. With all apologies to Nirvana and the late Kurt Cobain, and a link to the original here. As always, itís more fun to listen and sing along. An then get called into the bossís office.
ďSMELLS LIKE HEEL SPIRITĒ
ďSign up some stiffs, buuuut no guards
And staarrrt the year, ohhh-ver-ranked.
Your team will quit and waaaant to leave
So cryyyy and drool and rollll your eyes
A loss, a loss, a loss, bad toss.
A loss, a loss, a loss, faux hawks.
A loss, a loss, a loss, miss Laws.
A loss, a loss, a loss Ö
[Serious guitar and snare drum action]
When his team sucks, Roy will lose it!
He might say f**k, goofball nitwit!
N-I-T field, will you risk it?
Sen-ior mem-ber, of the Clampetts!
Drew please donít throw.
Fans a no-show.
Not Royís fault, though!
[even more badass guitar work.]
Iíll tell you what, if the Hoots do participate in any post-season play, Iíll do the rest of the song.
Maryland, College Park 72, Georgia Institute of Technology 69.
(11) NORTH CAROLINA STATE (18-14, 5-11) v. (3) FLORIDA STATE (22-8, 10-6)
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Clemson - - did you *really* have to do that?? My only hope of salvaging anything good from the Tigersí nightcapping loss is the dream scenario that the Selectostiffs see Clemson losing, and GIT winning its first-round game against some goofy-looking squad of preening whiners, and decide to take everything out on Weak Florist by excluding them from the NCAA field. There is just no way that this league deserves seven bids - - think of that number as 10.9% of the Dance card, post-Dayton Game. Ready for an admission? Florida State is the team that I understand the least of any of the twelve this season, and please donít read some declaration of expertise about some other ACC entrant into that comment - - hardly. Itís just that in all the excitement in my first season of watching ACC ball hampered by a three-hour time difference (luckily offset by other pleasant factors outside the scope of this column), I believe I saw the Seminoles play from horn-to-horn three times, and I certainly only saw a few plays' worth of their 88-81 loss to NCSU in Raleigh, which occurred exactly two months ago and was their only encounter with the Pack this season in this joke of a scheduling trainwreck. Seventh sentence for an exhortation - - just GO TO DIVISIONS ALREADY, SWOFFORD!!!!!!!!! Eighth sentence to note that it was a weird game in Raleigh (arenít they all, heh heh heh heh heh heh heh Duke fan?), with Scott Wood Bootsying the Noids with 31, while Tracy Smith had just 7 in 26 minutes and Orange Julius went 10-10 from the line (wait, what???). Ninth sentence - - meanwhile, Dool Keys, Snaer, and Singleton all fouled out, and Alibi had a very, very good reason to explain why he only got six shots from the field against a relatively post-defense-free Pack squad. Tenth sentence - - this is a dream matchup for Sweet & Lowe, and at the risk of losing a game to duhomme and being eviscerated in the comments section, Iím going to pick in their favor.
North Carolina State 78, Florida State 74.
Iím going to cheat and start this one before the conclusion of the North Carolina State/Clemson snooze-fest (sorry, ClemsonGuest, but weíre under six minutes in the first half and the score is 18-11). But, I can get away with that because, according to the crack research staff here in the Washington, D.C. bureau (who are starting to talk about unionizing for the sake of getting overtime pay Ė yikes, I wish I knew an attorney who had some experience with labor issues), the team named after my great-grandmotherís heritage has a record of no wins and three losses against the two teams in the late-night game. Yep, thatís right, Iím part Seminole, which is why any time I mention the football franchise in Our Nationís Capital, I never refer to its mascot that is (for reasons I will never understand) somehow just okaly dokaly with the general public in this country.
Actually, the nightcap turned out to be a pretty interesting game in the second half.
Florida State 64, North Carolina State 61.
BONUS ANDREW HICKS COVERAGE!
For those of you who donít remember, five-star commenter Andrew Hicks won our little impromptu contest by guessing (within 430!) the announced attendance at the regular season-closing MDCP @ VA game, so his ďprize,Ē if prize it be, was to request a non-ACC preview of his choice. He opted for a SEC game featuring either Tennessee or Vanderbilt, giving me a choice like a real gentleman, and this will be fun for me because I get to step out of the realm of the familiar for a little while. Here we go! Oh, no sentence limit is in effect; I originally said five, but I extended all the previews above to six, so Andrew gets the benefit of that as well, and more. Uh, second verse - - here we go!
(6E) GEORGIA (14-16, 5-11 Southeastern East) v. (2E) #20 VANDERBILT (23-7, 12-4 Southeastern East)
The Georgia Bulldogs signed Washington, N.C. product Dominique Wilkins away from his home state, and created an uproar that is still paying karmic dividends, at least, one imagines, in some ACC minds. After Hugh Durham, who lured Wilkins away, stepped aside in 1995 following a short scandal, the program suffered two seasons of then-climber Tubby Smith, followed by two NIT appearances under the unlamented, over-his-head Ron Jirsa, then ruined itself for a loooooooooooong time by turning to the beyond disgraceful Jim Harrick, the Calipari of his day, except for the real Calipari, who was already well at it even back then. Six seasons of Dennis Felton (yikes!) later, and we have Mark Fox at the helm, and trying his best here to replicate the Dawgsí tournament magic (with bonus indoor inclement weather!) from 2008. 6-9 sophomore Trey Thompkins (17.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, .486/.766/.390) and 6-4 sophomore Travis Leslie (14.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, .485/.724/.556) make a pretty good 1-2 punch, and the Bulldogs destroyed Arkansas 77-64 in Thursdayís Plus Round while seizing 17 offensive boards. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, is in its 11th season under quietly skilled coach Kevin Stallings, who rode the troika of 6-3 senior Jermaine Beal (14.7 ppg, .435/.375/.796), 6-7 sophomore swing Jeffrey Taylor (13.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, .511/.751/.091) and 6-11 senior CENTER - - wow, they still allow those, seniors *and* centers? - - A.J. Ogilvy (13.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, .515/.735/.000) to a second-place East Division finish behind the New/Old Evil & Illegal Empire. The ĎDores have no true point guard (Beal runs the offense but is more of a shooter), but still managed to go 12-4 in division, getting swept by Kentucky, dropping a weird one on the last Saturday of the regular season to refreshingly Odom-free South Carolina, and . . . in their worst conference loss, getting blown out at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens. Hmmmmmmm. Hey, there are divisions in this league! So that means . . . [hunt, hunt] . . . the two teams played again!!! Yes, and this time, the Commodores barely held off the Dawgs at Memorial Gym, 96-94. HMMMMMMMMM. I suspect that Vanderbilt has a few defensive deficiencies, and that makes guarding hybrid players like Thompkins (who scored 19 and 17 in the two outings) difficult. Georgia also had an average of 18 assists in the two games, which points in the same general direction. On the flip side, with a tournament atmosphere underway in the Commodoresí gleaming hometown (the tournament is being litigated in the Nashville Arena, which went from Corporate Shillname 1 to Corporate Shillname 2 until that entity hilariously collapsed just in time for Corporate Shill 3 to step up about two weeks ago and slap its name on the place - - sooooooo blooming stupid), and Ogilvy and Beal looking to make their mark after four seasons, I see Vandy narrowly advancing. Andrew - - and Dave Clark - - hope that was halfway decent and fun for you guys. I really enjoyed it, and obviously should do this kind of thing more often during the regular season.
Vanderbilt 81, Georgia 77.