TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIV, Episode 6
November 27, 2010
ARENABOT 3000 EDITION
IF IT QUACKS LIKE A DUCK EDITION
Matt’s comments in blue.
duhomme's comments in red.
#1 DUKE (5-0, 0-0) v. OREGON (4-1, 0-0 Pacific-10)
Duke’s demolition of Kansas State was simply fabulous to behold. The comments from the Wildcat players and Frank Martin after the game pretty much said it all - - “they beat the living piss out of us,” “if there’s a better team than them around, I don’t want to play them,” “Coach K has this down to a science,” “they handled our sh*t,” and such. Yes. That was a beatdown of epic proportions. It was only one game, and it’s a long season, but you could just feel the air going out of Twink and Twerp fans’ tires after that result came across the wire. Kyrie Irving was unguardable, and tossed in the primary containment job on Jacob Pullen as a bonus. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith? Oh, they were somewhere on hand, but with Mason Plumlee suddenly looking like a beast on the interior, combined with Irving’s ankle-breaking assault on defenses and the preposterously good outside shooting (and defense!) offered by Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry, they didn’t need to be the stars. Irving is a transformative player the likes of which Duke has not seen since Jason Williams, and we all remember how that turned out. Yeah, this is a good team. Just ignore this goofy speculation about an undefeated season - - after all, last year’s Duke team was ushered out of the ESA in Raleigh on the business end of a serious kick in the hindparts - - and enjoy the ride. Additional good things may well be on the horizon. And yes, Duke was outrebounded and K-State may be a bit overrated - - I did mention in the pregame material that the loss of Penis Clemente was a big one. Still . . . nice game, Duke. That was one for the archives.
Now, it’s on to Portland, Oregon for a matchup with the University of. Oregon, I mean. This is Kyle Singler’s homecoming game, except that Portland is two hours from Eugene, where the Ducks actually play ball, and four hours from Medford, where Kyle grew up. Yes, folks, Coach K activated the Please Locate the Nearest NBA Arenabot 3000, and came up with Portland. And now, it’s time for two little-known Amazing Facts, just one of which is true.
(1) AMAZING FACT: Portland’s NBA arena is called “The Rose Garden,” named for Portland’s “Rose City” moniker, and working in a nod to famous Association venues such as Boston Garden and MSG. What’s amazing about this? Well, other than the fact that there’s actually one Neeba arena that does not sport the name of some quasi-criminal financial enterprise and/or greedy power utility, nothing. Surprisingly, though, it can be done! The Trail Blazers manage to turn a profit just the same.
(2) AMAZING FACT: During the 7.5-year tenure of cuddly former Tar Heel Rasheeeeeeeeed Wallace in Portland, the Jail Blazers recognized Wallace’s outstanding contributions to the game of basketball, and ensured the swiftest possible administration of his routine suspensions for on-court assaults and other mayhem, by installing a state-of-the-art Justice Center in (appropriately enough) the bowels of the RG. The Justice Center, which is now inactive, featured its own police force, a holding cell, booking area, SLR mug shot camera, Internet-wired courtroom for instant trials, and prison.
So who are these Oregon Ducks, who are no more familiar with the Rose Garden than the Blue Devils? Well, they’re led by former Creighton coach Dana Altman, who was at the center of a couple of weird coaching moves in the offseason. As you’ll recall, Oregon alums Phil Knight and Pat Kilkenny serenaded everyone from Brad Stevens to Tom Izzo to take the head coaching position after the school fired the exhausted, Peter-principled Ernie Kent, but after collecting more rejections than Ben Rapistberger at a sorority party, Altman let them know he was interested, and the school ended up with a very talented coach of the sort they should have been approaching in the first instance. (The other weird move was Greg McDermott, whom Duke saw last season as the head coach of Iowa State in that game played in the United Center, Chicago, Iowa, leaving the Clowns and returning to the MVC, where he was formerly the coach of Northern Iowa, to replace Altman.) Altman inherits a program run several kilometers into the ground by Kent during the last three seasons since making the Elite Eight in 2006-2007. Who’s suiting up? Glad you asked.
6-0 junior Malcolm Armstead (7.8 ppg, 4.4 apg, 4.2 tpg, 1.8 spg, .326/.778/.143). Armstead started the season with a four-point outing against North Dakota State, then rebounded with a pair of tilts in double digits before registering only eight total points in the Ducks’ most recent two games. He doesn’t have to score, of course, but on this team, it wouldn’t hurt. Note the eye-popping turnover figure, which would give even Larry Drew MMX a serious measure of job security.
Joining Armstead and Williams in the starting backcourt is 6-1 junior Garrett Sim (7.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.0 tpg, .351/.625/.333). Wing depth comes from a surprise October addition to the team in the person of well-traveled 5-10 senior Jay-R Strowbridge (7.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, .268/.765/.176), who has already played for Nebraska and Jacksonville State, and was just refused a tender of arbitration by the Yankees, although, as his name might lead you to suspect, he has a future in rap music. Strowbridge’s shooting has been dreadful and his defense questionable, but he has experience, and Altman needed warm bodies. Also on hand is 5-9 freshman Johnathan Loyd (4.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.8 tpg, 3.2pfpg, .353/.900/.333), a highly-touted Nevada prep standout who excels in spelling both of his names in enigmatic ways. Loyd, a point guard, far outplayed Armstead in the Quackers’ most recent game against Texas Southern, but managed to foul out in just 13 minutes of action.
In the smallish frontcourt, Oregon is led by 6-6 senior Joevan Catron, now entering his twelfth year of eligibility following three injuries, an LDS church mission, and a trip to a parallel universe. Catron (19.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.6 tpg, 1.0 spg, .615/.652/.167) is not a distance shooter or a finesse player, but he did lead the Ducklings in rebounds and assists as a junior during the waning days of the Clinton Administration, and he can convert close to the basket. He’s the Ducks’ major - - and really only - - scoring threat. 6-6 sophomore E.J. Singler (11.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, .545/.889/.545), Kyle’s little brother, is the other starting forward thus far, although in this game, Sim will probably assume the pine in favor of 6-8 junior Jeremy Jacob (7.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .583/1.000/.000), who is back with the team after sitting for the first three contests of the season. E.J., incidentally, is enjoying a bit of a breakout season so far and could be on his way to future conference honors if his family genes (remember, seemingly the entire Singler family consists of high-level athletes) provide any indication. Jacob started his career at Georgia, then joined Armstead at Chipola (Fl.) College in 2008, where the two powered the Indians (yes, I looked that up for you - - where else can you find this level of detail, we humbly ask?) to a third-place NJCAA finish two seasons back. The final scholarship contributor is 6-8 junior Tyrone Nared (6.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.2 tpg, .542/.625/.000), yet another juco import whose picture is found under “project” in Merriam-Webster’s latest edition.
Oregon has two huge problems - - first, they don’t have an inside game, and second, they can’t shoot from range. Other than that, they’ll be fine. They were supposed to feature 6-10 junior Michael Dunigan, who scored nearly in double digits last season and was starting to come on a legitimate “power conference” big man, but he jumped to Israel for the big shekels, which won’t prevent John Calipari from trying to bring him back in three years under an assumed name. Then there’s the outside shooting conundrum; the Ducks shot a reasonable 33.9% from distance last season, but that was with the Pac-10’s all-time leader in made three-point baskets, graduated senior Tajuan Porter, on hand. Without Dunigan and Porter, the Ducks will be more into one-on-one breakdown attempts and . . . well, who knows what else, really. This is, simply put, a team with some nice pieces, but without the ability to put the ball into the hoop on a consistent basis. If Oregon had its own journalism school and a slavish national media following that included an alumnus-cum-goodwill ambassador like Jay Bilas, they’d have been ranked in the top ten to start the season. East Coast Media Bias, we salute you.
There is nooooooooo excuse for Duke failing to win this game, and win it big. Sorry to put the pressure on, Blue Devils, but compared to that last one and the next one up, this is cake.
Duke 88, Oregon 59.
Sorry I skipped out on you all the other night. That quick turnaround between Monday and Tuesday night would have required the East Coast version of us to stay up past midnight to find out who Duke’s opponent in the final was going to be and THEN write the edition. And be in the office the next morning. And be alert enough to participate in an important meeting. Let’s just say I heard this sound.
Since Matt hasn’t gone through all the resumes to replace me yet, I’m back, like it or not. One thing I liked (smooooooth transition) was Duke exposing Kansas State as the over-rated pretenders that they are. As a bonus, the nation got an up close and personal view of what a complete maniac former mob enforcer Frank Martin is. If you think that act was rolled out just for us, take a look at these shots. I mean, the guy’s ears turned purple. That was a first for me. Hey, I just found out WikiLeaks has obtained and released a video of “Coach” Martin’s pre-game pep talk which you can view right here (sorry, you have to sit through an ad first).
As a bonus, we learned that just because you received some pre-season accolades, you won’t automatically score 20 points just for stepping on the floor. Well, *we* probably already knew that, but Jacob “Pud” Pullen apparently did not, and reacted to this newfound knowledge by sulking, moping and generally acting like a complete d-bag. Those eight misses from behind the You-Must-Dial-A-One-Before-Shooting line were a hefty contributor to Kansas State’s 17.6 performance from that part of the floor. At least he hit a free throw, although his 1-2 success effort there was pretty much the story for the team in general, with a collective 47.8 percent of their unguarded shots ending up in the right place.
I am a bit annoyed that Duke was out-rebounded by nine in this game, and it seems the defense is a bit soft in the middle, but, hey, it is still early in the year. Also, to echo something Matt touched on in the preview, if you circled the Marquette contest as the one where Thornton and Hairston would get riffed as K begins his lineup-trimming, then you just won yourself a cookie. My guess is we’ll see a bit more of them in December as the St. Louises and Elons come to town, but, once ACC play starts on Jan. 2 (for Duke, that is), they will be a couple of guys with really nice seats. Speaking of really nice, it must be time for …
WIN OF THE GAME: Not much of a surprise here. Irving, who had been somewhat deferring to the upperclassmen lately, decided to see what would happen if he treated Kansas State defenders to repeated views of the back of his jersey en route to the basket. It was like watching Lestat move around in “Queen of the Damned.”
FAIL OF THE GAME: This one falls on Matt. Why? In his otherwise fantastic preview, he failed to predict the stealthy defense by Kansas State guard Reesus Kupp, who disrupted several Duke fast breaks as well as a handful of drives to the basket in the half-court. Here’s a picture of him with some K-State fans. Granted, he was tripping the players, but he got away with it, which is a talent. And, of course, he didn’t contribute much else, no rebounds or assists and never took a shot. But his defense was key in the first half in keeping Duke from running away with the game.
Oh, yes! I am so darn funny. Every night when I go to bed, I can’t wait to find out what I will say the next day. And you probably saw through me anyway. This FAIL is on the NCAA for allowing stupid advertizing logos to be placed willy-nilly across the floor with no apparent controls in place to ensure they don’t interfere with the sport that will be taking place on that same surface. The number of phone calls and/or test messages a coach can send a recruit is highly regulated in accordance with NIST SP 800-53. But, want to coat some vinyl signs with Vaseline and slap them down at the top of the key where players will slip on them and fall down? Just write a check.
With that out of the way, Duke went and decided this would be the perfect time of the year to fly to the other side of the continent to play some Ducks in the form of the University of Oregon basketball team. Now, finally, Duke plays a true OOC road game, this one in the Rose Garden Arena, which, for some strange reason, the Ducks share with the Portland Trailblazers and, even stranger, is located some 200 miles north of their campus. I can’t quite figure out what’s going on there. I assume they have a practice facility closer by.
Anyway, the Head Duck is Dana Altman, currently in his first year after replacing Ernie Kent (a former Duck player), who was fired because, in the words of AD Mike Bellotti, “when I looked at the past five to six years, I did not see the improvement and consistency that I had hoped for.” For those of you who have not upgraded to BS Translator 5.1, that is code for “fundraising was lagging because Kent thought he was too important to suck up to the boosters.” Since he’s gone, we don’t have to worry about him. We sort of should worry about Altman, who spent 16 years running the Creighton program, a tenure that ended with 13 straight seasons of post-season play. Impressive, and a Missouri Valley Conference record.
By the way, before Creighton, Altman coached at Duke’s last opponent, Kansas State. It’s the circle of life, Simba.
So far this year, Altman made a photocopy of Virginia Tech’s schedule, facing off against the likes of North Dakota State, Denver University, the University of California – Santa Barbara, San Jose State and Texas Southern. And, in true Greenberg-esque form, is not coming into today’s game undefeated. They lost a close one to the Spartans and needed OT to shake the Bisons.
Given that run through Murderer’s Row, one would expect some gaudy stats out of these guys, but one, whoever that is, will be disappointed. They quack their way to nearly 77 points per game, but give up 69. They have outrebounded opposing counsel by less than two. The Fine Feathered Friends shoot pretty well, at just a hair under 44 percent, and keep the other side under .400. However, they make up for this by allowing their adversaries to nearly four out of every 10 shots from … long distance. It’s tough to come up with new silly metaphors for that. They also don’t get to the coupon line much more often than the teams they play, but are successful around 73 percent of the time.
A quick look at the roster shows that, wow, this team is not big. The tallest, Martin Seiferth, tops out at 6-10, but only averages 5.5 minutes per game. He’s also a 223 lb freshman from Germany, so if Coach K has posted a wanted ad on Craigslist for a Tall Stiff From Overseas Who Hasn’t Done Anything Yet But Will Dominate Against Duke, Martin probably shouldn’t apply. In fact, there isn’t a starter over 6-6. What’s this? Hey, someone get a hold of Kyle Singler. He’s going to be just tickled pink that one of the Duck players has the same last name as he does. Hold on, my producer is slipping me a note. Oh, well. I’ll be, E.J. Singler is Kyle’s brother. Who knew?
When’s the last time Duke played a team that housed one of its player’s brothers? And I don’t mean a Duke walk-on who happens to be the brother of the sixth man for UNC Greensboro or something like that. I mean brothers who are a big part of their respective teams, because that’s what we have here. Kyle’s little bro has started all five games this year, averaging 11.6 points and a couple of ticks more than 5 rebounds. I am by no means the institutional memory around here, and can’t rely on the official Duke game notes, because they aren’t available at this writing. So I’ll take a leap and say it was the third round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament, when Bobby Hurley faced off against his brother, Danny, the starting point guard for Seton Hall. Neither had a particularly good game, but, of course, each knew they were about to end the other’s season. Not the case today in Singler v Singler (sounds like a divorce case). Of course, Kyle hasn’t exactly been lighting things up lately, but, as I mentioned in an earlier edition, he’s switching from the wing to the front court multiple times each half, depending on what personnel is on the floor. That’s going to take time getting used to.
This sort of reminds me of what Jeff Capel said before the first Duke-UNC game when his brother, Jason, was a freshman there. Paraphrasing, it was something along the lines of “I hope Jason has a good game but Duke wins.” Sums it up for me.
Let’s wrap up with some dumb media. Brett Favre is currently being investigated by the NFL for allegedly sending pictures of his, ahem, goalpost to a former Jets employee. And, his on-the-field production has been less that productive. But Wrangler is still running his ads? Have you guys never heard of going dark when something bad has happened with either your product or with the spokesperson? I don’t want to hear about Favre’s jeans or how comfortable they are. I know too much about what he can’t keep in them.
Duke 84, Oregon 70.
2009-2010 Duke National Championship!! Season:
Matt 96-47 (.671)
duhomme 94-49 (.657)
Guests 16-4 (.800)