TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XV, Episode 19
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HAWK? EDITION
March 16, 2012
(15S) LEHIGH (26-7, 11-3 Patriot) v. (2S) #8 DUKE (27-6, 13-3)
Matt's comments in blue.
Ett Breppenheimer's comments in white.
KELLY GREEN DEPARTMENT: So by now you've heard that Kelly won't (or almost certainly won't - - as ever, the games continue) play against Lehigh, and if you penetrate the Krzyzewskian Curtain, you learn from firsthand observers of Thursday's open practice in Greensboro that Ryan didn't look like he would even be ready to play *next* weekend. This means that K and Duke's infominions are up to their usual nonsense obscuring the true nature of injuries, of course (I guess they feel they have to compete with Rrhoid on that count, dadgum it), but let's go a little deeper with the analysis, or try to do so, shall we?
First off, this is not necessarily the end of Duke's season, although it probably will be, since this team has unbelievably atrocious chemistry, and Krzyzewski, whom some preposterous homers on the Internet were actually touting for ACC COY as recently as fourteen days ago, never did figure out any sort of formula to solve or mitigate the problem. K's goofy stubbornness (one word: Gbinije) aside, however, as bad as Duke's offense was without Kelly, the defense was equally improved, because while Ryan's offensive contributions are practically irreplaceable, his defense is pathetic. Yes, it's true! I don't care how many charges the kid took this season, or how many defensive rebounds he got (as if that says anything about his ability to shut his man down). He gets blown by repeatedly by almost everyone he guards. Just think back to Nikita Mescheriakov of Wake Forest Bootsying us because Ryan couldn't stop him from crossing the street, let alone making drives to the basket. Unsurprisingly, with the far more defensively skilled Hairston getting significant minutes against VPI and Florida State, Duke turned in two of its more impressive defensive efforts of the season. However, all of that was obscured by the Blue Devils' totally moribund offense, and the utter lack of space that Ryan's absence created. The horrendous VPI hood-squad looked like it had six guys on the court for most Duke possessions; the Seminoles appeared to be fielding a punt return coverage unit.
Second - - so what next? Well, this is where COACHING comes into play. We'll just take it on faith that there's nothing that Krzyzewski can do about The Duke Foot Injury, and that there are no common denominators such as shoes, facility surfaces, overly intense practices, and so forth that might explain why the Blue Devils always suffer foot injuries - - and almost never seem, knock on wood, to suffer any other kind of serious ailment, Dunleavy's mono and Gerald Henderson's seemingly-disappearing asthma aside. The Duke Foot Injury - - accept it! With that established, I'll also allow that aside from Rivers, Kelly was the worst possible person for this Duke squad to lose. Curry and Dawkins are interchangeable; Thornton and Cook play the same position, at least in theory; neither one of the Plumlees is exactly indispensable (but n.b. that Miles is about twice as valuable as Mason); Hairston is already a reserve; and like Delta Force, but with slightly less of an impact, Gbinije doesn't even officially exist. The remainder of the team is being redshirted for reasons that now look pretty silly, and those moves had better pay off in the future. In any event, because of Kelly's critical and unique role and his supremely ill-timed injury, it's easy to throw up one's hands and absolve Krzyzewski of all blame or ability to remediate this unfortunate development.
Third - - except that he's "the greatest of all time." He earns tens of millions of dollars per annum. And it's HIS FREAKING JOB to be able to figure out what to do in situations just like this. Michigan State lost a key offensive player, 6-6 freshman Branden Dawson (the Spartans' third-leading scorer, their second-leading rebounder, and a top-notch wing defender), for the season just before the Big Ten Tournament, and Izzo - - now get a load of this! - - reallocated the kid's minutes to some other guys, made some offensive and defensive adjustments, and . . . played his team into a one seed in the NCAAs. Isn't that amazing?? So . . . why can't Krzyzewski do this, exactly? Is this team really THAT bad?
Fourth, don't discount the possibility that Krzyzewski actually soft-tossed the ACC-T. Of course it's shocking heresy to make this suggestion, but Duke had virtually nothing to gain by playing hard in the event, because they weren't going to win three games in three days, and their NCAA-T seed was pretty much locked as long as they won on Friday. So this might explain why not too much effort seemed to have been devoted to new offensive strategies to compensate for Kelly's absence. And before anyone sneers at this, remember that K used to care about the ACC-T very little - - that was back in the day when we routinely made the Final Four instead. Somewhere along the line, the focus shifted, and with the awesome exception of 2010 and the added anomaly of 2004, now it's all about winning the ACC-T and bowing out in, typically, the Sweet Sixteen. However, perhaps K analyzed things rationally and concluded that Swofffest 2012 didn't really matter, at least not in comparison to other things on the horizon? Here's how we'll know this: if Duke looks clueless, listless, and innovation-free on offense against either Lehigh or (if we beat Lehigh, which we actually might not) Notre Dame/Xavier, then we were just a bad team and/or a badly coached team this season, which team had enough talent and good fortune or timing to look great in Maui, against six ACC patsies on the road, and in TeeHee and (as usual) Chapel Hill. However, if we're moving the ball, moving without the ball, setting screens, doing some different things to generate looks, driving the bucket, making good shots created by penetration, getting to the line, and acting like any competent team actually does when it is in possession of the basketball - - then you know that Krzyzewski sandbagged the ACC-T. And I applaud him for it.
And now, before we get to the Mountain Hawks, (more than) a few comments from twelve hours of basketball on Thursday. (This is the considerable upside of having your own shop, volunteering, of course.)
UPCHUCK DEPARTMENT: As if watching his stupid and unfunny commercials for an office supply/technology company aren't bad enough, the Round Mound of Rebound was in one of the Conglomerate's studios. He hasn't improved his knowledge of college basketball since last season, either - - his major contributions on Thursday were (1) indicating that Syracuse could solve all of its halftime problems against UNC-A by switching to a man-to-man defense (no responsive comment required) and (2) managing to make Kenny Smith look trenchant and profound by comparison. Now that's not easy.
AD NAUSEAM DEPARTMENT: Kudos to commenter elite tom for this department moniker. Okay, so here's what is in the rotation on the Conglomerate, with letter grades:
(1) Napa Know-How follow-up with the parts store clown actually talking in detail about Mustang engines for something like 18 seconds. We know the duration of his monologue because the other oaf in the spot times him with a shot clock (oddly starting to run it at 24 - - nice rules knowledge). D-minus.
(2) Mayhem "Satellite Dish." Mayhem has gotten funnier and funnier since his debut. His lines in this one, and the simulation of the dish arm before he collapses into the carport, are pretty good. A.
(3) Applebag's ad where the improbably adorable waitress says "The game's on behind me, right?" Shouldn't she already be aware of that fact, by dint of, say, glancing at the television at some point before she walked over to this table of "customers?" Wouldn't the better question be "You're really into the game that's on behind me, right?" Just that one dialogue change would actually make this ad bearable. In scripted television, few things annoy me more than logical problems that can be cured with three seconds of thought by the writers. Bonus debit points for the fact that the idle cutie then remains at the table nodding her head and smiling as the faceless voiceover guy reads the remainder of the ad copy. Wouldn't that irritate the dude watching "the game" and cause her to lose out on a good tip? F.
(4) "What am I, some sort of summoner who can just summon up footage via the summoning process to this, my summoning device?" This old chestnut has been around since before Christmas, and, again, could have been largely fixed just by not having the dude use the concept of "summoning" twice in the same sentence. For example:
"What am I, some sort of summoner who can just CONJURE up footage to my phone?"
Boom. Fixed. Now, if some a**hole lawyer and pretend sportswriter can figure this out from his living room, why can't a professional Madison Avenue ad copywriter? I donít know. In any event, the acting in this one is excellent. The guy is great and the woman is . . . well, she's either an outstanding commercial actress or she really is exactly like that in real life. I'm going with skilled performer who didn't have to reach too hard for life experience upon which to draw for her delivery. C+.
(5) Hardcore Pawn promo on TruTV. Okay, now, here's a good test of everyone's critical thinking skills. 48 million viewers??????? 48 *million* viewers??? Did they mistakenly mean to indicate the number of times that they've now showed the commercial on FalsTv? Let's break this down. I just checked on how "2 Broke Girls" did on a random recent Monday night this season, choosing January 16 for no particular reason. 11.29 million viewers. That's for one of the most popular shows on a real television network (CBS, in fact), not former Court TV trying to foist itself off under some purportedly hip new nickname. So multiply that by four, and you don't still don't have 48 million. Is FalsTV actually adding up all of the "people" who have watched any episode of this series since its inception, simply by glomming together the number of viewers for each individual episode? Yes - - almost certainly. There have been 57 episodes of the show, and 48 million divided by 57 is about 842,000. ("No, Captain - - 842,105.26." "Yes; thank you, Mr. Spock.") Doesn't that seem like a more realistic number of people who could be watching a ridiculous low-rent reality show about a Detroit pawnshop on some brokedick cable network? And do they really think they can get away with this claim? The latest *Super Bowl*/Quinquennial Scintillating Defeat of Hoodichick by Eli Manning drew 111 million viewers. Hardcore Pawn? Yeah, it drew every bit of 43.24% of that. Not bad, huh? Jesus. Newsflash to NotSoTruTV: you don't count the number of viewers for every single show you've aired and then act like the sum total of these theoretical persons has collective power in the aggregate ("48 million viewers agree"), because YOU'RE RECOUNTING THE SAME (INTRIGUING) PEOPLE OVER AND OVER AGAIN. They're not harming anyone with this awe-inspiring lie, so it's difficult to see one's way clear to any reason why this will be redressed, but the insult to the intelligence of the viewer - - and I don't mean the Hardcore Pawn viewer - - is breathtaking. F.
(6) "What month would I lose to get more March?" First of all, are surveyors really querying bearded stiffs at sports bars with such conundrums? And do these inquirers actually have the power to grant this calendar-tinkering? In any event, I don't really care how many times you've put out THE ONE GOOD EYE, MIKE PATRICK!! HAHAHAHAH of some nineteenth-century admiral with an ill-aimed New Year's Eve champagne cork (December just missed being the answer by a few seconds, I guess, or maybe January was the better response because it brought the ensuing lawsuit and social ostracism). For anyone over the age of seventeen, the only correct answer to this question is August: 31 days of searing heat and the lone month with nothing even close to a holiday. (June has Father's Day.) Goofy beard, too. D-minus.
(7) "What's the best way to Santa Cruz?" Is anyone really this stupid? And I don't buy for one second that the iPhony can actually do what the commercial claims, at least not quite so simply and seamlessly. But I do like the idea of the "rock god" imbecile's phone suddenly announcing "Yes-from-now-on-I-will-call-you-member-of-hapless-race-that-my-kind-shall-soon-exterminate." "What?" "Never-mind." F.
(8) As you are aware, federal law requires all television commercials for American motor vehicles to be incredibly creepy, impossibly smug, or both. Whether it's a bunch of dongheads (badly) singing Spandau Ballet's sole hit song while contorting themselves in cabin-seated dance moves that strongly imply demonic possession, or some prick smiling smarmily at the console of his Buick after a totally superfluous, clear blue sky cameo by Peter Frampton, no violations of this statute are to be seen this time around. Oh, wait - - that's not true. The one with the stored musical acts trailing the woman who does the errands around town is good, particularly when the Gregorian monks chant "Dry Clean-e-rs." That one is funny and clearly breaking the law. Strange. At least Kate Walsh isn't leering at me carnivorously about the capabilities of her Cadillac. F.
(9) Bobby Knight insurance ad. I go back and forth on Knight as (a) impulse-control-lacking psychopath or (b) avuncular Duke-lover who hated NCCH enough to make that awesome Espen video demonstrating how "#50" for the Femme Blue clearly traveled (a lot), but this spot is pretty bad and has no repeat watchability. Now Knight versus Mayhem - - there's some gold to be mined there. "I'm a chair. And I'm about to be thrown across the court by a maniac to protest an abundantly-earned technical foul whistled by Fred Jaspers." Nah, come to think of it, there was actually nothing funny about that situation. Just like this ad. D-minus.
(10) Shaquille O'Neal is comfortable in his own skin. Because it's hilarious to scare the crap out of eight year-olds playing basketball by encouraging five other eight year-olds to scream and run right at them. Ha hee! [wipes away tears] Oh, the hilarity. Man, I just CANNOT get enough Shaquille O'Neal!!! F. Is there worse than an F?
Thank goodness Grant Hill - - looking like he hasn't aged a day since 1994, incidentally - - is in some of those commercials watching the tournament on his phone/tablet. Seeing Grant in the modern era, and seeing him get attention for throwing The Pass at the same time, is awesome. Eat it, Kentucky fans. Grant: A-plus.
FAVORITE GAME OF THE DAY DEPARTMENT: Easy - - Iowa State mostly blowing the Connvicts off the court in Louisville. Now, you want to talk about a bad coaching job? Say hello to Calgoon and George Blaney, circa this season. Of course, when you have that punk Napier, the overrated Lamb, spectacular, mold-shattering ultrabust Andre Drummond (29.5% free throw shooting on the season - - are you kidding???), that stiff Oriakhi, another overpromoted bust in Roscoe Smith, the laughable Niels Giffey, yet another disappointment in DeAndre Daniels (glad we didn't get him), and one player who seemed like he cared, Ryan Boatwright, then yeah, it's going to be tough getting out of the first round. But there were so many things to love about this game! Drummond was just awesome - - I swear that he was sitting in a recliner out there left of the lane for most of the game. Off to the Association, you tool! Then there's the resounding failure of ubercreep Raftery, coaching Connecticut at the top of his lungs from the media table while raving on and on about "Jimmy" and how many tough breaks his good pal has had this season. I don't wish ill health on anyone, but I think reasonable minds can mostly agree that quite apart from the unfortunate health issues from which he seems to have welcomely recovered, Calgoon has every piece of basketball-related karma that you can imagine coming to him. Every bit.
That's what happens when you get gifted one championship (thanks, Krzyzewski!), get your second courtesy of the exact same benefactor (thanks, Krzyzewski!) (neither Duke nor U-Con was losing to the Hewitt-"coached" BugThugs in the 2004 final under any dice roll), and totally luck your way into a third with ineligible players sleepwalking through the entire season, then turning it on for the last 11 games because of a near-superhuman performance by one guy. And it's also what happens when you break almost every rule in the book along the way.
Meanwhile, on the other sideline, here's Fred Hoiberg, one of the sport's few actually classy people, returning to his alma mater and doing a terrific coaching job this season. And I was not a sufficiently sophisticated consumer of basketball resources this season to realize that ISU was using a point forward in 6-8 sophomore Royce White. He can't shoot free throws, but - - what a stud! He was an absolute pleasure to watch. Finally, Connvicticut won't be darkening the NCAA-T next season either, thanks to the NCAA's sudden discovery of the heretofore alien concept of academic integrity. Awww. Wonder if all those guys will go pro rather than effectively sit out a season? What a shame. Hey, "Jimmy" - - just retire now, please. Thanks.
This was truly a blast of a game to watch.
OUTRAGEOUS OFFICIATING DEPARTMENT: Not as fun to watch, at least not in the sense of feeling any satisfaction at the end, was the contest between North Carolina-Asheville and Syracuse in Pittsburgh. I'm sorry to my Official Syracuse Guy and everyone's Official Syracuse Guy everywhere, but . . . yeah, you sort of lucked out with that one. Listen, something has to be done about the officiating in this sport. And Karl Hess was not even (directly) involved! True, he was in the building (the New Igloo, Corporate Shillname Deleted), having worked the earlier Southern Mississippi-Kansas State matchup - - so we can assume that he mind-melded with the other officials in their dressing room before the day's festivities began. In fact, Hess worked the Wildcats' win over the Golden Eagles with Gene Steratore, and it was that combo that caused West Virginia to lose to Syracuse earlier this season on a missed goaltending call. So yeah, something was up. (By the way, how can Steratore be my favorite NFL referee except Mike Carey, and yet be as bad as Karl Hess when he switches over to college basketball? Hess really does have the ability to infect everyone around him with his breathtaking incompetence.)
Getting back to the state of college basketball officiating, the game seems to be moving too fast for these guys. Sure, sure, they get a lot of calls right, but as a little rules maven, I'll share a secret with you - - so do I, from my living room. So do you, I'm certain. So do most radio crews and even some television crews. And yet, these guys who are actually empowered to call the game commit boner after outcome-determinative boner. Is it time to add a fourth official? I don't care for one second about the NCAA's costs; let's just agree that it can pretty easily afford it. Or maybe we could stop having the same 100 guys do almost every significant, high-profile college game, including those in the NCAA-T (which uses 98 officials), and make way for some new blood?
Somehow promoting better understanding of the rules among the players, coaches, broadcasters, and the general public could help, too. I'm not sure how it's possible to achieve this, and maybe it would make no difference. But the entire debate surrounding the NCA-Syracuse lane violation call (which was absolutely, 100% correct) was sort of shocking. Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, and Reggie Miller were presumably compensated for serving as the television announcers for the game. I don't know about Harlan, but Elmore (hating jerk that he is) played ball at a pretty high level, and Miller was an Association legend. Now they broadcast basketball for a living. Elmore even has a Harvard law degree, so the idea of rules and the importance of understanding how they work should be familiar to him. Yet none of the three of them knew that players who are not on the lane for a free throw have to stay behind the three-point arc until the try hits the rim? Yeah, if a guy can run from the free throw line extended to the rim for the board, while the guys on the lane have to remain frozen in position, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. How could three announcers, two of them former NBA players, not know this???? And they had to be corrected by SETH DAVIS, OF ALL PEOPLE??? Ooooooof!
My point here is that if the broadcasters don't know the rules, then you start to wonder who does. And it seems to me that it would promote better administration of the sport's games if everyone who draws a college basketball-related paycheck or otherwise cares to do so would learn the rulebook, so that we all understand what the zebras are doing and why. I mean, given that the average fan does not understand the fundamental traveling violation, as has been convincingly demonstrated to me over and over again by attending and watching countless games with people who loudly complained about traveling calls being made or not - - and were dead wrong about it - - are we really that sure that, say, Doug Shows and Scott "Pants-Popper" Thornley get it? Then there's the aspects of officiating that are actually hidden from everyone but the striped shirts themselves, like (just to take one example) the exact meaning and appropriate usage of the different kinds of signals to indicate the types of common fouls (e.g., blocking, illegal use of the hands, holding, etc.) These signals are made to the scorer's table by the referee calling the foul, but television never shows it, and the actual playbook/game log that includes these pieces of information is not available to the general public. Wouldn't it be interesting to be able to read a transcript of a game that included the exact types of fouls and violations called? Well, you'll just have to make your own! It's sort of ridiculous. Maybe I'm the only one who cares about this, but I doubt it.
Let's promote rules awareness and transparency, have someone rewrite the near-impenetrable NCAA basketball rulebook in a comprehensible fashion, publish a guide to the officials' signals, and then maybe people like Len Elmore can pick up on the actual rules of the game.
THEN, when everyone and Elmore understand the rules, it should be easier for the officials to make correct calls, and easier to criticize them when they don't. Might *that* break the fiefdom that people like Tim Higgins, Jim Burr and Karl Hess, all of them dramatically incompetent in my earnest opinion, have over calling critical games in this sport?
Anyway, while the lane violation call against North Carolina-Asheville was correct, the officials blew an obvious goaltend on Syracuse (again!) early in the second half, probably because a foul had been called, costing NCA a possible two points. Then there was the atrocious OOB call that Ed Corbett just - - absolutely missed in every way imaginable. How could he not have seen that, from ten feet away? (By the way, as a symptom of the media's oft-skewed and incorrect perspective on officiating that I was ranting about above, check out this blog, which was only one of the many media outlets to mistake, or at best obfuscate, Corbett's postgame comments to a Fox pool reporter about the lane violation call, which he also made, by ascribing all of his remarks to analysis of the OOB situation.) Asheville was trailing by three at that point and would have received the ball on the sideline in front of their own bench, to the left of their basket, if Corbett had done his job. And please, to those out there who are saying that a foul should have been called on the NCA player who bumped Triche - - stop. Incidental contact that does not create an advantage is, although this is not commonly understood, not a common foul. It's a flagrant or a technical foul if it's deliberate, but otherwise, it's not a violation. This was a classic such case. Don't take my word for it - - the nation's second president and the current NCAA officiating czar, John Adams, told the Turner studio crew the same thing.
Something has to be done. Yes, Syracuse probably would have found a way to win anyway. But this was truly egregious.
Final comment on this - - Boeheim's postgame remarks about the better team winning and effectively saying "scoreboard" were shockingly arrogant. I thought he was better than that. Disappointing.
HOW ABOUT SOME DUKE CONTENT???? DEPARTMENT: Oh, you want Duke content?? Well, what are you doing here? I have so much else to talk about, as you can tell. But of course - - here you are.
WE NOW PRESENT WHO ARE THESE CLOWNS:
As I mentioned in my last post, Lehigh is the Patriot League tourney champion. The conference was famously portrayed in Feinstein's excellent book "The Last Amateurs," which tracked the conference's 1999-2000 season, and was so titled because of the fact that the member institutions did not then offer athletic scholarships. Not surprisingly, that has now changed, leaving the Ivy League as the only Division I conference without basketball scholarships, and making the theme behind Feinstein's tome all the more poignant and wistful. Although it gets almost no national attention, there's some pretty good basketball being played in the Patriot League. Mike Krzyzewski (thankfully) knows a little bit about the conference, since the United States Military Academy (d/b/a "Army" for sports purposes) is a member. In fact, K earned his first ever Division I coaching win, back in 1975 when he was West Point's coach, against Lehigh. Interesting. Their starters are:
Jordan Hamilton, 6-6 SR - - last season's sixth man slid into the starting lineup this year and is strong, but slow. The Seattle product weighs only 205 and is not a banger - - he's capturing only 1.7 rpg and hardly ever goes to the line.
John Adams, 6-6 SR - - yeah, another John Adams, appropriately enough for the Patriot League. This one is neither the nation's second president nor the NCAA's coordinator of men's basketball officiating, but he was a starter for some of his junior year, and came off the bench this season before starting Lehigh's most recent eight games. 4.8 ppg and 3.5 rpg; he can hit the three as well.
Gabe Knutson, 6-9 JR - - a goofy looking big man from the Midwest (Urbandale, Iowa, a Des Moines suburb) who eerily resembles Matt Howard with a zany headband. Since everyone on Duke ably handled Matt Howard in each of the last two seasons, with the notable exception of Kyrie Irving's toe, let's hope Duke can contain the imitation. 12.1 ppg and 5.5 rpg; has a bit of a stepout game but is mostly a banger. Gets to the line quite a bit and shoots 80% on freebies.
Mackey McKnight, 6-0 SO - - oh, whew, he's the point guard. And he's not 6-6? Much relief. 3.7/1.8 A/TO ratio and a pretty good shooter at .433/.785/.338. 1.1 spg but is not renowned as a strong defender.
C.J. McCollum, 6-3 JR - - a legitimate pro prospect and one of Division I's leading scorers at 21.9 ppg. And he's not Billy the Bricklayer either, like (say) Terrell Stoglin - - he shoots .455/.821/.356. A great defender, too, averaging 2.6 steals a game. He takes more than a third of Lehigh's shots from the floor and, get this, must! be! guarded! Will draw Tyler Thornton for sure.
BENCH? Mostly three guys.
B.J. Bailey, 6-3 SO - - transfer from Boston University and the first player off the bench in most situations. Only 3.0 ppg, but in the Hawks' last eight games, he's gone 12-20 from three-point distance.
Holden Greiner, 6-7 JR - - relief forward who sounds like a Great Gatsby character hanging out in a smoking jacket in East Egg. Averaging 10.0 ppg, but lost his starting job to Adams seven games ago and played only five minutes in the Patriot title game at Bucknell. However, just four days before that, in the Patriot semis, he had 14 points in 13 minutes against American.
Justin Maneri, 6-8 SR - - the backup center, averaging 3.0 ppg and 2.1 rpg. Season high of seven boards.
BOTTOM LINE THIS FOR ME, PLEASE: Well, I'm having trouble escaping parallels to two prior seasons: 1997 and 2008. In each, Duke overachieved and there was talk about Krzyzewski doing a magnificent coaching job, because to do what he did with those groups of players must have perforce been amazing. I didn't quite see it the same way in 2008 and wondered why that team wasn't better, but in 1997, yeah, he did turn in a great coaching effort. In any case, in both of those seasons, I perceived chemistry issues generated by non-team-type, me-first, coaching-resistant players like Greg Newton and Gerald Henderson, and the team proved it by barely winning its first-round NCAA games (over Murray State in 1997 and Belmont in 2008) against 15 seeds. Against Murray, Duke won by just three; against Belmont, the Blue Devils won by just one and honestly by every right should have lost. In fact, speaking of Henderson, it's a strong comment on my view of his overall Duke career that I consider his finger roll to win that game with 11.9 seconds left to be his crowning collegiate achievement.
Anyway, in each year, Duke was pretty much rolled in the second round. In 1997, it was Providence College, the ten seed, winning 98-87, and the game wasn't really that close. I know because I was there, in Charlotte, to see the sad end of Jeff Capel's playing career. (Interestingly, although I have attended something like 30 to 35 Duke games in person since, including road games in TeeHee, Blacksburg (twice), Atlanta (@ GIT), Clemson, several ACC Tournaments including 2001, Kentucky at the Meadowlands in December of 1998, beating Southern Cal in Philadelphia in 2001 to go to the Final Four, and beating Illinois (tee hee) and Xavier in Atlanta in 2004 to go to the Final Four - - the Providence game in 1997 is the last time I saw Duke lose in person.) In 2008, we lost our second-round game to West Virginia at the Phone Booth in Washington, by six, and again, the final margin is misleading. We were totally outplayed.
I'd be remiss if I didn't note that Duke exacted near-immediate revenge on West Virginia and the disgusting Joe Mazzulla, as we all know. We have never played Providence again since, but our revenge there was that PC's little mercenary team used its win over Duke to propel it to the Elite Eight, and the whole hullabaloo helped its coach land the Virginia job after the ronin all left. That coach, of course, was Macrocephapete. And Duke spent the next seven seasons beating the crap out of him and forcing him to call four timeouts in the first seven minutes of nearly every meeting. Good times. No, great times. Truly the Peter Principle in action.
But those revenge moments, even the one over Thuggy and Company from two seasons ago, seem like distant memories right now. This team is lost, poorly coached, and disconnected from its historical legacy. I hope like heck that I'm wrong, but I do not expect the team to win more than one more game - - this one. And even that could be tough. Lehigh can't board very well and amassed its stat profile against a very weak schedule, but the Hawks are one of the best free-throw shooting teams in Division I and also a decent three-point shooting team. The former characteristic, anyway, should be schedule-independent.
Kelly or not, Duke should roll these guys. But when your coach is telling the media that he doesnít get Andre Dawkins, when Rivers is showing signs of (yup!!!) fatigue, Curry hasn't played well at all in weeks, and the team's last good game was in Tallahassee, it's hard to predict much more than what we saw in 1997 and 2008. Honestly, let's all just pull for the team to win this game irrespective of names on jerseys or seeds or expectations. Then we'll take it from there. Thanks for reading. Go Duke!!!!!
Duke 72, Lehigh 69.
Last Edition's Score Prediction Margin Variance:
0. Just a three-point shift of my entire prediction, going down, and I would have had it nailed. Hey, I have to brag in those very few instances when it's possible. And I wasn't exactly happy about it.