Wednesday, December 3, 2008

3 comments The Most Controversial Topic Ever: Duke Basketball

It is Fall/Winter and college basketball has started, so you know what that means! Time to start talking about Duke being a National Championship contender and then when it is Winter/Spring everyone can talk about how Duke is overrated and they never perform well come ACC and NCAA Tournament time. You will hear how they are 4-6 over their last 10 games as well and they will be eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. There are three articles posted in the past 12 hours that talk about how great Duke is going to be this year. They are all fawning over Duke and these accolades are premature.

So, with it being National Championship Contender time of year, let's let Pat Forde go first reassuring us why this year, Duke is different.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The popular game in college basketball right now is guessing who, if anyone, will arise to legitimately challenge the 800-pound, powder-blue gorilla named North Carolina.

The popular answer for anyone who reads this blog at one. Congratulations 2009 National Champions UNC Tar Heels! I am not trying to jinx them, this is really, really going to happen and I have prepared myself for it.

The answer is Duke.

The answer is wrong.

Overlooked, off-radar Duke. Really. For the first time since Jeff Capel was a player, not a coach, the Blue Devils are not swimming in overexposure.

Oh yeah, no overexposure here. The head coach was the head coach for the Olympic Gold Medal team, there have been 240 articles written about Greg Paulus not starting this year, and every single writer has picked them to be in the top 10 teams in the country.

haven't had their ears filled with premature hype.

I have to admit, for Duke, there has been just the right amount of hype. There has been hype, but nothing really over the top.

This week Duke rose to No. 4 in the rankings -- but on the buzz meter, Duke might as well have been Davidson. Except no Blue Devil was getting anywhere near the pub accorded to Stephen Curry.

This is only because the entire sportswriter nation is in love with Stephen Curry. They all go to games and hold up huge cardboards signs asking him to marry them followed by loud screaming in the camera. The reason Stephen Curry is getting publicity is because his team actually made it to the Elite Eight last year, something Duke has failed to do the past two years, which is unacceptable for them.

In the words of Tony Soprano to Richie Aprile, "those who want respect, get respect."

So don't get too cocky, Carolina. Duke is back.

You stay cocky Carolina. You have future NBA players on your bench, Duke has Lance Thomas and David McClure.

Duke is back without a powerhouse player in the middle, but with so many players who can do so many things that it can make up for that deficiency.

This article can now have officially been written every year about Duke for the past 15 years.

Singler was one of the few stars of the tremendous prep Class of 2007 who came back for a second season of college ball, and he'll be Duke's bell cow.

The reason Singler came back is because he weighed 150 pounds at the end of last year and could not have bench pressed a basketball at the end of the year he was so worn down. Due to Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek being "the little foul machines that could," in constant competition to see who can commit the most fouls in the smallest amount of time, Singler was forced to play center.

What has changed this year? Zoubek and Thomas are one year older, that is pretty much it. I will believe Singler won't wear down again when I see it come March.

Krzyzewski is banking on Paulus to take his reduction to roughly 20 minutes per game and handle it well. Just as he sold NBA superstars on supporting actor roles in the Olympics, he's selling Paulus and fellow upperclassmen David McClure and Lance Thomas on coming off the pine.

I am still in the acceptance stage of Paulus coming off the bench because I don't think a captain who has started three years should come off the bench, but Paulus has shown himself to have the athleticism of a wheelchair athlete, so it has looked like a good move so far.

There is also not a Top 10 team in the country David McClure and Lance Thomas would not be coming off the bench for. They would not even play significant minutes for UNC.

There have been hot starts before in recent years -- plenty of them, as the Blue Devils seemingly played over their heads and then wore down or were exposed come tournament time.

Exactly, let's quit writing articles about how great Duke is going to be until we see something has changed. It grows tiresome.

Jeff Goodman your turn.

This was un-chartered waters for Duke early in the season. A hostile territory.

"This was new for us," Duke junior Jon Scheyer said. "Most of our games are in Durham."

I have to admit, this did provide a solid test for Duke, but they also played a Purdue team that was very similar to them. Strong perimeter game, very little presence on the inside. That had to help a little bit.

The Blue Devils are hardly physically intimidating. They don't possess a sure-fire first-round NBA draft pick.

I am going to just go ahead and say this is very wrong. I googled "NBA 2009 mock draft" and got this, this, this, and this.

But this team is different than its predecessors.

It can hang its hat on defense.

Duke has always hung its hat on defense, this team is no different from its predecessors in that respect. You can't give the same reasons that were used last year and the year before why Duke is going to be better and actually make it to the Sweet Sixteen this year. I think everyone is overreacting to this win a little bit. It was a big win for Duke but not something that will mean anything in March if they stumble yet again.

This edition of the Blue Devils is far more athletic and experienced. Lance Thomas and David McClure are upperclassmen who bring energy and defensive tenacity to the table

McClure also brings the complete inability or want to shoot the ball, basically making it 4-on-5 on offense and Lance Thomas is, and will always be, a fouling machine. Granted a fouling machine who has finally learned to shoot a layup, but a foul machine nonetheless.

while Paulus is a senior who brings leadership and is arguably the team's top perimeter shooter.

Great how perceptions change. Last year Paulus was the underachieving, non athletic point guard for Duke who can't guard anyone. This year, by not starting, he is the college basketball version of David Eckstein.

He and Tyler Hansbrough have scheduled January 13, 2009 for the "Hustle Off" where each competitor will compete in a series of 10 events to show how much they hustle and can lead a team consisting of underprivileged kids. Look for it and you know Dick Vitale will be calling that event, so turn down your television.

"We know we can play with any team in the country," Singler said.

That's confidence, but it's still a little early for that.

Wh...wh...what? You spent the entire column saying how great and prepared Duke was to not repeat the same mistakes the prior two teams have endured and now you backtrack on the last sentence? I am confused.

Gregg "the guy with the picture that makes him look like a sexual predator" Doyel, your turn.

This is a good year to be just about anybody in college basketball, because just about anybody could win the national championship.

No, no, no. What indication has UNC given, playing without Tyler Hansbrough at times, that they are not the best team in the country? Was it beating UNC-A by 60 points or obliterating Notre Dame at a neutral site?

But that's one team. That's Tiger Woods. You can take Tiger Woods and give me the rest of the field for the 2009 NCAA title, and I'll like my chances. And if you give me the field -- you're giving me the field.

I will take UNC because they are the best team in the country. And if I choose UNC--I am choosing the best team.

I reserve the right to change my mind if UNC starts stumbling but this is not going to happen. They are pissed off about last year and more talented than even the 2005 National Championship team.

Duke's Kyle Singler will sit on somebody's bench because he has an NBA skill set if borderline NBA size and athleticism. Duke's Gerald Henderson might also sit on somebody's bench, because he has NBA athleticism though not even an NBDL skill set. For Purdue, Robbie Hummel could get an NBA contract some day, but I'm guessing it will be of the 10-day variety.

Why does Doyel put shit like this in his columns? Just to get a reaction I guess. Maybe this is true but Gregg seems to randomly throw things like this comment in a column so he can be the "shoot from the hip, I tell you things you don't want to know" type columnist. He just comes off as an asshole.

Duke doesn't have a point guard

Apparently Gregg Doyel is the only one who missed the "Nolan Smith vs. Greg Paulus" debate all summer. They don't have an All American point guard but they have two above average point guards.

Without a lot of NBA pretty boys, Duke is a junkyard dog of a team, and it gnawed on Purdue for 40 minutes. That's why Duke could go a long way, maybe even all the way.

Based on what? They are tough now? Toughness does not translate to success necessarily.

Because it plays hard -- and because it won't have to play anybody great, not in the NCAA tournament anyway,

Gregg Doyel is a moron. Duke will have to play someone great in the NCAA Tournament, unless he is suggesting Duke and Carolina are easily the top 2 teams in the country. Which is wrong. Even if he thinks there are no great teams in the country, other than UNC, the rest of the teams have similar skill levels to Duke, thereby giving Duke a challenge. If UNC is the only great team there should be a lot of competition in the NCAA Tournament.

not unless it finally runs into the Tar Heels in the Final Four collision to end all collisions.

Gregg Doyel is still a moron. Duke won't have to wait until the Final Four for the "collision to end all collisions" they play twice in the regular season and possibly even a third time in the ACC Tournament. How Gregg can miss this, I have no idea. This is horrible.

The gap between North Carolina and the rest of the country is so large, even a known UNC nemesis like Krzyzewski admits as much.

"North Carolina is on a little bit different level," he said

I am glad we can all agree on this. What else do you expect Coach K to say though? "They suck and I think they are overrated?"

Because there are no teams in the void that comes after the Tar Heels. After UNC, it could be Duke. It could be Purdue. It could be your team -- whoever that team is.

It won't be Duke, unless something has changed this year from last year, and I won't believe that change has happened until I see it in the NCAA Tournament or Duke goes above .500 during the last three weeks of the year.

It is time to quit writing positive articles about Duke being a National Championship contender until they prove something in March.


silverbax said...

This is a well thought out post, although I don't think Duke is really under the radar. A lot of people went out to grab Duke basketball tickets this year because they thought the team was gonna be special.

Bengoodfella said...

Thanks, I am not always great at thinking things out, usually I just start typing.

I think Duke is under the radar compared to how much hype they usually get, which is fine with me. I think Duke basketball fans know this team is going to be pretty good this year, which is why the tickets are sky high in price. Unfortunately they have to play an NBA team in UNC, who is going to blow everyone away this year.

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