Posts Tagged ‘jon scheyer’

The Double Bonus: Duke Wins!

Tim and John S collected themselves after last night’s brilliant National Championship to bring you this special National Championship Edition of The Double Bonus:

TIM: So John, are we allowed to breathe now?

JOHN S: I guess you can. I still haven’t. That game was the most nerve-wracking, heart-wrenching, emotionally draining game I’ve ever watched as a Duke fan. It unfolded almost like a nightmare. Butler was doing to Duke exactly what it had been doing to teams all Tournament long: Staying close and then holding them without a field goal in the final minutes. It looked like it was setting up perfectly for a Butler comeback, with Nolan Smith, our best player throughout the Tournament, and Kyle Singler, our best player in the Final Four, each clunking shots off the front of the rim, setting up not one but TWO attempts at the game-winner by Butler’s star.

And I, like so many others, thought they were both going in when they left Gordon Hayward’s hands…. Continue reading

Talkin’ Basketball: Duke v. Butler

TIM: John, here we are, 143 days after I wrote my introductory “It’s College Basketball Season!” post, and the only two times I spent entire bullet points on back on November 13 are the only two teams still playing on April 5. Did I diverge from my prognosticated path? Sure. But come on, where’s my dap?

JOHN S: Sorry, Tim, no dap. Here’s why: 1) It’s not like you said in that post that either team would make it to the Final Four; you just pointed out that both teams would have intriguing storylines all season, with Butler flirting with an undefeated or one-loss season, and Duke thriving thanks mostly to two white players. 2) You were wrong on both counts! Butler’s early season losses kept them out of the AP Top Ten all season, and even though the Bulldogs haven’t lost since before Christmas, they were under the radar heading into the Tournament. Meanwhile, the “dynamic duo” that you hyped for Duke ended up being two-thirds of the Big Three, with Nolan Smith’s contributions equally those of Scheyer and Singler.

So, sorry, but no dap for you. Not even you saw this coming. This David vs. Goliath, Good vs. Evil, Cinderella vs. the Wicked Step-Sisters matchup. Are you even going to be able to, in good conscience, root for Duke? I mean, even our guy Joe Posnanski is making Hoosiers references now

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Talkin’ Final Four: Duke v. West Virginia

TIM: John, as you know, I am very happy that Duke is in the Final Four. But there has been a bit of an unintended consequence of the Blue Devils’ advancement this season; namely, did you know that people don’t like Duke? That they actively root against Duke? That they may even–and I can’t believe I’m saying this–hate Duke?

I always considered us rather popular.

JOHN S: You may not be wrong about the popular thing. Yes, people “hate” Duke, but they hate Duke the same way they hate the Yankees, the Lakers, Notre Dame, etc. That is, people hate Duke because they are the team of front-runners, passive followers of the game, and entitled fans. Of course, there are components of race and class in the hatred around Duke, but mainly it comes down to this: Success breeds resentment.

Which is actually why this team presents such a problem to Duke haters. There has certainly been a share of anti-Duke sentiment in the run-up to this Final Four–enough to turn scumbag Bob Huggins into a likable coach–but it really hasn’t been a dominant storyline. I’ve actually seen more articles—like this one and this one and this one–calling out Duke haters for basically being hackneyed and outdated.

Because this team hasn’t been talked about all year, doesn’t have any real national stars, was not a presumptive Final Four team, and doesn’t live and die by the three–in short it doesn’t exhibit the qualities of traditional hated Duke teams.

Part of this is also due to the simple fact that Duke hasn’t been to the Final Four since 2004; there are people in high school who can’t remember the last time Duke won a national championship. Duke hate just doesn’t resonate like it once did.

With that said, if Duke and Butler meet in the championship, I’m sure fans will view it as Good vs. Evil, David vs. Goliath.

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Talkin’ Final Four: Butler vs. Michigan State

John S: Alright, Tim, it’s Final Four time. I don’t know how we manage during the two weeks before the Super Bowl, because just having two more basketball free days really chills my excitement for the Final Four. An up-for-grabs game between two very likable teams that not many people saw getting this far, though, is a great way to start the weekend. But, this game is going to be UGLY. Neither of these teams plays a very fast game, particularly now that Kalin Lucas is gone, and each of them likes to keep the game low-scoring. Matt Howard, Butler’s leading rebounder who is going to be counted on to hang with Michigan State’s great rebounders, seems to start the game with three fouls. Butler managed to beat Syracuse and Kansas State by getting them to take bad shots, but the Bulldogs themselves haven’t shot particularly well either. So this game may not be the most aesthetically pleasing of the Tournament. My question to you: Will it be ugly exciting, or ugly boring?

Tim: Well, if you run down the games these two teams have played in the Tournament so far, it’s hard not to envision this being ugly exciting. Michigan State won its four games by a total of 13 points–which I think is the fewest ever for a Final Four team. After its first-round win over UTEP, Butler’s last three games have come down to the final minute. I have no doubt in my mind that this game is going to be close. Continue reading

Talkin’ Basketball: Duke vs. Baylor

The last Regional Final will be the most exciting/anxious/nerve-racking one for us here at NPI, as our alma mater takes on upstart and underrated third-seeded Baylor. Tim and John S broke down the game as objectively as they could, although their conclusions might leave you questioning that statement.

JOHN S: Well this is the Elite Eight game we (well, at least we at NPI) have been waiting for: Duke-Baylor. Duke is the last remaining #1 seed and therefore the last hope of this not becoming the first Final Four since 2006, and only the second overall, not to feature a single top seed. Even if the Blue Devils do make it, though, they are not exactly an intimidating 1-seed. Steve Lavin on ESPN yesterday referred to Duke as “the underdogs” (not that I would intentionally give credit to something Lavin says, but just the fact that he could realistically call the third team on the S-curve an “underdog” was a little telling). A lot of people are surely going to take Baylor after the team’s utter dismantling of Saint Mary’s in the Sweet 16.

Duke, on the other hand, is coming off an ugly win over Purdue, in which the Blue Devils turned the ball over a lot, neither team shot more than 40% from the field, and Duke only won by 13 because of a decisive rebound advantage over a team that had lost its best rebounder to injury. Suffice to say, the win did not inspire much confidence. But as UK’s loss illustrated, who’s hot is not necessarily the determining factor in the NCAA Tournament, so let’s take a wide-lens view.

Alright, Tim, what do you think is the most important aspect of this game? Is it how well Jon Scheyer and company can shoot over Baylor’s zone? Is whether or not Ekpe Udoh or Brian Zoubek wins the rebounding battle? Is it whether Duke’s defense can hold Baylor under 44% shooting for the first time in the Tournament? Or is it some other thing, like whether or not Coach K takes his jacket off? Continue reading

John S Picks The Friday Games

If there was any remaining doubt that this was the best NCAA Tournament ever, last night’s Xavier-KSU game (which I declared would not be close) should have cemented that status. Anyway, here are some more picks you can take to the bank….

2 Ohio State vs. 6 Tennessee

Original Pick: Georgetown over Ohio State

What I’ve Learned: Obviously, if the Volunteers are going to win this game, they are going to have to shut down Ohio State’s leading scorer in this Tournament: Jon Diebler. Diebler tore up UC-Santa Barbara in the First Round, dropping 23 points, and everyone knows that as goes Diebler, so go the Buckeyes. In all seriousness, Evan Turner has been the best player in college basketball this year and—notwithstanding what Denis Clemente, Terrell, Holloway, Jordan Crawford and Jacob Pullen all did at various points last night—the player who can most take over a game in this Tournament. Thanks to Georgetown’s early loss, Tennessee got to face Ohio in Round 2 and dispatched them fairly easily after struggling against San Diego State. But the fact that the Volunteers haven’t played a good team yet should make anyone wary of their ability to contain Turner.

The Pick: Ohio State  Continue reading

LIVE BLOG: Duke vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

9:40, TIM — Agreed. Bring on, Boykin!

9:39, JOHN — Given how bad the Big East has done, I’m tempted to say Louisville, but I still think Cal is the worse team.

9:36, TIM — That just about wraps it up for us. Last question, John: Who do you want to see, Cal or Louisville?

9:36, JOHN — James Anderson’s performance tonight was almost as disappointing and embarrassing as my 6-10 record yesterday.

9:33, TIM — No! We DESERVE Anderson v. Turner!

9:28, JOHN — Well, Duke wins 73-44, as everyone has already moved on to more interesting games. But Steve Johnson got some playing time! Continue reading

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