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

An Ode to Jon Scheyer

Saturday’s Duke-UNC game was the best Senior Night Cameron Indoor Stadium has seen in at least five years. And not just because the Blue Devils got their first home win against the Tar Heels since Tyler Hansbrough entered UNC, and not just because Duke got its most lopsided win in the last 45 years of the rivalry. Those were important, of course, but not as important as the last game in Cameron for Jon Scheyer, the best player to graduate Duke since J.J. Redick.

Scheyer’s career as a Dukie has been a turbulent one. His freshman year saw the embarrassing first-round loss to VCU, and his second year saw him lose his spot in the starting lineup. Midway through his junior year, he was asked to move to point guard, a position—as we were constantly reminded on every broadcast—that was not natural for him.

Most of all, though, Scheyer’s time at Duke, at this point, has become—fairly or not—recognized as Duke’s fall from the national stage. Scheyer saw the VCU loss, the near-upset to Belmont, the embarrassment to West Virginia, the blowout against Villanova, not to mention last year’s route at the hands of Clemson. And unlike Greg Paulus, a player also associated with (and probably more representative of) Duke’s “fall”, Scheyer was never part of a dominant Duke regular season team. In Scheyer’s four years, Duke has had the #1 ranking for a total of one week (and a winless one at that)—fewer than any four year player at Duke since before the days of Christian Laettner.

In many ways, Scheyer has become representative of Duke’s new perception: Unintimidating, but effective. Scheyer doesn’t wow fans with any one skill: He’s not the sharpshooter that Redick was; he doesn’t dunk like Gerald Henderson did; he doesn’t handle the ball as well as a lot of point guards, or blow by defenders off the dribble. But Scheyer has handled his role—whether it be shooting guard, sixth man, or starting point guard—with surprising aplomb. Continue reading

The Double Bonus: Thin Up Top?

With losses this week by the top two teams in the country, as well as Purdue’s loss of its best player for the whole year and Villanova getting its fourth loss in seven games, a popular refrain has settled in among the college basketball punditry: There are no elite teams this year! The front line is weak! No team is unbeatable!

Well, obvs. College basketball is not like college football, where dominant teams often do seem unbeatable. College basketball teams don’t go undefeated—not anymore—and therefore, they are all beatable. No. 1 seeds are going to lose at some point during the season, but that doesn’t mean the sky is falling.

It’s popular to compare this season’s probable No. 1 seeds with UNC from last year, the preseason favorite that coasted to a National Championship. But the idea that last year’s Tar Heels were unbeatable or invulnerable is revisionist history, stemming largely from the fact that UNC did not face a significant challenge in the NCAA Tournament.

At this point last season, though, UNC was the #4 team in the country, behind Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, and UConn. They started out 0-2 in ACC play, including a loss at home to an unimpressive Boston College team, and at this point in the season had three total losses—one more than Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse have this year. It’s true that the ACC was a stronger conference last year, and that the Tar Heels were generally considered the favorites throughout the year, but they were by no means an unstoppable behemoth, surviving close calls at Florida State and at Miami. Continue reading

The Double Bonus: Is the Big East’s Size Detrimental to Its Teams?

The Double Bonus brings together two of our great traditions here at NPI: The intrepid sports analysis of Tim’s Unabated to the Quarterback joins forces with the weekly Thursday slot of John’s Real World/Road Rules Ruins Rankings posts. Luckily for you, both writers are on board. Tim’s comments are in black while John’s are in a condemnatory red.

On Monday, DePaul fired head coach Jerry Wainwright, a likable basketball lifer who generally seems to have been in over his head in Chicago and in the Big East. As of Wainwright’s firing, DePaul had lost 22 consecutive Big East regular-season games (the Blue Demons did snag one as the 16-seed in the conference Tourney last season) and remained mired at the bottom of the bloated conference. In the wake of the coaching move, the Chicago Tribune asked whether or not the University was truly committed to the basketball program, and whether long-term success in the Big East were really a sustainable goal:

Finances and resources “are not a deterrent to DePaul’s success” according to Ponsetto — and yet swaths of seats go unfilled at Allstate Arena while data shows that men’s basketball expenditures lag behind even fellow urban Catholic schools.

Then there’s the matter of competing in a Big East that’s deeper than an ocean trench and bewilderingly competitive, with six teams ranked in the top 16 in the latest Associated Press poll. Resuscitating the program is not necessarily mission impossible, but that also depends on the definition of the mission.

The decline of DePaul Basketball—a decades-proud institution under Ray Meyer that twice seemed on the verge of rejuvenation in the last decade as a member of Conference-USA—isn’t an isolated phenomenon, even among big-city schools in the Big East. In the New York area, St. John’s and Seton Hall—one a perennial power in the ‘80s, the other a one-time Finalist and many-time contender—have been dormant for much of the decade. They’ve combined for three Tournament berths and one win since 2000—the year the second-seeded Johnnies were upset by Gonzaga and Tommy Amaker and No. 7 Seton Hall rode reserve Ty Shine to the Sweet Sixteen.

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