You may remember that last year NPI brought you live-blog coverage of 22 of the 24-hour ESPN Season Tip-Off Marathon. So why aren’t we being as extensive this year? Chill out, we have things to do! And Tim already brought you a 2010-11 season preview, and a breakdown of the NCAA Vault. What more do you want? But we couldn’t let tonight’s Duke game go by without a live-blog, so Tim and John S will be here to break it down for you.
TIM: Miami (Ohio) probably won’t win the MAC. That’s really what I take away from this game.
JOHN: Final thoughts: Duke looks pretty good, huh?
TIM: Who or what is a Todd Zafirovski?
JOHN: I was more mocking Patrick than Miles’ toughness. And how insulted must Seth Curry be to be in with these scrubs?
TIM: Easy for you to sarcastically mock. Dislocated fingers hurt A LOT, John. A LOT.
JOHN: Mike Patrick after Miles Plumlee’s dislocated finger: “He gets a pass on the two missed free throws. And anything else he wants for that matter.” Man, how entitled is Miles going to be tonight? “I demand the flesh of a virgin! I had a busted finger!”
TIM: Well, I’ve been faithful to the game we’re supposed to be watching. What I did see of the Butler-Louisville game earlier was that the Bulldogs hadn’t established an offensive flow yet. Matt Howard was in foul trouble–what else is new?–and no one beyond Shelvin Mack could do anything. It doesn’t surprise me a lot; Louisville will be a bubble team and Butler had a slowish start last season, as well. They need Howard to be closer to the player he was two years ago if they’re going to be a Final Four contender again.
JOHN: Adamantly opposed. I don’t even understand the logic. Is that supposed to be more intimidating? And how surprised are you that Butler is getting killed by Louisville? Is it possible people were too quick to dismiss Louisville this year?
TIM: I’m upset with the Duke defense, as well. The RedHawks have scored almost a point a minute this half. ALMOST A POINT A MINUTE!
You cool with the lack of a space between Red and Hawks? What’s your feeling on that?
JOHN: I mean, in terms of resemblance that comparison works–eerily so, even. But do you know anything about Coles’ attitude towards gays? Or his pornography habits?
Is it fair to wonder if Duke will ever allow a team to shoot 30% from the field again?
TIM: Umm, don’t you realize that hard-core college basketball fans like Mike Patrick have been watching this marathon since it started at midnight? I think his fatigue is justified.
JOHN: Yeah, Mike Patrick definitely has Joe Buck beat, at least in terms of Britney Spears coverage.
One thing that HAS been annoying about Patrick during this game, though, is his constant mention of being at Hour 21 of the Marathon and then asking Len if he’s tired. I mean, it’s not like they called all the games. If Stone/Williams can do a 6 AM game and then a 6 PM game without complaining, you ought to be able to cover one game at 7:30 without falling asleep.
TIM: You impressed that Stone and Williams covered the 6 a.m. game at Monmouth on the Jersey Shore then did the 5:30 p.m. game at Villanova? That’s almost as hard as swallowing a chili pepper or handling a hawk named Bitchy.
And yeah, if Patrick and Elmore were NFL announcers, they’d probably be FOX’s best team.
JOHN: Well, you’d think that it would make sense to just buy that much jerky in bulk at CostCo or something, but yeah, you’re probably being too harsh on Mike and Len. They’re pretty bad given the caliber of college basketball announcing teams (McDonough and Raftery, Gus Johnson, and now Rob Stone/Jason Williams), but they’re not nearly as bad as even mediocre baseball and NFL guys.
TIM: “It’s not the kind of ring you wear every day going to 7-11 to get beef jerky.” Two things, Mike Patrick. 1. What kind of ring do you wear for that occasion? 2. Every day to 7-11 for beef jerky? Really?
Am I being too harsh on Mike and Len?
JOHN: Yeah, nice job mentioning Mason P’s first half. After those first two turnovers which I mentioned, he was pretty good.
You know who else might be better than I thought he’d be? Ryan Kelly. Now, my expectations for Kelly were incredibly low this season–I figured he’d follow Taylor King, Olek Czyz, and Jamal Boykin, as guys who transfered after an invisible freshman year. But he’s gotten some playing-time so far, and he’s looked like he can be more than just a tall white guy who shoots threes. If he and Hairston can be solid bench guys, then Duke will have more depth than at any time that I can remember…
TIM: Despite a solid first half from Mason Plumlee, I do think Duke’s best lineup will likely be with three guards–I’m guessing Seth Curry over Andre Dawkins at this point–with Singler at the four and Mason Plumlee in the post.
JOHN: ZING!….As for Duke, yeah, I think the team’s depth and talent at the guard position makes using Singler at the four the most sensible option. It’s one thing if you’re only doing it because you don’t have any size and can’t get rebounds, but it’s another to do it so you can pick up the pace and just outgun these teams. Both of these games have followed a similar pattern of pulling away based on turnovers and waiting for the shooters to get hot.
TIM: Ahh, Dick Vitale just referred to Rick Pitino’s “one-night situation.” Is that a euphemism for a euphemism?
Overall, Duke can play pressure defense on the perimeter this season in a way it couldn’t last season. I think that will allow the Blue Devils to rattle some lesser teams that aren’t strong with the ball and get some easier blowouts.
TIM: To be fair, though, Miami (Ohio) isn’t exactly as bad as the Washington Redskins.
JOHN: Man, if it weren’t for Nick Winbush, Duke would be up by 31. As it is, the Blue Devils are only up by three touchdowns. They’re no Philadelphia Eagles…
TIM: Now it’s just a matter of who is going to inherit Jon’s role as The Guy with the Weird Facial Expressions. Singler, Smith, and Irving did their best on the cover of ESPN: The Magazine.
JOHN: Nice alley-oop from Curry to Mason. I’ve been wondering who would inherit Scheyer’s role as The Guy Who Throws The Lob For An Alley-Oop…
TIM: Oh come on. You and I both know Paulus WAS the offense that sophomore season, which is why it was so…bad. I was more frustrated when Greg would do those things during his junior year, when there were good offensive options.
JOHN: Well, Mason P may be leading in that statistic in this young season, but I feel like the king of those shots was Greg Paulus, particularly during his sophomore season, when the offense was so….what’s the word?…bad.
TIM: Also: Is there any worse shot in basketball than the “I want to pass it, but nobody’s open, so I guess I’ll shoot it,” and is there anyone who takes more of these shots than Mason Plumlee?
JOHN: Well, having not heard it until now….I’m for it. I mean, “repeat” only refers to this year, so it’s not really a deal-breaker that Irving wasn’t here last season. And Kyrie is clearly going to be a huge part of any potential “repeat,” so it’s acceptable as wordplay.
TIM: Whatevs. What’s your take on people calling it a “Kyrie-peat”? Isn’t that a little weird, considering Kyrie Irving was not there for the first title–the “peat” if you will?
JOHN: Not really. The Black Widow isn’t black. And Kyle Singler is REALLY white. I’m not referring to his race, just his hue…
TIM: John, that’s racist.
JOHN: Yeah, and then Singler’s nickname could be “Whatever The Opposite of a Black Widow Is”…The White Bachelor?
TIM: It will hurt his image–because everything hurts your image when you go to Duke–but it will ultimately help his career, when basketball goes the way of billiards, with games replaced by Trick Shot Magic
JOHN: Will that trick shot montage ultimately help or hurt Kyle Singler’s image? I’m going with “hurt.”
TIM: She’s half the reason we loved Steph Curry. She’s three-quarters of the reason we love Seth.
JOHN: How could you forget about Sonia? She was like half the reason everyone loved Stephen Curry, wasn’t she?
TIM: Are you more excited for Seth Curry on the court or Sonia Curry in the stands? And can you believe I forgot about Sonia until they showed her during the Princeton game?
JOHN: At this point, which one is “the other Steve Smith”?
TIM: Do you think Steve Smith resents the other Steve Smith? Of course they resent the “real” Miami. It’s gotten to the point where M-OH should probably do something unorthodox, like changing the pronunciation to Mee-ay-mee.
JOHN: Yeah, that was a nice bucket by National POY candidate Seth Curry…
TIM: Ooh, Kyle Singler’s “a National Player of the Year Candidate.” Isn’t everyone, at this point?
JOHN: Not really. Do you think Miami of Ohio resents Miami of Florida?
TIM: I’m not familiar with that.
TIM: “Our world was a very different world back then,” Len Elmore says about Duke’s last non-conference loss at Cameron (2000 v. St. John’s). Do you think he means, like, how we didn’t have Facebook?
JOHN: Yeah, the Plumlees did not look particularly good against Princeton. The Blue Devils got outrebounded by a relatively small Tiger team, which doesn’t bode well for games against teams with decent frontlines…like, say, UNC. We should also remember that it took Zoubek three and a half years to finally get where he was at the end of last year, and that Thomas was inconsistent throughout his tenure. Coach K doesn’t usually have the kind of instant success with big men that he has with guards.
And your confidence in Mason Plumlee is shared by Coach K, apparently, since he’s still starting and Miles is not. Mason’s rewarding you two with two turnovers already.
TIM: Well, they’ll end up being bigger losses because Scheyer has been replaced by Kyrie Irving. I don’t want to spread the idea that Jon Scheyer wasn’t that important to last year’s team; remember, he almost won ACC POY. That said, I worry about the Plumlees, who appear already as if they’ll be a constant source of aggravation this season (especially Miles. I have more faith in Mason). They have a much higher collective ceiling than Thomas and Zoubek, but I don’t expect them to be as consistent. And if they struggle, there’s not a whole lot of depth behind them. Ryan Kelly didn’t do much last year, and Josh Hairston is a freshman. So that means we could see a lot of Kyle Singler at the 4.
Oh man, I forgot Cameron has a new PA announcer this year. Just sounds different…
JOHN: Alright, Tim, before this game starts, what do we think about this new Duke team? It’s getting a lot more hype than last year’s eventual champion got. That’s obviously understandable–they are way more talented this year, and Kyle Singler’s the new favorite for POY. But I feel like fans are overlooking a LOT of glaring flaws on this team, specifically rebounding and interior defense. It was fun to mock Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas, but Duke fans will end up missing them a lot. Ironically, they’ll end up being bigger losses than Jon Scheyer.