Posts Tagged ‘Christian Laettner’

In Defense of Duke

As we at NPI have previously hinted, we have all emanated from that majestic and triumphant institution of higher learning, Duke University. In fact, it is fair to say that, without Duke, this blog would not exist. Other gifts to humanity that Duke has bestowed include basketball extraordinaire Jason Williams, former Heroes star Jack Coleman, novelist Reynolds Price, journalist Charlie Rose, and former NFL star Sonny Jurgensen. That’s not a bad list, and it’s by no means everybody.

Of course, Tim, Josh, and I would not say that Duke is perfect. For one, we’re not the kind of people that love institutions unconditionally. It’s pretty obvious that every university has its flaws. In fact, we probably wouldn’t object if you said that Duke has more flaws than your average elite institution.

But when someone who writes for a prominent magazine—like, I don’t know, let’s say The Atlantic—writes an unjustified hatchet-job that is illogical, mean-spirited, and not supported by any hard evidence…well, that really grinds our gears. See, hating Duke has been trendy for about two decades now (it probably started when Christian Laettner stepped on Aminu Timberlake). There are a lot of reasons for this that I won’t bother going into here, but suffice it to say that sometime around 2006, when three members of the Duke lacrosse team were accused of rape,* members of the non-sports media realized they could churn out “polarizing” columns by regurgitating the same accusations of racism and elitism that had been levied against the basketball team for 15 years. Continue reading

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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

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