Posts Tagged ‘mike krzyzewski’

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

Monday Medley

What we read while asking and telling like crazy…

Live Blogging 2 Hours of ESPN’s 24 Hours of College Basketball

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.

I wonder what Coach K is telling him...

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? 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

Continue reading

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.

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