Why I Hate Duke — Coach K

The Sensei lives on the Western Shores of the United States in the San Francisco Bay Area (it’s closer to Japan), so he is fortunate to be far removed from most of Duke’s sniveling, whining, me-first alumni base.  He is similarly fortunate to draw his cable from outside of ACC country, avioding Raycom Sports and much of the rest of the arrogant East Coast media.  Because of this, it is difficult to hate Duke for the arrogance of their supporters on the street and in the press.  This of course does not mean that the Sensei has missed out on the opportunity to hate Duke with a passion that burns deep below his finely chiseled abdomen.

No, the Sensei does hate Duke, and he hates them because of their Coach’s attitude.  On the exterior, Coach Kazooski is a humble family man who values teamwork and the life success of his players and his Duke family.  Look deeper though, and you see a man who puts his own financial success above that of his players by appearing in American Express commercials, hiding the fact that his salary in the highest in the college game, and elevating that salary by holding his university hostage as he allows himself to be courted by NBA teams. Meanwhile, he refuses to play more than seven players, burying highly touted high school players on his bench until they transfer and encouraging surefire first rounders to stay at Duke at the peril of their draft stock.  Look closer and you see a man who curses at players and referees like no other coach in the college or professional game.  Look closer and you see a man who pretends that he does not care what other people think, but actually cares about very little else.

And with that rant, let’s heed the floor to The Sensei’s esteemed colleague, Stimulus Package, who recently witnessed a Duke practice and recorded the legend in action. [Warning: Colorful Language Ahead. Click at your own risk.] Continue reading

Two Questions: NL Central

EJSIC’s baseball preview travels to the Midwest where the largest division in Major League Baseball resides. It is the National League Central.

Chicago Cubs

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1. Can they bounce back? The Cubs were the preseason favorites to win their third straight Central division title last year, but they were horrible. They did not even challenge the rival Cardinals down the stretch. But manager Lou Piniella is looking for resurgences from Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, and ace Carlos Zambrano. All three will need a strong 2010 campaign to keep the Cubs in the race.

2. Does the departure of Milton Bradley help? Bradley is a talented player, but he never fit in Chicago. The fans booed him, he struggled hitting in the National League, etc. He’s gone to Seattle now which brings up the question of team chemistry. Will the Cubs be better without him?

Cincinnati Reds

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1. Will the Reds offense come through? General Manager Walt Jockety made a few moves in the off-season, mainly focusing on position players. Orlando Cabrera will be the everyday Short Stop and the disappointing Willy Taveras is gone. The Reds will be relying on Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen, and Brandon Phillips to provide the power in a hitter-friendly ballpark.

2. Will Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman pitch in the majors this season? The Reds outbid the big market teams for the lefty phenom. There is still a possibility that Chapman may make the starting rotation out of Spring Training, but it seems more certain that he’ll start in the minors. His outings during the spring have been solid though. If he does make his debut before June, I’ve got August 15th as the day his arm falls off due to manager Dusty Baker overusing him.

Houston Astros

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1. What does Roy Oswalt have left? Oswalt has been the Astros ace for the past few seasons, but 2009 was a career worst for him. Some questioned if the heavy workload was finally hurting him. Oswalt can regain his status as a dominant pitcher with a good season in 2010.

2. Do the Astros have enough offense to compete in the division? Miguel Tejada has returned to Baltimore and Lance Berkman is entering the last guaranteed season of his contract. Berkman is also coming off the worst season of his career. The Astros will be counting on Berkman’s bat to return as well as a bounce back from LF Carlos Lee. Hunter Pence’s continued development into a power hitter is also something to watch.

Milwaukee Brewers

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1. Is Randy Wolf enough to improve the rotation? The Brewers have a future ace in Yovani Gallardo, but the rest of the rotation was horrible last season. Wolf was brought in to be a veteran presence. The Brewers also traded for Doug Davis from Arizona to strengthen the rotation.

2. Does Corey Hart return to form? Right fielder Hart was an all-star a few seasons ago, but he struggled in 2009. He’s not a dominating player, but he’s very solid. He fields his position well, he can hit for power or percentage, etc. The Brewers are a better team when he’s on his game. He provides protection for Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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1. How good can Andrew McCutchen be? The Pirates center fielder was dynamic last season as a rookie in 108 games. Now that he’s got some experience and a full season ahead, the guy will delight fans in the Steel City. He’s a five tool player who will soon be a perennial all-star.

2. Can the Pirates finish above .500? They haven’t accomplished that feat in an American professional sports record in 17 years. That’s right, no American professional team has endured as many consecutive losing seasons as the Pirates. They have a good enough lineup to accomplish the goal, but pitching will determine their outcome.

St. Louis Cardinals

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1. Can the Cardinals reach the World Series? St. Louis is the only NL Central team with championship aspirations at this point in the season and rightfully so. They have Albert Pujols, the best player in baseball, Matt Holliday inked a 7 year deal in the off-season to stay, the Cards boast two aces in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, and, finally, they have one of the best managers ever. The Cardinals know the season is long, but they’re on the short list of pennant contenders.

2. Will McGwire fanfare distract the team? Former slugger Mark McGwire was hired to be the Cardinal’s hitting coach in the off-season. In accepting the job, McGwire also had to come clean about his steroid use. So far, the McGwire fanfare has been quiet. But will that continue throughout the season? He’s sure to face questions outside of St. Louis (most notably in New York). Will it be a distraction?

Luke Warm Linkage

Here’s a hint… We hate you because it’s easy.

Why I Hate Duke- A Tar Heel’s Perspective

As I watch Duke on a fast track to the National Championship, a seething hate is beginning to take over my body. I’m supposed to hate Duke. Now I am, at least.

Having spent 6 years in Chapel Hill, Duke hating comes as naturally to me as duke making. [poo joke] It wasn’t always this way, though. Gasp! Yes, this die hard Tar Heel was once not so anti-Duke. I can’t go as far as to admit that I may have actually been a Duke fan. My skewed memory won’t let me.

When I was young, like now, I loved basketball. I played in a local optimist league and, by chance, I was “drafted” to play for the “Blue Devils.” Naturally, being an impressionable youth, I wasn’t aware that I had been drafted to a team symbolic of everything wrong with the world. My team was successful throughout my years in the league. Eventually, my dad and my best friend’s dad took over coaching duties for the team and we retained the “Blue Devil” moniker, mainly so they wouldn’t have to buy new shirts.

Chris Collins

I don't care how many American symbols you have on Chris Collins. I think you're a douche now.

I even remember that I shared a number with Chris Collins and actually actively pulled for him to do well. We had a natural rivalry with the Tar Heel team. We destroyed them regularly. I think it’s fairly easy to see how an innocent impressionable youngster who’s nurturing his love of basketball as a “Blue Devil” … (excuse me while I vomit) … can cause one to be less than hateful toward the school. Fortunately for me, this perception changed.

I have an older brother. We have a natural sibling rivalry, but nothing more than what you would expect from two boys. When my brother started applying for college, he didn’t have any specific athletic allegiances, similar to me by that point. Unlike me, but like the majority of Duke students, he didn’t care much about sports. He applied to the major ACC schools in North Carolina and a few small schools outside the state. Upon acceptance to Duke, his eyes glazed at the perceived status it would bring this woefully average country boy. It was a reaction that would become all too familiar.

Throughout my brother’s tenure at Duke, I visited the campus many times, and I learned to hate everything about it. I hated it’s overdone, imitation Gothic architecture. I hated that I had to sit through the cold wind in an empty stadium to watch a bad football team be cheered on by a scant crowd that could really care less about the outcome.

This doesn't make you dark and enlightened

This doesn't make you dark and enlightened.

Most of all I hated the arrogance that permeated the place. You could smell it, you could feel it, but mostly you heard it. Constantly. I heard spiel upon spiel about how Duke is unlike any other, about how it’s students will rule the country, about how Duke isn’t just the Harvard of the South but better than Harvard and Yale. You heard it on their recruiting speech. I heard enough.

To pile it all on, I heard about the basketball team. Yes, the arrogance of Duke transcends the academic realm. Once the media realized that true “student athletes” (re: white) could exceed on a national level, they jumped on the bandwagon in full force. And Duke students took part as well.

Bolstered by the media myth and mocking UNC’s J.R. Reid, Duke students claimed J.R. could not “Reid.” In response, Dean Smith pointed out that Reid’s SAT score exceeded the media’s model student athlete Christian Laettner’s.

It’s not like the accolades that Duke receives and heaps upon itself aren’t totally undeserved. It is a very good academic institution and it’s basketball team has achieved incredible success. But just because you’re successful doesn’t mean you have to inflate it even further, and that’s something that seems universal to the place.

My brother was never the same. He left for Durham a well grounded, intelligent kid from rural North Carolina. He returned with an inflated ego, a sense of entitlement, and roughly as intelligent as he left.

The phenomenon isn’t isolated with my kin, though. Having encountered more Duke alums in my post graduate education, there is one commonality among them. When asked where they attended undergrad, they all stand with a smirk on their face as they proudly announce, “Duke.”

That smirk says it all.

College Basketball Commentary Improving Rapidly

It’s not the offseason yet (well, it is for you Kansas and Kentucky fans) and we’re already seeing some major shakeups, and they’re all to the benefit of you, the cultured and distinguished college basketball viewer.

So far we have:

Steve Lavin (aka Slickster McThesaurus):  Heading to St. John’s.

Fran Fraschilla:  Rumored to lead for the Iona opening.  (We’re not sure which side of this transaction deserves the most ridicule.)

Dick Enberg:  An iconic career came to a bittersweet end this year.   During this NCAA Tournament we found that he still has that classic voice, but it often (and sadly) sounded senile at times.   We’ll miss you, Dick; you’re an all-time great.

So, what next?  We can only hope someone has room on their bench for Jimmy Dykes.  We’d also hope for Seth Davis to get an opportunity somewhere (anywhere!), but as he’s not even qualified for his current position, we figure we’re stuck with him for as long as CBS deems elvish dorks to be credible basketball analysts.

Oh, and speaking of CBS:  Gus Johnson is your future!  Don’t eff it up.

5 UK Under-Classmen Are Reportedly NBA Bound

According to Jody Demling of the Courier Journal, Kentucky recruits are now being told that 5 UK underclassmen will be leaving school early for the NBA draft. That’s 5, as in the number of players on the floor at one time for one team.

I’ve got to say… This is a little ridiculous.

One of Daniel Orton’s 780 seconds per game.

Kentucky fans knew full well what to expect when we signed future #1 pick John Wall. 95% of us also knew DeMarcus Cousins was too talented to hang around for more than one year. Patrick Patterson is graduating a year early and we’ve already had him at least one year longer than we probably deserved. His jump makes complete sense.

Finding out that any of those three weren’t coming back would be like hearing that Ricky Martin is gay. It’s disappointing, but you’ve been prepared for it for a long time.

Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton are a different story completely. While both are immensely talented, neither is consistently effective as a college player. Not yet anyway.

Bledsoe goes through obvious dry spells, over-dribbles into turnovers, misses wide open layups and shoots 60% from the foul line. His single greatest asset is his athleticism. How many guys in the D League can you say that about right now? He lacks polish. He lacks consistency. He’s somehow a lottery pick.

Say hi to the kids from Europe, Taurean.

Daniel Orton averages under 4 and 4 in about 13 minutes a game. UNDER 4 and 4. He has an NBA body and an NBA defensive game to go with it, but his offensive game is lacking. I’m not sure if Daniel hasn’t shown more because it’s not there or because he hasn’t gotten the minutes to do so. As a projected first round pick, I’m guessing NBA GM’s are banking on the latter.

Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe are benefactors of what I like to call the “Taurean Green Effect”. If you put either of them on another team that isn’t stacked with 3 more lottery picks, they wouldn’t be thinking about the draft much less getting ready to pull the trigger. For some reason, all the time GM’s spend staring at obvious stars like Wall, Cousins, and Patterson makes them lose their perspective about the rest of the players on the roster.

Let me say this… I love both players. I love their potential and I’m proud of the character they’ve shown this season at Kentucky. But taking the money and running, when you know full well you’re not ready to succeed in the NBA yet is what the one and done rule is supposed to prevent. By jumping now, these guys are taking a huge risk and subsequently setting their program back at least a year while their replacements are groomed.

If they go, I wish them the best of luck. Here’s hoping I don’t have to.

Why I hate Duke

As part of the “Hate on Duke” week, Flop proposed to the contributors a single question: Why do you hate Duke? I did not immediately answer, rather I allowed the question to flutter in the gray matter. The question seems easy enough, but it gets deeper.

I could sit here and type about all of the perceptions of Duke basketball. They get every foul call at the crucial stages of the game, their coach looks like a rat, they teach players to flop on purpose, Scheyer has a weird face, they win all of the time, rich snobs, etc. I do not think my dislike of the Blue Devils comes from a combination of the above.

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It’s not the luck of hurling the ball 90 feet to a waiting Christian Laettner who turns and hits the fade-away. And it’s not Greg Paulus sliding under someone’s feet at the last second and getting the charge call.

I can appreciate those plays. They are not my reason to hate Duke. My hate derives from ESPN. They shove the Blue Devils down our throats. Duke deserves it too. They’ve been winning big games for most of ESPN’s life. And what is a television station most concerned with? Ratings.

Duke brings in the ratings. They bring in the ratings just like the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees, and the L.A. Lakers. Duke is all of that. And that’s why we hate them. We hate the big teams with the large fan bases who win all of the time. It is human nature. It’s a bit of envy mixed with emotion (and the damn refs don’t help either, see the video below).

But ESPN doesn’t stop there. No, they have to put Mike Patrick on Dick Vitale as the broadcast duo for Duke games. It is two straight hours of “Holy cow, are you kidding me?” followed by “Awesome with a capital A, baby!” Then they slobber all over the coach whose name I cannot spell without Google. And, again, all of it is deserved with their success.

But Duke suffers from the same thing the rest of the big name teams do: overexposure. The average fan sees the Duke highlights on SportsCenter and just wants them to lose. The university puts itself on a pedestal with their academic standards and, even though academics have nothing to do with sports despite what anyone ever says, they carry over to the hardwood. Duke comes across as this elitist organization seeking to keep its membership exclusive (apparently exclusive to whites and Asians, but that’s another post for another day).

And when the perception exists, people want them to lose. They want to Duke to lose badly. But Duke doesn’t get blown out often which fuels the fire of hate. So Saturday night when you’re sitting on the coach rooting for West Virginia, you will now know why.

Luke Warm Linkage

Yea… It’s a really cool trick until she lets the crazy out.