Luke Warm Linkage

How about another one, Lord.  Just for old-times sake?

Ben Folds takes a shot at this Chatroulette thing.

Why I Like Duke

In an effort to counter all of the unwarranted and patently biased hatred spewed from these pages toward Duke University’s basketball program recently, I have taken it upon myself to be the lone voice of reason.

I like Duke.

Honestly, I’ve liked Duke for a very long time.

I grew up in Kansas and have been a Jayhawk fan for as long as I can remember. But, when I was 15 and saw the Blue Devils dismiss my beloved Jayhawks in the National Championship game…a new-found respect forced its way into my psyche whether I wanted it to or not. I watched in awe as Christian Laettner and company handed Roy Williams’ scrappy team yet another second-best finish.

It felt funny to me. But, even at a young age, I couldn’t deny the fact that I knew I was watching greatness unfold before me.

That ’91 Duke team was the beginning of a wild and iconic ride for all of college basketball. Of course, they went on to win it all again in ’92. And that was just the beginning.  In the two decades since, Duke has shown us all what it means to be truly great.

Since, the early ’90′s, Duke has blessed us all with wave after wave of players with, not only, great talent, but also exceptional character. Of course, there have been some less-than-perfect examples from time to time, but overall, name one program that has exuded such class, as consistently, as the Duke Blue Devils. You can’t.  Any program in the country would kill to have the type of role-models Duke has had.

But, of course, this is a sports blog and we are not here to talk about character and class.   We’re here to talk about the game.  And, there is no better representation of all the great things about today’s game than Duke.  Coach Krzyzewski knows how to get the best out of his players and we get to benefit from that.  Duke teams are consistently among the top squads year in and year out.  They play an exciting style that appeals to all ages and demographics.   There, quite simply, is nothing better than watching Duke play it’s “A” game in front of 9,000 adoring fans.

And speaking of the fans, one cannot talk about the phenomenon of Duke basketball without mentioning the Cameron Crazies.  There is no more dedicated, knowledgeable or committed fan base in all of college basketball.  In fact, I would argue that they rank right up there with the likes of Yankees, Patriots and Eagles fans as some of the best in all of sports.  Whether they are taunting opposing players or camping out in a tent in “Krzyzewskiville,” NO fans come close to being as loyal and attached to the University itself as the Dukies.  Sure, they get a bad rap from time to time, but with popularity comes criticism.  The media outlets (like this one)  would love nothing more than to see Duke fail.

But, we, the fans, know better.  College basketball needs Duke.

Fortunately for us, they’re going to be around for a long, long time.

Go Duke!

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

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.

Luke Warm Linkage

Victory, Rat.

NCAA Tournament Thrown Into Chaos as Committee Chair Recognizes Error

Dan Guerrero

Selection Committee Chair Dan Guerrero

Tournament brackets and office pools throughout the US were suddenly thrown into disarray this morning when it was announced that the South and Midwest Brackets would be switched in their entirety. The change comes after Men’s Basketball Tournament Committee Chair Dan Guerrero finally understood what everybody had been bitching about since Selection Sunday and realized that the Committee had erred in its placement of Kansas and Duke.

“We probably should have discovered it before today,” Guerrero said in an exclusive fake EJSIC interview, “but after a week of selecting and reseeding teams, I sort of mailed in all those post-selection show interviews. I don’t really even recall any of the questions I was asked. But when I got up to fill out my bracket this morning I looked at Duke’s draw and though, ‘what the hell is this?’ “

The result of the change is a logistical nightmare for teams and office pool operators everywhere. The entire South Bracket will simply be switched to the Midwest and vice versa. With the current pod system, the change doesn’t affect the game sites for more than half the teams involved, including Duke and Kansas who will remain in Jacksonville and Oklahoma City, respectively. However, other teams scheduled to play at those locations will be deeply affected.

“We can’t really think of anything else to do except charter a bunch of planes and get the teams on the move,” Guerrero said.

As a result, teams have had to make some quick adjustments. And, understandably, not everybody is happy.

“Look, I thought it was ridiculous when I saw the brackets, too,” said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. “But this is ridiculous. We weren’t expecting to play until tomorrow. Now we are forced to get up, run to the airport and play a nooner in Oklahoma City? Wait, can you not print that I called it a nooner?”

Bracket managers are equally disappointed in the move.

“We were all set to go,” said Joe Davis, bracket manager at Davis, Stearns and Thomason CPA firm. “This was as organized as we’d ever been too. I set up bracket challenge thing on line. Everybody paid in advance on PayPal and now we just have to start from scratch all in one day because the Committee wasn’t paying attention. It’s really unfortunate.”

Rick Neuheisel could not be reached for comment.

Asked why make such a drastic change this late in the process, Guerrero had a simple explanation.

“Well, I think it’s just most important that at the end of the day we get it right,” he said. “That and I hate Duke just as much as everybody else.”

McGee’s Bracket Musings After a Decent Night’s Sleep

Greetings, Basketball Lovers!

I wanted to step back from the situation before posting my thoughts on the seedings and pairings for the 2010 NCAA Tournament.  You see, I was simply incredulous (and at times demonstrably angry) while watching Greg Gumbel and Clark Kellogg unveil the brackets.  My reaction was not due to Clark Kellogg’s disturbing orange tint, but really, what’s that about?

Anyway, here are a few items that jumped out at me last night:

Continue reading