DUKE 82, North Carolina-Chapel Hill 50
March 6, 2010
This will be a little different version of the standard Mattcap, as we'll go pretty much chronologically throughout the game. I’ll emphasize key Duke plays, natch, and will also highlight the banality of Shulman/Vitale, as well as various hilarious Tool turnovers, because nobody forks the rock over with more amusing aplomb than this unit. Here we go!
Bristol informs us that the “Starwatch” player, of which I’m so tired, is Ginyaaaaaaaaaaaaaard for NCCH. Really? I guess they had to pick someone. If ESPN paid attention to the Tools’ previous two games, they might have gone with Stick Figure Henson - - but who has time for that?
Erin Andrews is wearing an attractively-colored, royal blue blouse. Inside Cryolina mouthbreathers immediately launch five threads claiming that this shows that EA and ESPN are biased against UNC. Actually, it’s just a case of a young woman who probably wanted to fit in with her surroundings. And honestly - - royal blue is, like, a recognized color, so it could even be a coincidence. It’s not like she’s wearing a Coach K T-Shirt. Now, if she was doing a game from the Tomb, and showed up in a puke blue top, THEN we’d have a case, because no one wears that color voluntarily unless they’re displaying their allegiance to the Tools.
Unfortunately, Ms. Andrews has been talking to UNC-CH Associate Director of Athletic Misinformation Steve Kirschner and his Infominions, and dutifully relays their latest pitiful attempts to game Duke’s psyche. This time, Thompson has a “bad back,” and Graves is “feeling like he has a cast” on a purportedly gimpy right ankle. SOMEHOW, these trailblazing heroes are going to gut it out and play. Chapel Hill Propagandists - - stop. Just stop.
Bristol now treats us to a little montage of Coach K and Rrhoid talking about their teams. K looks relaxed, while Roy appears ready to defecate cement. He delivers two deathless quotes:
(1) “It’s amazing how much can be accomplished when no one cares who takes the credit.” Well, that explains this season in a fairly convenient nutshell, and also serves as a judicial admission that Roid, who cares more about his own achievements than most coaches, alive or dead, had nothing to do with the success of the 2005 and 2009 squads whose way he quickly got out of.
(2) “You’re playing for the ACC Championship - - you don’t need to motivate your guys.” Well, mission accomplished on that front. But isn’t Duke the team playing for the ACC Championship? I’m confused. Last time Horseface had a shot at an ACC title - - in last season’s ACC-T - - he blew the whole “cocktail party” (his words) off, sat Flawson, and apparently enjoyed losing. Strange egg.
Hey, there’s no need for gimmick senior starters in this one, as all three of the Duke seniors are starting anyway. That’s cool.
Shulman opens strong, with a dissertation about “the Hansbroughs, the Lawsons.” Yes, those guys just grow on trees. The Ted Williamses, the DiMaggios, the Mayses, the Mantles. The Shulmans, the Vitales.
Shulman and Vitale (hereinafter “SV”) provide an amazing stat: UNC-CH has never before failed to score 80 points in a conference game in any one season, and (spoilers!) that point total is not going to be threatened tonight. So basically, Cr(o)y broke every string this season except for Clemson never winning at Chapel Hill - - but that’s only because they didn’t visit.
After fighting back from a huge Tar Heel lead at 1-0, Duke quickly assumes a ten-point lead at 13:23. This is the last time the Tools will be this close.
Mason Plumlee in. Immediately racks up one personal, almost as though Gary Maxwell was headhunting him. But that can’t be the case. Mason redeems himself a moment later, when Singler loses the ball in the left corner and Plumlee the Younger dives after it. However, he earns another whistle a moment later, in a situation where two guys (Mason and Treadwear) fighting for the ball bumped each other, and neither gained an advantage from the contact. TWEET! If it’s not supposed to be a foul, it is always a foul in the ACC.
We’re at the under-12 timeout and Singler is - - sitting down. Wow. Sassy KFC Chick (now fat and happy living in a mansion with Manface, purchased with their eight-figure joint royalties) didn’t see that comin’!
SV note that Duke is trying to go 17-0 at home, and win 17 games at home, for the first time ever. Meanwhile, Dawkins hits a nifty threeball off of a Scheyer feed, as Graves is hopelessly lost on defense. I’m sure this is because of his sudden-onset fibromyalgia or whatever we were told he was suffering from, but in reality Graves has always been a terrible defender. He fits right in. Wasting no time, K yanks Andre immediately after the three and replaces him with Singler. Still, Andre’s confidence is back, and shots are starting to fall. He seems more comfortable on the defensive end, too. Maybe Curry’s offensive moves in practice have finally compelled the evolution of a defense mechanism.
At the 10:27 mark, the Tools author my favorite turnover of the game as Stick Figure looks straight at Ginyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard, whose name Woody Durham will only get to amplify weirdly for a few more games at most, and airmails the orange into the boisterous crowd. Nolan seizes this opportunity and converts two and-ones, driving past three Twinks the first time, and penetrating through a team photo on the second. It’s now clear to Nolan that no one can stay with him one on one, or at least very few people can. Not to be outdone, Scheyer has a nice drive and scores at the 7:40 mark, also kniving through the weak Al Julian-garbed defense. I hate it when people say that Scheyer can’t drive, or talk about him like he’s some lead-footed scrub who can only score from the wing. Yes, he’s white and he’s not from Venezuela, but he can actually slash and score, and don’t let this get around, but he also draws fouls that way as well.
Vitale, clearly busting balls to remain relevant, shows a little recruiting knowledge by noting that Strickland and Kyrie Irving went to the same high school. It’s actually good when major media figures in the college basketball world, speaking relatively of course, educate themselves a bit about recruiting, as I think we’re all about as tired of the “gurus” as we are of Joe Lunardi.
At the 6:55 mark, Singler, Smith and Scheyer run a little motion weave in and out of the Tools’ defense, which actually looks respectable on this possession. After receiving the ball on the left wing, Singler curls off a Thomas screen and moves to the high block on the right side, where he offers a one-handed floater that draws all net at 6:52. Geez, did he get his touch back. Beautiful.
At 6:03, Thompson misses, then gathers his own board, and abuses both Plumlees as he scores over them. K immediately calls timeout, and he and Collins greet Miles & Mason with a torrent of screaming. After the timeout, they’re nailed to the pine. I still can’t quite figure out why M & M have continuing defensive deficiencies. I know the standard answer is that they’re facing competition of a higher caliber, but didn’t they face guys with Don’t Miss Deon’s skill set in prep school? Moreover, remember Miles just tearing apart Wake Forest? If these two guys would get it together, Duke would be a pretty serious problem for everyone, more so than the Blue Devils are already.
At 5:41, Singler misses, Zoubek grabs the board flat-footed by outreaching everyone, and he finds Scheyer at the top of the key. Swish! Three, assist Zoubek at 5:39. Duke is doubling up their rivals, 38-19.
Matt Leinart is in the stands. Why? Shouldn’t he be spending every minute of free time he has practicing his passes and timing with Fitzgerald and Breaston? Ah, let the guy enjoy himself. But it’s a little weird to see a Southern Cal alum in the stands. Next, Bristol will locate Brian Scalabrine in the crowd, along with Jeff Trepagnier and Sam Clancy. Harold Miner is selling programs!
And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for - - Vitale’s choice for ACC POY. He wants to split it between Scheyer and Azzkiz, which isn’t a bad idea, but he inappositely cites 2001, when Tool sleepers embedded in the voting media made sure that Joe Forte stole a piece of Shane Battier’s award. Of course, this time around it sure appears that the Twink Bloc of voters rallied en masse around the Caracaclown in order to give Scheyer the shiv, as no other plausible theory explains the wide gap in the results between the two. So much for Dick’s idea.
At 5:00, Zoubek ties up Zeller, and the held ball gives it to Duke. Oddly, the official PBP scores this as a block and defensive rebound for BZ, instead of a turnover and steal. On the next possession, we see more outstanding motion offense from the Three Ess Squad, which ends in a questionable travel on Singler whistled by the dauntless Bryan Kersey.
No prisoners of strictures dictating that they speak about contemporaneous game action, SV are talking about Louisville’s new arena, “Pitino’s Palace,” as Vitale dubs it. Oooof. Dick wants to know when they’ll build “Calipari’s Castle” in Lexington. Um. (1) Racist Arena is only 34 years old. Do we really need a new one? (2) Current plans call for a new arena to be built by 2015 at the earliest. With a new rumor about John Wall’s total ineligibility to compete in collegiate athletics cropping up just about every day, I’m not entirely certain that good Coach Cal will be around by then. Where will he go, you wonder? Back to the NBA, naturally. It’s now called “pulling a Pete Carroll.” Anyway, Calipari’s Castle would be fun - - it would presumably have a moat and a drawbridge to keep out pesky NCAA investigators, not to mention a dungeon where regulations go to die.
PLAY OF THE GAME!!!
The above insipid discussion (SV’s, not mine) is suddenly interrupted with game action!! Treadwear fails and dribbles the ball off of his hip. It flies toward the backcourt, and Nolan picks it up right at the midcourt line (he earns a steal for this), on the run. Drew drops back to meet him, when . . . Nolan body fakes slightly to the left, does a hesitation dribble, and suddenly blows by Drew XIV like a runaway Prius before sending in a poetic right-hand flush. Drew looks like he was nailed to the floor. ESPN helpfully replays the sequence twice, and Drew’s no-care defense just looks worse and worse. However, give massive credit to Nolan, who is on a whole new plane right now. *What* a highlight.
Shulman bloodlessly observes that the “Big Three” have scored 37 of Duke’s 40 points – everything but Dawkins’ three. I’m getting tired of this meme. They’re 60% of the guys we put on the floor. And they score a lot. I get that this could be Duke’s downfall, but there are a lot of teams that could lose for the last time this season in various ways, and yet I don’t think we are constantly bombarded with illustrative figures in support. Anyway.
Hey, it’s Laettner! Awesome! He needs a haircut. Dickie V claims he was the best player to wear a Duke uniform. Shulman oooohs and ahhhhs this conclusion in what I believe is meant to be skepticism. May I see you one “to wear a Duke uniform” and raise you an “ever,” Dick? I mean, yeah; you can make an argument for Christian as the best collegiate player ever, certainly in the postseason. Best player in a Duke uniform I think is sort of hands-down, but then, he’s my contemporary and classmate, so I’m biased in his favor, I suppose. The kid he’s with, presumably his although surprisingly Vitale doesn’t go on and on about “his beautiful family,” is adorable. Just need that trim, Christian. Of the hair.
While CL appears carefree and totally relaxed, the camera shifts to Rrhoid, who appears to have started comparing his woes to the travails of various Biblical figures. Or maybe he’s just constipated, but boy, does he look uncomfortable.
There’s a funny turnover at 3:22 as Neon Deon sees a doubleteam just inside the arc on the left side and backs away like he’s scared out of his mind. He has the ball, but forgets to slam it against the floor as he gives ground in panic. Traveling.
Next up, Lance “boards the miss,” as Raycom’s The Jerk would say, and say, and say, off of a Smith midranger, then redirects to Singler at the top of the key. This guy buries a three-pointer and is narrowly being outscored by NCCH as a whole at this point. Can we keep this version of Kyle for the NCAAs?? Please? Firing right back, Strickland tosses up an air-inflated three attempt from the wing that misses everything but Lance, who finds Scheyer in the corner. Scheyer throws about a 60-foot pass to Nolan, who catches it and falls out of bounds, yet still manages to make the bucket on the other end. You could say that the rout is on. 47-21, 2:34 (1).
At 2:09, Lance hits two free throws without meeting any metal. He should really do this more often, as he has become quite a reliable charity tosser. However, since he doesn’t post up and doesn’t drive the bucket . . . there we sort of have it, and, well, Graves was guarding him.
As for Graves, he of the walking temporary paralysis, he airballs a three-point attempt of his own, and Shulman informs us that Rrhoy has claimed that the Tools WILL ACCEPT the NIT bid. I find that hard to believe. Are they going to play in Carmichael? If not, get ready for boatloads of fans disguised as empty seats in virtually every camera shot. Maybe Dick Badodor’s henchmen will borrow a collection of lifelike, high-functioning dummies from Robert John Frasor’s collection and plant them in the chairs. Anyway, now that we’ve heard this, let’s hope that the committee fails to invite UNC. Oh, wait - - The Grand Proboscis is on the committee, I believe. Scratch that. Maybe a first-round matchup between these clowns and Connvicticut.
Tool TO - - at 0:35, Treadwear tries to pass to Ol’ Zeller, inconveniently snags the bottom of the rim, and the ball goes right to Dawkins. This is scored as a turnover by Treadwear and a steal for Dawkins. On the other end, Nolan is fouled and buries two free throws for a 30-point lead, 53-23, but Gin-nerd subsequently collects the ball off of two passes, spots up right at the semicircle, and lands a three at the intermission horn. Just to annoy all of us watching the scoring margin for sheer, unadulterated entertainment, one surmises. This is North Carolina’s only three of the entire game.
On his way off the court, K Interview Surrogate Chris Collins, who used to be a little nervous during these kinds of things, sounds supremely confident and composed and makes a couple of good points to Erin. Erin asked two sound questions there and is looking and acting cute for a change. Even my female game-watching partner agrees.
It’s halftime outside Cameron, and the Gameday crew is utterly hysterical. You all saw this, I trust - - Rece crumples up and throws away the first-half boxscore, and Digger says this reminds him of Indiana’s 94-29 victory over his Fighting Irish in 1971 (when he was a rookie head coach), but he doesn’t name anything but the score, and turns to his left to Knight, the man who beat him in that one, who yells, “I told you to stop pressing after the first five minutes.” Everyone dies laughing, including us. Al White asks how the occasionally psychotic sideline performer became this lovable, hilarious coot. Jay Bilas came with material, too, asking when the fox hunt starts (“when do we release the hounds?”) after seeing the two-shot of Phelps and Knight with jaunty caps on. Even Hubert Davis is getting in on the fun at the expense of the Tools. Knight wraps it all up by noting that UNC is beating Duke in two categories: personal fouls and turnovers. He’s right - - it’s 9-8 and 7-5 Dirty Footmen in those areas, but 53-26 Blue Devils on the big board. Glad to see these guys visiting Duke and having fun.
As the second half begins, Shulman talks about the Trials of Larry Drew Aye Aye and tells us that there will be “two options at the point next year,” then refers to Kendall Marshall as “not a blur” and a “pass-first point guard,” which is code for “Kyrie Irving will be flashing past this leadfoot to the rack on multiple possessions” and “this guy quite honestly can’t shoot,” respectively. And Drew might not even be around to witness it, which SV don’t point out.
At 18:08 (2), Zoubek has a monster swat of the ridiculous Thompson’s shot and Duke engineers a team rebound out of it. Huge play. At 15:44, Scheyer demonstrates again why he shouldn’t be thought of as just a three-point shooter as he puts the supposedly elite-defending Ginyard on his hip and rides him into a nonshooting foul. Not an important play in the grand scheme, but it shows Jon’s versatility and ability to beat guys off the dribble.
ESPN gives airtime to Rory Deutsch’s story, as a follow up to Katz’s column, which is very cool of them. Rory was such an adorable kid; it’s fantastic that Krzyzewski has helped to honor his life and memory.
And now, it becomes the Half of the Stick Figure for UNC. Gumby only had eight minutes in the first stanza, but looks like his Hall of Fame coach got tired of Graves (or maybe Graves is fighting off Ebola, according to UNC Sports Information, and can’t be counted on to recover until after the game’s conclusion) and Zeller’s act, and will unleash his two-dimensional (geometrically speaking) threat in the second half.
First, Fencepost goaltends on a Nolan shot at 15:18. Next, he throws it to Zeller in the post (actually, this might have been the play that ushered No, Not That Tyler out of much of the rest of the action), who catches it smartly with his chest and steers the rock out of bounds. Zeller draws this boner at 14:55. After a Singler layin, Stick Figure dunks over Miles, then woofs in Plumlee’s face, just like you’re always taught to do when you make an enormous play to cut a 30-point deficit down to 28. Please, no one tell me what a great young man this jerkoff is.
Erin tells us that K, Mickie, and Debbie/Jamie/Lindy (it’s unclear if it’s all of the Krzyzewski daughters or not) routinely take the seniors out to dinner near the close of the season and ask them questions about their Duke experience. In response to a query about his career highlight at Duke, Jon told the K family that “it hasn’t happened yet.” Awesome. This reminds me how much credit Scheyer is due for - - in my unscientific opinion - - reducing the Duke hatred out there. With this well-spoken, very talented, totally inoffensive kid as one of the faces of the program, Duke is a pretty likable squad, isn’t it? Except to UMCP fans, who hurl obscenities at Scheyer at every turn while Sweaty and the school’s administration do nothing about it. All class, those Scaryland partisans. But Scheyer is a breath of fresh air. And let’s hope that he’s right about his career highlight.
At 13:47, Miles picks Treadwear’s pocket at midcourt, looking like a guard. This is what I mean about the Plumlees. If they can just put it together consistently . . . .
SECOND-BEST PLAY OF THE GAME
At 11:20, Singler misses a layup, and Zoubek collects the change. After a few dribbles, he ends up just to the right of the paint, even with the basket, with Zeller playing him tight. Brian ELEVATES OVER THE 7-0 ZELLER and tosses in a right-handed hook shot. ZOMG!!!!!!!!!! I mean, if Zoob continues to play this way, watch out. Awesome.
THIRD-BEST PLAY OF THE GAME
At 10:36, Dawkins has the ball at the arc on the right wing. He sees a chance, and motors by the concrete-shoed Watts, who is ostensibly guarding him. Ginyaaaaaaard, about two feet away minding Scheyer, literally waves his hand in Dawkins’ general direction as Andre continues toward the rim, in one of the most textbook displays of matador defense you’re likely to see. Dawkins goes all the way to the metal and tosses in a high floater off the glass over both Thompson and Stick Figure. Yes, the confidence is back. What a play!
Stick Figure continues to amass stats for the Tools, which is of no concern, as (1) it’s garbage time, and has been since about 12:00 of the first half; (2) I seriously think this doofus has done enough to consider and then implement a draft declaration, and he’ll be a lottery pick; (3) even if he does come back, he lacks the stamina and the free-throw shooting necessary to dominate, which is another reason why he should jump now. Better that he quite plausibly claim that Rrhoid held back his development all season, and hide behind that, rather than trying to battle Hairy Barnes next year for the Who Can Rack Up The Most Stats to Improve His Draft Stock Trophy. Either way, it should be fun for us.
Just as Shulman repeats Knight’s line about stat categories in which the Tools were leading at the half, Drew travels, right on cue, at 9:25. Great coordination by those two.
Bristol shows some signs from the Crazies, who forcefully earned that title this season and came up with some mindblowingly funny stuff to wave around in the crowd. My favorites: “Amateur Hour,” “UNC Math - - 7 McDonald’s All-Americas + 1 ‘Hall of Fame’ Coach = NIT,” and one that ESPN didn’t show, inviting viewers to text 90999 to the “UNC disaster relief fund.” (Apologies if I’m misquoting any of these.) Another great one - - “8 miles isn’t far until you’re crying all the way home.” Oh, man.
At 6:21, Lance determines that it’s time to end this noise, and deliver a nice message in the process, so he fouls out by gently but decidedly laying out Henson, who crashes to the floor in a way that he amplified for drama, but just made him look worse. Don’t woof down 30, or 28, Fauxhawk. What a slime. Props to Lance, who obviously did the whole thing deliberately (and, again, didn’t come anywhere close to hurting or trying to hurt Stick Figure) and smiles from ear to ear as he exits and gets hugs from everyone, including a bear embrace from Nate James that could probably crush titanium. Lance is okay. Thanks for everything, Lance. Please continue your career. ESPN, commendably, captures the entire thing as K naturally delays subbing in Mason to give Lance his moment.
Vitale announces, with the score at 73-37 following another carnival turnover by Don’t Handle It, Deon at 9:03, that Roid is “coaching his heart out.” How can he tell? The guy looks like a sullen, beaten man to me, and he should probably be guarded for his own safety after the game ends. I guess that’s “coaching your heart out” when you’re down by 36 and heading toward quite possibly the most embarrassing loss of your career.
At 4:44, Mason stuffs Stick Figure with a beautiful block. To his credit, Phone Pole recovers and dimes the ball to Thompson for a conversion, but that was a great rejection. Hey, what would happen if the Plumlees got it together over the rest of the season? Is anyone asking this?
Bristol treats us to a fantastic montage after the under-4 deadball, featuring Rrhoy whining and other nonsense. Ed Davis looks as thrilled as your average Vulcan on the bench.
At 3:20, with the score standing at 80-45 (wowowow), K relieves Zoubek, who gets a huge ovation and a round of hugs, including what looks like another crusher from Nate. Nice renaissance there, Brian. Please to continue this? Again, credit to ESPN for showing the whole thing.
At 2:35, K removes Scheyer and Cameron just goes crazy. ESPN, showing deft camerawork with which they haven’t been associated for many years, gets a great crosscourt shot of K smiling as he waits for Scheyer. They have a massive hug and it’s cool. Scheyer parades down the bench and ESPN gets just about all of it again. What a great player this guy was - - and he’s not done. In an era of preposterously selfish athletes enabled by filthy “coaches” to seek the soothing comfort of Mammon as quickly as possible, here’s a guy who’s going to score 2,000 points for Duke, improved dramatically over four years, learned a new position, is probably going to play in the NBA, and no one has a bad word to say about him, excepting the usual suspects whom we won’t name at this time. Congratulations on and thanks for everything, Jon. Let’s see that career highlight now, when ready.
At 1:58, Scheyer’s relief, Jordan Davidson, amusingly pokes away the ball from Stick Figure right at the basket, preventing an easy conversion. I love it.
At 1:33, Nolan serves up an alley-oop to Miles, who slams it home for Duke’s 81st and 82nd points, closing the scorebook for the Blue Devils. Weirdly, the broadcast feed clearly captures either Kersey or Maxwell signaling either traveling or a false start, but nothing comes of it. Whatever. I’m sure those guys have planes to catch. Incidentally, this is the most invisible officiating performance by Mike Wood that I have ever seen. Swofford’s check must have been dishonored.
The final statistical entry involves Tom Thornton trying a three for UNC at 0:31, their fifth arc assay of the evening. He bricks it, rebound Steve Johnson. The final lineup on the court for Duke is Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Davidson, Johnson, and Peters. This group would have beaten the Tools by 10-15.
This was one of my favorite Duke games ever, hands down. Thanks to the team for a really, really fun ride. On to the ACC-T and the NCAAs!