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TD: By Any Other Nole

Date: 2/4/2006

2006 Archive  
Posted By: Matt


Volume IX, Number XXIII - February 3, 2006

Welcome to this edition of the ninth (we truly wish just as much as you do that we were making that up), yes, ninth, season of Two Dukies Pick the ACC. Rob and Matt invite you to sit back, enjoy the performance of “The Nutcracker, The Sequel: Classless Whining,” don’t let the lack of a helmet and pads keep you off your game, and we promise that you won’t feel like setting yourself free and challenging any motor vehicles after reading the palaver submitted herewith. Well. We mean, probably not. Who can tell?

The TWO DUKIES name and material are, for some ridiculous reason, affiliated with http://www.dukies.com, and for even more ludicrous motivations, copyright 2006 Rigel Enterprises, Ltd. All rights reserved, and even though you may have had reservations yourself, we'd like to seat you anyway.

Matt's comments in blue.
Rob Mac K's comments in green.
Guest Dukie duhomme’s comments in red.

FLORIDA STATE (13-5, 4-4) @ #2 DUKE (20-1, 8-0)

Okay, did the rosary beads weird anyone else out? Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention despite watching every Duke game “religiously” (get it?? We’re off to a blazing start!), but I’ve never seen that before. And really, were the beads necessary? Perhaps a better strategy might have been NOT TO START PLAYING $%@^*% STALLBALL with almost thirteen minutes left, and just continuing to run the regular offense. Honestly, I just don’t grasp, and never will, this facet of K’s personality. This one sure followed the script of a classic Duke Giveaway Game, though - - three field goals over the last 12:45, a scoring drought of exactly five minutes, et cetera. The one factor not really present? Loads of missed free throws, although Greg almost supplied them. As J.J. said after the game, expressing himself deftly as usual, Duke has guys around this season who can close out these kinds of contests. I agree, J.J., and it was nice to see Shelden and McRoberts (capping what I consider to be his career game) canning those late freebies, although, of course, these kinds of games wouldn’t happen if Coach K would just take Stallball and file it in his office under “Stuff that Accomplishes Absolutely Nothing.”

You know, Stallball is bad enough when there are only a few minutes left; Stallball with 12 to 13 minutes left is really just not very smart at all. I never really got the sense that Duke would lose the game, but the fact that they came so close was simply ludicrous. Here’s another thing that bothers me about Stallball, Duke-style: there is nothing wrong with airing out the ball a little bit with a lead, making the clock your ally. (You should never do it with more than about five minutes remaining, but I digress.) However, what *is* wrong is the way that Duke runs it - - having Paulus pound the stationary dribble in a corner of the forecourt, until about ten seconds are left on the clock. Then it’s time for a few meaningless passes around the arc, and now there are five seconds left for either (a) an off-balance, errant three-pointer; (b) an attempt to pass inside, which leaves the post man no time left to maneuver for position and forces an often unwise shot; or (c) a turnover that would not happen except for the time pressure.

You know, if we must kill clock, how about running the regular offense, passing it inside while there’s still plenty of time to shoot, kicking it back out if there’s nothing there, penetrating and making a couple of shot fakes, executing a jump stop or hesitation dribble here and there, followed by a pass if no good look at the bucket is available - - or any combination of these sorts of tactics? Also, if Stallball doesn’t work on, say, three consecutive possessions, go back to your regular offense.

Utterly and totally bizarre. I’ll never get it. Show no mercy and just run the regular damn offense for 40 minutes!! Or, use the bench, even! Now, there’s an idea! Get some rest for the starters, a few at a time, and keep everyone fresh while ignoring the game clock and just acting like it’s a two-point game. Because you know what? With full Stallball in progress, it usually is before too long.


Okay, so Marty and Jamal are not going to get another minute this season, and as for Boateng, forget it (and him, until next year). Check. They’re supposedly not playing defense in practice (huh? Then TEACH it to them!!), they’ve committed on-court errors, etc., etc., etc., so they’re done. Got it. Just wanted to make sure I have that straight.

Serial killer-resembler Robert John Frasor has assumed the ACC lead in assists, which I saw coming a mile away. Greg has just totally hit the wall, and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s played 31.9 mpg as a freshman. Well, we don’t have another point on the team, so - - oh, wait, we do. But, by federal law, we must have both on the floor at all times (Dockery = 32.3 mpg), and for yet another game, the third of the last four, we had fewer assists than turnovers. (The last time Sean and Greg both looked like point guards simultaneously, which as I understand it is some of the idea of playing them together, was against the Pack.) I thought Dockery had a great game and frankly, hit what might have been equivalent to the game-winning shot (again - - the man is clutch) with that floater in the lane, since Duke needed a bucket so badly, but I don’t understand how we can have two point guards on the court for essentially the entire game, and not get more assists. I recognize that some of this is due to the fact that Redick can now, and does, totally create his own shot, and they don’t give out assists for made free throws, but still. I’d like to see a bit more passing.

And, incidentally, it must be noted that if Paulus and Melchionni don’t play well, they stay out there, but Marty and Jamal practically have to buy a ticket to ensure an unobstructed view of game action. Incomprehensible. DeMarcus is still limited (although he is really, really playing well - - when he and Dockery are both defending in the backcourt, it’s a thing of beauty) and we need some help in certain areas, but K is already down to his statutory seven guys. I. Just. Am. Never. Going. To. Understand. This. It wouldn’t bother me so much, except that you know that we are going to win the ACC Tournament (or at least make the final) with three games in three days, then return (to the same building, thank goodness, so there’s no real travel factor) just a few days later to play some short-rest games against ever-improving competition. And if the guys are drained, well, hey, you know! Hall of Fame.

No, I don’t know. I’m not at practice every day, but I haven’t seen anything from Marty or Jamal that suggests that they would hurt the team any more than Melchionni has with his poor play in recent weeks. In fact, although I routinely see a lot of TDD message board posters opining that Jamal looks “lost,” I don’t see it. In fact, I think he has a good presence about him and usually seems to be in the right spot for things like, e.g., rebounds. I just don’t buy the premise that he can’t contribute for five minutes a game - - ESPECIALLY if we get a big lead and some breathing room. At least I have confidence that Greg will bounce back. Take back that ACC assists lead, please, young man.

As much as J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams are utterly classy players performing at an amazingly high level, Sean Marshall is a hood. No technical, of course, for that nonsense episode facing off against J.J. (who handled it like a judo master, including hilariously helping Marshall up from the parquet a few plays later), and naturally, it energized the crowd. The fact that the punk fouled out shortly thereafter was quite poetic. I hope he enjoyed watching his team lose from a comfy seat. Pocius probably couriered over a note.

On the plus side, McRoberts really was awesome, and Dockery scored in double figures and looked very comfortable on the court, as usual. This guy really doesn’t have too many “bad games.” Josh’s free throws are looking better and better, and Redick’s defense was very solid in a game that featured too many blown sets in the backcourt. Shelden was fantastic. Oh, and I guess I have to address “the no-call.” When I saw it live, I thought he brought his arm down into Rice, but after reviewing it, actually, he didn’t, and if anything, Rice initiated the contact. Now, I’ll admit that such a sequence often draws a whistle on the defender, so maybe everyone is just surprised that an ACC official called something correctly. However, even if I didn’t think the call was correct, I’d humbly note that (1) Rice really should have taken a three anyway, particularly considering that the Sugarplums were lighting it up from distance; (2) it’s not like if he made both free throws after a call, Duke was automatically going to lose, since K had by this juncture figured out not to have Melchionni inbound the ball again; and (3) Duke sure has been hacked in enough late-game situations without calls to know that only really, really obvious stuff gets called in the waning seconds. Anyway, great game by Shelden. 13-16 at the line and seven totally clean blocks, all of them rebounded to a teammate or himself except one? Awesome.

Ah, the Nulls. The only thing that was puzzling about FSU’s win over Clemson was the low score. The Noids have played Clemson twice already, by the way, but still have two against Duke (the Blue Devils visit TeeHee on March 1). Sigh. Anyway, the Partianoles have still only lost five games all season, and the margins of defeat have been quite small: eight points (at the Dupay Institute of Sports Wagering), six (at Clemson, now avenged), three (at BC; Doug Flutie not attending), one (at home versus Karl Hess), and six (at home in overtime against Miami, a loss that I still can’t understand). So, anyone expecting a blowout here should use caution - - the Semens implant themselves firmly in every game they play. Also, Florida State has a high-octane offense and can certainly put up the 80 points generally necessary to beat Duke. An extra degree of caution is in order because FSU forces a lot of steals and has the sort of quick, athletic team with which Duke has occasionally struggled this season. Thornton, in particular, is playing very well and could pose a threat; he's hit 73.5% of his free throw attempts this season, and he gets plenty of easy looks, as does Alexander Johnson. Johnson, though, is less of a threat against Duke because of his horrible A/TO ratio of nearly 1/4, his FT% of 65.3%, and his robust pace of 3.2 fouls meted out per game. I'd think that Shelden Williams will be assigned to guard Thornton rather than McRoberts, who has a real chance to contain and abuse Johnson. Surprisingly, despite the high scoring and generally good shooting (though inferior to Duke's from all angles), the Noids don't really dominate on the glass. In the backcourt, Rich, Swann and Galloway are solid, and Andrew Wilson and Diego Romero are high-percentage gunners with excellent shooting stats, but their involvement is limited, and I think Len, or the players, or whoever calls the shots for this team, does too much subbing, so the backcourt, in particular, doesn't get in rhythm during a game. (Yes, it is possible to overuse your bench - - the polar opposite of Duke's approach.)

Moreover, there’s that Cameron Indoor Stadium deal again. While the later game in TeeHee will probably be pretty tough, Duke's homecourt advantage just cannot be discounted. FSU has never won in Cameron, going 0-14, and I just don’t think the streak will be broken here.

I would, however, like to see some changes based on what we learned on Wednesday night, and if some of those are implemented, this should be a strong win for Duke. In fact, based on the Quasinoles’ uncanny ability to stay in games this season, a win of eight or more points will be quite impressive indeed. A blowout would be frankly pretty darn amazing. Let’s see.

Duke 83, Florida State 74.

Here's a sort-of funny story: I had a late meeting on Wednesday night, so I didn't get home until after 10:00. Before I sat down in front of the TV, I checked the score of the Duke-BC game, and saw that Duke had a 17-point lead with about 15 minutes left in the second half. Cheered by the fact that we were apparently killing 'em, I made myself some popcorn and propped myself up in my comfy chair to watch the game from the beginning (what did man do before TiVo?). Unworried, I watched Duke gradually work their way to a small lead at halftime, and then apparently blow it open with a three-point barrage early in the second half. Then, with about 13 minutes left, Duke started to slow the pace. By the time I was at the 10-minute mark in the game, I was worried enough about the way things were going that I paused it, and went back to the computer to check how it had turned out (it was nearing midnight, and I wasn't about to stay up half the night watching us blow a huge second-half lead - I've seen that particular plot twist more than enough times, thanks very much). Seeing that we'd won by a deuce, I breathed a sigh of relief, and went back to watch the rest of the game.

I guess a win is a win, and other than the last fifteen minutes or so, the Devils looked pretty good. I thought it was interesting that Duke substantially changed their defense to pack it in down low, and being much more willing to surrender the outside shot (BC being among the worst teams in the ACC from beyond the arc). Naturally, they proceeded to have a collective Bootsy night from Bonusland, but what else would you expect?

Anyway, on to FSU. I don't think the Noles will put up a serious challenge at CIS - the return visit to the Sunshine State may well be a different matter (assuming that the Noles aren't one of the 34 ACC teams that Duke only plays once this season - and I'm too lazy to check), however. The Noles have been reasonably successful on the road, to tell you the truth - wins over Virginia and Wake Forest, and a 3-point loss to BC and a 6-point loss at Clemson.

Still, after Duke's narrow escape in Beantown, I suspect the Devils had a couple of intense practice sessions on Thursday and Friday. There's always the danger of a stumble, since this looks like an easy win (the last meeting was a 32-point Blue Devils win) at home sandwiched between two big road games (@ BC and @ UNC-CH next Tuesday). I wouldn't be surprised to see Duke struggle a bit in the first half (now that I've said that, it'll probably by 23-8 at the first TV time-out), but get it together in the second stanza to close out a solid win.

Duke 85, Florida State 71.

Before I get to this matchup, let me tell you a strange thing I learned writing this weekend’s material. See, after a kind of rough start, I really got going and was way ahead of the guest writer for the website “Two Eagles Pick the ACC.” So much so, that when I got about 18 paragraphs ahead of him, I figured I could sit back, put my feet up and coast through the rest of the material. Much to my dismay, the Guest Eagle kept typing away and almost pulled even with me to the point where I had to rely on interference from Spell Check to slow him down and give me the chance to add a few more sentences here and there with the clock stopped. Several observers also questioned my decision to stop using my low-post typing fingers in the latter stretch even though the Guest Eagle had lost his best two digits due to foul trouble.

Lesson learned! By me at least.

What a colossal collapse. Look, Duke’s game management is painfully predictable. It goes like this (either with a big lead early, or a small lead late): sloooooooooow waaaaaaaaay dooowwwwwwn and hope for fouls at the end of the shot clock; give up a couple of easy baskets on defense; overreact by going for questionable steals and getting so far out of position that the opposing team essentially plays five on four. Then take bad threes. Which somehow draws me into, yes, once again, a discussion on - -

Depth. Okay, so I’m getting the signal that despite the fact that there were five new players added to the team this year, only two will play. That despite the large number of scholarship athletes, only seven will play. That the two guys off the bench will be guards inserted at the forward position. One of these is coming off his third serious injury in two seasons (Nelson) and the other (Melchionni) should really be under the Marty Clark Rule (a restraining order requiring that said player not come within 20 yards of the ball in crucial late-game situations). But would it kill the second-half collapse attempt to occasionally work another fellow into the rotation? Maybe one who is, you know, taller than me?

Which reminds me of a story from a game about halfway through the 2001 season. Duke was up big late in the second half and rather than clear the bench, K starting subbing one player at a time. Dick Vitale went on a minor rant that with a 20-plus lead and four minutes left, why were Jason Williams and Shane Battier on the floor with Casey Sanders? I put forth my smartest basketball commentary of the rest of my life by responding out loud, “Because there may be a time when Casey is required, due to injury or foul trouble to Carlos Boozer, to be on the floor with Williams and Battier in a more important situation.” If you don’t know how accurate my little postulation turned out to be later that season, then you’re here by accident. [True of most of our readers, but well said nonetheless. --Matt]

Now it’s time for me to look much less smart. Florida State has some decent wins, some decent almost wins. They score close to 80 a game despite having only three (almost four) double digit scorers. And no, there is not a certain inside-out tandem making up the bulk of the points either. Top-earner Al Thornton is just shy of 16 per game. I look for Duke to clamp down on the Partially-Noles’ outside shooting and force even more than the 16 cough-ups per outing F-State is giving their opponents.

Duke 85, Florida State 72.

MIAMI (FL) (13-8, 5-3) @ GEORGIA TECH (9-10, 2-6)

The HurryClowns have really been rocketing up and down the charts this season, but now they seem to be comfortably on the upswing after beating Florida State at the Donald L. Tucker Who It's Still the TLCCCCCC Center and suckerpunching ridiculous Wake in the nether regions on Tuesday. Then there’s the lovable BugThugs, who have now dropped six straight, and have not won since the kindly Gents of Centenary deeded them a win back on . . . January 10?? Wow. I just did a quick check of the Atlanta sports media, which is a curious collection of characters that cares nothing about the Falcons and for the most part understands that Ron Mexico is not an NFL quarterback; sort of follows the Hawks; wishes that the NHL had come back in a stripped-down version of whatever nature, as long as it did so without the Thrashers; and follows the exciting exploits of the Braves to such a detailed extent that everyone learns what kind of restaurant Brian McCann would like to open, hopefully with Chris Hobbs and Tim Brando somehow involved. The Ambercoats? Well, they get mentioned occasionally, but if they’re not mounting an improbable run to the national title game, they draw little notice. Short answer: no one’s calling for Hewitt’s job just yet.

Here’s the thing. The Thugs lost at BC by two and at Virginia Tech by one, and while they have been plagued by preposterously long scoring droughts in their recent contests, they have been steadily improving their defense - - look at how many points Duke gave up to the Dew Drop Fairies on Wednesday night, in comparison to Tech only surrendering 66 mere days earlier. The problem for the Wreck is turnovers: overnighting the rock into the seats, ten second violations, five second violations, OSHA violations, over-and-back calls, knifing when not in a legal defensive stance, unholstered weapons causing technicals for illegal uniforms - - you name it, and the Bees do it.

However, the Jerkets outboard their opponents almost every time out, and in Dickey and Smith (Hewitt: please add a Johnson to the squad next year to give the ACC its own version of Longwood), they have two guys who can really take advantage of Miami inside; despite their poor record, the Thugs lead the ACC in points in the paint, and Miami really doesn’t bottle up the middle all that well. The Clowns are also not that well-suited to take advantage of the Ambercoats’ problems with the handle, since they don’t steal the ball very often or get all that aggressive on defense - - it’s more that they are very solid in limiting good shots, especially from the backcourt. And that may not help much here.

The Thugs losing seven in a row while making their third try for win #500 at Bye, Bye Bobby Court? I don’t know. I’m skeptical. Can they be that bad? Let’s find out.

Georgia Tech 67, Miami (FL) 64.

And here we have another team that has fallen far and fast - it's hard to believe that the Wretched Wreck was playing in the Final Four not so long ago. Unlike Wake Forest, however, the Thugs do seem to have some good talent coming in from what I hear, so their visit to the lower levels of the ACC may only be a temporary one.

I don't see any real reason to believe that Tech will win this game - the Tropical Storms recently went to Tallahassee and won, and visiting the Auditorium Formerly Known as the McDonald's Dome doesn't look to be any more difficult.

Miami (FL) 80, Georgia Tech 74.

I wrote these out of order and right about now I’m wishing I watched “24” because some filler is definitely in order. However, I rise above such pedestrian television fare, and my ruminations on “The Simpsons,” “Viva La Bam” and “Grounded for Life” reruns will be waaaaay over your heads. What else do we have? Only one episode into the most result-oriented version of “Survivor” yet. [And I just learned, from you, sir, that it started. I must have an all-consuming blog-style website and a paying job, or something. I'm somehow sure there's still plenty of time for me to get up to speed on this edition, however. --Matt] “The West Wing” is on its last legs as clever use of focus groups have indicated that neither potential presidents Hawkeye Pierce nor Bail Organa could carry an audience after term-limited Hollywood Dream Commander-In-Chief Martin Sheen. “Boston Legal” has become a parody of itself. Syndicated “King of the Hill” comes on soon, I’m already a half-hour over my deadline, and I've got to get this done.

The Jaundice Buggies haven’t won a game in nearly a month. Miami, with the exception of a hick-up at UVA, has been playing pretty well of late. With them standing at 5 and 3 in the league play I should guess for one more win. But this is that wacky time of the year where teams on a roll turn in a total cluster-f I don't see coming. I don't "see" this one, either, but, despite how bad Georgia Tech is, I just can't stand here and say their streak continues to 0 and 7. I mean, yeah, their scrawny Australian graduated, changed his name, shaved his head, lost his accent, and doubled his basketball ability, all so he could regain eligibility and lead UNC in scoring, but Hewitt has a knack for mid-season surprises.

Georgia Tech 67, Miami (FL) 61.

WAKE FOREST (12-9, 1-7) @ VIRGINIA (10-8, 4-4)

This would be a more difficult game to forecast if it involved RoadVirginia, although Leitao’s players don’t really seem to mind the road as much as they did under Gillen. Or as much as they did Gillen himself, blue moons and yellow diamonds included. I was reading an article over the weekend about how much Singletary loves Leitao, and the subjacent theme, while not fully explored by the author, was that Sean couldn’t stand Macrocephapete. So, the Cravs got rid of the Leprechaun just in time, although that decision probably had more to do with the advent of Led Zeppelin Arena next season than it did cultivating a potential star point guard (who, incidentally, might really benefit from the recruitment of a more pass-oriented backcourt teammate so he could concentrate more on shooting).

Wake’s gotten so bad it’s comical. They were leading at the half in CG, then collapsed via their complicity in a 44-32 second half performance by Miami. The three “key” seniors had all but 17 of the Dorcs’ points.

I see no reason to forecast any snappage of Weak’s current string. In fact, I need them to get under .500 for the season so they don’t pollute the NIT and force me to keep dealing with them, and so, with that in mind, I will root wildly for the Hos. Just kidding. Well, no, I'm not.

Virginia 74, Wake Forest 70.

Heh, who would have expected a couple of months ago that Virginia would be the favorite going into this game? The Hoos have been tough at home and have battled valiantly on the road, while the Churchmen of the Damned have been stinking up the joint no matter which joint they've taken the court in.

The hot topic in coaching circles these days seems to involve Prosser's imminent departure for Cincinnati (how much truth there is to that, I have no idea). What I would ask is, given how Wake has bottomed out this season, does UC really want to hire him? It's not like the Deacs have tons of young talent, either - after Gray and Williams leave this season, who picks up the slack next year? Kyle Visser?

Virginia 78, Wake Forest 74.

I’ve got a few questions for anyone (Matt, perhaps?) with some decent Wake Forest credentials:

(a) What, if any, relationship is there between the tie-dyed T-shirts and anything remotely resembling Wake Forest basketball tradition, either past or present?

[J.D. 1997, Wake Forest Universoty, reporting for action. Answer: none; it's a completely brazen, brand-new invention and marketing ploy. Actually, the Wake alums and G/WS/HP residents who regularly attend games at Joel, which is far larger than Cameron, mostly hate it. --Matt]

(b) Seeing as how the same block of “fans” wears these shirts to every game, do stadium officials hand out fresh ones each time? Or are the “fans” taking it upon themselves to wash, dry and iron this awe-inspiring T and make sure to wear it to each and every home outing?

(c) If the answer to the second part of question (b) is a “yes,” doesn’t Coach Skippy feel even the slightest responsibility to put something remotely resembling a competitive basketball product on the floor, at least occasionally Or at least put as much time into game preparation as the “fans” do with their laundry?

[Given the small size of Wake Forest University, one surmises that students are encouraged to retain and launder their own apparel to cut down on administrative costs; it's not like globally renowned alums Billy Pecker and Sen. Dick Burr donate a ton to the school for these sorts of purposes. Oh, and no, Skip's just a tool; glad to be of help. --Matt]

This weekend sees Coach Skip Defense and his band of merry crotch-smackers ride an impressive four-game losing streak into Who-ville. UVA has certainly been the surprise of the season so far, particularly since the lighted ball dropped in Times Square. Last month saw such defensive efforts as holding Miami to 51 points and country cousins Va Pollytechnical to 49. Their last game was a two-point loss to the Woofpack, on the road, which came despite UVa shooting a dreary 2 of 21 from behind the arc. This performance had me headed for the stats as well a giving NC State a real thinking-over, all of which I’m bumping to the State write-up below as I feel I’ll need some padding there.

Wake, on the other hand, can hold forth as its most distinctive accomplishment of the season giving VA Tech its first conference win of the year. This was such a pathetically lackluster effort that it may be true that Eric Williams stepped into the half-court circle for the opening jump ball with a linen nicely draped over his wrist saying, “Your table for five is ready.” You know what? Screw this team. I’m going to put as much effort into analyzing them as they do playing.

Virginia 78, Wake Forest 65.

CLEMSON (14-7, 3-5) @ NORTH CAROLINA-CHAPEL HILL (13-5, 4-3)

Okay, so we had an even better episode of 24 this past week. Essentially, Kiefer convinced Hobbiton-dwelling CTU honcho Sean Astin to let him go after the Prez’s dirty chief of staff, but needed some help from Palmer’s old buddy in the Secret Service, character agent Glenn Morshower, to give him the kind of access he and we needed. What followed was epic, with Bauer beating the crap out of the villain, a dead ringer for Joe Scarborough (minus any unfortunate intern aspect), as the weak-willed President just watched helplessly. Of course, Dirty Walt soon gave it up, and the Prez, showing the first signs of a spine, refused to discipline either Bauer or Agent Glenn for their heroic, ends-means actions. Fantastic scene that I watched three times, and already want to see again. Ahhhhh, TiVo. However, Walt didn’t give up Nick Knight, even though it was strongly implied that Nick instructed Walt to confess his involvement to the President before Bauer arrived. Curious. Incidentally, where the heck is Nick, anyway? That is some awesome setup he has there, and clearly, no sunlight gets in. Well, rest assured that he’s within 300 miles of Los Angeles, so that Kiefer can reach him in 15 minutes by car - - after all, he traveled from the never-revealed CTU location to “Hidden Valley” in about that time this week, and even fielded a call from mindblowingly hot Kim Raver upon arriving so that her character could toss in a little romantic tension for good measure.

Even better - - the guys who raided the Long Beach harbor weren’t from CTU, which, at any time in previous seasons, has been able to amass as much manpower as J.J. Redick can womanpower, and in only slightly less time. Instead, they were from Customs & Border Protection, which is an actual, real-life agency. Well done, and never mind the fact that CBP probably doesn’t have ten heavily armed dudes at Long Beach ready to roll within five minutes, but who knows. Also nice was the tension between Astin’s young bureaucrat and James Morrison’s surprisingly sympathetic and effective CTU Los Angeles chief Bill Buchanan. The downside: Chloe had like 50-60 seconds of screen time, and Curtis got to walk in from an extended bathroom break (endorsed and advised by the University of Maryland, College Park) to say “feed’s up” for his only line of the whole show. Whether he was making some lame pun about his UMCP-encouraged colon blow or just unnecessarily announcing the arrival of live video of the CBP agents moving into action was not immediately clear. Oh, shoot, the guy was probably just reparking his car or making a 7-11 run for the whole hour - - Maryland Sports Information had earlier advised that Los Angeles traffic would be heavy due to the missing nerve gas.

So far, so good this season - - it’s the best of the five so far, based on the first seven episodes. The political intrigue was even realistic, something not pictured in, for example, the second season. So who’s behind the bed in next week's previews? "What do we do, Jack?" Heh. Love it. Well, anyway, good luck, Ollie. duhomme is picking you!

North Carolina-Chapel Hill 52, Clemson 0.

I'm not going to waste much time with this one. I think it was Twain who said that the only things certain in life are death, taxes, and Clemson losing in Chapel Hill.

I did want to mention something I really noticed while watching Sweaty and the Droplets rolling over for Royz Boyz on Thursday night - the amazin' footwork of Tyler Hansbrough. Having paid attention to it, I now see why he's gotten the nickname "Hopalong Han


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