TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume X, Number XII – December 21, 2006
Welcome to this edition of the tenth (it's crossed the line from generating wan smiles to causing outright grimaces of pain), yes, we said tenth, season of Two Dukies Pick the ACC. Rob and Matt invite you to sit back, repeat the name "Pierre-Marie Altidor-Cespedes" 20 tmes as fast as you can, get "startled" by the "shape of a child" on your X-ray scanner, and booze it up with Tara Conner before she hits rehab or is eliminated by a cyborg dispatched from the future with a dyslexic glitch in his proper names program - - you choose. You may also choose to stop reading here. Most people do.
The TWO DUKIES name and material are, for some absurd reason, affiliated with http://www.dukies.com, and for even more preposterous purposes, copyright 2006-2007 Rigel Enterprises, Ltd. All rights reserved, including the right to offend as we see fit.
Matt's comments in blue.
Rob Mac K's selection in green.
#22 GONZAGA (9-3, 0-0 West Coast) @ #6 DUKE (10-1, 0-0)
Well, look, I enjoyed the Kent State game - - once McRoberts appeared and simply took over. It was like suddenly dropping a lightsaber-armed Jedi Knight into a knife fight between two rival gangs - - of monks. Or precipitously turning Tom Wolfe loose to edit the latest hack job by Andy Katz. Or . . . well, you get the idea, especially if you saw it. It was very nice. And The Iceman was right - - Omni stopped scoring when DeMarcus locked down on him. My only question? Who was occupying DeMarcus' defensive attention before that point? And who was guarding the Hyatt before that? The last sentence is an example of a rhetorical question. It need not be answered.
Before I go too much further, I want to give a shout out to Volkswagen for (I guess) finally pulling those despicable ads where banal automobile occupants engaged in insipid patter are suddenly subject to a CGI-induced car crash, which is supposed to . . . impress you with the Jetta's survivability, apparently. Except that there was no real crash, and the goons involved were (bad) actors, so what does this campaign prove exactly? I don't think the People's Wagon went far enough, actually - - I would have liked to have seen, flashing on the screen just before "impact," exciting images like a careening SUV being piloted by Mr. Potatohead. Or a Mazda 6 filled with AK-47-toting terroristas. Oh, well. Of course, though, a tip of the hat to the one ad where the in-car conversation is making fun of the Priapism Disclaimer in Cialis/Viagra ads. "Isn't that a scheduling issue?" "What do you say to your doctor - - give him a tip?" Now THAT was funny. I was actually sorry to see those guys get into a fake, computer-staged crash.
Back to Kent State. Did you know that Patrick and Elmore did this game? They were so unobtrusive that I didn't really notice. My favorite exchange of the night went, verbatim, like this:
PATRICK: And Omni Smith BURIES his TWELFTH triple of the night!!!!!!!!!!! I think he just upgraded to the concierge level with THAT shot!!! And HOW ABOUT THE PRESENCE OF MIND BY THAT YOUNG MAN as he TOTALLY FAILS to trip over himself while running back down the court??? HO-ly cow!! And here's an ANSWERING DUNK by DeMarcus Nelson, off a NICE FEED from Roberts!
ELMORE: Yeah, Mike, Nelson took a few extra steps there, and then says to the official, well, if you're not going to call me for palming, double dribbling, and playing the saxophone during game action, I might as well put a little mustard on this one! Nice play.
Like I said, I didn't even notice they were there. Isn't that a scheduling issue?
Anyway, whatever the big improvement was in Duke's offense, I failed to detect it, unless it was putting the ball through the bucket, which was admittedly a nice change. And in any event, whatever offensive benefit Duke gained was more than surrendered on the defensive end, where Omni failed to rename the Bootsy only because Bootsy had a legendary name to begin with, and where transition threes were raining down faster than threats of a sex-tape release from K-Fed. Not good. At least Paulus looked like half a man out there, and it sure is nice to have three reliable scorers. Nelson is really impressive this season, and Scheyer has just picked up the offense and run with it. If Lance Thomas would ever rediscover the form he showed against the AFA, Duke's offense would be totally set. I wouldn't be offended by a sudden explosion from Henderson, Pocius, or both, either.
So that was interesting, and I guess we'll just chalk up the defensive lapses to the layoff. By the way, even as we speak, I just received a fascinating piece of spam from "Alton," with a subject line reading "It's Alton." You know, Alton - - I knew that already. Are spambots getting dumber? Or is it, you know, just Alton?
Gonzaga, Gonzaga, Gonzaga. Isn't it funny how, every 3-4 years, you have to learn the names of a new crop of Zags? I'm still trying to figure out where the hell Pornison came from. And now, it's Raivio, Mallon, Pargo, and Bouldin. Mark Few, actually, is my choice to succeed Coach K, whenever that may be (I always get a few angry e-mails when I mention this subject, like I'm actively agitating for it or something - - chill). Do you remember Dan Monson? Here's a guy who had it all. He was just starting to put the Zags on the map, he enjoyed some postseason success, and wham! He was gone to the first suitor that came calling - - of all places, scandal-devastated Minnesota. One thing I don't want listed anywhere on my resume is "succeeded Clem Haskins" - - what good can come of it? Sure enough, Monson found life in the Twin Cities difficult, horsed around with tools like Przybilla, Rickert, and Humphries, and quickly got out of his depth when he realized he wasn't playing the Dons and the Gaels four times a season. A few weeks ago, Monson was fired, meaning he resigned, but you knew he was fired.
Gonzaga, of course, replaced Monson with Few and has never looked back, and even if the Bulldogs can't ever quite get over that hump into the Final Four, it's one heck of an impressive program. This season, although some commentoids were predicting that the offense would be better because people wouldn't be "standing around" watching Stachison - - these are the same idiots who announced aloud that J.J. Redick's absence would be some boon to the Blue Devils - - Gonzaga has struggled a bit, losing to Butler (no shame), Washington State, and now Georgia, over this past weekend. Neither of those two losses can rationally be excused.
Now, the Zags have a big win . . . let me see . . . who was it . . . oh, of course!!! They beat Texas. And Rice. And Idaho. Also, I think they bested UNC-CH, in a game that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and company clearly threw via some overaggressive point-shaving. 6-11 sophomore John Heytvelt (16.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg) is asserting himself in the paint, and Few is basically playing him with four guards - - Pargo (11.1 ppg), Raivio (20.3 ppg), 6-5 freshman Matt Bouldin (8.8 ppg), and 6-6 junior David Pendergraft (5.1 ppg), who comes out to make room for Altidor-Cespedes and 6-8 senior Sean Mallon (7.9 ppg); that's essentially the rotation. Gonzaga lives at the line, shoots almost 50% from the floor, and Raivio (47.6% 3PFG) and Bouldin (45.8%) gun well from the wing - - no one else except Altidor Cespedes (40.0%) really takes enough to scare anyone.
So why is this team losing to inferior competition? Well, the WSU loss was in Pullman, and the dump to Georgia came in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome, so hostile crowds are evidently an issue, whch is lucky since most of the Garden should be rooting for (a) Duke or (b) the immediate firing and/or beheading of Isiah Thomas. Also, the Zags' defeat at the hands of the Cougars is quite instructive; Tony Bennett put things in the hands of his defense, and WSU outscored the Bulldogs 42-26 in the second half, forcing a ton of miscues along the way. That's the key, because if they are allowed to dictate the tempo, Gonzaga will post 80 points quite easily, and this Duke team can't have any of that.
I think this will either be a hard-fought battle that Duke loses, or a surprisingly easy Duke win. Krzyzewski often owns coaches that I think will outperform him (like Izzo), and I sense that coming here, especially if the Blue Devils can successfully exploit Gonzaga's lack of athleticism and defensive deficiencies, which didn't leave when Pornison did. Duke doesn't lose at the Garden in made-for-TV matchups too often, so let's see if the New York City alums have a treat in store for them. I think they just might.
Duke 77, Gonzaga 68.
Duke 74, Gonzaga 72.
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