As college basketball teams get ready to start the season they take the court in exhibition games against feebler opponents. These opponents are generally small schools who will get paid well for the game. Players on the teams are talented but not nearly as good as the big schools. They specifically lack height. On the basketball court you often see exhibition teams sending out teams of little people when compared to bigger schools. You feel bad for the exhibition teams who trot out their 6’8″ centers against the seven footers of bigger schools. I’d compare it to watching your buddy approach a super hot girl at a bar to try and get her number. You know it’s a mistake, you’ll know he’ll be met with catastrophic failure, but you root for him because he’s the eternal underdog. As he walks across the bar you see he’s nervous, he even knows he’s going to fail, but he’s accompanied by a desperate sort of confidence. He has nothing to lose. If he tries and fails then life continues as normal, but if he tries and succeeds then he has achieved greatness.
Duke played it’s first exhibition game last week against Bellarmine University. They are the defending Division-II champions so they have talent, but they don’t have height. They have two players at 6’8″, two players at 6’7″ and three players at 6’6″. Everyone else is shorter. Duke started Alex Murphy at small forward. Our starting small forward is the same height as their center. Bellarmine players must have felt a sense of dread as they walked onto the court and saw the brothers Plumlee. Anyone who has played sports in a competitive manner has felt that downcast feeling. At some point you face an opponent who is bigger, stronger and faster. All you can do is try your best, and hope that somehow, someway you can pull off a huge upset.
Bellarmine was unsuccessful as the Plumlee’s rampaged to a modest but efficient statline against a team much shorter than them. Mason was 8-8 for 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and one block. Miles was 4-6, 6-8 from the line for 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and one assist. I’m somewhat troubled by the lack of blocked shots, but I was not able to view the game so I’m not sure how many opportunities the Plumlee’s had. From the highlights I saw the Plumlee’s have not lost their ability to dunk as they threw down some monsters. Mason particularly enjoys the reverse dunk as he has done it quite a bit over his career. I’ve read that the game was somewhat close up to the latter portion of the second half but as Adrian noted yesterday you can’t look too deeply into exhibition games.
So begins the evolution of every college basketball team as the season is about to officially begin. I get the most joy out of watching how teams grow and gel with each other. Both Duke and UNC fans have a lot to be excited for.
UNC has the potential to be fantastic while Duke is somewhat of a wildcard. This will be fun.