Yearly Archives: 2012

5 Classes for Duke Fans During the Winter Break

As usual, the end of the calendar year means that Duke’s schedule slows down so that the players can take fulfilling the ‘student’ part of their ‘student-athlete’ status. Rather than pass the time with NBA games featuring millionaires playing lazy defense, why not pretend to study something just like your favorite college athletes (who are also only pretending to study)?

So here are five subjects Duke fans should study during the end of semester break (by the way, you can probably get actual college credit for these if you play football at UNC).

History

Watching Mason Plumlee dominate the paint while shooters like Seth Curry, Rasheed Sulaimon and Ryan Kelly bury threes feels somewhat familiar doesn’t it? Well the best way to understand the present is to learn your history. And a scholarly look back at Duke’s 2010 Championship team shows some startling similarities to the current crop of Blue Devils.

Ryan Kelly is a big man who likes to drift away from the paint to take outside shots, not unlike Kyle Singler. Seth Curry is a senior dead eye shooter more or less playing the Jon Scheyer role. Meanwhile, Mason Plumlee is dominating the paint the way Brian Zoubek did during Duke’s Championship run.

True, the comparisons aren’t perfect. Kyle Singler stood in the small forward spot while Ryan Kelly is playing power forward. Jon Scheyer was probably a better shooter and all around scorer than Seth Curry. And while Brian Zoubek wasn’t as good a player as Mason Plumlee, Zoubek was better at swiping offensive rebounds.

Of course history doesn’t so much as repeat itself as it provides interesting insight into understanding the present.

The 2010 team held an average per-game rebounding edge over opponents of 6.2 while through nine games this Duke team has a per-game rebounding edge is -1 (via DBR). Can Duke win without a Lance Thomas style role player to rebound alongside Mason Plumlee?

The 2010 team had Nolan Smith scoring from the point guard position. Does the combination of Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon equal the contributions of Nolan Smith?

The two teams are similar, but there are some key differences that might shine a light on just how far this Duke team can go. So the question remains: what, if anything, can Duke learn from its history.

Religious Iconography

In Duke lore there is nothing more religiously iconic than a retired jersey. Mason Plumlee is making a case for Player of the Year, so it’s worth wondering if the middle brother might find his number dangling from the Cameron Indoor rafters along with the other Sainted players.

The best measuring stick for Plumlee’s worthiness of highest praise is to compare him to another sacred center/forward, Sheldon Williams.

Sheldon Williams never won a Player of the Year, though his teammate J.J. Redick did, but Williams did earn Defensive Player of the Year twice. “The Landlord” also has better career stats than Mason Plumlee.

Sheldon Williams’ career stats at Duke are 13.9 points-per-game and 9.1 rebounds-per-game. During his junior and senior years, Williams averaged a double-double for the season (via GoDuke).

Until this year, Mason Plumlee’s junior season was his best statistical year as he averaged 11.1 points. Sheldon Williams only averaged lower than Plumlee’s 11.1 as a freshman. As a sophomore “The Landlord” averaged 12.6 points and improved on that total as a junior and senior.

That being said, Sheldon Williams never won a National Championship whereas Mason Plumlee was a part of the 2010 Title team. True, Plumlee was a freshman on that squad and only played 14.1 minutes-per-game, but he still got a ring (via GoDuke).

The point is, if Mason Plumlee lands Player of the Year honors or delivers an NCAA Championship, the second in his four years at Duke, then hanging his jersey in Cameron next to Sheldon Williams’ for everyone to idolize might be something to consider.

Chemistry

This holiday season you’re bound to run into a UNC fan who will insist that the ole Roy’s boys have much better depth than Duke. This UNC fan will probably point to Coach Williams’ propensity to use an 11 man rotation and the fact that Duke has almost no bench points.

This is when lessons learned from a chemistry class come in handy.

Bench points is the most worthless stat in basketball and the refuge of desperate fans looking to clutch to any straw that might save them from drowning. Points are points. Whether they come from a starter or a bench player, they all go up on the scoreboard the same.

Duke doesn’t ask anyone off the bench to score because they don’t need offense off the bench. All of Duke’s starters are averaging double-digit points. On the whole, Duke’s starting five averages a total of 71.6 points-per-game (via ESPN).

So Duke is getting plenty of offense. What the Blue Devils need is defense and rebounding from its bench players.

Tyler Thornton has picked up 18 steals so far while Amile Jefferson and Josh Hairston are filling in admirably when they spell either Mason Plumlee or Ryan Kelly.

The bottom line is that everyone on the Blue Devils has a clearly defined role. That may not improve the draft value of the players as individuals, but it does ensure that Duke goes into games with a strong mixture of players contributing in a bunch of different ways.

Teams centered around a single star (like Austin Rivers) tend to fizzle out in terms of team chemistry. This Duke team, however, has bonded at a subatomic level and that makes them a tough team for opponents to break down.

Pre-Med

Seth Curry has been battling a leg injury since before the season started. So far Curry has been able to play well, averaging 16.1 points-per-game. However, there have been times when he has looked to be limited in terms of mobility and when he rolled his ankle against Ohio State that certainly didn’t help matters.

Duke can beat cupcakes like Delaware without Curry, but depth isn’t this Duke squad’s strongest point. If Curry can’t play, then Duke will most certainly struggle against conference foes and in tournament settings.

In fact, over the course of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, where Duke played three games in three days, Seth Curry’s stats go progressively worse. He scored 25 points against Minnesota, 15 against VCU and 14 against Louisville (via ESPN).

Maybe that was due to increasingly stronger opponents, or maybe it was evidence that Curry can’t handle that much wear and tear in a short time frame. Either way, the rigors of conference play will certainly test Curry’s health.

If Seth Curry can’t go, Tyler Thornton takes his spot in the lineup. While Thornton offers a better defensive option than Curry, the amount of offense lost in Curry’s absence might be too much for Duke to overcome.

Therefore, it’s imperative that Curry make it through the season in good enough shape to be able to contribute to ACC and NCAA tournament runs.

Armchair diagnostics will also come in handy when Marshall Plumlee returns from his injury. MP3 will probably get worked into the lineup slowly so as to not upset the team chemistry, but his height adds a much needed backup center to Duke’s bench options.

Cryptozoology

What is Cryptozoologoy? It’s the study of animals that may or may not exist. That includes things like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster and Alex Murphy.

When he arrived at Duke two years ago, Alex Murphy was purported to be a new incarnation of Kyle Singler. The fact that Murphy redshirted last year only helped to heighten the mystery around whether or not this rumored Kyle Singler 2.0 was real or just a myth.

Through nine games Alex Murphy has appeared just seven times and played a total of 40 minutes. The Chupacabra shows up with more regularity than that. And like the Chupacabra, Alex Murphy has done quite a bit of sucking when he’s on the court.

Until the Delaware game, Murphy was 0-3 from the floor and looked lost in the offense. Currently, the only Blue Devil with a worse field goal percentage than Murphy is Tyler Thornton (via ESPN).

That being said, in the game against Delaware Murphy came off the bench to play 21 minutes and scored 10 points. For the first time all season he showed signs of the rumored Singler sub-species. With a few more cupcake opponents, Alex Muphy will have more chances to prove whether or not he’s the real deal or just a mirage produced by swamp gas, shadows on the water or an elaborate hoax.

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Walk-Ons: Big East Imminent Collapse Blues

Today we’re talking about the perils of the Big East, looking forward to the weekend, and exposing my total ignorance of important rock music. Also, what’s the deal with other people named Matt Jones, Ben Swain, and Shane Ryan? Why are they on the Internet? Get those fools outta here.

 

Got a story you’d like to share or thoughts on Matt’s love life? E-mail us at WalkOnsPodcast@gmail.com

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Or leave a voicemail at our Google Voice #, and we may even put you on the show: 818-Walk-On1 (that’s 818-925-5661)

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Walk-Ons: Brandon Paul’s heroics and the rest of the weekend action

Crazy girls, neutral court games, endorsing Kentucky watches, and the weekend in basketball are all discussed in this episode. What did the mechanical frog say? Rivet, rivet. Or Robot, robot.

 

Got a great Psycho T story or a Bleacher Report quote or any other thoughts? E-mail us at WalkOnsPodcast@gmail.com

Follow us on twitter at @WalkOnsPodcast

Or leave a voicemail at our Google Voice #, and you will almost surely get to be on the show: 818-Walk-On1 (that’s 818-925-5661)

Be a pal and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. Just click “view in iTunes” once you reach that link, and then ‘subscribe for free.’ Voila. If you’re feeling really generous, you could also rate the podcast and write a positive review.

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Walk-Ons: Making it through the December Lull

Together, we are helping each other come through the arid December lull dividing the lush jungles of November and the cool waters of January. Today we’re talking about the recruitment of Andrew Wiggins, the sexy-ness of the word co-ed, whether we made the right decision podcasting instead of becoming start basketball players, and, of course, Matt’s romantic history with a WWE diva. We also count down the top ten games of the weekend and discuss which of the top teams have the most “upside” as we march toward March. It’s a feel-good episode. In the advent calendar of the Walk-Ons, this episode is the caramel chocolate.

 

Got a great Psycho T story or a Bleacher Report quote or any other thoughts? E-mail us at WalkOnsPodcast@gmail.com

Follow us on twitter at @WalkOnsPodcast

Or leave a voicemail at our Google Voice #, and you will almost surely get to be on the show: 818-Walk-On1 (that’s 818-925-5661)

Be a pal and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. Just click “view in iTunes” once you reach that link, and then ‘subscribe for free.’ Voila. If you’re feeling really generous, you could also rate the podcast and write a positive review.

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Eight Only Mostly Baseless Predictions for the Rest of the 2012 UNC Basketball Season

A month is just enough time for me to begin disguising non-empirical and kneejerk opinions as thoughtful observations, so here goes…

1. James Michael McAdoo will play great basketball all year, but because of who his is and where he plays and when he plays there this will be a great disappointment to everyone.

J.M.M. entered this season as the latest Tar Heel to have unreasonable expectations thrust upon him, which thrusting we were somehow all ok with even after what happened with our expectations re: Harrison Barnes.

We justified it thusly: 1. We had seen McAdoo play actual college basketball

2. We do not learn from our mistakes.

This year, McAdoo has looked dominant at times, serviceable at others (he accomplished periods of both looks against Indiana, in addition to a third, “like his hands had been frozen in Carbonite,” which better never show up again), averaging out to great, but never inhumanly good, which is what we all felt like we were justified in expecting. I am not blameless in this, either: I have found myself more than once wondering if he had the flu while he cruised to a double-double right in front of me.

McAdoo will be one of the many, many great basketball players to not be the national player of the year, but because he won’t have played like one of the Monstars from “Space Jam,” entitled UNC fans like myself will still look back and think about what might (could, should) have been.

2. James Michael McAdoo will play at an outrageously high level during the ACC and NCAA tournaments and will move on to the NBA.

We’ll call this an inverse-Barnes, who melted during last year’s NCAA tournament, but went pro anyway before anyone could realize that this was an indication of what his game is like without an elite point guard there creating his shots for him, rather than a fluke.

I have nothing to base this on besides his excellent play in the same circumstances last year, but I predict that J.M.M. will erupt in late April/early March. With the emergence of Joel James and Brice James as forces in the frontcourt, and next year’s arrival of soft-handed big man/snuggle bear Kennedy Meeks, he’ll declare for the draft this year rather than let a smaller role diminish his draft stock.

3. P.J. Hairston will not become J.J. Redick, but will be the most beloved Tar Heel at the end of the year.

J.J. was the dominant villain during my formative years as a Tar Heel fan, so my memories of him and the statistics of his actual performance might not match up. In my mind, he shot like 94% from beyond the arc, and would, rather than run the court after playing defense (“playing defense”), blink briefly out of reality and only reappear when a pass was thrown to the spot of the court where he was destined to make his next shot from. Whatever the numbers actually were, he was exactly 100% at shooting cold knives into my heart, and I’ve been waiting and waiting on a Carolina player to duplicate his exact skill set.

After a year and a month of saying “when a few more of these shots start falling, Peaches (my nickname for Hairston, it will catch on if we let it) is going to be a terror,” I’m realizing that he might not be that player. That said, Peaches has done at least one unquantifiable and awesome thing in every outing (the halftime buzzer beater, a play against UAB where he straight bossed a fellow around near half-court to receive a pass, he seems also to be legitimately interested in playing defense), and there’s no indication that this behavior will stop.

He’s also had some fantastic plays driving to the basket, and is becoming this team’s emotional epicenter. He is developing himself into a complete player, not simply an oft-errant sniper. It’s really exciting and I expect Peaches to be eliciting the loudest Dean Dome cheers by the end of the year. Sadly, though, it won’t be because he’s draining threes at a rate and frequency that justify introducing him over Garbage’s “Only Happy When it Rains.”

4. P.J. Hairston and J.P. Tokoto will sadly not establish a sufficient enough relationship to justify my “PJJP Palindrome Parejas” nickname that I really wanted to bust out.

Just something I’d been looking forward to all summer, not a big deal.

5. Brice Johnson will be the ACC Rookie of the year, or if not, there will be a legitimate case to be made that he deserves it.

The glut of young, unproven talent in Chapel Hill this year is Johnson’s biggest obstacle here. On a shallower team he’d be getting more minutes, and we’d all be speaking about him in hushed tones, silently working out what we’d be willing to give up to the Lord in a bargain that would keep him in powder blue for the next three years.

Once every game he does something so brilliant that all the colors in the world get brighter all of a sudden. His .630 is the highest field goal percentage for players averaging at least 14 minutes per game, and he’s got a higher average PPG than Dexter Strickland, who has the benefit of an average of ten more minutes per game. Granted, a lot of Dexter’s time is coming at point guard, a position not known for lighting up the scoreboard in Daggum Roy’s system, but still. He’s also becoming Marcus Paige’s favorite dish target when they’re in at the same time.

By the end of this season we will have stopped thinking of Johnson as a hyper-talented freshman and will begin to think of him as the future of Carolina basketball. Dovetailing with this…

6. Brice Johnson will begin next season with unreasonable expectations thrust upon him, and the grand cycle of hubris and entitlement will continue unbroken

Obviously.

7. UNC will win a game they have no business winning because of their outside shooting.

I have a friend who is excellent at reverse-jinxing Duke to greatness. His favorite thing to say about last year’s Duke team was that he had little confidence in them since they could win or lose any game they played, because they relied so much on outside shooting, and then I was in his kitchen, cursing his name and his family and smashing my head against his wall trying to concuss myself after Austin Rivers’ shot while he giggled or something, or was high-fiving Satan in the corner, or whatever it is Duke fans do to celebrate making the world a worse place.

I feel essentially the same way about the UNC this year, and say it as often as I can, which I guess makes me a hypocrite.

Leading candidates for this are against this year’s thoroughly terrifying Duke team at Cameron, and a game against a higher seed in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, this is a coin that inevitably flips both ways, so…

8. UNC will lose a game they have no business losing because of their outside shooting.

I don’t want to talk about it now, and I won’t want to talk about it then, but it will happen, and probably it will be Clemson, because that would be the absolute worst.

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The Walk-Ons: Recap, Rankings, Revelry

This is the sick episode. Like Jordan Hulls, we are all heart. Some moxie. Not much gumption, but then, there’s a shortage on.

 

Got a great Psycho T story or a Bleacher Report quote or any other thoughts? E-mail us at WalkOnsPodcast@gmail.com

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Walk-Ons: Louisville to the ACC, Duke wins, Kentucky loses

Ben is recovering from a cold that leaves his voice more husky than usual, and the Walk-Ons are in rare form while discussing the continued realigment landscape. Matt is convinced Duke and UNC are bound for the SEC or Big Ten, while Shane and Ben aren’t so sure. When they agree to disagree, it’s time to talk about Duke’s win over OSU, who should be no. 1, and Kentucky’s flat play against Notre Dame. There’s also a quick look ahead to the weekend games. In between, we touch on Forrest Gump, Ben’s first date with his current wife, Matt’s best first date ever involving the Counting Crows, the similarity between Valentine’s Day and a Frasier episode, and other verbal shenanigans. It’s a crackler, this ‘un. It should be noted here that Matt is one of the few Americans to pronounce the word “what” correctly.

Got a great Psycho T story or a Bleacher Report quote or any other thoughts? E-mail us at WalkOnsPodcast@gmail.com

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Or leave a voicemail at our Google Voice #, and you will almost surely get to be on the show: 818-Walk-On1 (that’s 818-925-5661)

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Walk-Ons: Big 10/ACC Challenge, Turkey Break Wrap-Up

It’s a wild and wooly show today, as we invite Galen Clavio from Crimson Cast to join us in the first ever Walk-Ons/Crimson Cast Challenge. The deal is that all four Crimson Casters (a great podcast out of Indiana that airs on Sundays and Wednesdays), pick all 12 ACC/Big 10 games, while the three of us do the same. We recruited a ringer from twitter named Pistol Pat O’Sullivan to be our fourth, and whoever gets the most picks right wins the day. (You can view everybody’s picks on this spreadsheet). We discuss all the ACC home games with Galen- Shane joined Crimson Cast to cover the Big Ten home games on Sunday- and then Matt, Ben, and Shane get down and dirty with UCLA, N.C. State, Duke’s new ranking, Kentucky’s development, Shane’s hipster love for Creighton and Gonzaga, and Sean Woods’ furious approach to life and basketball. Also, Matt’s radio show was hijacked by Islamic terrorists who MAY have been financed or tacitly supported by Rick Pitino. Lots of ground covered, lots of love, lots of emotion. “Buffalo” by The Deloreans is our music once again. There is an Easter Egg at the end of this podcast.

 

Got a great Psycho T story or a Bleacher Report quote or any other thoughts? E-mail us at WalkOnsPodcast@gmail.com

Follow us on twitter at @WalkOnsPodcast

Or leave a voicemail at our Google Voice #, and you will almost surely get to be on the show: 818-Walk-On1 (that’s 818-925-5661)

Be a pal and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. Just click “view in iTunes” once you reach that link, and then ‘subscribe for free.’ Voila. If you’re feeling really generous, you could also rate the podcast and write a positive review.

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The Walk-Ons: Shabazz Cometh, Wolfpack Embarrassment, Realignment

It’s a big day in Walk-On land as Ben and I sip Angry Orchard ciders and talk to Matt (he’s drinking diet Mountain Dew) about Shabazz Muhammad’s first game, John Thompson III’s coaching ability, Marcus Smart embarrassing Wolfpack Nation in Puerto Rico, and Maryland taking its violence and rage to the Big Ten. Spike, of course, chimes in as our official Pac-12 correspondent, with some strong opinions on Shabazz and UCLA’s potential. We also hit our Bleacher Report quote of the week and Gilbert Gottfried jokes of the day, and Matt shows us a picture of John Calipari eating chicken on a recliner. We take questions and statements from email, twitter, and two listener voicemails, one psychopathic and one very…”South Carolinian.” Matt even brings a sociological perspective when he explains why Maryland fans are the worst. Some questions remain- what’s happening in Matt’s love life? Where is Aruba? Is an assassin coaching Mississippi State? Today’s music is “Buffalo” by The Deloreans, an awesome group out of Louisville.

 

Got a great Psycho T story or a Bleacher Report quote or any other thoughts? E-mail us at WalkOnsPodcast@gmail.com

Follow us on twitter at @WalkOnsPodcast

Or leave a voicemail at our Google Voice #, and you will almost surely get to be on the show: 818-Walk-On1 (that’s 818-925-5661)

Be a pal and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. Just click “view in iTunes” once you reach that link, and then ‘subscribe for free.’ Voila. If you’re feeling really generous, you could also rate the podcast and write a positive review.

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If you need to download the file directly, this’ll do it. Enjoy!

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The Walk-Ons: Duke-UK Wrap, Early Season Tourney Previews

What a show. What an amazing show. On the basketball side, Ben and I do some verbal flopping as Matt comes to terms with UK’s loss to Duke. We hit on the Florida-Wisconsin and Kansas-Michigan State games, and then we preview the early season tournaments on Matt’s “Would Go/Would Watch/Will Ignore” scale. On the non-basketball side, we talk about Matt’s love life and how it relates to a pair of missing shoes, we interview coaching legend JOHN WOODEN (he’s concerned that Nerlens Noel might have lice), revisit Hootie & The Blowfish memories, check out AXS.TV’s sick lineup of Dan Rather and JAG, and have a serious discussion about whether it was cool for a newspaper writer to imply that Alex Murphy might transfer. A real sparkplug of a show. The Kathy Griffin of shows, even. Bonus John Wooden footage (soundage?) after the closing song. Time stamps below.

 

Got a great Psycho T story or a Bleacher Report quote or any other thoughts? E-mail us at WalkOnsPodcast@gmail.com

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Or leave a voicemail at our Google Voice #, and you will almost surely get to be on the show: 818-Walk-On1 (that’s 818-925-5661)

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If you need to download the file directly, this’ll do it. Enjoy!

Time Stamps:

1:00 – Verbal flopping
1:45 – Calipari’s flopping comments
4:45 – Tales of Dickie V
5:40 – Shane & Matt meet in person. Oh GOD.
7:20 – Matt’s relations with the rest of the media (his drinks get sent back)
9:20 – NEW TWITTER ACCOUNT! Ben is psyched for dick pics
11:11 – Shane’s experience with Lil Wayne and his bodyguard
13:25 – The actual game
18:22 – The N&O’s Alex Murphy transferring controversy. Plus, Ben pisses off Ma Murphy
20:29 – How to (not) deal with message board criticism
29:00 – Michigan State – Kansas
31:50 – Matt tells about lifting weights with Aaron Tippin. Here’s the picture.
34:15 – Wisconsin-Florida
35:30 – Previewing the early season tourneys
37:10 – South Carolina debate- good state or bad?
53:30 – What is this AXS.TV? Programming, Dan Rather, JAG
1:01:55 – JOHN WOODEN INTERVIEW
1:08:30 – Listener wonders about Matt’s shoes, and how they play in to this gf issue
1:09:25 – Matt evades
1:12:18 – Bonus Wooden Footage

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