Monthly Archives: February 2012

Unclear Expectations

I had one specific thought that kept coming up in my head while watching the Duke-Virginia Tech game. It wasn’t that I loved watching this team play as my last post stated. It wasn’t that I was extremely disappointed in this team for letting an inferior opponent come into Cameron and nearly win. I kept thinking to myself that I wasn’t that surprised with how this game was going. This Duke team has reached a level I have literally (Rob Lowe reference) never seen before.

I expected the 1999 Duke team to make the Final Four and would have been shocked if they would have lost in one of the first few rounds. I expected the 2007 Duke team to lose early in the tournament, and would have been surprised if they made it even as far as the Elite 8. This Duke team on the other hand could pretty much do anything, and I wouldn’t be surprised. I doubt they will lose in the 1st round, but beyond that anything is else is possible. Lose in the 2nd round to a team like Uconn? I could easily see that. Make it to the Final Four? I can see that happening as well. Has any other Duke team had a greater difference between their ceiling (defeating Kansas, Michigan, UNC, Michigan State) and their floor (NC State, Miami of Florida, Virginia Tech games)?

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Selfish Young Americans, Episode 3

Here it is, gang, Episode 3 of Selfish Young Americans. This week, Jim and I talk Vladimir Putin getting hip, YouTube for tweens, Stephen Hawking’s sex life, the email habits of middle-aged women, and masturbating in the Neil Diamond room. WHAT COULD IT ALL MEAN?

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here (click “view in iTunes” and then “subscribe), and our RSS feed is here.

Enjoy! And if you’re feeling super generous, go nuts and write a positive review on iTunes. Or tell a friend. Or print up a bunch of flyers with the show info, hire a plan, and drop them all over Germany.

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A Welcome Return To Optimism

Happy Monday, TRB readers. The last time that you heard from me, my perspective was heavy on the alcohol consumption and light on the optimism. You may have feared for me due to my curious silence after the loss to Miami. Perhaps that brutal home defeat had finally been enough to send me over the edge. While you may have pictured me slumped over a bottle of Buffalo Trace, sobbing into my favorite Battier jersey, the truth is much more mundane and shamefully adult. On that particular day, I was finalizing a move to Chicago for a new job, and didn’t have time to think about the game. I don’t enjoy life’s occasional reminders that there are many things more important than sports.

This Duke team, which had been the softest, most confused team in recent memory, took the pen out of my hands with two amazing comebacks against in-state rivals. Even so, I wanted to withhold judgment about this group until I saw how they handled one of the biggest games of the year in Tallahassee. We knew how tough this game was going to be because of Florida State’s defense, their emerging star in Michael Snaer, and a hostile home crowd. Leonard Hamilton’s team certainly knows the recipe to beat the Devils. A win would have made it 3 straight, which sounds unbelievable, but is absolutely true.

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Learning to Love: Duke/FSU

As the title of this post suggests, I’m in a particularly pleasant mood this morning. Duke beat Florida State last night 74-66 and gained some sort of revenge for the earlier loss. They are now in position to go undefeated on the road in the ACC for the first time since the 1999/2000 team. It has been an up and down year, but at this point it is clear that Duke has beaten their expectations. For example at the beginning of the year resident Duke expert Shane Ryan wrote on that “If I had to guess Duke’s fate, I’d say 11-5 in the ACC, good for second place, an ACC tournament title (after Carolina tanks in the first round), and a Sweet 16 exit.” Mark Titus’s picked Duke as the ACC’s most overrated team in his preview.

There have been times this year where those type of predictions looked prescient. I don’t know many Duke fans that were expecting much after the loss to Temple. At their worst this Duke team can be an unatheltic, poorly constructed (no point guard) team that relies too much on the 3. However, today isn’t a day to think about what Duke isn’t, but instead it is time to celebrate what they are.

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The Walk-Ons: Duke-FSU preview, UNC-State recap

Ladies and gents, thanks for checking in to our newly named Podcast:

The Walk-Ons.

As of RIGHT NOW, you can 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 and benevolent, you could also rate the podcast and write a positive review. That kind of thing warms our hearts.

You can also access our podcast RSS feed. I’m not sure exactly what an RSS feed does, but some people seem to use it. So there you go.

In today’s episode. Ben and I discuss Duke’s upcoming game against Florida State, revisit Carolina’s win at N.C. State, reflect on which American states have betrayed us by not listening to previous episodes, turn to Bleacher Report for wisdom and solace, and challenge Debbie Yow to a debate.

Thanks very much for listening, and enjoy.

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Selfish Young Americans, Episode 2

Hey Sports friends,

I know you didn’t sign up for this, but I think you might enjoy it anyway. The second episode of our little comedy podcast, Selfish Young Americans, is now here for your listening pleasure. Today, I’m joined by my friend Jim to chat about ‘revenge shitting,’ giant prehistoric mushrooms, old-time baseball, sex change, the white underclass, evicting old people, and of course our mutual idol Rick Santorum.

Other items:

1. You can subscribe to Selfish Young Americans by looking it up at the iTunes store. That will automatically download new episodes to your comp. If you like it and want to take a moment to write a positive review, that would be appreciated.

2. The basketball podcast has a name: The Walk-Ons! Ben and I will be taping a new episode tomorrow, on Tuesday, to talk about the weekend action and preview Duke-FSU. You can’t find that podcast on iTunes yet, but you will be able to shortly. We’ll keep you updated.



Thanks for listening, pals. Happy President’s Day, and don’t forget to take time to recognize obscure presidents like Franklin Pierce, Zachary Taylor, and Alexander Graham Bell.

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Duke-State Podcast

In this installment, recorded on Valentine’s Day, we discuss Duke-State, the weekend win over Maryland, Miles Plumlee’s possible transformation into Brian Zoubek II, and the diverging paths of Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins. We also analyze the UNC-Miami game, even though this was recorded on Tuesday.

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First UNC Podcast!

Today, on the most romantic holiday of the year, Ben (@TheDevilWolf) and I look back on UNC’s impressive recovery against Virginia, preview Wednesday’s big clash in Miami, examine whether the ACC is the most exciting conference in the country, and even, against everyone’s wishes, spend two minutes on Georgia Tech-Wake Forest. You’ll want to skip that part.

This is part one of the podcast. Wednesday evening, I’ll post the Duke-centric part two. Enjoy, and feedback is appreciated as always.

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Does UNC lack a killer instinct?

I once had a forecasting class where the professor gave each one of us a bag of M&Ms. We were then supposed to count each color and report the results. Predictably some of the M&M bags had more blues, while others had more oranges. My bag in particular had one brown M&M, which was the lowest count of any color in any of the bags. The professor showed the results on a projector and asked the class to imagine each color to be a particular product and that each bag to be an individual store. She then asked what the results meant. Some people said that certain “stores” were better at selling certain “products.” My store in particular was said to be deficient in selling whatever product the brown M&M represented. There was a discussion among people in the class about reasons why certain stores had sold more of certain products. Maybe one store had better employees? Maybe one store sold more “oranges” because they were located in a college town like Syracuse?

At that time I had to raise my hand. I asked the professor if we should maybe consider that the results are random and that it would be a terrible idea to come up with a forecast based on these results. The sample size was way too small, and also we had the advantage of knowing that these results were completely random. For example I doubt that the 6th M&M bag opened in the next class would have a only one brown M&M. Generally speaking it was amazing to watch people try to assign reasons to what they knew were random events. Needless to say I didn’t understand the exercise and I don’t think I impressed my professor with my answer. I wasn’t trying to be a devil’s advocate or a jerk, but rather just start a discussion on the importance of luck in setting a forecast.

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Being wrong…

At no point before or during last night’s game did I think Duke was going to beat UNC. It was a combination of the previous game against Miami and the fact that Duke matched up terribly with UNC. I didn’t know who would guard Barnes, how they would stop Marshall from getting in the lane or how they could prevent UNC from dominating the offensive rebounds. During the game it looked like UNC took Duke’s best shot in the first half and was still up three going into halftime. It didn’t really surprise me that the lead fluctuated between 8 and 12 points for most of the 2nd half. Normally, I don’t text my brother-in-law (the enemy) during the game, but didn’t seem to be that big of a deal because it more closely resembled the Paulus/McRoberts Duke-UNC games. I was content with how Duke played and was actually somewhat ok with them losing to UNC. I was wrong. I was wrong about so many things, but most importantly I was wrong in thinking that Duke couldn’t beat UNC.

Also, I was wrong about questioning any of Coach K lineup decisions. I thought Quinn Cook should play more, and that playing Tyler Thornton wasn’t the best idea. Thornton didn’t have the best game, but this three to start the comeback was an intelligent, critical play. Coach K has been searching for what works with the team, and give him credit for taking a team that lost Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Kyrie Iring and leading it to impressive wins against Kansas, Michigan, Michigan State and UNC. I might complain about the team, but they have five wins against top 25 (RPI ranking), which just so happens to be four more wins than UNC has against top 25 teams.  

I was wrong for comparing Mason Plumlee to Josh McRoberts. The middle Plumlee didn’t have the best game, but his steal before Curry’s three was something that at least got him of the McRoberts line. There will be time to analyze his game, but after last night I would like to stay positive.

I was wrong about Austin Rivers. I never really liked watching him play. His outside shot seemed to be at best described as streaky, and I wondered if he was ever going to be a decent three point shooter. Ask Tyler Zeller how his three point shot looks? Anyway, his passion, heart and production last night made me a believer. No matter how the rest of his career goes, Rivers has given me a game and a moment that cements part of his legacy. Just like last year when Nolan Smith and Seth Curry led the comeback against UNC, Rivers never has to pay for another drink around me.

Last night was one of those sports miracles that makes following sports worth it. I had low expectations of the game, and just like a lot of things I was wrong. This was a classic UNC-Duke game and 30 years from now I will still smile whenever I see a replay of Rivers shot to complete the comeback.

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