Retrospect: Is Duke bringing the Super team back to CBB? written 7/26/2016

duke.pngOK, OK, it’s just Sports. I get it. Yet, as a writer and hobbiest/Journalist I sometimes hyperventilate when reading blatant hyperbole or ignorance jism ala mode from so-called College Basketball experts who expect a sliver of respect from others despite being wrong 85% of the time.

Click-bait aside, here’s what I read today in SBNation’s College Basketball Edition.

from Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports, we have:

College basketball isn’t “wide open” anymore. Duke has built a legitimate juggernaut entering the season.

Without needing to Puke by copy/pasting the writer’s utterly bewildering lack of knowledge about the upcoming basketball season, I’ll paraphrase his idiocy in polite but concise nonsense about Duke being above the clouds this year in comparison to other college basketball powerhouses. This, due primarily to the fact that they signed five 5-star high school players from the class of 2016 and field six overall. (Note: when referring to this phenomena as it relates specifically to Duke, the proper description will avoid the use of the popular phrase in the vernacular, such as “one-and-done”). The reporter also clearly understands that Duke has also maintained a bevy of “not-so-fasts”; those players who for whatever reason failed to make the early jump from paying the school to play ball to being paid to play professionally (that is if they are indeed good enough for the latter).

…or is it April?

It’s not certain whether Duke has more than one such player outside the freshmen phenoms this year who would be expected to hear their name called in the 2017 NBA draft. One such student athlete answers to the name of Grayson Allen, a white jumping jack who can be an effective albeit streaky 3-point shooter, but who excels in the open court and driving to the basket. Likewise, Kentucky returnee and 5-star legend Isaiah Briscoe is a unique blend of quickness and power that almost certainly will hear his name called come NBA draft time next year in the same vein as Allen.

Duke currently fields a total of six 5-star HS players, exactly the total that Kentucky fields. One 5-star transferred from Duke during the summer, exactly like what happened at Kentucky. Most real experts like the Kentucky guard tandem’s potential of Malik Monk and Isaiah Fox well above the excellent Duke guards of Allen and newcomer Frank Jackson. For my money I’ll take the two future NBA All-Stars MM and IF over Duke’s tandem.

Duke gets the frontcourt edge due to the depth it created by landing three excellent frontcourt Freshmen to go with three stellar returnees, who all gave adequate efforts if not consistent effort at times last season. Kentucky’s starting frontcourt matches up well with Duke considering returnee Derek Willis will start his senior year healthy and motivated to succeed. He is a lights out 3-point shooter at 6’9” who should trouble even the meanest wing defender. It appears to this writer that Kentucky will hold a decisive defensive edge over the Blue Devils, that being a calling card of Calipari teams and this one by all indications having the potential to be one of his best ever.

shitgotrealTo the contrary, Duke seems precariously perched at the top of a virtual Basketball Jones jam, with several teams who rightfully feel they could as easily been named slightly above Duke and others. Duke will be good, very good by the time march rolls around. But, Duke will enjoy some disappointments this year much the same as they do every year. Only time will tell if they are good enough to weather the entire season and win the gauntlet of all gauntlets commonly referred to as The Big Dance as a prohibitive favorite.jack

Odds are not kind to these scenarios, especially when the chip is placed squarely on another team (of near or slightly superior talent in one UNC) for a change. Respect is earned, and respect is The Holy Grail to 19-20 year old basketball players looking to forge a lucrative career out of their chosen avocation.

The idea that only five players can be on the court for any one team eludes the cerebral mathematical rationale of many so-called experts. One has only to look back two years ago to a Kentucky team who had virtually been awarded the trophy before the Final Four started due to their incredible dominance during the season. But every game is a brand new proposition, each being affected by statistical analysis, metrics, and word-of-mouth communication between players and coaches, dumb luck, the stripes, etc. Gone are the Lew Alcindor days. There are no upsets, only “Any Given Sundays” in a lose one game and pack up tourney like the NCAA Tournament.

The allure and the folly is that only sometimes the best basketball team is crowned champions, and there are NO guarantees despite the idiocy of so-called experts. In fact, the expert selection is reliably akin to “the kiss of death”.john-calipari-shocked2

Below are my comments which I hope qualify to a degree some of the ire pointed directly at the writer of this irresponsible piece; a crime which is now prosecuted by prompt promotion, swift and decisive accolade, or simple but effective misinforming the public as to the irreducible value said brother Mason, or nephew of owner, or just likable Joe-Shmo brings to the Go! Not Now Movement, appropriately labelled The Falsehood in Media Paradox.

jargon for the sake of jargon, confusion at every turn is information branding at its best said no one outside of the cabal.
below are my comments:

Thomas Mario Adams III

Agree with breck.h…

that this Duke team, while formidable, is clearly NOT head-and-shoulders more talented than a sprinkling of other teams. Five star at this juncture means nothing, except for good food and luxury accommodations outside the HS basketball area. The fact that these youngsters are all growing and improving at various rates, and play whole seasons against a wide spectrum of talent individually typically means that several “sure things” have games that will not especially translate on a vastly more complex, superior and different level.

Not to mention that if one were to look at talent potential with an eye toward the NBA, it would not be a stretch to say that Kentucky now holds 3 of the top five 2017 NBA choices if certain expert projections materialize. Sure I own some Florida land… I’ll sell it at a BARGAIN too, lol.

But when the BBN salivates over their (perceived by many, with me included) best EVER recruiting class… EF Hutton is talking… and NOT about junk bonds. Best listen up.

Of course, too many factors enter the fray and this here is no place to enumerate every possible future occurrence using the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, or relate recruiting success to the stars using applied chaos theory algorithms.

What’s important is to understand that Duke should be proud to be so highly “projected” by the so-called experts, much like Kentucky has been in several of the past few years. How’d that work out for them/us? Well… uncertain and choppy at best. And they (those KY teams) did not have a handful of closely talented opposing teams; that to consider them contenders early on would have stretched the imagination of many prognosticators, who saw more beauty in youthful age and less in maturity and experience on some giddy metaphysical, albeit unnaturally idiotic level. Most of those grandiose dreams came to abrupt ends, and a few even wet the bed.

What other teams might end up smoking Big ‘Backa (uh, nod to James B. Duke) like a fine fat Cuban roll jockey? Kansas for one comes to mind with their late Spring hiccups and early Summer pickups (trending on twitter) of two formidable 5-stars, including one as in #1 Josh Smith, to go with their usual hodge-podge of stable able stability. And, never count out the magic of a perhaps even more versatile than Coach-K; Rick Pitino; a man who can seemingly mold elegant Tiffany China from clay feet and river brick-rock while avoiding all foreknowledge of a pornographic reality show playing at a downtown-uptown-campus dorm 5-star recruit Par-tay.  These high paid “had no idea” Coaches are beginning to make me think they aren’t really Coaching except when the bright lights go on.

The Yellow-bellied Red-tailed Cardinal surprise sightings should be NO surprise (as they say, a young bird will watch a bird-bath and a shower dance with a hot chick in nest, with egg on their face from an open fly), but that don’t mean Big Bird HAD to pick up the tab. Or something? Coach speak.

And then there’s the illustriously dirty ‘Ole Roy, who now has a renewed lease (and contract) on life, considering his Houdini-like escape from a tragic and certain demise, one that only the best deny-deny-deny-den-lie-then-lie-and-lie-and-lie-la-lie-te-de-ny-big-lie with a simple-minded confused and contorted facial expression vaguely reminiscent of Barney Fife whisperin’ sweet nothins’ to BO-NEE-TAAH

“Cit-ah-zens  aye-rest”, as Gomer would conclude.

Villanova, that unlikely Beast as tradition suggests… NOVA will lie in deep weeds, re-cocked, re-loaded, and re-shoulder-chipped waiting to prove to the world that no fluke 2016 is NO FLUKE once again. And, did I mention ‘Zona and their Area 51 alien Giants, those freaks of nature whom they always seem to haul in late, and are well over the 4-star radar? They’ll add 3 future NBA 5-star freshman saucers to their hanger, while returning three 5-star tall-whites and a couple of menacing Reptoids, who always seem to slide by TSA, but then slip into the quick sand bracket of death so as to accommodate some Deep-Pocketed-East Atlantic Coast Committee Nerd who does NOT ever want Arizona to confront the (dis)likes of DukeANYWHERE. He’s usually an accountant who earned his mystery cred in Gold and Silver Pawn shops, brokering Cecil Rhodes diamonds in Shady Downtown Durham, NC.

And, yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus, but Rick Majerus who had coveted the job passed, and Tony Bennet is not the same guy with the golden voice your dad used to play on his 78 Hi-Fi. With all the disappointing dance trips of late perhaps Fred Astaire would be the better choice come late March? Or, is it manifest destiny that five 6’5″ men with ten left feet show up each time it appears that the BIG DANCE curse may finally be broken?

Whatever the anomaly, wrap up your presents like TB’s defense and no one will notice that there is no star on top of the tree, just hungry elfs who always out do their own talents year-in and year-out. Gonzaga? Quit it. Can some other team draw the Bulldog bye beside Duke this time? Their March-Melt is beginning to sound like a Steak and Shake classic… a feast. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid Splash either.

Sure Dookies, it looks like you won’t need the “Friends of Mike” Selection Sunday Lobby this time around to make your well-oiled travel plans weeks in advance. It would be more than cool to see you win the Natty actually having the BEST TEAM for once (well you have maybe once or twice, but not the last two Karmic-Azz-Kisses). I know I don’t need to explain that truth to HONEST Dookies, who exude the Grand epitome of class, money, humility and education while living on a  smoky, dirty land locked island well South of the Mason-Dixon. Then again, think New Jersey. Remember, Alumni donations from Italian Union chiefs don’t win Championships. Or, do they Mr. Magoo… I mean… Magette?

The truth is Dookie-child, I’m making fun of you-ins, but the reality is I love almost everything about you entitled, talented, brain synthesizers. Who else can get knee-walking drunk, study Kant and Kiirkegard till 3 a.m. and still get up early enough to make hate posters for a Cameron stint later that night in a 200 degree oven? To my knowledge only average Dookies who’ve paid their dues snow camping second term.

High functioning Dukesters pay no attention to players names or rules of the game, etc. Too much info, so they concentrate only on winning since they may be working on the Madagascar Rainforest Monkey habitat issues every night after class or shooting analog 4by5 Haselblad black and white portraits, then developing the film for a National Geographic photo spread, except before the games they spend rehearsing and memorizing the lead singing part in Les Miserables, or doing something way more impressive.

But those 5-star arguments register as simply; we’re Duke, we’re better. let’s get a beer.

Envy is the highest form of flattery, but we at Kentucky envy NO other CBB team or school. It’s in our bloodstream, our birthright… while it has just reached your small intestines.

Honestly, these crazies will drop everything on the quad to watch Grayson Allen pretend he’s picking his nose, while extending his right NIKE under the hobbled feet of a recently discharged Duke hospital geriatric trying to push her grocery cart down to the 501 bus-stop. They’ll (these pyromaniac fans of the quad couch burnings) will hysterically and drunkenly laugh hysterically drunk, BUT give the Gray-Baby-son high kudos as they call 911 and slip the old Gray lady a few hundred bucks for her trouble. Ya’ know, the ole Gray mare ain’t what she used to be, but Grayson epitomizes the sixth grade. Always calling foul though he himself never does?

Daddy-money sure, but with a calm self-assuredness that someday they’ll take the reigns off New Jersey Power and Automobile like great-granddad and Carnegie once tried, and maybe he’ll run for the Senate between philanthropic evasion-tax planning setting up shell companies? You know if this B-ball thing falls through. Meanwhile the cheerleaders were just too hot and too in love for him to go back to rookeying. Duke is his Oyster.

Even more bizarre are these student NERD brainiards who inhabit ‘Ka-chef-ski-ville’ (pronunciation only) every January-March while living in veritable Igloos/tent city with rentable study lanterns. I understand sex is a persuasive reason though sex after a night in Cameron would require a spin through the local car wash. And Duke has coed dorms though not all students are so lucky.

I personally spent close to 20 heretical years there (camped in the basement of Flowers Building next to the Duke Chapel) with the words “Big Blue Nation” twisted under my tongue. The students whom I had the pleasure of knowing and working with taught me more about Publishing than what they had hired me to teach them. They really didn’t want or need my help except in very technical moments, so dinner and drinks became our habit. The key to any student’s heart is through his stomach. We/they ate and drank well and I was always a welcome sight.

Arrogantly humble, most rich beyond my scope, yet each new set of “thank god these new kids are in our future” thoughts made my ball-hate subside and my appreciation for their unique plight soar. In those days I loved Duke in many more ways than meets the eye, basketball notwithstanding. Duke, to me epitomized the headiness of youth and immortality. I was just a peep. My retirement now history, I see it more clearly as, ‘Times they are a changin’

The Pitino years were heady ones indeed, as we saw the Baby Blue falter only to see the dark Blue Devil looming menacingly in the rear view mirror closer than it appeared, riding our bumper and attempting to pass on Grant Hill, then again on the dangerous and windy Hurley-Laetner Road. Slippery pavement at times for both, there was ice running in both team’s veins. The 1998 Regional final was the capstone to 90’s dominance. For me more memorable than ’92, ’96, ’97.

Toting a press pass for a few years at Cameron was/is a highlight of my life, and almost beyond description (especially when I got home soaking wet to my family smelling of locker room), but I also managed to sneak away many weekends to follow and party down in BIG BLUE NATION fashion, as only those of us involved in that institutionalized party-fest can dare understand. Fun. Too much. Just another tequila sunrise.

So… I’ll say now what I dared not articulate then, when huge Duke dollars represented a fair portion of my subsistence. Duke is NO Kentucky as it relates to basketball tradition and fan (lifetime) enthusiasm, though while students and/or undergrads Dookies are pouring (in more ways than one) through their liberal education heavy on beer and basketball as their constitutional God-given right would suggest, and even most Kentucky fans seem to pale in comparison during that short-ish stint. But then… life.

Kentucky fans seem to me to embrace the faith ever more tightly through the years while dookies work the wheels and make the deals, and try to look up and catch the score when they can. At Duke its about then and Now, at Kentucky it’s always was and always will be.

Sure they remain loyal and even do large tax gifting to their Gothic homeland, but rare do they pre-season handicap with positive certainty a National Championship prediction with man-sized tattoos that refuse to wax, wane, or waffle; and  never do they bludgeon grandma for mindlessly turning off Cawood during a commercial break, and its doubtful Dookies carryout self-sacrifice after painful losses as do some zealot cat fans who may decide that a loss to Florida means a mile long swim through the everglades.. come next Spring break.

These and more craziness is what drives Cat fans to lower the actuarial tables Nationwide.

OK, OK I digressed to the point of leaving the real issue under the table. Like our Presidential election, sometimes what’s left unsaid is all the news that is fit to print. Mark this down though, and I’ll cut the key knashing at the quick:

Kentucky  will have a slightly better rendition of five-on-five basketball than almighty Duke this very year; the year of Duke’s Super Team. Don’t trust me… keep score and report my errors promptly at But then, read my weekly analysis which I expect to be biased, but only slightly so.

I love me some Duke. I’d die for Kentucky. Hope its not by the rim and nets…


They had it before you, they had it during you, and they’ll have it when you’re gone.” -Al Maguire on Kentucky’s basketball tradition