Section 17: Fear the Beard

I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about Brian Zoubek.

"GET OUT OF MY PAINT!"-Brian Zoubek (courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

As the season has progressed, those watching Duke Basketball have heard the three “S” names quite a bit. And with good reason: in Sunday’s hard-fought win against the Virginia Tech, Scheyer, Smith and Singler accounted for 63 of the 67 Blue Devil points. Spectacular, right?

This is delightful and frightening. At the same time. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

Equally spectacular, however, has been senior center Brian Zoubek’s play in the critical final stretch of ACC competition (and his beard). Against the Hokies, Zoubek’s performance on the boards were just as noticeable as Earth, Wind and Scheyer’s shooting. The Z-man grabbed 16 rebounds, eight of which were offensive. When Duke shot, the ball seemed destined for Zoubek’s outstretched paws, which are suddenly are sticky like that receiver in Little Giants.

Zoubek has stuffed the stat sheet in every imaginable way: he hustled for five steals in a road win over Miami, had a monstrous double-double against  Maryland with 16 points and 17 rebounds, and shot 12-17 in the past three games. More importantly, Zoubek’s plays have come at critical junctures in the game. His three point play against Virginia Tech stands out; it gave Duke a five point lead after the under-8 minute official timeout (and accounted for three of the four points scored by Non-‘S’ players).

I have some personal crow to eat as a former Brian Zoubek doubter. I’m sorry, big guy. After his 20+ point performance in the Blue-White game four years ago, many had Z pegged as the ‘next Mike Gminski.’ That never panned out. Injuries have plagued him. Fans have maligned him. And when the Plumlees came to town, I figured Bri-Guy had been replaced and relegated to the bench.

How wrong I was! Zoubek is this team’s glue guy (confirmed by Kyle Singler). He holds his ground without fouling, gets on the floor for loose balls, kicks out O-boards to open shooters, and lets out torrential yells that make opposing forwards look nervously toward their bench.

Crazies have recognized Zoubek with more than just "ZOOOO!" chants. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

Seth Greenberg said it best after another loss in Cameron: “He’s a mountain masquerading as a man. The guy is a huge human being.” I guess he was done calling people buffoons for the day.

I used to scream in anger at Zoubek on the TV.  Now it’s all in delight, big fella. We have a mountain to climb on towards the Final Four, and a bearded one at that.

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Duke returns to action tomorrow night against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Just the one? I guess they’re going for that singular mascot thing, like Stanford. Zoubek will face off with Jerome Jordan, Tulsas’ talented seven footer. But he’s not quite as mountainous as Brian.

Until then, enjoy DukeBluePlanet’s latest Top-5 plays from the win over Greenberg’s testy Virginia Tech team.


Catharsis

Revenge is a dish best served cold. And the Tar Heels of North Carolina got more than a full helping on Wednesday night in Chapel Hill.

Mason's dunk pumped new life into the Devils in the second half. Photo courtesy of Duke Blue Planet.

Heel Week concluded with a rivalry game even Brad Gilbert would call ‘ugly’. As expected, Carolina brought their best effort of the season, and as expected, the ‘good guys’ emerged from the Dean Dome victorious.

But the lowest scoring Duke-Carolina game in seven years wasn’t just another game. This was North Carolina. As much as Coach K and the players refused to let on before the game, this game meant a lot, for both sides. For UNC, it was a chance to revive their season. For Duke, it was an opportunity for sweet, sweet revenge.

Basketball, like every sport, is as much a mental game as it is physical. And it’s safe to say that for the past four years, UNC has just had Duke’s number. In the past nine meetings between the two teams, North Carolina had won seven – including three straight. Meanwhile, Duke’s last trip to the Final Four was in 2004. Since then, North Carolina has managed to make several trips to the promised land, winning the title twice in five years. And if Carolina’s success didn’t motivate Duke enough, Ole Roy certainly did when he literally stole Prince Harry from K in November of last year.

But that’s what makes the latest installment in the rivalry that much more enjoyable. With two of the individuals responsible for the aforementioned Carolina successes – Hansbrough and Barnes – looking on from behind the visitor’s bench, Duke took one giant step towards restoring balance to the greatest rivalry in sports with a victory.

Don’t get me wrong. A win over North Carolina this year does not mean that this team is destined for a Final Four run. Coach K has said it himself: this team is very good, but is definitely limited. The fact that Duke has reached 20 wins (for the 26th time in his tenure) this season is a testament to K himself.

With Coach pointing the way, the Devils executed perfectly down the stretch. (courtesy DukeBluePlanet.com)

But Wednesday’s game had to mean a lot to this Duke team. Before this season, Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas, Nolan Smith, and Kyle Singler had beaten Carolina once in their careers. And with one of the most hated players ever to wear Carolina blue and Heel destined to join him in that distinguished category, this win at the Dean Dome had to be special for Coach K.

While Deputy Dog has just about lost his mind trying to get through to his team, K’s Duke team played exactly as he preaches – poised and patient on the offensive end, strong and aggressive on the defensive end. His team showed resolve, staying focused and poised in the most hostile environment Duke will face all year. The gritty, defensive, and total team effort was all Coach could have hoped for. It was also, as Duke alum Seth Davis put it, the stake through the heart of Carolina’s “season from hell”.

Obviously, the most important part of the season still remains. But emotional wins can do wonders for the coaches, the players, and even the fans. I know I’ll never forget that rush of pure, unadulterated joy that came as my fellow Crazies erupted in Cameron in the waning seconds of the game.

You can be sure that those same Crazies will bring it when the Terrapins come to visit tomorrow. They know that a win over a tough Maryland squad will be delectable icing on Coach K’s 63rd birthday cake.

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Crazie Talk Exclusive:

We were on scene as the Devils returned from Chapel Hill on Wednesday night. Enjoy.

Day Five: Duke and Carolina – Then and Now

With their respective campuses separated by only eight miles on Tobacco Road, Duke and North Carolina have engaged in the most passionate rivalry in college basketball for the better part of a century. On the eve of our first head-to-head battle of the new decade in Chapel Hill, we’d like to take the opportunity to revisit the the past five decades of Blue Devil basketball, Tar Heel basketball and the always heated Duke-Carolina Rivalry.

1960’s

After winning a championship over Wilt Chamberlain’s Kansas team in 1957, North Carolina sustained its college basketball prominence under the guidance of Dean Smith, who would lead the Tar Heels for 36 years before retiring in the arena that bears his name. He guided the team to three Final Fours towards the end of the decade. Likewise, Duke’s rise in the 1960s came under the steady hand of Vic Bubas, who led the Blue Devils to three Final Fours in the decade before retiring in 1969.

Seeds of the heated rivalry were planted in 1961, when eventual national player of the year Art Heyman got into a brawl with Larry Brown (yes, that Larry Brown, the one who couldn’t win gold for USA in 2004).

1970’s

In those days, you had to win your conference tournament to make it to the NCAA tournament. As a result, the ’70s were lean years for Duke basketball. Forgotten, however, was the job done by Bill Foster, who resurrected the program after tough seasons in the early part of the decade. Led by Jim Spanarkel and Mike Gmiski (both of whom are now college basketball color analysts), the Blue Devils made it to the 1978 NCAA championship game where they lost to Kentucky. The Tar Heels continued to flourish under Dean Smith and his tactical brilliance, with 7 NCAA tournament appearances, 2 Final Fours and an NIT championship to boot. (Crazie Note to the 2009-10 Tar Heels: the NIT actually meant something back then.)

1980’s

This decade saw the Tobacco Road rivalry reach unprecedented heights, as the hiring of one Michael William Krzyzewski ushered in 30 years and counting of stability for Duke basketball. Furthermore, the emergence of ESPN gave national attention to every clash between these two basketball giants. Dean Smith captured his first national championship in 1982, aided by the considerable talent on his team led by perhaps the greatest of all-time, Michael Jordan (maybe you’ve heard of him), and another NBA Hall of Famer James Worthy. However, they would not advance past the Elite Eight the rest of the decade.

Duke struggled in Coach K’s first three seasons, but 1984 saw its fortunes change as the Blue Devils defeated the #1-ranked Tar Heels, with Jordan, in the semifinals of the ACC tournament 77-75. The following year, led by Johnny Dawkins, Tommy Amaker and Mark Alarie, Duke went 37-3 and made it to the NCAA championship game before succumbing to Louisville. Duke then closed out the decade making three Final Fours in a row, culminating in a championship game appearance in 1990 against UNLV.

1990’s

Duke kicked off the decade with a bang, winning back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992. Led by Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner and Grant Hill, the Blue Devils were the class of the NCAA for two seasons. Not to be outdone, UNC won a second national championship under Smith the following year, with many thanks to Chris Webber for calling timeout in the national semifinal. Duke would return to the championship game in 1994, losing to Arkansas.

Dean Smith retired in 1997 as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. And thank God he did, because his successor, long-time assistant Bill Guthridge, had an absolutely loaded squad in 1998 and failed to win it all. You think Dean Smith wouldn’t have won a championship with Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison? Unfortunately, here in Durham we had our own mishaps with a supremely talented squad, as a team with four NBA first-round picks could not defeat Connecticut in the 1999 NCAA championship game.

The most memorable Duke-UNC game of the decade? February 28, 1998. Duke 77, UNC 75. A heavyweight battle between the #1 and #3 teams in the country saw freshman Elton Brand lead the Blue Devil rally from a 17-point second-half deficit. Brendan Haywood and “Easy” Ed Cota both missed the first of two free throws in the waning seconds with the Tar Heels down two.

2000’s

The Duke-Carolina rivalry works in cycles, and the 2000s were a perfect example of that. For the first half of the decade, Duke was nationally more successful than their UNC counterparts, winning a third national championship in 2001. The Tar Heels, on the other hand suffered a miserable season in 2002 under Matt Doherty, going 8-20 and missing postseason play completely.

However, led by Roy Williams, the Tar Heels won a championship in 2005 and 2009, and have the upper hand in the rivalry as they have won in Cameron for the past four years. Starting with a freshman Tyler Hansbrough ruining JJ Redick and Shelden Williams’ senior night, UNC has been far and away the better team for the latter half of this decade.

So, for the love of God and all that is holy, 2009-10 Blue Devils, please destroy the Tar Heels tomorrow as well as on March 6th. Harrison Barnes will be there as well; what better way to shove it in his face than to make this rivalry game a joke. Because we know the Tar Heels have been just that this season. CBI? Forget that, how about the CollegeInsider.com tournament?

Records aside, Wednesday night will be an emotional night. Both sides will be ready for the good fight.

Let’s go Duke. Go to Hell, Carolina, go to Hell.

Day Four: Ten Questions for Ed Davis & Co.

Here at Crazie Talk, we always want to ensure our audience of the most unbiased commentary.  Thus, we decided it’d be a good idea to interview(sort of) potential lottery pick social media connoisseur Ed Davis.

Here’s a small sample of questions Mr. Davis answered:

What’s your favorite nba team?

Ed: the nets they have been playing good lately

In your own words..whats really going on..? I don’t understand why we aren’t winning..we are more then capable.

Ed:  they didnt build rome in one day

You say Rome wasn’t built in a day, do you think we’re at the Seven Kings phase of Roman History, the Roman Republican Era, or have we progressed into the Roman Imperial Era? Please at least tell me we haven’t reached the invasion and fragmentation period.

Ed: the hell is u talkin bout

But Davis isn’t the only one who’s taken to social media to express his thoughts lack of  knowledge regarding Roman history. After the Heels gracefully bowed down to the mighty College of Charleston Cougars, this is what John Henson had to say:

Damn, John. Your own career isn't even relevant yet.

Henson isn’t the only one gracing the internets with his polished prose. Marcus GinyardDeon Thompson, Larry Drew, Will Graves, Justin Watts, Leslie McDonald, Dexter Strickland, and of course, Ed Davis, are also on Twitter. Amazing, isn’t it? (Crazie Note: there might be some inappropriate language on those pages. Just a warning.)

So guys, if you aren’t too busy with making other peoples’ lives relevant, feel free to answer these questions:

1) Ed, How does it feel to know that you could’ve left Carolina last year, with a ring and a lock to be a top-5 pick?

2) Dexter and Leslie, does John Henson looks more like Jeffrey the Giraffe, or Littlefoot?

3) Ed, how come “To Ed, With Love” doesn’t exist?

4) Ed, is your pillow as soft as your game?

5) Ed, say you were drafted by your dream team in last year’s draft, the Nets.  Do you think it’s better to get paid while losing, or are you okay with not getting paid and losing? (Crazie Note #2: you’ll probably be seeing this sign in Cameron)

6) John, How does it feel to have made Andrew Goudelock relevant?

7) John, Has this UNC team also made losing relevant?

8 ) John, Atkins diet, or south beach?  WHAT IS YOUR SECRET?

9) Marcus, are you gonna start next year?  Oh wait…

10) Will, how was the vacation (a.k.a last season)?  Did you get a chance to meet up with my boy Mike Phelps?

Bonus: Roy, how’s the arm feeling?  Throw any other fans out the gym lately?  Made hotel reservations for the CBI yet?

Day Three: Ten Keys to Roy Williams' Success

So as much as we hate North Carolina, we have to admit that Roy Williams has had a lot of success in his time in Chapel Hell. But why? Most Heel fans will be the first to tell that they’ve won two titles in five years, but they have no idea what makes Ole Roy so successful. Let’s take a look at the top ten keys to Roy Williams’ success.

10. He loves Coke. Doesn’t everyone?

This legendary commercial just says it all.

[myspace]http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=6042577[/myspace]

Just makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it? Even more fascinating was an interview with Yahoo! Sports earlier in the fall, where Roy admitted that he was, in fact, addicted to Coca-Cola.

I used to drink seven to 10 Cokes a day for 35 years. I’m still on the Coke products, but I drink Sprite Zero now because the sugar content of the Cokes is just too much for me. I went to the Mayo Clinic a few years ago to see about my vertigo, and they told me I needed to stop that other stuff. My triglycerides were through the roof, so they told me to cut back, and I ended up going on Lipitor also. Now I may have one Coke every two or three weeks. If I’m going to have a really good steak, I still love having a Coca-Cola Classic with that.

Steak and Coca-Cola Classic, huh? Stay classy, Chapel Hill.

9. He’s made the Nose Dome the best college basketball environment in the country.

This has been well-documented, but it’s just too funny not to list. Earlier this season, the Heels played Presbyterian at home. (Side note: that win is looking real good right now.) With six minutes to go in the second half, Deon Thompson was at the free throw line when a Presbyterian fan shouted ‘Hey Deon, don’t miss it!’ Of course, with the Dean Roy Dome deafeningly silent, this hardly obnoxious taunt (believe us, we know what obnoxious is) was heard by all, especially Ole’ Roy. He got into a brief shouting match with the fan, and then proceeded to have security escort the fan out of the stadium. After the blowout win, Roy had this to say:

“I don’t think anybody should yell anything negative at our players. Period. Let’s don’t make it a bigger thing than it is. But I just don’t think anybody should yell negative things toward our players (when) you come in on our tickets to watch our game.”

Freedom of speech? No thanks. Cheer for UNC, or out you go. Roy’s going to have a hell of a time in Cameron come March 6th.

8.  He’s loyal to his players.

He’s so loyal to some of his players that he’ll play them over more productive pieces on his team. Case in point: Marcus Ginyard versus Dexter Strickland. Don’t get me wrong – I hate both of these guys – but Strickland is clearly the better player. Ginyard is a fifth year senior (!) but still struggles to fulfill his role as a “defensive stopper” and can’t shoot to save his life. In seven games of ACC play, Ginyard has played 26 minutes per contest, averaging 3.3 points, 3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while shooting a whopping 22.8% from the floor. That’s garbage. From a fifth year senior? That’s just flat out terrible. Meanwhile, Strickland, meanwhile, has averaged 6.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while playing only 17.2 minutes per contest. The numbers aren’t eye popping, but it’s pretty clear that Strickland is making the most of his minutes…while Ginyard is just taking up space on the floor. But Roy being Roy continues to maintain that Marcus “grades out better consistently” than Strickland or his fellow freshman, McDonald.

Roy drives a bus, and when he loses, he throws his players under it. Multiple times this season, Roy has singled out his freshmen, particularly Henson and Strickland, for poor play. But it doesn’t stop there. He’s even questioned the mental health of the player he’s defended the most. Here’s what he had to say about Ginyard:

“When he walks in a room, I smile. What greater statement can you make about somebody? But I get tired of worrying about a kid’s psyche. My god, play the dadgum game. That’s what it boils down to. I have been concerned about (his mental health). I’ve been greatly concerned about that. But you know what? I’m also tired of thinking about that. It’s time to play. So either play or don’t play.”

Sounds real supportive, doesn’t he?

7. His players are loyal to him.

In October of 2009, Lawson admitted to the Denver post that he should have left after his freshman year. The only reason he returned for his sophomore season was because he was “scared of being in the NBA”, and a DUI brought him back to school for his junior year. I’m sure that getting coached by Roy was the reason Tywon stayed in school.

Of course, Rashad McCants also enjoyed the two years he spent with Roy. Granted, his first year was the final year of the Doh regime, but McCants publicly compared Carolina to a prison. In 2003 – Roy’s first year at UNC – he sent McCants back to the locker room in the first half of a game against UNC-Wilmington after he thought Rashad was not cheering enough for their teammates.

6.  He knows when to call timeouts.

Timeouts are one of the most important tools a coach basketball has in his arsenal. UNC should be all too familiar with timeouts, as one very untimely one led them to the National Title in 1993. However, Roy is notorious for not knowing how the heck to use them. In one of my fondest non-Duke basketball memories – Kansas’ romp over UNC in the 2008 Final Four – the Heels were outscored by Bill Self’s Jayhawks 40-12 at one point in the first half. During this ridiculous run, how many timeouts do you think Roy called to get his team to calm down and focus?

Yeah. That’s right. One. He called one 30-second timeout during that 40-12 run, from which UNC never fully recovered.

This season, with as immature of a team as he’s ever had, Roy has also failed to grasp the importance of a timeout. In UNC’s nine losses to date, Williams has failed to use all five of his timeouts in eight of those contests (obviously without counting media timeouts). He used only 2 against Texas, 1 against Kentucky, and went without calling a timeout for the entire game in Syracuse’s beatdown of Carolina.

5. He’s one of the best tacticians in college basketball.

Speaking of losses, the thriller against the College of Charleston was exemplary in demonstrating Roy’s coaching prowess in late game situations. So much so that starting point guard Larry Drew II (hah!) had this to say after the game:

“We don’t really work on late game situations.”

Wow.

A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and one of the media-proclaimed “best coaches” in college basketball doesn’t work on practicing critical junctures of a game? Are you kidding me?

But that’s not all. Roy runs a system that thrives off of running and scoring in transition. That’s all well and good. He’s had one system for years at Kansas, and implements the same at North Carolina. Last year’s version of Roy’s offense was almost unstoppable, and appropriately won the National Championship. Everyone knows the story from here: UNC lost 80% of its scoring and one of the best point guards in the country to the NBA in Tywon Lawson. His replacement was none other than the illustrious Larry Drew II – whose speed and handles pale in comparison. Nevertheless, Roy has tried to run and gun again this year. Without the personnel, it has failed miserably. Forget the horrendous 13-9 record. UNC averages 16.3 turnovers per game, which is good for 2nd most in the ACC.

Meanwhile, Roy spews nonsense to his players about how K runs one offensive system, which according to Dexter Strickland, changes his players. Obviously, Roy is one of the best tacticians in the game.

4. He’s calm, collected, and mature.

I’ll be honest here: even with loaded sarcasm, I had a lot of trouble typing the sentence above.

From the Presbyterian incident to the way he handles the media, it’s been well-established that Roy is somewhat of a thin-skinned, hypersensitive, and profane baby. Ever since he got to Carolina, he’s made his disdain for Coach K and Duke obvious. He’s publicly gone at it with K over injury reports before, without any sort of provocation. He’s negatively recruited Duke to almost every high schooler who’s ever considered playing for Duke, with the most obvious case being Prince Harry. Hell, he even made calls to Kyrie Irving   when Duke was in heavy pursuit, even though Williams locked up his point guard of the future in Kendall Marshall months before.

But forget Duke. Like his former player, Roy likes to take potshots at anyone who he thinks has wronged him. In his book, Hard Work, Roy made it a point to voice his displeasure with current Michigan State sophomore Delvon Roe, who chose Tom Izzo and MSU over UNC in 2008.


3. He’s Ol’ Roy! Aw, shucks!

Have you heard the man talk? He’s a mountain goat man! The whole ‘dadgum’ routine is just so likeable, isn’t it?

After UNC fell to Virginia in the Nose Dome last Sunday, Roy teared up in frustration, at a loss to what has gone wrong with the team. Yes, he cried. Here are some of his words:

“How can you go any lower? Be honest: how can it be any worse than it is right now? Ol’ Roy’s been awfully lucky in his entire life and things have been very smooth, but right now they’re not. I’ve got to do a better job with my team than what I’m doing right now.”

Well, Roy, it did get worse. You lost to Virginia Tech at home after another late-game blunder, and will probably get  got crushed by Maryland this afternoon. After that, you play Duke. So yeah, it did get a lot worse. But back the the main point: he cried. This dude won a National Title last year, and he cried (he cried!) after a conference loss to Virginia on January 31st. Aw, shucks, I feel so dadgum sorry for him! He’s so dadgum sincere that he refers to himself as Ol’ Roy! Dadgum it!

2. He develops talent.

Another juicy one. Heel fans claim Roy to be a great developer of talent. Heck, even Harrison Barnes claimed Roy to be a great developer of talent.

But let’s take a look at Roy’s track record in the past ten years. In 2000, he spurned North Carolina’s offer, opting instead to stay at Kansas. After Doh! made it clear that he was a terrible basketball coach, Ol’ Roy took the job from his former associate and inherited a  three-man class sophomore of Felton, May, and McCants. He won the title in ’05, got a beast of a class in ’06, and somehow got all of his boys to stay in school and won again in ’09. But did he develop those guys? Or did he recruit them? With the exception of Ty Lawson, who clearly got better every year (whether Roy had anything to do with it or not), I can’t think of one Carolina player who progressed in their years under Roy. Whether we like it or not, Hansbrough was a stud from day one. Ellington never learned how to do anything other than shoot. Ginyard still can’t do anything on the court. Thompson has been average, at best, for his entire career. And if you needed any more evidence, just look to the plethora of talent on the 2009-2010 UNC roster. Oh yes, Roy is quite the developer of talent.

1. He doesn’t give a s*** about North Carolina.

All nine of the aforementioned reasons are great, but none is better than this one. No more words are needed.

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Thanks for reading my entire dadgum post! Keep checking back with us for more of Heel Week! Yeehaw!