Recap: Crazie-Talk at the 2011 Jordan Brand Classic

Crazie-Talk was in Charlotte for the 10th anniversary of the JBC. (Photo Crazie-Talk)

Crazie-Talk spent the day down in Charlotte today for the Jordan Brand Classic. This was the 10th edition of the big-time high school basketball all-star game, and we were lucky enough to grab a few press passes. After driving down from Durham through some rain, hail, and a couple of tornadoes (not even kidding), we ended up at the beautiful Time Warner Cable Arena in downtown Charlotte. None of us had ever been to the arena, which is just a little over two years old, but we found it to be an absolutely stunning facility. It’s definitely a great place to watch an up-and-coming team like the Bobcats, who are headed by an up-and-coming star in Gerald Henderson. Speaking of G, how happy do you think he is now that Larry Brown’s gone, and now that he’s not hiding down at the end of the bench anymore?

Anyways, back to the events of the day. We showed up a little bit after the start of the JBC International Game, where we saw Duke target Andrew Wiggins tear up the competition. He’s in the high school class of 2014, so we’ll probably be hearing much more from this Canadian baller as the years go on. Wiggins is an athletic SF/PF combo with tremendous upside and is going to make some college team a lot better in the near future. Let’s hope it ends up being Duke.

Next up was the Jordan Brand Regional Game, featuring some of North Carolina’s best home-grown talent. Top NC players such as Deuce Bello, Marquis Rankin, Bernard Sullivan, and Dezmine Wells took the court, as well as Duke’s own Marshall Plumlee. Also featured was Jackson Simmons, UNC’s prized recruit and pretty much the most glorious walk-on ever. Joseph Uchebo, who recently decommitted from NC State (can’t blame him…no more Kool-Aid man) had a game high twenty-one rebounds. Back to Marshall Plumlee, MP3 didn’t have a great game compared to other times that we’ve seen him, but since this was an all-star game (a glorified dunk contest, at that), we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Wait…if this was a glorified dunk contest, then shouldn’t MP3 have won? Hmm…

…Right. Anyways, at 8PM the main event tipped off. You all know by now the big names that played in the game. Anthony Davis, Tony Wroten, James McAdoo, and Rakeem Christmas all had big showings, and McAdoo/Davis ended up winning the MVP awards. Austin Rivers and Mike “Silent G” Gbinije took the floor repping Duke. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of Austin’s better outings, and he ended up finishing with 16 points on 4-15 shooting from the field. Austin’s offensive game is extremely versatile, and he incorporates a variety of outside shots and moves off the dribble into his repertoire. But, we could also already see where he might have some issues next year at Duke. Yes, yes, we realize that this was an all-star game, and the actual gameplay shouldn’t be taken too seriously, and all that. But, even based on the other games we’ve watched him play in, we can see that he has the ability to shoot a team into, or conversely out of, a game. It’s a scary proposition for a Duke team next year in which Rivers will be asked to provide a significant portion of our offensive firepower. But don’t get us wrong, though. When he’s on, he’s on, and sometimes just can’t seem to miss from anywhere on the court. That just wasn’t the case tonight.  Austin Rivers’ offensive prowess will certainly contribute to making next year…interesting. Here are some postgame comments from Austin:

Another Duke commit, Michael Gbinije, also took the floor in tonight’s all-star game. Gbinije, despite being one of the top players in his class, was ineligible for the McDonalds All-American game because of the fact that he’s a 5th year high school senior. You’ve gotta admit though, Mike Gbinije’s been flying a little bit under the radar as of late. Some people that we’ve talked to tend to forget about Mike G, who is the 4th member of Duke’s outstanding recruiting class for next year. We all know about Austin Rivers, the top recruit in the country, the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers,  yada yada yada. We know about Quinn Cook, in large part because of his very close relationship with @Ndotsmitty, his god-brother. We know about Marshall Plumlee because, of course, he’s the third in a line of high-jumping, power-dunking, shot-blocking, and sometimes dumb-fouling brothers from Indiana.

We know Duke’s other 3 recruits pretty well. So then, who is Mike Gbinije? This is Mike G:

Gbinije had an efficient outing and showed some flashes of brilliance. He is a versatile player, a good shooter with range beyond the arc, not bad off the dribble, and an above average athlete. A good comparison here might be to a young Gerald Henderson, minus G’s extraterrestrial leaping ability. Still, Gbinije wasn’t afraid to sky on some questionable oops sent his way from the East team PGs. However, we believe that Gbinije is a better shooter than Hendo was coming out of high school, and he stands at around 6’7-6’8 compared to Henderson’s 6’5.  Gbinije is in the process of refining his game and has the physical assets  to become the next in a long, long line of successful Duke wings. He finished with a respectable 10 points coming from a three, an and-one drive to the bucket, and a few mid range jumpers. Nothing eye-popping, but an all-around solid performance. Next to national prep superstars such as Anthony Davis and their gynormous unibrows, it’s understandable how Gbinije could be overshadowed. But remember, as a man named Dwayne Carter once famously said: “Real Gs move in silence like lasagna.”

He was, of course, referring to the one and only, Michael “Silent G” Gbinije.

That’ll do it for this recap from the 2011 Jordan Brand Classic. Crazie-Talk will keep you updated on Duke basketball happenings throughout the offseason! Peace.

Crazie Talk Live: The Jordan Brand Classic

What’s up, people? We’re here on press row in Time Warner Cable Arena for the Jordan Brand Classic! The Regional All-Star game, which will feature incoming freshman Marshall Plumlee, will be tipping at 5:30pm EST. The National All-Star game, featuring incoming freshmen Austin Rivers and Michael Gbinije, will tip at 8:00pm EST, and will be televised on ESPN2.

Join us as we live blog the action from the Queen City! We’ll go live at approximately 8:00pm EST.

Crazie-Talk on the Duke Chronicle Sports Blog

Hey folks,

I had the chance to speak with Andy Moore, editor of the Duke Chronicle Sports section, about the genesis of our website, the @NotCoachK Twitter account, and next year’s Duke team.

Check out the recorded podcast of the interview on the Chronicle sports blog, The Blue Zone.

Thanks again to Andy and everyone at the Chronicle for the chance to interview.

After listening to WHOLE PODCAST (you better) come back here and check out Duke Dunks 10-11, an enjoyable compilation from DukeBluePlanet.

Deviled Eggs: 4/11/11

 

Kyle and Nolan are still giving it their all for a few final collegiate games. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

1.  ACC Seniors Put on a Show in the ACC Barnstorming Tour

Every year, some of the top seniors in the ACC travel throughout the southeast to face off against local all-star teams and compete in slam dunk and 3-point contests.  Duke’s three seniors, Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, and Casey Peters, are all part of this year’s squad.  There are still a few more stops left on their tour, so take a look at the schedule and see if they’ll be nearby.  You won’t want to miss this!

2.  Will Duke Add DeAndre Daniels to its Class of 2011?

While Kyrie Irving unfortunately announced last week that he will be entering the 2011 NBA Draft, he also speculated that Duke might be adding one more phenom to its already stellar Class of 2011, DeAndre Daniels.  Only time will tell if Kyrie is right.  Let’s hope he is.

3. Austin Rivers and Quinn Cook Shine in the Nike Hoop Summit

Two future Duke freshman participated in the annual Nike Hoop Summit this past weekend and helped lead the USA squad to victory.  Cook had 12 points and 3 assists, and Rivers finished with a game-high 20 points and was named MVP.  We just can’t say enough on how excited we are for this incoming class.

…And in other news, Bismack Biyombo is a total beast.  Look for him to go high in this year’s NBA Draft.

4. J.J. Redick Likely to Return for NBA Playoffs

Redick has been sidelined since early March with an abdominal strain.  Things are looking up though, and he looks to be back in time for the playoffs.  That’s certainly good news for the Magic, who definitely miss his presence on both the offensive and defensive ends.

5. 2012 Commits Doing Their Best to Sell Duke

Alex Murphy and Rasheed Sulaimon are doing all they can to produce their own version of the Fab Five.  They’ve been working hard to sway Shabazz Muhammad, L.J. Rose, and Tony Parker to join them in Durham in the fall of 2012.  Check out what Muhammad has to say about that in his latest HighSchoolHoop Diary entry.  Also, be sure to take a look at some analysis of a few of these high school stars from the Nike EYBL Session #1.

6. Mark Gottfried Not Afraid of Challenges

Last week, Mark Gottfried was named the new head coach of the N.C. State Wolfpack.  Let’s see if he has better success against his in-state rivals than Kool-Aid Man did.

That’s it for this week’s edition of Deviled Eggs.  Hope you enjoyed them!  Be on the lookout for the latest offseason news here at Crazie Talk!

Au Revoir, Kyrie

Kyrie Irving has announced his decision to enter the NBA draft and forego his final three years of eligibility at Duke.

 

Kyrie's last game against Arizona was one of his best in a Duke uniform. (courtesy of BluePlanetShots.com)

Kyrie leaves behind a difficult-to-digest legacy, as he only competed in 11 of Duke’s games this season. This writer, having been abroad in the fall semester, never got to see Kyrie play in Cameron, or in a live game at all. Although it’s incredibly disappointing to see him go, we cannot blame Kyrie for chasing his dream of playing professional basketball. He is still a Blue Devil, and always will be.

We wish him a great and healthy career wherever he ends up playing, and we hope he comes back to Durham to cheer on his team, as he did throughout his difficult injury.

UPDATE: Kyrie talks about his decision in this video from GoDuke.com:

Enjoy these highlights from Kyrie’s first huge performance on a national stage–31 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists against Michigan State.

And then maybe this video on Duke’s upset of UNLV in 1991 will help ease your aching spirits. Yes, it was an upset, Seth Davis.

 

Experts: The Transformation of Final Four Stadiums

By Aaron Gordon of 15min2exit.com

The Final Four has always struck me as an odd event. It is the only time where a sport completely transforms its game day environment for its biggest event. College basketball is largely played in intimate and intense environments in front it’s most passionate fans. But, when it comes time for the Final Four, the game moves to a football stadium and the size of the crowd is quadrupled.

The view from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the home of the Indianapolis Colts and the 2010 Final Four. (Property of Crazie-Talk)

As far as I’m concerned, there are two considerations in the transformation of the Final Four from a basketball arena to a football stadium: the quality of the stadium, and the location of the court. We can see two distinct stages in the NCAA’s quest to make the Final Four a premier event in American sports.

The first stage was the move from basketball arenas to larger stadiums. This move began in 1997 with the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. By my estimation, the NCAA didn’t really understand what type of venues needed to be used. They experimented with all types of larger venues: decent stadiums (RCA Dome in 1997 and 2000, Alamodome in 1998 and 2004, Georgia Dome in 2002, and Super Dome in 2003), less than decent stadiums (Edward Jones Dome in 2005) and atrocities (Tropicana Field in 1999 and the Metrodome in 2001). This stage of experimentation was highlighted by the Tropicana Field Final Four of 1999. Tropicana Field was one of the worst stadiums in baseball the day it opened, and has only cemented its status thereafter. How it was awarded the Final Four is beyond me. (Ed. note: Maybe that’s why Duke lost to UConn in 1999…aha!)

At some point, likely soon after the Tropicana Field fiasco, the NCAA decided to start awarding Final Fours to actually good stadiums. The decent stadiums held their ground through the mid 2000’s (RCA Dome, Georgia Dome and Alamodome in 2006-2008), and then Ford Field was given the event in 2009. This was a groundbreaking year for the Final Four for two reasons. First, a premier facility was given the event (it was the first stadium in the large venue era of the Final Four that was state-of-the-art). Second, and more importantly, this was the first year the court was placed in the middle of the arena

Prior to Ford Field, the court had been placed towards one endzone, and only half of the large venue was open to seating. Of course, this still offered twice the capacity of a basketball arena. The Georgia Dome and Alamodome saw attendances of 51,458 and 43,257 in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The next year, when Ford Field placed the court on the 50 yard line, the attendance increased to 72,922 because they opened the entire stadium to fans.

One might think this worked out much worse for all 73,000 in attendance, but this was not the case.Under the previous endzone format, fans sitting in the temporary seats had the experience of watchingthe back of the person’s head in front of them. By putting the court in the center, more of the seatingaround the court could be specifically designed for the basketball game, and the pitch of the seats couldbe altered.

This 50 yard line format has been used in every subsequent Final Four, including this year’s in Reliant Stadium. The transformation is complete for the NCAA. They have successfully brought the biggest event they have in front of as many people as possible. There’s just one problem: everything that makes basketball great is nullified when placed on the 50 yard line of a football stadium. The Crazies should know this best. Cameron Indoor is a tiny, tiny venue by today’s standards, and yet it is often lauded as one of the best venues in college sports. This is no coincidence. Basketball is a game designed for anintimate environment. The extreme athleticism of the players is best appreciated when fans are actually close enough to marvel at them. The further away you are, the slower they look and the less impressive it all seems.

 

Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com

The friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium. Friendly to Duke, that is. (Photo courtesy of BluePlanetShots.com)

Likewise, Cameron Indoor is one of the best venues because every single fan is into the game, screaming like asylum patients and shaking like them, too. 8,000 fans in a tiny gym are exponentially more intimidating and chill-inducing than 70,000 screaming fans in a football stadium. It is depersonalizing and estranged. You’re spectators, not participants.

Of course, that is even assuming all 70,000 attendees are screaming fans, which of course they are not. A majority of the fans at the Final Four these days are indifferent. They are exactly who the NCAA is marketing to now: casual spectators coming to an event, not passionate fans who would attend regardless of the cost.

But, as Cormac McCarthy wrote in No Country For Old Men, this is the dismal tide. The NCAA wants basketball in on the riches the Super Bowl or the BCS Championship offers, and they see the nature of the game as irrelevant in their quest for further prosperity. You know, because the NCAA doesn’t make enough money already. And it’s not just money from the extra seats; they can charge more for advertising since more eyes will see it, and they can ask more for TV deals.

I suppose this is just the state of modern sports. Personally, I think it affects college basketball the most, since it is the sport most ill-suited for profit-seeking maximization. It is best enjoyed on a small, intimate scale. It has the smallest playing surface, the densest concentration of athletes, and the most subtle movements have the biggest impact. It is a beautiful game to watch, but not from 500 feet away.

Aaron Gordon, a senior at the University of Maryland, is the founder of 15min2exit.com, a blog about the stadium experience for fans of all sports. Check the site out on Twitter and Facebook as well. Thanks to Aaron for this excellent article in the wake of this year’s Final Four. And for being the most balanced University of Maryland basketball fan of all time.

If you like this kind of material, check Crazie-Talk frequently. There are so many talented college basketball writers (many that follow our Twitter) and we’re excited to start publishing a greater variety of articles. If you have a story idea, pitch it to us: crazietalk@gmail.com. Thanks!

Deviled Eggs 4/4/11

The Blue Devil is cooking up Rivers-related tape headbands for next year. (courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

1. 2011 commitments play in McDonald’s game, talk smack with UNC recruits

Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook and Marshall Plumlee suited up in those classic golden arched jerseys and put up some solid numbers. Cook and Rivers each had 14 points and MP3 finished with 5 points and 7 boards. Our real question, however, is what is with Khem Birch’s long sleeve t-shirt?

2. Jalen Rose follows up “Uncle Tom” comments with another controversy

Former Michigan and NBA star Jalen Rose just can’t stay out of the news. This time it’s a DUI! And now he has been pulled off the air by his employer, ESPN. Wow, and to think I once owned his Pacers jersey and wore it with pride…

3. Duke’s class of 2015 Crazies are ready for the Gothic Wonderland!

We can’t wait to be joined in Cameron by some of the over 3,000 new members* of the undergraduate Duke community. If you are one of the lucky few, congratulations. It’s getting harder and harder to get into this school. Over 29,000 applied for the spots.

(*Ed. note: Only about 1,700 students end up matriculating to Duke every year. Didn’t really think that one through…)

4. Laettner wants to coach

Christian Laettner, perhaps Duke’s most decorated player, wants back in the college game, this time as a coach. Would you take a chance of #32, who has little coaching experience? I would if he could teach me his swagger.

5. Al Featherston on the next year in Duke hoops

The always on point Al Featherston discusses what we can expect from our Blue Devils next year based on what little information we have now.

6. Brand, Collins and the 76ers are back in the playoffs

Congratulations to Elton Brand, who came back from a rough injury to help the 76ers reach the playoffs in the hyper-competitive Eastern Conference. Coach Doug Collins–father of Duke assistant Chris–has pieced together an overachieving team in his first year at the helm of the formerly great Philly phranchise. Good luck!

Check Crazie-Talk again soon for more exciting content from The Offseason. For now, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for frequent updates!

Enjoy All-American Nolan Smith’s “takeover mode,” another great video from DukeBluePlanet. Apologies to Nolan for not picking up the Naismith Award (it went, predictably, to Jimmer). You’re always number 1 in our hearts. And minds, since you’re a better player than Jimmer. #fact