The World Celebrates 903

The buzzer sounds, Duke beats Michigan State, and Coach K is the true G.O.A.T. (photo courtesy BluePlanetShots.com)

Last night, we all watched as Coach K surpassed his former coach and mentor Bobby Knight to become the winningest coach in men’s Division I basketball history. It was an exciting game, a global stage, and a special moment for a man who is always more concerned with his players and his community than with himself.

Perhaps we will reflect on 903 in a more extensive essay at a later date. However, for today, I have collected some of the best coverage of this historic moment from around the internet. Enjoy perusing these links instead of working or studying.

1. Coach K infographic from DukeBluePlanet

Duke basketball’s marketing masterminds are back with this phenomenal infographic detailing Coach K’s accomplishments at Duke. Most astounding figure I saw: Duke has been a top 10 team for 75% of Coach K’s games and in the top 5 for over half.

2. Jay Bilas and Grant Hill reflect on what Coach K has meant in their lives

Two of the most erudite former Dukies hold forth on ESPN.com and Sports Illustrated about how Coach K helped them grow as athletes and as human beings. (warning: Bilas looks kind of like a gremlin in the photo)

3. Seth Davis on the unique relationship between Coach K and his mentor, Bob Knight

Davis can be an idiot sometimes, but he’s put together an incredible story on the relationship that these two legendary coaches share.

4. GoDuke breaks down the 903 wins

The official Duke athletics site charts K’s course as a head coach, from the rough-and-tumble early years to the modern day throne. I have a feeling they’ve had this in the works for a while.

5. Dana O’Neil on Coach K’s career being “so much more” than the wins

O’Neil knows how to pull at our heartstrings.

6. An interesting perspective on the meaning on milestones from NBC Sports

“…[Brad] Stevens will need 27 seasons in which he averages 29 wins per year starting after Coach K retires to catch him, something that doesn’t appear to be coming anytime soon.” Coach K’s got this one tidied up for a long time.

7. Shane Ryan on Grantland (save the best for last)

Our Duke sportswriting idol blends personal narrative and spot-on game analysis (Plumlees: ugh) in this near-great piece on the game.

Also glad to see Jay Bilas and all the former players had a good time on the town after the game:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/JayBilas/status/136794571135926273″%5D

 

 

And enjoy an excellent tribute video from DukeBluePlanet to America’s Best Coach.

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.

Video: Austin Rivers vs. Milton

Future Duke phenom Austin Rivers and his Winter Park (Fl.) team faced off against the nationally ranked Milton (Ga.) Eagles in the Hoops in OverDrive Shootout. Milton boasts tons of Division 1 talent in their senior class: Dai-Jon Parker (committed to Vanderbilt), Julian Royal (Georgia Tech), and Shannon Scott (Ohio State). They also have 2012 wingman Evan Nolte, who is currently ranked #50 in his class by ESPNU, and Shaquille Johnson, who recently lost to Plumlee #3 in the City of Palms dunk contest. There has been some noise surrounding Duke recruiting Nolte, but only time will tell how his recruitment will play out. Milton won the game 75-60 in front of a packed house, beating Winter Park for the 2nd time in a week and a half. Simply put, Rivers got little support from his teammates, as he contributed over half his squad’s points (31 of 60).

Rivers didn’t exactly have the start everyone might have been expecting in the first half. He only had 6 points and didn’t seem to get into an offensive groove—although he did have a nice block on Parker on a fast break. His team trailed 37-25 at the break. In the second half, however, Rivers came to life and showed why he deserves his high ranking. He scored 25 points in the final 2 quarters, raining threes from distance. He had several nice drives to the basket, where he would either finish himself with a variety of moves or pass out to a teammate. Unfortunately, the rest of Winter Park was stifled by Milton’s defense and failed to capitalize on Austin’s dishes.

Conversely, Milton was ready to go on both ends of the floor. They were simply too athletic for Winter Park and dominated from start to finish. The Wildcats pulled close in the 2nd half due to Austin’s amazing play, but his effort was not enough to complete the comeback. Check out the highlights above (part of the ever-growing Austin Rivers mixtape collection), and you’ll see why we’re thrilled to have one more year to watch games in Cameron as Duke undergrads.

Happy New Year from all of us at Crazie Talk! 2010 was a great year for Duke basketball, and we only hope it continues into 2011. Thanks so much for following us the past year, and as always, let us know if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions (crazietalk@gmail.com or on our Twitter)

Section 17: The Fall of Sparta

We’ve got a special guest column today coming from Nick Schwartz, a friend of Crazie-Talk and a fellow Cameron Crazie. Nick hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan, home to the Michigan Wolverines. In other words, he had twice as many reasons to see the Spartans fall to the Duke Empire on Wednesday night.

Tom Izzo and the Spartans fraternized with the enemy Wednesday afternoon. It didn't help their cause. (Photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo led his team through KVille on Wednesday to show his guys that the Crazies are just normal human beings.  It apparently did not impress Spartan forward Draymond Green, who tweeted that KVille failed to impress him more than the campout done by the aptly named MSU student section, the Izzone.  Nonetheless, MSU came out looking about as intimidated as any team I’ve seen in Cameron.  The Spartans gave new life to the term “throwing the ball away.”  Thanks to a combination of great Duke ball pressure and likely some Spartan nerves, MSU repeatedly passed the ball to the sidelines without one of the other four Spartans touching it.

Yet Duke was not a whole lot better, committing its own fair share of turnovers and failing to convert many opportunities on the offensive end.  It looked like the headlining game of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge might be a long, laborious affair.

Until a certain freshman took over the game.

Kyrie Irving rose to the occasion Wednesday night. (Photo DukeBluePlanet)

As you are probably well aware, Kyrie Irving poured in 31 points, breaking his previous career-high of 17 with an 18-point first half, which included many key 3-point plays.  While Nolan Smith likes to claim Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement” as his theme music, on Wednesday night, Smith took backseat to Kyrie “introducing himself” to America on ESPN.

And I couldn’t have been more pleased with what I was watching.

Hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, for most of my life I’ve had the opportunity to watch consistently solid MSU teams pummel over my beloved Michigan Wolverines.  Like many other Michigan fans, I have developed a love-hate relationship with the teams led by MSU head coach, Tom Izzo.  Izzo was born, went to school, and has almost exclusively coached in Michigan.  From his reign at MSU, beginning in 1995, the Spartans have managed an 18-8 record against Michigan (counting 5 of Michigan’s wins which were later vacated). Going back to the “Flint”stones era of Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson, and Charlie Bell, Izzo has almost always managed to attract the state of Michigan’s top players.  Yet, it is hard to not to root for his teams.  Aside from some of the extracurricular activities of Zach Randolph, Izzo has managed to run a clean and consistent program, attracting and graduating many commendable student-athletes, standing in opposition to many of his peers.  And how can you argue with the style of play?  MSU has developed a reputation for playing strong man-on-man defense, relentless rebounding, and pushing the ball up the court after made baskets.  Izzo has been known have his players perform rebounding drills in shoulder pads.  If only Rich Rodriguez would borrow the idea for his defense.

Izzo’s ability to get the most of his players is astounding.  Pistons fans who remember Cleaves’ brief stint in the NBA can certainly attest that some of Izzo’s most successful players did not get by simply on talent (who does that NOT remind you of, cough, Calipari, cough).  While many Tarheels often jibe at Duke’s lack of stars in the NBA, MSU is much less heard come the All-Star game.

This year’s Spartan team has many similarities to those of the past.  In the likes of Cleaves and Drew Nietzel, point guard Kalin Lucas assumes a leading role.  After a junior year that ended with a ruptured Achilles, the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2009, the same year the Spartans unfortunately fell short in the National Championship, returned and is leading the team in scoring while hitting almost half his shots.  If there is a more established and talented point guard in college basketball than Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen, it is Lucas.  That’s why all signs pointed to this game as a litmus test of Irving’s current status as a very good guard or one of the premiere guards in America.  And unlike most science experiments, the results are without question.

To be fair, for most of the game, Lucas did not even look like the best point guard on his team.  Lucas was overshadowed by his backup, if you can reasonably call him that, Korie Lucious, who led the Spartans with 20 points.  Lucious matched every bit of Irving’s quickness and threw in a barrage of jump shots, drives, and 3-pointers to ensure that the game never got out of hand.

But he's only a freshman, right Kalin? (Photo DukeBluePlanet)

While any win at any time over Michigan State is certainly impressive, the Blue Devils can take some things away from this game.  First of all, the perimeter defense needs to improve.  Korie Lucious and Kalen Lucas were able to penetrate at will and get into the lane.  Fortunately, MSU mostly took advantage of this late in the second half when Duke was in command of the game.  Furthermore, the interior defense could see some improvement.  The Spartans outrebounded Duke, grabbing 15 offensive boards.  The Plumlees often looked lost on defensive switches, leading to some easy baskets by Garrick Sherman, who otherwise did not appear capable of creating his own shot.  Miles will continue to have to focus on stop committing soft fouls if he wants to play a greater role on the team.

On the offensive end, there were times when the Blue Devils shot selection was questionable.  Most notably, Kyle Singler went 5-14 from the field, and seemed to force many jump shots with plenty of time remaining on the shot clock.  At this point in his career, Kyle has essentially earned the right to shoot when he sees fit, but with an offense full of so many options on a night when the running game was relatively quiet, I would hope he remains patient on nights when others are shooting better.

Nevertheless, a win is always win, and against MSU and the second best active coach in college basketball, always a great win.  I was glad when Izzo turned down the opportunity to potentially coach LeBron James in Cleveland, but I thoroughly enjoyed getting the opportunity to see the Coack K and the Blue Devils soundly defeat Izzo’s Spartans.

And who knows, they might find themselves battling it out once again come March.

Thanks again to our friend Nick for writing up this article. Up next, the Blue Devils travel to New Jersey on Saturday to face a familiar foe from last year’s national championship game…

Duke is De-Felixed

A day after Carrick Felix’s sudden de-commitment from Duke, mystery continues to abound as to who or what—exactly—was the impetus for the sudden change. Various college basketball outlets and message boards postulated that grades, tricky transfer credit issues, or even sheer distance from Idaho to Durham may have played into Felix’s choice.

But the likely cause is much simpler. The ubiquitously great blog The Dagger noted today that the return of Kyle Singler—and the concomitant effect of less available playing time at the small forward position—made Felix re-think his commitment to the Blue Devils.

OK. Playing time, the primal need of all blue-chippers, was the root cause. And we understand. You only get one chance to go from unheard-of JuCo star from the wild west to a high-flyer at a D-1 school. Felix is being realistic here. Coach K’s bench is usually short, with the rotation usually whittled down to seven or eight players by season’s end—the Title run is case in point.

And next year’s pool of talent is outlandishly deep. Even if Felix would have been Singler’s only ‘natural’ backup—he’s 6 foot 6—there’s no telling exactly how much burn he would get. Perhaps during Singler’s rest periods K would prefer to go small with Irving, Smith and Curry/Dawkins, leaving a combination of Plumtrees, Kelly and Josh Hairston to man the paint. It is foreseeable that Felix could be bumped from the lineup due to sheer plenitude of players, at least during the first of his three seasons of eligibility.

So, with K’s first JuCo recruit suddenly out of the picture, where does Duke stand? I’m not too worried about Kyle’s stamina—the Iron Man-esque performance he put on en route to Tournament M.O.P. dispelled the myth that Singler ‘tires out’ at the end of the season. As I said above, even with Kyle out of the game we will have ample speed and scoring ability with the five-headed guard core. The 2010-11 Devils will have plenty of firepower, Felix or no Felix.

The open scholarship also opens up options for the next two recruiting classes.We currently have two players in the truck for 2011: power forward Tyler Adams and wing Michael Gbinije. The coaching staff is also going hard after two of the top 5 prospects in the country—forward Quincy Miller and combo guard Austin Rivers. Many people, including Rivers’ AAU coach, think that the son of Doc will land in Durham. Miller is more nebulous, and his ties to John Calipari and Kentucky are strengthening.

Best case scenario, we land Miller and Rivers to go along with Gbinije and Adams. That’d likely be a top-3 recruiting class along with the hauls of Kentucky and UNC, each of which have already scored commitments from top-10 talents for 2011.

If Miller winds up in Lexington, we have another spot open for the 2011 class. I suggest we go no-holds-barred after 2011 five-star point guard Quinn Cook. Cook is from the Duke recruiting hotbed D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, plays in the famed DeMatha program, and is a close friend of Nolan Smith. So Cook has ties to Duke, and let’s be honest—Kyrie Irving will be in the position to jump to the NBA after two seasons in Durham. “Duke point guard” is a legendary title for an athlete, and Cook is a great option to pair with Tyler Thornton should Irving jet to the league earlier than expected.

So in the end, Felix’s surprise non-matriculation will not hurt Duke that much. The extra scholarship will be useful in the next two classes of recruits—2012 is particularly loaded at the wing position. Nonetheless, it is unfortunate that this didn’t work out. Felix will find his niche at some school—probably out west somewhere—but he probably won’t get the chance to play for a coach like K or for a team as high profile as Duke. I feel like Carrick would have earned a healthy chunk of minutes by the 2011-12 season, but perhaps the young man wants to start right away. We wish him good luck in his NCAA career.

The Difference Between Coach K and Roy

I’ve always wondered why Coach K is the most hated coach in the country. He runs a squeaky clean program, gives back to his community and profession, is a committed family man, a fervent patriot and a former captain in the Army. He seems, if anything, to be a model American: loyal, honest, hard working, ambitious. I know, I know, when a program maintains a high level of success with a nearly spotless record of conduct, you are hated for your attributes, despised for your lack of corruption. That’s why everyone loved it when the Patriots got caught, and perhaps why Tiger is falling so hard in the media these days.

So when people hate Duke, I understand it as a mixture of jealousy and contempt for success. Notre Dame football is sort of the same way (sort of).  I can deal with people calling Coach K “Ratface” and comparing him to evil dictators and comically spelling his name wrong (making them look pretty ignorant, of course. Irony!). Just as Duke will continue to win at a high level under Coach K, people will hate him for being just so good.

My logical thoughts run askew, however, when I gaze down 15-501 toward Chapel Hill. There resides Roy Williams, one of the country’s best coaches and winner of two national titles at his alma mater.

Short pretext: I rarely “disrespect” teams for being good. As a Duke fan, that’d be hypocritical. I hate UNC with a passion, but could I deny Ty Lawson’s speed, Wayne Ellington’s jumper or Hansbrough’s awkward but astounding efficiency? No. I can’t sacrifice credibility by calling UNC’s stars what they aren’t: bad basketball players. (Sadly, Danny Green’s dance skills didn’t make above list).

But when I gaze dejectedly from the Dean Dome court to the pastel-blue-clad Williams, my eyes contract with rage and hatred swells from my bowels to my brain, my head gets light and the same burning question bursts from my lips: why does everyone seem to love this man?

For Roy Williams is guilty of the same things that makes Coach K the most despised college basketball coach. Here’s a sampling.

Corny Commercials

Remember Roy’s touching story in the Coke ad? That commercial, unlike K’s more direct spots for Chevrolet or Alltel, was forgiven because of its heartwarming message. Roy’s mother worked hard to provide him with a dime so he could buy a Coke (in a old-fashioned glass bottle, mind you) on the way home from school, like his other friends did. As Roy is such an “American Dream” success story, he should be able to take advantage of his fame, and make some money from Coke (although it seems he’s more of a Sprite guy.) He deserves these advertising deals. And that’s fine.

But do people think Mike Krzyzewski was born with a silver spoon in his mouth? Hardly. His parents were working class Polish immigrants in Chicago. Coach’s father even changed his name to avoid racial discrimination when looking for jobs. Nevertheless, Coach earned his place at West Point, played for Bobby Knight, and served in the military. That sounds like the American Dream to me. But K’s commercial appearances are slammed as money-grabs. What gives?

K and Roy even did an ad for Guitar Hero together! Although Coach Knight stole the show in that one.

Profanity and Image

Coach K works the refs hard. Fact. He also curses liberally during games. Check. But Roy Williams, has been guilty of using foul language as well. While “dadgums” and “frikkin’s” are his go-to phrases, the f-bomb has been to known to slip into his lexicon time and again. He also told Bonnie Bernstein, after losing the 2003 national title game to Syracuse, that he “didn’t give a s*** about North Carolina job”. And apparently, he still loves his KU Jayhawks.

These emotional outbursts, of course, are normal. Every coach does it, and some more than others. But hypocrisy runs rampant in the differing perceptions of Roy and K. Roy uses modesty and humility to create his image. (“I’m not the smartest guy around, but I’m not the dumbest either”). By spicing in the occasional curse word amidst all those lovable Southern affectations (“gosh darn it!”), Roy seems like a country boy who happens to be a great coach.

K, on the other hand, exudes professionalism and intensity. Could you imagine him doing something like Soulja Roy? It’d be like John McEnroe buying flowers for a line judge: it wouldn’t fit. But the little quirks that makes Roy so popular somehow reflect badly on the business-like Coach K.

Case in point: after beating Ohio State earlier this year, Roy had this to say about ranting at Marcus Ginyard at halftime:

“I chewed his rear end out probably the hardest I’ve ever got on him,” Williams said of the fifth-year senior. “If I’m going to chew him out, it scares the dickens out of the rest of the team. He’s one of my pets.

One of your pets? Can you imagine the firestorm if Coach K said something like this? Maybe Roy’s “hardness” and shock-and-awe leadership tactics are the key. And that brings me to the final, and perhaps most telling point.

Megalomania

Let’s just go straight to the details of this one, shall we?

Late in the second half of UNC’s 103-64 romp over Presbyterian this past Saturday, Roy Williams heard a Blue Hose fan shouting at Deon Thompson on the free throw line. The heckler called out “Don’t miss it, Deon!” while the senior forward sank the shot. Coach Williams, upset at an opposing fan shouting at his players at the Dean Dome, had the man ejected from the stadium by police officers. Check out the video below, courtesy of WRAL.

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Dan Wiederer of the Fayetteville Observer reported that Roy asked security to check if the man was in the correct seat, which he apparently was. The man was removed on suspicion of intoxication that has not been confirmed as of yet.

But wait a second—why on earth was Roy so bothered by a single fan, chanting a harmless taunt, while his team was up by 40 points? The Presbyterian Blue Hose now stand at 2-8—hardly a serious opponent or a rivalry game. Roy had no reason to get so fired up.

Shouldn’t a coach of an ACC contender focus on his own damn team? This incident is evidence of Roy’s megalomania and absurd shows of power. It’s one thing to call your player a ‘pet,’ or cite Michael Jordan and James Worthy as players better than your struggling freshman. Or to permit your star point guard to gamble on a team trip, or denigrate a former recruit in a book, then in a press conference, for ‘lying to you’ and choosing another school. Those are just coaching moves, right?

But to orchestrate the ejection of a harmless fan, especially when your team is dominating, is absolutely over the top! He actually looked at this guy and said, “Yeah, I’m talking to you!” before gesturing towards security. What, did the guy pull a DeNiro?

Wiederer’s original blog post wondered how the media would react if Coach K had pulled a similar stunt as Roy. The answer? It wouldn’t have happened. While the cavernous Dean Dome is pretty tame in such cupcake wins (do the wine and cheese make fans sleepy?), Cameron is loud and rocking for nearly every game. So it’d be hard for K to hear any taunts, innocuous or otherwise. Nor would he react. He’d be too busy, you know, coaching his own damn team.

And from personal experience, there are always opposing fans heckling Duke players on the line. My personal favorite was during the Montana game last year when a chubby kid yelled “You will not make the basket” before every Duke foul shot in an eerie monotone. Strange.

Ramifications

Is the media coverage of Roy’s mental weakness outburst a chink in his armor? Likely not. UNC fans will go on loving Roy and defending his every move. Like Coach K, he’s brought his supporters wins, banners and discounted Bojangles. Well, they don’t share that last one, but you catch my drift.

In a world where fans constantly forgive athletes and coaches for their wrongdoings, it’s nice to support a top-flight program with minimal controversy and an upstanding leader. While Roy continues to make a show of his power, Coach K will continue working hard to win—with class.

And remember everyone, when you’re in the Dean Dome, do as the cool people do: shut your mouth, and let the dad gums echo throughout the stadium.

Section 17: Devils Feast in the Garden

‘Section 17’ is Crazie-Talk’s weekly feature that lets you, the readers, take a look at what we see from Section 17 of hallowed Cameron Indoor Stadium.

It was a team effort in New York, as Duke brings home the NIT Season Tip-Off Title. Happy Thanksgiving! (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

It was a team effort in New York. Duke brings home the NIT Season Tip-Off Title, beating rival Connecticut 68-59 in the championship game. Give thanks, Blue Devil fans. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

For the second straight year, Duke emerged victorious in a pre-season tournament held in Madison Square Garden. In dispatching Arizona State and UConn, the Blue Devils move to 6-0 on the season and bring home the NIT Season Tip-Off trophy.

As the adage goes, “Defense wins championships.” That rang true for Duke in the world’s most famous arena. Through the first four games, Duke lit up the scoreboard, averaging 94 points per game in huge wins. But in New York the offense sputtered, and Duke relied on tough defense and our bevy of big men to limit Arizona State and UConn to 53 and 57 points, respectively.

Against the Sun Devils on Wednesday—a team that featured class of ’05 transfer Eric Boateng—the offense just wasn’t clicking. Naturally, we turned the reins over to the steady Jon Scheyer, who came away with 16 points and 6 assists. Nolan chipped in 14 and Kyle overcame a slow start and 5-16 shooting to finish with 13. Oh yeah, those three guys all played 40 minutes. With a slim backcourt, that’s going to happen sometimes this season. And Boateng, who had starred in the first couple of ASU’s games, scored a measly 4 points and turned the ball over an incredible 9 times, mostly on walks. Good riddance.

Jon Scheyer took home MVP Honors after leading Duke to the 68-59 win.

Jon Scheyer took home MVP Honors after leading Duke to the 68-59 win. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

On Friday, Duke faced its first ranked opponent in the UConn Huskies. Probably the third most hated team for most Duke fans (guess the first two), ESPN talked up this rivalry all week. Obviously, there are difficult memories for both fanbases, notably Laettner’s buzzer beater in 1990 and the past two Final Four heartbreakers for Duke (painful). Coach K and Calhoun each have 800+ wins. The game was a big deal.

Of course, none of the history mattered on Friday night. After a frantic first 12 minutes, Duke built a nine-point halftime lead and never relinquished it. Both teams struggled to shoot the ball; Duke shot 29.6%, UConn faring slightly better at 36%. The Huskies are not a three-point shooting team, only hoisting four treys and missing all of them. Instead they worked the ball inside constantly to the frontline of Stanley Robinson, Gavin Edwards, Alex Oriakhi, etc. And the Devils responded: we blocked eight shots and grabbed 52 rebounds, led by Zoubek’s 11. So much for being “unathletic.”

The players of the game were Tournament MVP Scheyer (19 points) and local Jersey boy Lance Thomas, coming up big with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Lance was especially energetic—a lot of people underestimate his value to this team. Lance went after every loose ball and played above the rim all night, blocking three shots and altering several more. It was a good homecoming for the former St. Benedict’s Prep star.

Kyle Singler was conspicuously absent from the flow of the game. Hounded all night by Robinson, one of the Big East’s best defenders, Kyle was held to 6 points on 2-12 shooting. A silly third foul cost him the last 4:30 of the first half (ironically when Duke extended their lead).

Without the pre-season All-American on form, freshman Andre Dawkins stepped up once again to fill the scoring void. In an efficient 16 minutes, Dawkins dropped in 11 points, with two momentum shifting threes in the first half. Dawkins is looking like the fourth scorer on this team; his beautiful stroke caught the eye of Jason Williams, who tweeted “Dawkins has such a sweet jumper!” (@RealJayWilliams, for those interested).

Overall, the experienced core of this team produced the season’s first title. With the return of Mason Plumlee in a few weeks, Coach K has reason to look forward to several more championship runs this season.

Crazie Notes:

  • Duke moves to 5-4 in the series history with UConn. We’d have liked to win the Final Four games in ’99 and ’04, but hey, this one feels good nonetheless.
  • The Blue Devils out-rebounded a huge Connecticut team, 52-48. Plumlee and Zoubek are each averaging over 8 per game. It’s a luxury to have active big men like this—something we’ve missed for several years.
  • Dick Vitale was raving about UConn’s Ater Majok, who is eligible to play in a few weeks. Majok, who famously declared for the ’09 draft before playing a single game, is a 6’10” forward that should contribute, per Coach Calhoun. The complexion of the game may have changed a bit if Majok, as well as Mason Plumlee, could have played.
  • Smith joined Scheyer on the all-Tournament team, along with UConn’s Jerome Dyson, Kemba Walker, and ASU’s senior PG Derek Glasser. Nolan has a edge to him this year that is key to our success.
  • Zoubek has never developed touch around the basket. He had eight offensive boards, but couldn’t convert them, finishing with just a single field goal. He did have three nice assists, including two kickouts for perimeter jumpers. However Zoubek can contribute, we’ll take it. He’s had a less than stellar career, but as my uncle says, “He just tries so hard…”
  • The commentators would have us believe that if UConn had knocked down more threes, the game would be different. But they only took four of them. Their gameplan was to penetrate with the quickness of Walker and Dyson, and pound the glass with Robinson and Edwards. Three-point shooting just isn’t a focus for the Huskies this season.
  • The ACC and Big East are typically two of the top conferences in the country. With the win, Duke shows that not all ACC teams are apt to embarrass themselves in the Garden.
  • Walk-ons Jordan Davidson and Steve Johnson got in the game late. Inconceivable!
  • 2010 target Roscoe Smith is considering both Duke and UConn. Hopefully the title game performance helps him make the winning choice.
  • Stanley Robinson post-game comment: “They’re not very athletic. We’re more athletic than they are. They were just smarter than we were.” Kiss the trophy, pal.
  • With all the chatter about Duke being unathletic, Nolan Smith had this to say about the Devils when Mason Plumlee returns: “[We’ll be] Even more athletic than people don’t think we are.” Gotta love this kid.
  • If you missed it, check out our LiveBlog of the UConn game. Colorful commentary and in-game analysis included…

Duke returns to action on Wednesday at Wisconsin for the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. Crazie-Talk wishes a retroactive Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers. Go Duke!