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.