I haven't posted much about our major rivals, so maybe it's time to get that blue blood out there pumping a little faster with some rival schadenfreude.
We have written a couple of posts having fun at Duke's expense, but what blue-blooded Kentucky fan doesn't harbor a little animosity for the Mighty K and his boy wonders? Ever since the Blue Devils ripped the hearts from Kentucky fans in the greatest college basketball game of all time, they have pretty much supplanted Louisville as the team we love to hate the most. As I reported in this post, we have a lot of company in that abhorrence.
Most of you are probably aware of this, but a few months back, a website known as the Duke Basketball Report published this article entitled "Duke Hating - An Essay", in which the author laments the current state of affairs between Duke University's basketball team and ... well, pretty much the rest of the civilized world.
In the opening paragraph of this petulant polemic, the author professes forgiveness for the maladroit bloggers who are not bound by journalistic standards, and instead, insists his venom is directed at the mainstream sports media. After this brief introduction, he breaks the piece into seven parts, the first three of which are dedicated to blaming everyone but the sports media, including Gary Williams (coach of Maryland), Internet bulletin boards and blogs, the race of the Duke players (here, he runs directly counter to his paragraph and takes on the Nation of Islam SportsBlog, an Internet publication utterly marginalized due to their outrageous racial bias).
Interestingly, the DBR author doesn't even attempt to debunk the perception that Duke gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to officiating. The recent spate of complaints from many both inside and outside the mainstream sports media has left the impression that there is no level playing field when it comes to Duke.
While this may look like a post intended to "Fisk" this piece, it isn't -- the author doesn't make anything close to a coherent case. Why I bring it up is the relatively close proximity of this particular blog post to this article by the Greensboro News-Record. Many of the same arguments are made by Coach Krzyzewski, almost as if he took a cue from the DBR piece. Several puff pieces on Coach K turned up in local newspapers during the same weekend as the GN-R piece.
Most of the frustration by Duke apologists is directed at the "Worldwide Leader", who has an undeniably incestuous relationship with Duke, employing a number of announcers and editorialists who formerly attended the university. It is also true, as pointed out in the GN-R piece, that the effusive Dick Vitale is consistently complimentary of the program, although by no means exclusively so. Dick Vitale's ebullient personality is beloved of some, but annoying to many.
Many fans also see Billy Packer of CBS Sports as biased toward the ACC. Seth Davis, a Duke graduate, is also a CBS analyst, and the combination of two major sports outlets with a perceived Duke bias, coupled with the aforementioned pro-Duke officiating is the real force behind the current loathing of the Blue Devils by fans who otherwise have no reason to do so. Note that UK fans are not among this group -- the famous Laetner stomp of UK sub Aminu Timberlake, which the DBR article poo-poos, still sticks in the craw of a large percentage of the Big Blue Nation, and that alone gives us ample reason to dislike the Blue Devils. Duke's success recruiting against UK, and the unfortunate cockiness of some of Duke's most high-players (Laetner, Wojciechowski, Redick) on national TV have done nothing to rehabilitate the image of Laetner stepping deliberately on the chest of Timberlake.
Duke may not deserve all the invective and loathing they get, but surely they must realize that complaining about it the way they have done will do nothing but exacerbate the problem. No matter how powerful the argument, and that argument has been unfortunately anemic for such a noted institution, most people will see it as nothing more than whining. That can't help Duke's image, and worse, every single utterance, whatever it's merit, will be seen as more petulance from a bunch of spoiled, wealthy brats lead by a spoiled, wealthy coach. That probably isn't the reality, but it is unquestionably the perception. Add to the fact the university's unfortunate handling of the lacrosse scandal, and it shouldn't surprise anyone that Duke isn't beloved of the masses.
But I'm not done taking perverse pleasure in the pain of rivals. It's time we have just a little fun at the expense of that other Tobacco Road foe, the University of North Carolina.
Seems that Ol' Roy hasn't been doing such a bang-up job of recruiting as he did a couple of years ago when he landed that monster class that included Brandan Wright and two other McDonalds all-Americans that were tops in the class at their positions.
But high profile misses including Kevin Love (UCLA '07) and Samardo Samuels (Louisville, '08) have caused consternation among the Carolina faithful, according to John Clay who blogs today about "North Carolina's Tubby Problem". According to this Charlotte Observer article:
North Carolina was one of two finalists for Love, but he chose UCLA. Then Roe and Samuels turned down North Carolina scholarship offers.
"Blue heaven is a bit cloudy in recruiting," [Bob] Gibbons said.
"It creates a sense of urgency for the month of July for (North Carolina)," said scout.com analyst Dave Telep. "They missed on some key guys early. It happens."
Still, it's fun to see the Tarheels sweat this stuff. Having recently been there and done that, it sure is nice to finally look forward to a recruiting class with anticipation rather than anxiety.