Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Hoop Thoughts
Co-blogger Paul gives me reason to sports blog at least for the nonce. Yah mon. Colletch hoops. Roundball. Dook! Except ... I'm actually starting to get over it.
I went to an ACC school back when the ACC was the ACC and not the current hydra monster that keeps sprouting new heads without even having existing heads cut off. And before I went to college, I went to a high school that had one good sports program: basketball. And yet as a freshman I still didn't fully appreciate the madness that has been ACC basketball for the last ... I dunno ... forty, fifty years. Not only that, in 1974 and all the way to the '77-'78 season, Duke basketball basically sucked. Cellar dwellers. Bottom of the conference. Then there was that magic '78 team with Spanarkel, Banks and Gminski which lost the national championship game to Kentucky. What a fantastic tournament that was. Still the 'no national championship' monkey clung to the back of the Blue Devils until Coach K made the program his own. Now there are three.

Digression: Earlier this year someone (You're too lazy to research it, aren't you? -Ed.) (Damn skippy Ed.) blogged or sports-wrote about Terrell Owens shenanagins and quoted some coach who told his players "Act like you've been there before." There being the end zone. When you do stupid and annoying things after scoring a touchdown, it's like you've never been in the end zone before. A class way of telling TO to put down the fargin Sharpie. End of Digression.

The prank reported in the linked article in Paul's post is moderatelty amusing but the Maryland writer acts like it's the biggest punk in creation. Sorry. Not even close. A truly great punk is one where the punkee is made to publicly display the immediately obvious punk. Like the Harvard "We Suck" prank. Additionally, to prank on the shady friends of Corey Maggette is weak. For several reasons: #1, he was drafted in 1999 - six years ago, that's waayy too long a period to count. The prank, at a college, has to be general (see Harvard above) or on a current player. Possibly on one graduated or drafted the prior year if he is sufficiently identified with the school. #2, given the Len Bias experience, Maryland should tread carefully around any reference to athletes and drugs. Yes, Bias was many years before Maggette but it is still one of the most notorious drug deaths in all of college sports. #3, the effort the pranker had to go through was greatly outweighed by how poor the stunt was. A good stunt would have been figured out by someone other than those who perpetrated it.

Now, to work that digression back into the mix - Maryland did indeed beat Duke in Durham. I'm not pleased about that but I've lived through worse things. In point of fact, Maryland has had a fair measure of success against Duke in Durham in the last several years. Contrarily, Duke has often returned the favor in College Park. That is, after several years of Duke beating Maryland like a rented mule. Which is why Maryland cares so much about beating Duke while the Maryland game is pretty much just another conference game for Duke: important but not crucial. Personally, I'd rather see Duke beat NCState.
How do the Terrapin faithful repsond to winning at Duke? 1500 fans stream out into the streets of College Park and disrupt life for other people. Oooooh! Impressive. Maryland has won a national championship. Once you win a national championship you no longer have leave to act bush league. Maryland - act like you've been there before. The only wins that allow for spontaneous street demonstrations are regional final wins and championships. Period.

Now, the aftermath of the Maryland win bears scrutiny. A follow-up win against Georgia Tech pushed the Terps into the top 25 again, reasonably so. Though home wins are less upsets than road wins. Duke loses to Wake, at Wake, by 3 points. Also not too much of a trauma since Wake is a damn good team. Since then, Duke has won big against its conference opponents and Maryland has choked off loses to the likes of Clemson and Miami. The logical conclusion: Maryland was sky-high pumped for the Duke game and came crashing back to their real level of play in the aftermath. Duke has fallen to 7th in the national rankings which is a pretty legitimate ranking for Duke. Unfortunately Duke has to play UNC this week and it will take the best game they've got to win it. Carolina is a fantastic team this year. It doesn't pain me to say that because UNC has a proud tradition which it hasn't lived up to of late. I do, of course, want Duke to win but I won't run into the streets if they do.
I've been there before.

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