“Are you ready for a War?” Duke vs. Pitt

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“…I’m not finished… Before we let you leave, your commander must cross that field, present himself before this army, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own arse.”

I’m pretty sure the players don’t have the same lust and zeal for Pittsburgh Panther blood that I have and there certainly won’t be any William Wallace-type speeches going on in the huddle tonight. With that said, I’m readying myself for battle, per usual. I just pounded out the first obligatory shit talking email (you gotta put your smack on record) to a few Pitt Alums I’m cool with, I successfully cleared my afternoon schedule in order to assure my timely placement in front of my tv for that ridiculously early 7 pm start time and just now I’m halfway through cutting my fine Brooks Brother sweater vest into a make shift, “I wish a nilla would,” wife beater (gotta keep it gangsta couture).

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(Is this cat serious?)

With all that said, I must admit, I’m a little leery about tonight’s match-up with a solid Pitt team that seems to have everything a squad needs to send our squad into a tailspin. Here’s the UvT rundown:

BACKCOURT
Advantage: Duke
Let’s face it, you can only legitimately play two backcourt players at any one time. I know, I know, if Coach K had it his way, he’d run 6 guards out there. Indeed, but I’m looking at the backcourt as if we didn’t play run’n gun, small ball express at 4 positions all the time. Yes it kind of worked for the Illini back in the Kendall Gill era, but they didn’t cut them nets down now did they and cutting down nets is what it’s about in Durham.

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The Pitt backcourt is very competent with solid penetration, legitimate 3-point threats and good ball distribution from the starters and bench help. With that said, the Duke depth at backcourt is bound to give Levance Fields and Maxwell Jr. Jr. aka Ronald “U need a Razor” Ramon trouble.
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Ramon is crafty, smart and a good shooter, but he isn’t the biggest 2-guard around. I’m hoping the size of Scheyer and Hendo and the athleticism of Markie will give him trouble. The beauty of our team is that we can send different looks at him all game long. Fields is a bigger problem for the Syracuse brawler, Greg P to deal with. Luckily, we’ve got a hot defensive stopper waiting to get out there and contribute in Nolan Smith. If Greg P has issues, look for K to make a quick switch so we can get some ball pressure on Fields. If Duke isn’t successful at causing havoc for the Pitt guards, then you might as well call it a night. Still, we’re better and deeper at the guard and these fools haven’t really played anyone yet, so hopefully this will match up will carry the day for Duke.

FRONTCOURT
Advantage: Pitt
What can be said about Duke’s frontcourt that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan and the Chicago Bears (they are who we thought they were). So when I’m talking about Duke’s post players, I need a term that works where our frontcourt lives, a place called What-Da-Fucka-Shoulda-Gotta-Patrick-Patterson-stan.
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Anyway, Pitt has hot post players of the fast twitch, quick second jumping variety. DeJuan Blair is a monster on the blocks. Incidentally, if your squad ever has to tangle with a black dude who clearly has a non-black, though still ethnic name (“Juan”), that’s trouble for you. And if it’s modified by a La, Le, Da or De, that’s even worse and worse still is if they add an accent mark or a tilde of some sort. Don’t ask why, but cats with those names will consistently give it to you in athletic endeavors. Not true you say? Mario Williams (Houston Texans), LeBron James, and Juan Dixon just come off my dome. But it’s really more applicable to lunch pale, hard-hittin’, never heard of him, go to battle every day in the paint type cats. They will murder you and at least 40% of their talent is due to whatever factors lead to their mother giving them that name. The name is simply a bi-product.

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Uhh, where was I? Oh yeah, but by half-time, be clear, plenty of us will be saying “DeJuan’s a mufucka” because that cat is going to eat our frontcourt players. Singler is tall and talented, but he’s not really a frontcourt guy and he certainly hasn’t been tested like this. Lance Thomas is hurt with that bum ankle, hell, I’m not sure Lance could bang with this cat if he was healthy and Zoub…awww hell, let’s just hope Zoub brought his 5 fouls, two put backs and a Snickers so that he can be really satisfied on the end of that bench. Homey will be ineffective tonight.
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(This right here, it’s all I need from Zoub….all I want)

Duke wants him to be big in spots like this, I don’t think he can be though. One thing is for sure, he’s auditioning for the “Who wants to contain Balco T aka Hansbrough” job tonight.
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(We know this cat doesn’t mind “containing” ole Balco T)
Let’s just sit back and see. Who knows, maybe the curly hair gangsta, Dave McClure will come in and give us a spark. He’s got heart and he’ll be back up to his old stomping grounds. Curl could be huge.

BENCH
Advantage Duke
Two words: No, it aint “Mos Def, K-West, hot shit”, those words are Jonathan Scheyer.

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Homey has been on fire of late. I’m just hoping Jon is peaking and tweaking on his new role as 6th man. I like it for him. Team’s can’t key on him and he’s just chopping that wood man. Jon could be a key contributor off the bench for Pitt. Add a juice seeking Taylor “I should be Duke’s” King into the mix on the big stage that is MSG and you’ve got something cooking for Pitt.
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I can’t wait to see these two cats check in at the scorer’s table. Great change of pace personnel, great contributions off the pine, Duke’s bench is the key to this game for me. And Jon, bring hell with you off the bench homey.. give em hell.

COACHING
Advantage: Duke
This may seem a bit self-indulgent, but honestly, I’ve got to give Coach K credit this year. Yes, he’s always been a great coach, but finally dude is matching style of play with personnel in a major way. He’s not playing favorites (as much), he’s not letting garbage match ups undo our team just for the sake of keeping with “Duke defensive principles”.. I mean, homey is mixing in some zone. He’s yanking cats who don’t match up well or who don’t have the hot win. I mean, dude is really getting in there and putting the team in the best position to win over all else. Or at least that’s what I see and I’ve been watching Duke hoop closely under K for a clean 15 years now. This is the first year where I feel like he’s really making changes for the better. I’m quite certain he always has, but I love how deep we go. I love how he’s using his talent and I love how he’s gone with the hot hand depending on the game. Jamie Dixon is a nice coach, but he’s no legend and he’s no genius. With that said, his style of play, rough and tough, hard-nose rebounding and defense, is the kind that historically has given Duke a hard time, especially with a liberal whistle.

INTANGIBLES
MSG is Cameron Indoor North…nuff said.

Duke wins by 5 with a free throw nail biter at the end.

Go Duke.

– Lake

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