Remember the last time that Carolina visited Cameron? I do. It was the day after my birthday last year; in fact, the second Duke-UNC game always falls near my birthday. It is purposely planned that way as Coach K’s annual gift to me. It has been that way since 2002, when The Incident occurred. The Incident, much like the one marked on the blast door map in Lost, is not important. What is important, however, is the lingering memories of last year’s beat-down. You know, when UNC stopped by, watched us play basketball, and then went home mortified and crying after a 32-point trashing. Do I think tonight will be like that? Unfortunately, no. But I do think that Duke will (and should) win.
It starts and ends with Coach K. He is arguably the greatest active coach across every sport, professional and collegiate. Please spare me, Patriots and Lakers’ fans. Phil Jackson and The Evil Genius are great and everything, but no match for the National Champion-World Champion-Olympic Champion coach that we worship as our own. Roy Williams, on the other hand, is an irrationally arrogant and whiny little bitch. He takes everything personally, constantly reminds us how hard his life is, and has been in a coaching slump for the past two years. I concede that UNC has played much better lately, but still. I think that Coach K will be the main reason Duke wins, because I have no doubt that our guys will be prepared tonight.
The biggest difference between K and Ol’ Roy is that Coach K is a master at making in-game and team-by-team adjustments. If something isn’t working, he figures out something else that will. If a line-up isn’t hustling or communicating or playing together, he substitutes the whole damn team. Coach K will never allow his guys to fail for lack of effort. Roy often seems content with sitting back, letting his team embarrass themselves/freak-out/self-destruct, failing to call a time-out, and then, after they lose, bitching about how awesome he is, lamenting about why his players don’t listen to his awesomeness, and then reminding us that he is an expert and no one in the world can possibly understand his frustration or pain. Including victims of natural disasters and his own fans. I really can’t stand Roy. For a detailed list of reasons, you should visit the “Roy Williams Foot in Mouth Repository” at Duke Hoop Blog. I think he is a dick. And the only thing worse than a dick is a dick who pretends to be a naïve southern gentleman.
If Carolina has an advantage anywhere, it is in the front court. And I think they will try to pound the ball inside as a result. At one point or another, most of the big men in tonight’s game have been called disappointing – Henson, Zeller, Mason and Miles Plumlee. While Mason Plumlee has been playing really well lately, Miles is still pretty much useless. That said, I guarantee that Miles will commit at least one foul where he comes flying out of nowhere to try to block a shot that he has no chance at blocking, which will then prompt you to scream expletives at your television while cursing Coach K for signing us up for the third brother. UNC’s skinny giants have been mostly solid lately and they should have an advantage on the boards. This is the thing that worries me the most about tonight.
The other thing I fear is that our shooting will be St. John’s icy cold. I witnessed the MSG debacle in person and I still get angry thinking about it. If we can knock down our open shots, I think that the backcourt will own UNC. Nolan Smith, Andre Dawkins, Seth Curry, and Tyler Thornton are much more effective than Harrison Barnes and company, even if Prince Harry is starting to show his true potential. The crowd is always deafening after threes in Cameron, so that is obviously a built-in advantage for our guards. Even without Kyrie Irving, Duke should dominate in transition and from behind the arc. [Sidenote: Harrison Barnes is by far the person I am most curious to watch tonight. UNC often combusts under pressure – and you can be damned sure that tonight will be intense. Harry is either going to step up his game or flail around the court forcing stupid shots].
There are three other X-Factors in this game that are decidedly pro-Duke:
1. Kyle Singler: We have one and they don’t. He is a jack-of-all-trades and all-position player who can create his own shots, score from the outside, and beat his opponent off the dribble. When he is on, he is unstoppable.
2. The Bench: We have a whole baseball-card collection of various parts, all of whom are capable of providing solid minutes. UNC? Not so much. They are really young and inexperienced, and I think that they will be rattled (due to X-Factor #3).
3. The Crazies: There is no better crowd, venue, or atmosphere in all of sports than the one in Cameron Indoor – especially during an ACC game, and ESPECIALLY during a Carolina game. The students will be at their best and most creative with the Heels in town. I can’t wait.
IT IS ON. GO TO HELL CAROLINA, GO TO HELL.
PS: I would just like to thank all of the commenters for making my day. And by “all,” I mean Carrie and Nicholas. But seriously, you guys rock.