Tonight, we are (sort of) live for the Maui Invitational championship between Duke (#6, 6-0) and Kansas (#14, 3-1). For some reason, even though this game is between two historic programs for a somewhat reputable tournament title, I cannot take it as seriously when the coaches are wearing, like, t-shirts and leis. I mean, Bill Rafferty and Jay Bilas are wearing bright polos and their faces, which are sunburned, match. I am amused by the fact that with each Duke win, Coach K breaks the (his) all-time win record, even though I know that this isn’t haha funny. At least to non-Blue Devils. I may or may not be drinking (again). Since I was drank at MSG last night for Taylor Swift, it will not take me as long to feel the effects of this bottle of Riesling. My friends and I call this “The Shampoo Effect” (i.e. if you leave shampoo in your hair, it is easier to lather the next time. So if you still have booze in you, it is easier to get re-intoxicated). Yes, I know this is not like rocket science theory here. But at some hungover point in college, we found it hilarious. While warm-ups continue, let’s talk about more important issues.
So Taylor Swift was sort of amazing. I was genuinely impressed, by both her stage presence and her voice. I mean, I may love her for her catchy songs and witty lyrics, but I always thought she had terrible real-life vocals. I was wrong. She was pretty fucking awesome. If you want a live drunken play-by-play, go to @wedigfastballs on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/Wedigfastballs) and read Tuesday night from like 7:30 p.m. to midnight. I was probably one of only 12 people who could legally drink at MSG, but I still had a blast. Hopefully tonight will be just as much fun. The Plumlees have been on a tear, Austin Rivers is finding his groove, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry have been incredible, Andre Dawkins is becoming a go-to guy, and everyone else is just starting to get their feet wet. I am hoping for an exciting game tonight, but let’s be serious, the Maui Invitational is our bitch. We are 14-0 and have won four titles since its inception. I worry about Thomas Robinson, the junior who is averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds per game, and Tyshawn Thomas for Kansas. But I think we have Maui Title Number Five in the bag. And Superstitious Me thinks that was a ridiculously stupid thing to write/taunt the karma basketball gods with. Let’s do this.
Wait, wait, wait. I just realized! As you read this, it is probably Thanksgiving morning, so I just want to say that I hope you all have a very Happy Turkey Day and thank you so much for reading CDTF. Besides my faithful CDTF readers, all 16 of you, I am thankful that Miles Plumlee spiked his hair and became hot this season; that, regardless of who Duke loses to the NBA draft, we always seem to have a pipeline of freshmen ready to step up; and that we (obviously) have the greatest coach in the world. I am also thankful that my Thanksgiving is going to be rather awesome: I am going to Red Lobster, to see the Muppet Movie, and to watch football/play in a beer pong tournament. Seriously. So while most of my friends will be dealing with dramatic family issues and visiting bars they have not been caught dead in since high school, I will be draining cups and eating cheddar biscuits. I am not thankful that I will probably gain 24 pounds by the time all is said and done. Let’s do this for real.
19:56: Duke wins the tip, but Kelly misses a shot from the corner to kick things off. We are 18 seconds into the game and we already have a Kansas injury timeout. Robinson is on the floor; replay shows that he, I don’t even know how to explain this because it’s so lame, stumbled over Ryan Kelly on the follow-through. It looks like he lost his balance and just…fell. Like maybe he is faking this non-foul. And, two minutes later, he looks absolutely fine on the bench. WTF. Rock Chalk, Faux Injury Hawks. Austin River buries a three-pointer from about four feet behind the arc! He kept stutter stepping, daring the defender to come closer, and then just stepped back and BOOM! Kansas comes right back with a quick two by Taylor. Hmm. Jeff Withey, the giant shaggy-looking white guy on Kansas who was just fouled, reminds me of somone. Like a cross between Adam Morrison, Nick Horvath, and Shaggy from Scooby Doo. That is not a compliment. Duke is called for a bullshit 5-second foul on the baseline, which in my biased opinion, seemed like 2.3 seconds. Kansas gets the ball back and Shaggy hits a hook shot. I am calling shenanigans! Shenanigans all around! Robinson’s flop, the fouls, the five-second call, the hook shot. Fucking shenanigans!! 8-3, KU.
16:49: Ugh, Kansas is dominating the ball right now. Not that they have gone on a tear, we just have nothing going. After two quick fouls on Johnson, maybe that will change. The new shaggy looking white guy who just came in for Johnson, Teahan, is almost immediately called for another foul. Huh, weird. I am not sure whether to applaud the refs for calling ridiculous fouls equally or to deride them for being whistle-happy. I am going with the latter. Dawkins misses, we get the ball back, and Seth Curry nails a much-needed three-pointer from the top of the key. Mason Plumlee has proven that he can really dribble the ball. Just as I write that he turns it over. %$#&@. TV timeout. 8-6, KU.
15:33: Seth Curry is keeping us in the game right now, because no one else can make a basket. They are taking horrible shots. I detest when we pass to the Plumlees when they are positioned about 32-feet from the bucket. What do we expect them to do from there? I mean, really. That is like asking Miles to just give the ball to Kansas. Over seven minutes in, we still have nothing going. After a rebound, Mason takes it all the way up the court, dekes out two defenders, and gets the lay-up. Coast-to-coast for the big guy, I am impressed. And, of course, Kansas scores immediately. Sigh. Tyler Thornton is now in for Duke. The Jay Hawks throw it away, taking us to the timeout. 14-11, KU.
11:51: ESPN is showing us the Curry family. Count me as one of those people who thought it was super lame that Stephen Curry wore his own jersey to the game the other night. Lame. We finally get our first lead of the night on an Austin Rivers drive to the hoop. And then Ryan Kelly is called for a ridiculous foul. He was merely playing amazing straight-up defense and Robinson bumped into him – not the other way around. Mason impressively takes the ball from the three-point line to the basket in like three steps, but Kelly is called for interference as he touched it while it was still in the cylinder. Kelly, with his back to the basket, calls BANK and nails a really tough jumper. After a foul and a free throw, its all tied up. 17-17.
9:17: The White Raven flies freely in Maui! He hits another bucket. But then Robinson hits an equally sweet jumper from the baseline. Kelly hits ANOTHER three, falling afterwards. It looked like a bit of bad acting and nothing is called. After a Kansas miss, Kelly is fouled. We are in the bonus, bitches. I love his Zoubek-like scruffy beard thing that he has going on there. I would never make-out with such a face (chafing is painful), but it is working for me. Kansas comes roaring back, five points in a row to tie it up again. But Miles Plumlee has a monster slam on the other end. MONSTER. 26-24, Duke.
6:37: After a foul and some free throws, this game is tied up…again. The “defense” cheers rain down and I realize that this is a very pro-Kansas crowd. Hawaii is lucky we allow its island nation to be part of the Union. Its misguided fans are clearly lost, far away from reality. Kelly is posterized by Robinson, I mean, damn. Dawkins misses a three in the corner, before Shaggy is fouled on the other end. He hits both. I will say, Shaggy’s sweaty hair flip is sort of sexy on the free throw line. Mason spins to no where, bricking a lay-up. I do not remember when we last scored. And it isn’t the wine. Never a good thing. Kelly misses a three, Curry rebounds, and finally, Rivers drains a big three and obnoxiously keeps his hand up in the follow-through, JJ-Redick style. I am sure all of the haterz out there loved that. God knows I did. 31-29, KU.
3:32: KU hits two free throws and then Austin Rivers turns over the ball. At this point, watching him is equal parts magic and frustration. He misses another shot. We cannot score. Again, Rivers is trying to do everything by himself. I am sure Coach K is encouraging him to keep shooting, keep playing his game, it will come – and it will. But he is a point guard, he needs to pass more. Kansas pushes the lead to six and we keep missing. Curry travels and I am about to scream. Instead, I pour myself another glass of wine. Kansas travels and maybe we can find our mojo. Duke timeout. 35-29, KU.
1:18: According to Jay Bilas, Robinson is “low, slow, and under control,” whatever that means. But I liked it. Duke ball. Mason has a pretty move under the basket, spinning to take it to the rim over Shaggy. Kansas calls timeout and Bill Self looks like he is about to wet himself in rage; he wanted the timeout ages ago, but the refs didn’t see it. Robinson flies in, but misses and Duke should have the final possession here (less than 2 second differential in shot clock). And…they miss. Last second heave….misses, too. Sigh, frustrating first half. 35-31, KU.
I am looking for a patented second-half (PSHR) run here. I never worry about Duke until the last four minutes of any game. Until then, I wait, always impatiently, for the PSHR. It will come, it is just a matter of time. This is what being an elitist Cameron Crazie is all about, is it not? We expect to ultimately succeed, because we just assume we will prove better than you, in the end. We are occasionally wrong, of course. But it is rare. And I am still thinking that tonight will not be one of those rare occasions. I wonder what kind of cool swag the players got from the tournament this year. In college, Nick Horvath and Andy Means would come home with like, a bag full of goodies after such events – from personal DVD players to tournament leather jackets. My roommate used to get her pick of awesome crap. I am also wondering if the color on my TV is off or are the announcers faces really that sunburned/red? This is a mystery that must be solved. Nope, everyone else looks pretty fucking normal. Too much sun, way too much sun.
19:43: Shaggy, off the lob, hits a quick two to push the lead to six. Dawkins drains a three and looks like he was hit on the arm. Yup, he is banging his elbow at the ref, but nothing is called. We needed that. Ugh, Curry fouls on the other end. Taylor hits a bucket. Seth misses a jumper. And Taylor hits ANOTHER bucket. WTF?! Kelly drains a three, thank haysus, because this cannot get out of hand and I was feeling rather uneasy. We turn the ball over for a two-on-one Kansas break. I am shaking my head. Miles hits a hook shot and a foul! Until the old-fashioned three, I was about to scream expletives loudly. And he steals the ball, too!! Sigh. Only to lose his dribble. I am sorry for complimenting him on his dribbling skills earlier. But then Kansas turns it over. Super sloppy, boys, all around. Kelly dips his shoulder and drives, but misses anyway. Robinson hits the side of the backboard. WTF is going on?! Everyone sucks. Austin Rivers misses, and then Seth Curry is fouled on the three. Lame start to the second half. 43-40, KU.
15:57: Seth hits all three to tie this bitch up. Now the Crazies are coming out, their cheers equally the JayHawks. Kansas immediately takes the lead back. Curry flies to the basket, but is pushed and misses. Duke ball under the rim. Kelly gets away with a walk but we miss. Sigh. We are always missing. Great block by the White Raven! Rivers drives for a bucket and the foul! Here we go, PSHR coming! He misses the free throw, and we are tied. 45-45.
14:04: YOU CANT DUNK! (On repeat, chanted in mocking voice). Robinson misses shamefully, but then Curry is called for the foul. Kansas up by one. Kelly is blocked but follows and puts it in. Johnson bricks a layup, and Plumlee drains another hook! So old-fashioned and hot!! Duke is up at the timeout! 49-46, Duke.
12:38: A bunch of misses by Kansas, before Mason Plumlee is called for a foul. Coach K is sweating profusely, his face just a puddle of frustration and sideline screaming and Hawaii. Shaggy is on the line for Kansas. He nails both to earn a Scooby Snack. Oh, they just showed Bill Self, who is sweating just as profusely as Coach K. For a minute there, I was wondering if maybe Coach K is getting a bit old for Hawaii tournaments. Nope, apparently it feels hot as hell for everyone involved. Everyone is missing again. 49-48, Duke.
11:37: Almost a backcourt violation by Duke, then a bricked Rivers three, followed by another bricked three by Kelly. It would be nice if we hit some of these second-chance opportunities. Thornton steals! Rivers drives, it looked like it was going no where, but he is fouled. No… Wait! They called an offensive foul!!! Coach K is flipping the fuck out on the sidelines! Like screaming and stomping and flailing about. He is coming dangerously close to being T-ed up. On replay, it looks like a block, not a charge. And then Robinson hits a jumper from the free-throw line. Back and forth, back and forth. Shaggy pushed Plumlee for a stupid foul with 10:01 left. Ugh, airball by Dawkins…And then Thornton is fouled on the rebound! Oh, weird clock issue. It is back at 19:39. And it is taking them an eternity to fix it. Thornton hits one to tie it up. 50-50.
9:30: Elijah Johnson hits a floater and the game continues to seesaw. Duke turnover. Kansas miss. This is not a pretty game to watch, folks. Thornton misses a three and is then called for a bullshit foul. These refs are not my friends. Shaggy misses. God, everyone keeps fucking missing. White Raven hits a three!! Yes, let’s go. Kansas is called for an offensive foul, as Taylor flails crazily into the White Raven for a charge. PSHR? Please? TV Timeout, but we are winning. 53-52, Duke.
7:34: Yup, we are back to trading missed buckets and bad shots. Rivers is called for his fourth foul, sending us into the bonus. He still looks like he is pressing much too hard. Like he was built-up as a surefire superstar, which he will eventually be, but he expects it to just happen. He looks sloppy and out-of-control at times. On the other hand, it is clear that he is naturally outstanding. He has a gorgeous jumper, he is lightning fast off the dribble, and he can pass brilliantly. But he is trying too hard. After free throws, it is 55-53, Duke.
5:40: After the timeout, Robinson hits a pretty bucket and I am starting to get nervous. A Duke miss, but then Robinson misses another dunk – he was about an inch too short. Mason hits two FTs as we head under five minutes. A big block by Mason Plumlee! But Dawkins misses a three, sigh. He is 1-4 tonight. It has not looked pretty. Another big block by Mason Plumlee! He is a beast!! But then he is called for an offensive foul, trying to back under our basket. Sigh. Coach K is calling for a flop, but we head to the final TV timeout. 57-56, Duke.
3:37: For the record, I am not just bitching, we are only one for our last 10 shots. Everyone is missing! Kansas retakes the lead, as the clock just clicks under three minutes. My heart is racing. Dawkins drains a HUGE three-pointer!!!! Whew! And now a big offensive foul on Tyshawn Taylor – his, get this, TENTH turnover of the night. Okay, this is it. We need to close out the game. Um, there has been one basket made in the last five minutes of play. One! Granted, a huge three pointer. But one.fucking.basket. Duke calls timeout. 60-58, Duke.
2:15: Interestingly, Rivers, with his four fouls, is still on the bench. Thornton misses as the shot clock expires. Less than two minutes left and now Kansas calls a timeout. Whoever wins this game, it will be a hard-fought sloppily earned title. But it better be ours. After the timeout, Johnson drains a ginormous three! Simply huge. I feel like I am going to wet myself. Oh no. But Thornton comes back and does it, too!!! HOLY CRAP! This is getting crazy!!!! One minute left and it is 63-61, Duke.
1:02: Kansas ball. Taylor turns it over again!!! It is so loud. The “let’s go Duke” cheers are thundering. 30 seconds left. WOW!!!!!! As the shot clock expires, Thornton heaves up, heave is the only verb, a desperate three from the corner – his legs wide in the air – and it somehow goes in!!!!! Everyone is going nuts! And by everyone, I mean the Duke section of fans! I just jumped up and fist-pumped. I am not even ashamed to type that at this point. Coach K calls a timeout to reign in the troops. Kansas wanted a walk on Seth Curry, they are probably right, but whatever. 66-61, Duke.
20 seconds: Welcome to the big time, TThornton!!! It is sort of crazy to think that Coach K weirdly left Austin Rivers on the bench for Tyler, only to have Tyler have the biggest moments of his young Duke career. This is why Coach K is a wizard like Dumbledore. Airball from Johnson on the other end and I can feel it. This one is over. We own Maui, bitches. It may have looked dicey for awhile there, but we had the 8-1 PSHR to ice this one out. Duke does it again, Coach K gets #907, and I am out. Happy Thanksgiving, guys! Final Score: 68-61, Duke.
P.S: After the Maui championship, what more do you need than a TSwift-themed montage from Tuesday Night when she rocked MSG? Consider this dessert on your very happy Thanksgiving Day.