A Single Shade of Blue

Duke and North Carolina meet again tonight, which is arguably the greatest rivalry in sports.

I became a Duke fan somewhere around the Fab Five of Michigan years and I’ve been a fan of the program ever since. Fitting that this year’s Duke team is led by four fabulous freshman, three of which are projected as top five picks in the NBA draft. We’ve never seen a talent like Zion Williamson.

There have been a lot of great Duke teams over the years, but this 2018-2019 version is becoming one of my favorites. They don’t shoot the three as well as previous teams, but defense is back in Durham. According to ESPN stats, they are 2nd in rebounds (to North Carolina), 1st in steals per turnover, 1st in steals per personal foul, and 1st in blocks. Last week I wrote about their epic 23 point comeback win, which was sparked by dominating defense. We haven’t seen any floor slaps yet this season, but tonight is the type of game where it could happen.

GO DUKE!

Duke Comeback

What an incredible comeback last night. Louisville was outplaying Duke in every aspect of the game when they went up by 23 points with less than 10 minutes to go.

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The effort by Duke was terrible. Here are some of the texts my brother and I were exchanging.

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Coach K switched to a zone and then added a full court press, which changed the game. Check out that 0.1% chance of winning!

This ranks up there with the Miracle Minute against Maryland as one of the best comebacks I’ve watched. Duke was also ranked #2 in that game.

Here Comes Duke

It’s been an up-and-down year for the Duke Blue Devils. With Coach K back on the bench, Grayson Allen finding his game again, and a win over rival North Carolina last night they’re starting to look like the team we expected to see this year. These rivalry games with UNC are always the best games of the year.

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Titus on College Basketball

I was bummed when ESPN shut down Grandland. Mostly for one reason. Mark Titus’s coverage of college basketball. Luckily he moved over to Ringer.

It’s no secret Mark isn’t a fan of Duke, my favorite team, but that doesn’t actually put him in a minority in America. The thing that sets him apart is he’s able to appreciate and respect the talent and the program, while poking at the team in a fun way. I really enjoy his writing.

There’s a high-profile white guy whom everyone in America hates. There are freshmen bound to be future lottery picks, and seniors who are labeled as unheralded despite being former McDonald’s All Americans. There have been a ton of injuries about which Duke refuses to disclose the details, as though the status of Harry Giles’s knees is akin to the goddamn nuclear codes or something. There are charges being taken, managers holding up towels to block television cameras from peeking into the team huddle, and Coach K’s repeated refusals to do halftime interviews as he single-handedly keeps the hair dye industry afloat.
This Duke Season Has It All

Five Fingers Form a Fist

Last night, Coach K broke Bob Knight’s Division I men’s basketball win record by notching number 903. I’m a Duke fan, so I might be a bit biased, but I believe Coach K is the greatest coach in the history of college basketball. I often remember the following quote from his book Five-Point Play: Duke’s Journey to the 2001 National Championship.

There are five fundamental points that can help make a team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring, and pride. I like to think of each as a separate finger on THE FIST. Any one individually is important. But all of them together are formidable.

If you strike someone with an open hand, it may sting. Combine all five fingers to make a fist and you can do some damage.