Saturday, January 21, 2006

Stomaching upsets

And then there were none:

St. John's 55, Pittsburgh 50.
Georgetown 87, Duke 84.
Tennessee 80, Florida 76.

I drafted a post entitled "The undefeated" stating my long-held belief that undefeated teams should always be ranked ahead of teams with losses, regardless of schedule strength. (It has to do with judging the teams from the perspective of those who play the games rather than those who schedule them.) Today's events made that post moot, at least for this season. (Over in women's hoops, the last three undefeated teams will be ranked 1-2-3.)

I'm not exactly crying tears over Duke losing, nor am I trying to rationalize the loss. Duke fans do the latter to an annoying extent. Look for comments like:

"It was never our goal to go undefeated. We have to think big picture."

"The good news is that we got that loss in a non-conference game."

"The stress of being the first ever 18-0 Duke team is over. Now we can focus."

"What's important is that this team learned from its mistakes."

The fact is that Duke lost, and losing tends to suck. Hey, it happens. I'm no great analyst of the game, but I have noticed in past Duke seasons that some mistakes get repeated, and that when an opponent comes up with a successful game plan, that same plan can be used successfully by future opponents. This concerns me.

This is a Duke team that, on paper, should have little difficulty winning a national title. (I realize that Connecticut* is also loaded with talent, but they lack the experienced leadership of the 1999 and 2004 champs.) Unlike last season's overachievers, this team has frontcourt size and depth (though underutilized), and an abundance of backcourt playmakers. Simply put, this team cannot overachieve. A few good teams can beat Duke, but they shouldn't.

I hereby issue my expectation that Duke will end their season with nothing short of an NCAA title. Great teams answer that call.

* Abbreviated UConn, not UCONN. What the hell is that? What do the O, N, and N stand for in this fantasy acronym? Put your hands up and step away from the caps lock.


bdure said...

Glad you're optimistic. My way of rationalizing the loss is a bit different. It's "Duke isn't that good."

Frankly, they've got some work to do before we can even think about them cutting down the nets. They're not going to win the national title with four players contributing. (Redick, Williams, Dockery, Paulus). Someone else will have to step up. I haven't been watching a lot, but there has to be a reason we're not seeing a lot of minutes or points out of McRoberts. K doesn't have much faith in Pocius, less in Boykin, less in Boateng. They need depth.

People remember Laettner in various tournament games. They tend to forget Marty Clark hitting five straight clutch free throws. The '92 team had Tony Lang and Brian Davis, both of whom spent a little bit of time as NBA role players, as the fifth and sixth guys.

The women have a better shot. And I'll be more upset if they don't do it.

In any case, a national title is all about playing well at the right time and getting a bit of luck.

DevilMacDawg said...

I have to say that this was one of the less sucky losses I can remember. I mean, we lost, which blows chunks, but it's bearable. Or maybe, now that I'm older and have other things to worry about. Who knows. But, for me, it was okay.

I think this team is good, fwiw.

UF losing, as posted before, is not surprise. I'd love to see them skid into a horrific spiral and win only a couple more for the rest of the year.

Bdure - did you graduate Duke in 1992, having lived in Brown House? Just wondering.

bdure said...

MacDawg -- You're way off. I graduated in 1991, having lived in Brown House.

(So obviously, you know me. And now that I've checked out your blog, I know we're both from Georgia. The brain-wracking on my part has begun.)

DevilMacDawg said...

Riiight..... Let's use Neel's blog to catch up then. Clues: I hail from SOUTH Georgia. I graduated in 1993, then left and went to Athens for MBA school. I had big hair. Duh. I dated the guy who had the room in Brown with a bathroom for his first year there, but then he moved to the other end of the dorm b/c he joined that frat. Drop me a line through my blog. :)

Neel Mehta said...

(I'm from Georgia.)

Glad to help a pair of alumni. Always wanted to be a connector.

They need depth.

No, last year they needed depth. This year they have depth going to waste. It's not like these freshmen are redshirted or anything. I know Coach K has a grand design to his coaching, but I wish I saw more flexibility. We have some very good seniors, but they can't do everything.

The women have a better shot. And I'll be more upset if they don't do it.

Usually I'd agree -- the women have been so good for so long without a title -- but this year is an exception. Sure, they're undefeated, but there's not a huge dropoff in talented teams after the top 3. I need to see them back in the Final Four before I re-raise my expectations.

Or maybe, now that I'm older and have other things to worry about.

This is how I feel. When Duke loses, I shrug more than I agonize. I'm much more dismayed that the season of college basketball is over, because it means I have to wait until November.

bdure said...

Wow, that was easy. OK, I'll check in at your blog -- I did scour it for clues, but found nothing as obvious as those.

Have to admit I sometimes tune out college hoops these days -- many other sports on my plate, and it keeps the peace with my wife (UNC alum) to be a little less obsessive than I was in college.

Asian Provocateur said...

Neil! I've already waxed on about the Dukies (dookies). Go Hoyas!

for more trash-talking, see here.

ps - duke sucks like fema

puertas metalicas exterior said...

It's all wrong what you're writing.