Saturday, March 24, 2007

Journey Stunned


Against a team they had beaten by 40 earlier in the year, the Journey wilted late against Rutgers, who seemingly made every single shot down the stretch. Still, Lindsey Harding made a steal with 5 seconds left, and had 2 FTs with 0.1 seconds left on the clock and her team down by a point. Harding missed both off the back iron - a heartbreaking end to a breathtaking career.

Thanks to Alison and Lindsey for four terrific years as stewards of the Journey; and let's hope this isn't G's swan song at Duke.

27 comments:

The Franchise said...

That was tough to watch. Once Harding made the steal I just knew she would make at least one of the free throws... and then she didn't. I have to echo the sentiment about Coach G: this can't be the way she goes out at Duke!

Head Dude said...

Now that was some lyrical writing by the Dude we once knew -- in other words, very gay. But a crummy loss nonetheless. You have to wonder when this team is going to ever get it done.

The Franchise said...

It's weird that during the Tourney the team was never firing on all cylinders. Last game Bales was quiet and others had to pick up the slack. Today Bales had a huge game - though the announcers were questioning her decision to shoot a 17 to 19-footer on Duke's second to last possession, she had actually been hitting that shot all game - and Harding couldn't get it going.

The Dude said...

Mike Patrick was way off the mark with his analysis there. Getting Bales a wide open 17 foot jumper is the best shot Duke could get against Rutgers other than a layup. It's a shame that Lindsey's career has to end this way though. But if Joe Alleva lets G walk away from Duke in the offseason, he may just earn a permanent place in the DudeSpin Hall of SHAME!

ThadisRad said...

What I'm about to say is not meant as an attack on Harding, but rather the Dude...

"A heartbreaking end to a breathtaking career?" I am tired of the dude's double standard when it comes to this team. Did you say that about JJ after last year's LSU game? Certainly not... You undoubtedly cursed his performance as you watched another early exit. Where's the Can of Smack we fell in love with? Now it's certainly a shame that her career ended that way, but all game that was some unclutch basketball (on most everyone's part).

I'm with head dude... this program has done some amazing things since we began watching, but they have blown some opportunities in recent history. And if G were to leave, I hope things don't head downhill from here.

Either way, now we can focus on the pride of Duke: the women's golf team.

The Franchise said...

I realize this is with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, but...

This team was better than people thought they were going into the season, but not as good as their record indicated come Tourney time. ESPN.com raised that very point before the Big Dance started, wondering if Harding was as good a clutch time option as some of the last few Duke teams had. That thought seemed prophetic today.

You only get so many opportunities to win a championship. Besides the obvious one that I covered personally, this loss disappointed me the most because it seemed like the stars were aligned correctly for them to break through.

Head Dude said...

Undude is right, there's nothing breathtaking about missing two free throws to blow a game. It's not heartbreaking -- it's called choking under pressure. Jason Williams won Duke a title, and was one of Duke's, if not all of college basketball's, all-time great guards. And yet, in terms of his college career, people talk about the one free throw against Indiana as much as the title, and that free throw only was made possible by an incredible three-pointer.

And Franchise is right, getting to play 7 games in a row, ACCs through Regionals, in your own backyard is as good as it gets. The #1 team should waltz through, not have two of their three stars put up miserable efforts against an inferior team.

You have to ask, given the relative lack of parity in the women's game vs. the men's game, who has underachieved more since '99: the men by winning only one title, or the women by winning none?

The Dude said...

Obviously, missing 2 free throws with your team down by a point and 0.1 seconds left on the clock probably defines choking. It is still heartbreaking, in the sense that it broke my heart to see her career end like that and, fairly or not, be remembered for it the rest of her career.

Secondly, with respect to the Undude's accusation of applying a double standard, I plead guilty as charged. I'm more vested in the women's team than the men's team. Also, many of the men's players, especially stars like J.J. Redick and Jason Williams, will (or at least have the opportunity to) make millions in the NBA after their Duke careers; but for the women, their professional options are either playing for 1/3 of Head Dude's salary in the fledging WNBA or elsewhere, or go the normal student route ala George Schweitzer. Thus, the NCAA Tournament is the pinnacle of the women's basketball player's career under these circumstances. To see Lindsey fail in a situation so grand (relatively) revealed her as a vulnerable 21 year old girl, rather than the superwoman she's been all season. The poignancy of the moment requires no further articulation. In other words, moments like this mean so much more to a female athlete's playing career than a male athlete's.

So in sum, do I apply a double standard? Absolutely. Am I going to apologize for it? Absolutely not.

To answer Joel's question, this year's women's team probably underachieved as much as last year's men's team. But with the benefit of hindsight, we probably recognize that both teams were flawed teams.

In all fairness to the women's team; since the 1999 appearance in the Final Four, the women's team has been to 3 Final Fours and 2 National Championship games; and the men's team been to 3 Final Fours, 2 National Championship games, and 1 National Championship. The women's tally would be the same as the men if it weren't for a Christie Tolliver prayer last year. Who's underachieved more? That might be an unanswerable rhetorical question. But it does demonstrate the preciousness of the opportunities to attain the ultimate triumph.

Head Dude said...

Vulnerable 21-year old girl? She's about to be a top pick in the not-so-fledgling WNBA and probably quadruple the Dude's salary, which is saying something!

But there is one thing that one might call heartbreaking -- she's about ready to earn her first Unathlete of the Week award!

The Dude said...

Head Dude, time for a fact check. You can access the WNBA salary scale here. Lindsey is slated to make a little less than $50k next year, plus whatever supplemental income she chooses to pursue by playing abroad. When I said that she is going to make 1/3 of your salary by playing in the WNBA, I was not joking.

ThadisRad said...

Now that I am older than these players, I do see them as young kids, and am reluctant to slam them for missing free throws. But mere minutes after a player of the year puts up as many turnovers as she does points, well, I'm also not leaping to DudeSpin to write poetry in her honor.

Certainly you bring up a good point about not caring as much personally about cocky jerk's like JJ who will go on to make millions. But for anyone playing at Duke, their mistakes are magnified and cheered by the masses, so I feel like your double standard is still a little unfair. Plus, for all we know, Harding's suspension might have been for violating the team's "don't murder special-needs children" rule, and then she's really not worthy of your praise.

So in conclusion, while I do not want to crush a young girl's spirits for missing two free throws (afterall, I miss a lot less-important free throws all the time), I also do not want to write poem's in her honor... unless it's a haiku:

The Dude still loves you
Eventhough you blew the game
You lost to Rutgers?

ThadisRad said...

One other thing: "The women's tally would be the same as the men if it weren't for a Christie Tolliver prayer last year."

Dude, instead of pointing to the prayer, you could also point to the double-digit lead blown by the Journey in the second half. But that would hold them accountable, and we don't do that here. I think you're sexist.

I propose that DudeSpin take the Bill O'Reilly route and we become a "No Spin Zone"

The Franchise said...

I have to say that Undude's haiku made me laugh out loud and almost spit out my Mountain Dew!

Head Dude said...

I'm with Undude again -- after all, one could say if it weren't for him cheering for UConn from press row in '99, the men would have two titles.

In the No Spin Zone, one also recognizes that Harding has life pretty good -- she's about to graduate from Duke, got to play for a basketball championship, and is about to make a living playing said sport for about 5-6 months a year. And she doesn't even have to represent Exxon. Who among us wouldn't choose that option?

Head Dude said...

And I apologize but I took the pictures back out. That was just gay, and not in a Careem sort of way.

The Franchise said...

Even though I appreciate the irony in its use, I think we are about to be banned from our own party for co-opting Bill-O's No Spin Zone phrase!

The Dude said...

So Head Dude is not going to even acknowledge his mistake of overstating Harding and Bales' income by an extra 0??? That's the type of revisionist history of which even the Republicans would be proud.

That makes a huge difference in my treatment of women's and men's players. When Williams missed his free throw, my thoughts were, "boy that sucks, but he'll get over it while awash in his millions." When Harding missed her free throws, my thoughts were, "She just failed miserably in the biggest moment of her career; that's just awful for her." While there's a recognition of choking in both instances, I have a lot of compassion for the Journeyers, while I have none for the Visionaries.

Also, DudeSpin precisely suggests that we write about our own spins on the news. If people wanted completely objective news, they could go read the NY Times. I'm putting my own spin on the news, without mistating facts, and I make no apologies for it.

The Franchise said...

Also this argument is pointless because there is ZERO chance Dude and Head Dude are going to agree!

Dude cares more about the Journey, Head Dude cares more about the Vision. We know this. Let's move on!

FWIW, I was pretty disappointed in Head Dude's "$50K a year playing basektball is a good life" justification because money dies matter, like it or not, and $50K vs. $X million = no contest. But then I read more of Harding's post game interview where she said one of the lone positives is that she and Bales will be able to keep playing basketball. That was a real "love of the game" answer, so now I don't know what to think.

ThadisRad said...

I am certain Chris Webber would give up all of his millions to have that timeout back!

He, like the rest of the dudes, knows that there are more important things than money.

Head Dude said...

I'm not trying to say that Harding should be thrilled at the prospect of spending her 20s making a certain amount of money, I'm saying she sounds grateful to be spending her 20s playing a sport she loves, and also will have a solidly middle-class income. Who among us wouldn't have spent our 20s playing baseball/basketball/mini golf as a professional, while making enough money to live on?

The Dude said...

But that's just it Head Dude - a middle class income while toiling in relative obscurity. Harding will probably never have the opportunity to change her legacy so that she's remembered for something other than choking 2 missed freebies.

By comparison, and you raised this as an example earlier, Jason Williams missed the free throw and Carlos Boozer missed the putback in the Sweet 16 against Indiana. But both of them have had a chance to create a different legacy in the NBA, and they have done so successfully, in the sense that they're both remembered for something else entirely now. Jason Williams - motorcycle daredevil; Carlos Boozer - stabbing a blind man in the back.

Lindsey won't have that chance to atone for failing in the biggest moment of her life; granted, it's just basketball; granted, she still has a decent life ahead; but she's just been burdened with an emotional albatross for life, that's worth some compassion, isn't it?

Similarly, if, say, the Vision lost last year because Lee Melchionni missed 2 FTs with 0.1 seconds left on the clock, that would have warranted the same type of reaction from me.

Head Dude said...

Frankly dude, I would've been happy being Lee Melchionni in terms of being a bit player on the men's basketball team before fading into obscurity. Even if I missed two free throws with 0.1 left, I'd still be happy to have been in Lee Melchionni's role.
Lindsey Harding has life pretty good, regardless of comparisons to you, me, or Scott Hudek, and while I'm sure it's painfully disappointing, last time I checked she still has a bright future where she'll get to play with a basketball in front of 8000-10000 fans/night. I mean, the undude failed in one of the biggest moments of his life when he went into the end of our senior season locked in a virtual tie with me in bowling, only to collapse in the last 5 frames as I buried strike after strike, but I think undude probably has recovered and feels like he has a good life.

The Dude said...

I know Head Dude is supposedly Head Dude because he was our editor. But frankly, his recent tendecy to blatantly make up statistics and numbers is just embarassing. That WNBA attendance has been dwindling through the years is no secret. While at one point the average attendance was near 11,000 in 1998, it has steadily decreased since then, and dipped to an all-time low of 7,500 last season. There are no signs that the WNBA attendance will rebound.

But I suppose when one starts making parallels between the NCAA Tournament and Dude bowling, it's a frank admission of defeat...

Head Dude said...

No dude, it's just a stupid debate we're having, and as Franchise said a few days ago, we're not going to agree anyway, so better for the fans if we make light of the situation since as to Lindsay Harding, sorry to say it, but who cares!

The Dude said...

Dude, I'll agree to drop this discussion if you agree to stop making up facts. Franchise didn't make his statement about us not being able to agree "a few days ago." He said it yesterday, or less than 24 hours before you made your post.

The Franchise said...

Dudes, can we end this bickering and all head over to The DraftGeek.com so we can discuss something we can all agree on: how the Texans will do something dumb with their first round pick?

Shameless plugging is cool!

Head Dude said...

You're picking at table scraps, dude.