It was one of those really bad sports weekends, about as bad as they get, that every now and then make you question if the highs of being a sports fan outweigh the lows. The answer is yes, but still... To wit:
(1) Duke apologists like these may come up with excuses, but when it comes down to it, right now Duke isn't the premier program in college basketball. UNC is. We have no more than two players on our roster with true NBA talent, and while unlike in '06 I really thought K did a good job coaching this team, the weaknesses speak more to recruiting miscalculations than anything. It used to be we could count on getting into the Sweet 16 on the basis of simply having more talent and athleticism than the opposition. But now, we're just like a number of other programs, more dependent on who's in our draw and whether our shots are falling to keep advancing. Sure, almost all programs would choose to be Duke in the blink of an eye, no questions asked, and would look at a 28-6 season as remarkable. But to me, when you start accepting having a great regular season followed by consistently not playing up to your seed in the tournament, you've accepted no longer being great. The fact is, since 2001, we've been eliminated by a lesser team in every year except 2003, and technically 2004, though we had that game salted away. And sure, we're spoiled by the success, no question about it, but I think high expectations are a good thing. We don't expect a national title every year, but it would be nice to take advantage of the high seeding every few years and perhaps at least get to the Elite Eight. Maybe I'm wrong, but Stewart Mandel of cnnsi wrote a column last month about how Duke peaks in early February every year and then declines through March, and frankly the statistics since 2001 bear that out. And while we should be tougher and more mature next year, given the continued lack of a big man, chances are, we'll be around a 2 seed again, but still needing a good bracket and our three-pointers to fall to advance past the second or third round. Am I still glad that I'm a Duke fan and not any other program in the country, absolutely, but it's a tad frustrating realizing your team is no longer the pre-eminent dominant program, and yet only took away one title during that period of dominance.
(2) After Duke game, I watch Stars lose their seventh in eight games, this time by taking a 2-1 lead into the last three minutes against the worst team in the NHL, only to surrender three goals in the next two minutes.
(3) To top it all off, I'm at American Airlines Center watching the Mavs try to salvage a disappointing homestand against the Spurs, and feeling like the weekend at least will end on a bright note as they take a 54-42 lead in the third. What follows is not only a 19-0 San Antonio run, but Nowitzki tumbles and pulls a Yao Ming, with the prospect of hearing today that he could be out two weeks, or he could be out for the season. And if it's the latter, there's a chance both participants from the '06 Finals will be out of the playoffs, and the Mavs will have gone from 67 wins to the lottery.
Of course, at the end of the day, I'll likely become a father this week, and it makes sports look silly in comparison. But since we're the dudes, and we like to talk sports, it was a weekend that makes you wonder.