Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sights and Sounds of Wally Wade

Highlights from Pre-game
- Driving down Towerview toward the parking lot, I notice an open space on the street. Free parking on Game Day? A good start to the Cutcliffe era!
- While walking the BC walkway, I noticed a parachuter flying through the air. This morning I learned that at six, two parachuters landed in Wally Wade with the game ball. The problem? They were supposed to land in UNC’s Keenan Stadium and missed their target by eight miles. Oops.
- The campus was incredibly festive. Inflatable games and a DJ blasting hits like “Celebration” and Ton Loc’s “Wild Thing” lined the main quads. The athletics area around K-Ville was packed with various parties, and the gate area was jammed full. Hopefully this is a tradition that can continue.

- The students came out in force. The student section was packed and I can think of no other time when it was as crowded as last night. Usually the first game is a freshman only thing, they learn that no one comes to these games, and then the student section remains bare for the rest of the year. But with so many students seeing a convincing win, I expect big things next week.

- Bad weather delayed kickoff for an hour and a half. We were told it was for the pre-game festivities, which turned out to by pyrotechnics as the team took the field. I like to think we didn’t wait 90 minutes just for that, but I could be wrong. Anyway, the stadium DJ was on his game, delighting us with old-school rap, Europe, and a stadium sing-along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”
- At one point toward the end of the delay, Coach Cut came out to massive cheers. He went straight toward the students, gave the crowd a few fist pumps, and fired everyone up.
- An announcement was made that a little boy named Dallas was missing his parents, and please find him in section 12. Twenty minutes passed and they had to make the same announcement again. Worst parents ever. We were half expecting them to announce in the 3rd quarter that they needed someone to adopt little Dallas.
- Duke also debuted a new leaner, meaner Blue Devil mascot. For a picture, click here. His signature move is throwing his pitchfork into the ground at center field while looking intimidating. This new Blue Devil truly doesn’t take crap from anyone. If you want your baby photographed with him, watch out, he looks like he eats babies. At one point while he was performing, the JMU band started up, and he marched right over there to stare them down. I half expected him to knock down the ladder holding the band’s conductor. Trust me, you don’t want to mess with this guy.

Game Highlights
- And speaking of guys you don’t want to mess with, last night saw the debut of “Crazy, Sweaty Guy.” CSG was a shirtless student standing in the student section whose antics simply cannot be described by mere words. Like Homer before me, I invoke the help of the Muses to help tell his story. CSG was shirtless, greased up, and very animated. He yelled, he jumped, he pushed down neighboring fans to get them fired up. He ended up on the stadium scoreboard a few times, which only encouraged him more. By the fourth quarter, while the student section remained packed, there was a huge circle of empty seats surrounding him, because no one dared stand too close. One student wanted his picture with him, and CSG proceeded to put him in a headlock and wrestle him. The fans started chanting “Crazy Sweaty Guy” to the tune of “Crazy Towel Guy,” and as Big Daddy pointed out, we could have used some of the towels to wipe this guy down. With seven minutes to go, CSG left the game, and another student attempted to mock him. He took off his shirt, poured water on himself, and started to nonsensically scream and shout and push and jump. But just how crazy was CSG? The kid who was mocking him looked back about every ten seconds, clearly fearing that the original Crazy Sweaty Guy would come back there and kick his ass. I don’t think anyone blamed him for his fear.

- And speaking of potential steroid users, someone should test punter Kevin Jones. The sophomore was a beast, averaging 53.5 yards per punt (including a 67 yarder), and an average new of 46.8. The 67-yarder was a touchback, and his other three punts led to a combined seven return yards. Last year Jones averaged 37.2 yards per punt. Simply awesome.
- The Dude was most missed during halftime. Duke had a ceremony honoring its Olympic athletes (though only Coach K, Wojo, and Collins showed up) and the crowd began a stirring U-S-A chant.
- You’ve probably read that the key was the third quarter, when Duke forced consecutive turnovers (including a HUGE interception by Jabari Marshall) and converted them into two touchdowns. That was the difference. The Duke of old probably would have turned those turnovers into two field goal tries, one of which would surely be missed.
- For the first time in my Duke career, fans flocked toward the exits early not because Duke was down, but because Duke was up so convincingly. Never thought I would see that.
- Coach Cut meant it when he said he would go for it on fourth downs. We were 3-for-3on 4th down conversions. Very late in the 2nd quarter, in a pretty makable field goal situation, Cut went for it, got the first down, which ultimately set up Riley’s beautiful diving touchdown grab to give us the 14-7 lead at the half.
- Duke’s D has always had troubles with large, running QBs and the option, and at times that was a problem tonight (something to worry about when Navy comes to town). But they came up with some huge turnovers, and were fantastic on third down. The Dukes were 0-for-8 on third down conversions.
- Thad missed a few open guys high, had some of his passes dropped, but for the most part looked sharp. He made only one bad decision (a pass that should have been picked off) and moved the ball well. The play calling did a nice job of mixing run and pass, and we were very successful at running many short passing routes. And while I don't know if JMU is the best test, our running game was much stronger than I would have thought, though we did have a couple of turnovers.
- But some people are hard to please. Down the row from us sat a very intense Duke fan, who simply wasn’t satisfied with a three TD lead. On a 2nd-and-10, Thad ran a draw for five yards and this guy nearly had an aneurysm he was so upset with the play call. I’m not sure if he has ever seen Duke play before, but if you’re not happy when up by three touchdowns, well, you’re going to have a very tough time being a fan of Duke football.
- Toward the end of the game, security lined the student section, and crewmembers were prepared to bring the posts down before students could charge. I didn’t see this, but while driving home I heard Cut on the radio say that he told the students to save the goal posts for something bigger. That is an attitude I can get on board with.

- The Riley for Heisman campaign begins. And I saw my first home win since 2005. As I said before, Bravo!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Palin

Looks like McCain is going all-in on the disgruntled Hill-cats. A bold move - but probably not the smartest one. Pawlenty was the safe choice, but this is a roll of the dice for sure.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Candidate LiveBlog

Yes We Can!

Just How Important is Saturday?

Nine years ago, I entered the 1999 season with high expectations. Duke was coming off of a four-win season, brought back many starters, and had new coach Carl Franks, who promised an explosive Airborne attack carefully mastered under Steve Spurrier. I openly fantasized about a 6-5 season and a bowl game in Hawaii. Nothing could bring me down.

The Dude and I drove down I-40 on Opening Day to witness Airborne take off against ECU. It was a crash landing. The Pirates' first-down cannon still rings in my ears, Spencer Romine became Ramen Noodles, and Duke's offense went from Airborne to Stillborne to Airdead. The rest of the Franks era was a disaster, followed by the unspectacular Roof years.

Now Duke Football seems to be upon another threshold. Coach Cut continues to emphasize how his team finishes. He wants stronger fourth quarters and tells stories about the importance of strong finishes. But a look at the schedule makes it clear that if wins are going to happen, they are likely to happen during this season's opening stretch of home games. Cut has built up a lot of good will and enthusiasm, and Saturday night I am expecting to see Wally Wade as crowded as I've ever seen it (excluding when NC State fans pack the place). But how much of that is dependent on a win against James Madison?

Of course I predict victory, but does the health of this program depend on the next month? Dudes, please discuss.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Almost Time

DudeSpin, I apologize. But you are right, we need more Airborne coverage.

In my defense, a month ago I tried to set up a kickoff countdown clock, but my technical know-how failed me. I’ve been grappling with insecurities since. But while my game preview has been lacking, I assure you I will be at the game Saturday, and typing up my report at midnight while sipping champagne.

And I won’t be alone. Duke has reported that season ticket sales are up 2500 this year. The tickets arrived last week, and Game 1 is a special extra-large commemorative ticket, sure to become a framed collectible! Big Daddy, if you want to come, I have an extra, but I will have to charge you $500 based on future value.

We’ll be seeing a new uniform and a new attitude. Players have been commenting that they are getting a lot more attention on campus. Lewis said the enthusiasm from his classmates can only compare to the attention after the Northwestern win that ended the most recent version of The Streak.

"Even when you walk around the community you have people telling you that they're coming to the game: 'We're coming to see ya'll play, we're coming to support y’all,” Thad said. “As far as the other years, other people didn't quite say things to you."

He also said that it is easy to be forgotten with basketball and lacrosse. Lacrosse? C’mon!

I’m still very concerned about the loss of Re’quan Boyette. I have been playing the new EA Sports college football game, and they label Boyette as an impact player. In fact, the first time my offense takes the field each game, the ESPN crew wonders if there is any way for the defense to stop this guy. And Sunday night against Marshall, he ran for 133 yards and a score. Losing that will not be easy.

But perhaps so many years have left me too pessimistic. Eron Riley promises a more explosive offense…

“I believe we are going to be much more aggressive and a lot different than you've seen in the past. The offense is all about getting people in a position to positively impact the game - and I think it's a lot more aggressive than we've been in the last few years.”

Duke football without the 3rd-and-long draw? Surely not!

Both Riley and Cutcliffe have pointed out the play of rookie receiver Johnny Williams. Williams was Cut’s first commitment, and when Riley got hurt in practice, he apparently stepped up big time and has impressed people with his hands. On the other side of the ball, look out for hard-hitting freshman DB Matt Daniels.

Gentlemen, falling for the propaganda of Carl Franks and Ted Roof leaves me cautious, but I cannot pretend that I don't love what Cut is doing. We shall see Saturday night!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Night 2

Hilary speaks ... CNN and MSNBC both uniformly say she hit a home run, preserving her legacy while uniting the party and throwing her support behind Obama. FoxNews says she gave a selfish speech that gave no details about Obama and was a general disappointment. Who's right?
And wasn't the Montana governor Schweitzer the biggest hit all night? He went after McCain like everyone else needs to, but thus far really hasn't.

The Dude was Right

Before we move too far away from the Olympics and shift ahead to the conventions and football season, I must make one final footnote about the Olympics. Several months ago, I took Mark Cuban's side against the Dude in arguing that the Olympics is primarily about money, especially in the events like men's basketball.

Perhaps, I was blinded by missing much of the last 3 summer olympics, because we were moving across the country in 2004, I was just starting law school in 2000, and in college in 1996. Not since Barcelona had I watched much coverage or paid close attention, but this time I did, and I must say the Dude was 100% right in this debate. Sure, money matters a great deal to NBC/GE, and many athletes like Phelps, Liukin, Walsh/May-Treanor, etc. will benefit handsomely from their performance, but only the most cynical would watch closely and claim that money is the key driver in most cases. Certainly not for Yao or Dirk when they were carrying the flag, or Carmelo tearing up during the national anthem, much less every other sport where only a few will truly have their lives changed by future endorsements.

So it's easy for me to conclude -- Dude, you win that one. Next stop, London!

Thoughts on Day 1?

In a speech that is probably more important than Barack's acceptance speech Thursday night, Michelle Obama really hammered it out of the park.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympics LiveBlog: Day 7

So this was it - the final day of our madcap Olympics adventure. We did some shopping in the notorious Ya Show shopping center in Beijing during the day (aggressive shop assistances, fierce bargaining, and ridiculous haggling over 30 cents for a pair of underwear). Around 5, we headed again to the Bird's Nest for our final rendez-vous with arguably the greatest Olympics venue ever. We made sure we had camera batteries fully charged for the occasion.

Though we had seen the US 4x100M relay teams strike disaster twice, the 4x400 meter teams would meet no such misfortune, instead those team struck gold in spectacular fashion. The women's team went first and, behind the legs of Alyson Felix and Sanya Richards, took down the Russians over the last 200 meters in a thrilling race. The men were simply dominant as it led from wire to wire - starting with gold medalist LeShawn Merritt and ending with silver medalist Jeremy Warriner. But this was also a night that we learned that the Scandanavians loved their javelin thrower; the javelin throwers loved to take off their shirts; and Bernard Lagat's dream of a double gold in the 1500m and the 5000m was nothing more than a dream - as he was simply outclassed by the far superior African runners. As the final victory ceremony for the women's high jump concluded, many fans simply lingered on the Olympics plaza, snapping up as many pictures as they can and relishing their last memories of a spectacular Summer Games.

Olympics LiveBlog 6 (Slightly Delayed)

No Olympics events on this day (August 22), though it was momentous as it was the day that we mounted our assault on the challenging hike on the Great Wall from JingShanLing to SiMaTai - a 10 km trail of the great wall filled with steep ascents and equally daunting descents. We were fortunately greeted by the best weather in Beijing on our trip and I wanted to represent my old professor on the most famous wall in the world - so I put on the Obama 08 shirt. About 30 minutes into the hike however, I realized that I would be regretting putting on the dark t shirt in a few hours. To no one's surprise, the shirt came off about 2 hours later. A 1000 RMB round trip cab fire, a sweat-soaked shirt, a few knick-knacks purchased from enterprising hawkers, and about 5 hours later, we finished one of the most spectacular hikes. As this is a PG-rated blog, I've spared the DudeSpin audience of any pictures of me sans shirt - here's one of the many pictures taken on this remote stretch of the wall that was mostly devoid of other tourists.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Hopefully the title of this post will be self-explanatory in a minute. I also hate interrupting The Dude's string of Olympic entires, but here's a passage from one of the early AP articles on Obama's announcement that Joe Biden will be his running mate:

A senior Obama adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his boss has expressed impatience with what he calls a "reverence" inside his campaign for his message of change and new politics. In other words, Obama is willing — even eager — to risk what got him this far if it gets him to the White House.

So that begs the question: now that we've made it to this point, is it win at any cost? Do we just jettison the message of change for some kind of perceived greater good and hope that our candidate remembers it once he takes office?

This is why I hate politics...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympics LiveBlog (Day 5)

*Note, I will be adding photos later; no current access to computer outside of Internet Cafes

From a competition standpoint, day 6 was a light one, only the prime time Track events in the Bird's Nest. Nevertheless, it was our first foray into the Nest and thus, made it a much anticipated event! We spent the morning waiting out a torrential downpour (which you would have seen if you saw any highlights of the women's 20 km racewalk or the women's beach volleyball final) before we made our way to the forbidden city to walk the grounds and learn about the 4,563 concubines maintained by the emporor in imperial times - must have been a busy guy! We traversed the approximate 2 hours it took to get from the forbidden city to the Bird's Nest (actual travel distance is about 5 miles) and the multiple levels of security. The Bird's Nest itself is an absolutely spectacular venue, and, as an added bonus, has restrooms with actual toilets rather than the squat toilets preferred at most Chinese public restrooms. The attached photo shows Olympics Greens Plaza on a drizzly afternoon. Sadly, my camera batteries died on this day before I was able to capture any of the splendor inside the Bird's Nest

It sprinkled a bit during about 30 minutes of the competition, but remained cool and breezy for the major competitions. The highlights:
- Jeremy Warriner giving up in the 400 m when he realized how far he trailed LeShawn Merritt; while Neville dove across the finish line to get the bronze - way to be Olympian Jeremy!
- The US team choking not once, but twice in the 4 by 100m relay when they dropped the baton on the final exchange of the men's and women's relay semis when they had a clear lead and path to the finals. Fortunately, the men's team probably did not cost itself a gold medal as Jamaica looked dominant.
- Usain Bolt has no ego issues. As one day after being criticized by the head of the IOC for his celebrations, he once again struck several poses after being serenaded by the entire Stadium, as it was his 22nd birthday (Bolt made an appearance because they had to redo the medal ceremony for the men's 200M as a couple of medalists were disqualified).
- we had memorized the Jamaican national anthem by the end of the evening.
- The greatest part of the Olympics is seeing and hearing the fans of the different countries cheer on and celebrate their athletes. We had enthusiastic Jamaicans and Ukrainians in our section, and it made it immensely entertaining.
- what was supposed to have been a coronation for Liu Xiang in the 110m hurdles backfired after Liu withdrew in the prelims. The planned final victory ceremony of the night for the winner of the 110m hurdles was attended by about 1,000 people as the fans filed out en masse during the running of the 400m heats for the men's decathlon.
(Just one more Olympic LiveBlog to go! Tomorrow night - we wrap up with one final night at the Bird's Nest for the final night of track and field).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympics LiveBlog: Day 4 (Slightly Delayed)

Day 4 promised to be the busiest day on the Olympics schedule for us - the day began with 2 classification games in water polo; followed by all 4 men's basketball quarterfinal games. As dawn broke, however, the day began inauspiciously as one of our neighbors saw my obviously foreigner friend and advised that we go register with the government. I kindly advised her that we would be leaving in 3 days and thus saved us the hassle of going through that mess! Unfortunately, we would not have missed much with water polo, as the two games were "classification" games to determine 7th through 12th places. I'm still unsure of why this needed to be done, but what it meant was that we saw the 4 worst men's water polo teams in the tournament. Fortunately, since we knew nothing about water polo, we detected no mediocrity in the play. We did, however, conclusively determine that China has an extraordinarily bad team, and that the locals love taking pictures with foreigners. Our seat locations for this event was our worst of these Olympics - but of course, better this event than any that actually matters. Of course, what surprised me most of all was that at a water polo match involving Greece, China, Canada and Italy, who do I see in the concession line but some detestable member of the nation dressed up in Papelbon gear.

Another nice and filling $15 lunch for two later, we found ourselves outside of Wukesong Basketball Center for a highlight of these games for us - a full day of men's basketball quarterfinals. Rather than run down the results that everyone knows, here's a couple of things you might not know:
- 99% of Croatian basketball players have names that end in "ic";
- None of them could shoot the basketball;
- Kobe Bryant is really really really really really really popular in China;
- The post-entry pass, however, is not, at least not among the Chinese team's guards;
- Wang Zhi Zhi is really bad at basketball;
- The Chinese love an underdog, as everyone became an Aussie fan by the 4th quarter;
- the Greeks know how to cheer on their team - as the Greek version of the Cameron Crazies brought much life to a thrilling affair between Argentina and Greece;
- Manu is money in international ball.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympics LiveBlog: Day 3 (also delayed)

* Note: to clarify, I'm only blogging days and times when I'm actually at an Olympics event. To the extent that some of the events seem out of order, that would be the reason.

September 16: Shanghai. Visiting family brought us to Shanghai, and what promised to be a barnburner of a "football" game brought us to Shanghai Stadium for a quarterfinals clash between the Olympic soccer teams of Argentina and the Netherlands. I know nothing about soccer and know of about a handful of active soccer players in the world. And to my surprise, this turned out to be an extraordinarily entertaining event with an avalanche of goals (3) and, best of all, a 14 year-old who, supported by a group of about 20 other Chinese Argentina fans, threw her entire repertoire of English insuits at the soccer "judges" (apparently, "ref" had not made it into her vocabulary just yet). From the simple "F- You Judge" to the more sublime "Are you a professional?" the 14 year-old with a pip-squeeak voice brought her A game. If the dudes had been there, they would have no doubt been giggling the entire game (or match, or set, or whatever they call soccer games!). In the end, the rain stayed away (one day of the 4 we spent in Shanghai in which it did not rain), and Angel Di Maria banged home the game winner near the end of the first extra period to grant Argentina a berth into a semifinal matchup against Brazil (which they won 3-0). The attached photo is of this particularly rowdy group of Chinese Argentine fans.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

BREAKING NEWS - Dascenzo steps down

Noted: We interrupt coverage of the Summer Olympics with the stunning news that after 39 years, Frank Dascenzo is hanging up his notepad. Now the question looms ... who will replace him? Will Brill come out of retirement, or will Featherson ascend (or descend) to the throne? Speculation as to Obama's VP choice suddenly has taken a back seat.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympics LiveBlog: Day 2 (slightly delayed)

Day 2 begin on an inauspicious manner as I lost the keys to my cousin's condo somewhere between an ATM and a Starbucks - while this narrows it down to about 5,325,234 different locations in Beijing, it does not bode well for the prospects of recovering the keys. I obtained the emergency keys from my cousin's friend in Beijing, went to have lunch with two partners at my firm's Beijing office, and then proceeded to watch China's national sport (well, other than mass production of consumer goods) - ping pong. I sprinted about a mile through a downpour from the Stadium's entrance gate to the actual entrance, and about 10 yards in front of the actual stadium gate, a volunteer finally appeared offering a rain pancho!! But at least there was a free pancho. Soaking wet, I sat down to enjoy 8 simultaneous ping pong matches in team play. Where 3 of the 16 team participants were: China, Chinese Taipei, Chinese Hong Kong - hey at least the Chinese know where the strengths are! We stopped off for dinner with one of Steven's college friends, an ardent republican who saw my Obama 2008 shirt and proceeded to talk about John Edwards' affair for a big portion of the dinner - though it was an enjoyable dinner! The highlight of the evening, however, was attending the China-Japan and USA-Bulgaria men's volleyball matches in the evening. We brought along our giant American flag (a gift from the Dude Committee) for the occasion and soon found ourselves surrounded by 10,000 screaming Chinese fans who cheered every Chinese point and booed every Japanese serve (think Duke-UNC, and multiply it by a history of conquest, mass murder and a refusal to apologize). Soon after China bested Japan in a thrilling 5 set affair, 8,000 of the 10,000 fans headed for the exits - leaving a few stragglers trying to start half-hearted USA chants. We were, however, drowned out by a few VERY vocal Bulgarian fans - whose voice, fortunately, did not translate into a win for their team - and thus ended a very enjoyable day 2.

Olympics "LiveBlog": Day 1 (slightly delayed)

After 3 days in Chengdu, we arrived in Beijing on the night of, well, I suppose, day 0 and had a nice dinner of Beijing duck before returning to our condo and CCTV's non-stop coverage of weightlifting, shooting, archery, fencing, and in every sport that the Chinese is winning gold medals (which, for the first few days) seemed to be every sport. We were, however, quite excited about our 1st event on day 1 - the women's gymnastics team final, which promised a duel between China and the U.S. We woke up on day 1 to a hazy sky with nary a sight of the sun - must be that famous Beijing haze. We caught a cab to the Olympic Greens for about $3 (with prices this cheap, no need to even take advantage of the free public transpo system during Olympics week). As we chatted from Americans from Connecticut to Illinois while waiting in the security line, we all realized that our first Beijing sun sighting was going to be pretty exciting. We walked around the Greens for awhile (though it was hard to not run into a Olympics volunteer dressed in the blue polos - as one was posted just about every few meters) before entering into a packed National Indoor Stadium for the much-anticipated event. After seeing Mary Lou Retton on the flight, and in the baggage claim area, we sighted Mary Lou again at the souvenir stand at the Stadium - wonder what she's doing at a gymnastics event? In a frenzied pro-China crowd, it was hard for us to start any USA chants, so we were content to cheer modestly when all 3 US gymnasts completed their vaults successfully, and then the mood turned ebullient when Nastia Liukin posted her monster 16.9 on the uneven bars. But then, as everyone knows, Alicia Sacramone took a couple of tough tumbles on the beam and the floor exercise, and the remainder of the event turned into a victory dance for the Chinese pixies. Though disappointed, this did give me a chance to teach my friend the words to the Chinese national anthem - though they would soon be forgotten.
After a quick lunch where a 7 year old showed me how to operate my magical self-heating meal (seriously, a $3.50 meal that heats itself when you pull a string, those ingenuous Chinese!) we went to a women's handball where we were surprised to find midcourt seats about 10 rows up - literally, the best seats in the house. We sat behind a couple of 50-something brothers from the US who has travelled to every summer Olympics since Barcelona - it's great to have disposable income! Team handball turned to be an intriguing sport to watch, and I now know that no. 8 on Angola is its primary offensive weapon, and that South Koreans are enthusiastic about their team handball! The 40 or so South Korean fans banged their thundersticks in rhymic fashion and chanted mysterious things through the match - if only I knew what they were talking about!
We were supposed to have gotten tickets to China v. Cuba in women's volleyball - but our contact had presumably found someone willing to pay more than the $100 a piece we had offered and he had accepted back in the U.S., and he then made up some fake excuse and left us without tickets. We then had dinner at an overpriced (we had to pay like $10 a piece for dinner) seafood restaurant and retired for the evening to more team archery and weightlifting.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Boooooo China, Boooooooo!

I hope not to strike a nerve with the Dude on this, and we look forward to his in-person report, but it's a bit disappointing that in one of the three biggest events of this Olympics (including men's hoops and any event involving Phelps), China won by cheating. I speak of women's gymnastics, where China won gold with a pair of 14-year olds that were given doctored passports to claim they were 16. They say the younger the gymnast, the more acrobatic and fearless they are, and the U.S. lost because they had a 20-year old who got nerves at the wrong term. I'm sure the Dude was conflicted watching from the stands, but boo on you, China.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Olympic Spirit

It was announced last night that Dirk Nowitzki will be carry the flag for Germany at the opening ceremonies ... and then today he emerged with a new, er, haircut.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Practice Starts Tomorrow!

The day before Duke football takes the practice field, the team hosted its annual media day. Among the more notable statements, Coach Cut called out future Heisman candidate Thad Lewis.

Cut: "[His pros are] His sense of timing, throwing into seams and where to lead the ball. But he continues to change his fundamentals. There is an inconsistency of fundamentals and accuracy with the ball. ... To be honest, he hasn't made as good progress as I would have wanted during the spring. None of the team did."

Significantly less offensive was Cut's attack on the kicking game: "People think I'm kidding when I say I'm going to go for it on fourth down. If we don't have a Division I-A level kicking unit, and it's killing me to say that, but we will do it."

The team has lost 400 pounds since January: "I hate to tell them this but there's a whole 'nother level I'm wanting them to get to. My first year at Ole Miss, we had to send 19 guys to get IV fluids after the first practice. I don't want to do that to these guys but that's what I mean about another level."

Lewis described himself as clueless as a freshman, and said he dreaded being the starter heading into last year. This year, he says, is a different feeling. Cut has told Lewis he will not be allowed to wear a cuff with plays written on it as he has done the last two seasons.

Also, if you haven't caught a movie in Durham lately, both main theaters are now airing "We are Duke!" commercials before the previews. I sat in a packed theater before The Dark Knight and was fired up well before The Caped Crusader arrived. And now a whole city will be associating Duke football with Batman, which can't be a bad thing. It should also be noted that the same commercial aired before Wall-E, so young kids are being indoctrinated as well!