Saturday, November 28, 2009

Duke - Wake: The Battle for Mediocrity

Words would fail to do justice to the careers of this senior class, so instead I present to you a photo essay chronicling the quest for .500.





Vince Oghobaase can't quite get to Riley Skinner. Overshadowed by Thad's swan song, The Big O also played his last game for Duke Saturday. When as a high school stud he turned down football powers to ink with the Blue Devils, it was supposed to mark a change in Duke recruiting. It's hard to say what impact he's had on that end of things, but I don't think he ever quite reached that potential. He hurt his knee before his first season, and this year missed a handful of games due to injury. Still, he was always a factor up front, and we should be seeing him on Sundays.





I'm not sure what the Blue Devil is doing to that man, but the Hall of Fame Bowl plaque will not be getting any company this year.





Please ignore the awkward tilt of the camera, but the point of this picture is that no Blue Devils were cropped out of the frame. Too often Duke failed to put any pressure on Skinner and too often our defensive backs were nowhere to be seen. This was an easy TD, and there were a few more like it. Later in the game Wake scored its 35th point of the game on a simple post when the receiver just blew past Leon Wright.





Thad led his offense for a final time this afternoon. What can we say about Thad? He passed 10,000 career passing yards, just the second man in ACC history to do that. He's shattered every Duke passing record. And after just one win in his first two seasons, he finished with four last year and five this year. In the postgame, he said he left Duke in a better place than he found it, and for that, we must all salute him. Thad truly is Rad.




Apparently bored with the game, the Blue Devil attacks his own shadow.





Although the running game has been pretty terrible this year, Desmond Scott and the other Duke running backs had some holes to run through today. The final numbers aren't staggering, but Duke was playing catch-up for most of the second half. Overall, one of the stronger running days for Duke.





Down 11, Thad watches as Hoffman can't come down with a touchdown grab. He threw too high on third down, and Duke is forced to settle for a field goal.





Thad misses Brandon King on the sideline. Today would not go down as one of Thad's better efforts. Although the final offensive numbers look good, he just wasn't that sharp. On the first play of the game he missed Varner wide open for a sure touchdown, and as the picture shows, that was not his only misfire. After the game, Cut said although he hasn't talked to the press about it, Thad has barely practiced in three weeks due to his thigh injury, and Cut said that was one reason his QB has not been that precise with his timing.





Thad completes a pass despite taking a tough hit.





Vernon comes down with the ball on a leaping catch. This group of receivers, led by Vernon and Varner (who broke 1000 yards for the year), is coming back next year, so whichever Sean is leading the way, he'll have some good guys to throw to.





With 4:41 left, and Duke down 8, the defense needed a stop on 3rd and 8 at the 26. Leon Wright (obstructed by the play clock) had this play covered and out came the kicker, who had already missed an easy one. Unfortunately, we didn't get lucky twice, and it was a two possession game. Wright had a good senior year, leading all Blue Devils with five interceptions. Of course, he'll best be remembered for this year's Army game, when on two straight plays from scrimmage he scored two touchdowns on a pair of INTs. And while we're talking defense, a special goodbye to Vincey Rey, Duke's leading tackler this season.





On the next drive, facing a 4th-and-2, Thad held the ball a touch too long, and he threw a game-ending interception.





But wait, on the ensuing kickoff, Desmond Scott gives us a glimmer of hope.





The last pass of Thad's Duke career... a touchdown. Perfect.





Well, not quite.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Bowling Shoes don't fit



The dream is dead.

I am too heart broken to write a full analysis, but here are my thoughts.

Quarters 1-3:
Although Miami had the better first half stats, we easily could have been up a lot more. Coach Cut said we could have been up 20. We had three impressive drives stall into field goal opportunities. Snyderwine nailed them all, but we needed to walk away with more points. Pass only teams usually struggle in the red zone as the field shrinks, and although we ran the ball a little better Saturday, we’re still pass only.

Defensively, we really played well, and had a handful of near-interceptions. Jacory Harris looked pretty terrible, and we always seemed just inches away from getting a big INT. Unfortunately, they don’t give you the ball for near interceptions.

When it all fell apart (last drive of the 3rd-4th)
Especially later in the game, when Miami had the ball, they had an uncanny ability to convert on 3rd and long. Miami took a 20-16 lead early in the fourth after a monster, 90-yard drive, that actually began at the 5 when you take into account a first down penalty. Duke held them to a 3rd an 8 on the 12, but they completed the pass. They were 5-for-6 on third downs in the third, and 8-for-10 in the 2nd half. Meanwhile, for the game we were 3-for-12. Ugh. During the drive, Damien Berry steamrolled over Duke, gaining 58 yards.

But after Miami took the lead, Duke responded with a long drive of its own. On 2nd and goal, UM foiled a screen pass, and Lewis threw it on the ground. Lewis was flagged for intentional grounding. He was inside the hash marks, but there was certainly a receiver in the area, and Cut and Bob Harris were both livid. Then on the next play, 3rd and goal from the 13, Lewis threw toward Hollingsworth, who might have been held by a defender. No flag. Now Cut and Harris are in apocalypse mode. Cut is screaming, slams his headset into the ground, and [ENGLISH MAJOR ALERT!] as the audio equipment plunged down toward the earth, so did so many Blue Devil hopes and dreams. Snyderwine’s 31-yard attempt sailed wide right, and Duke was never in the game again.

Miami got a TD on the next possession, and Thad threw a pick-6 on a forced throw on the next possession, and just like that, a VERY winnable game was 34-16.

NOTES:
- Interestingly, this is Cut’s first loss at Duke after leading through three quarters (we’re 8-1).

- If we had won, I had a wonderfully worked-up opening about Will Smith's "Welcome to Miami" being one of our classic Mardi Gras Bowling songs. It would have been beautiful.

- Injuries piling up. Cut said that Thad’s injuries are really bad, noting that Thad couldn’t even sit in his car until Thursday this week, that’s how bad his thigh hurt. No Vince for the 2nd straight game. No Boyette or Johnny Williams. And our starting left guard didn’t play.

- Holy crap, what happened to Miami football? That stadium was EMPTY!

- Coach Cut said this: "I could not be more proud of a football team. They amaze me over and over and over. If we had been able to do this and pull off next week and be a bowl team, I would have considered us the No. 1 team in America for the accomplishment."

- Congrats to Thad, who became Duke’s all-time leading passer. Next week we’ll bid him farewell in typical DudeSpin fashion, but for now, I have to put the bowling shoes back in the closet and cancel my plane reservations to Boise.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Duke Rules, Texas Doesn't

I was heartened to see this headline on our quicklinks today - and wanted to make sure no one misses it. Congratulations to Airborne!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thad Finally Put With Proper Company

Congratulations to Thaddeus Lewis, a Unitas finalist!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bring back that Old Duke feeling


I left my friend’s house (you know, the one with cable) after the UNC game and went to pick up burritos for dinner. As I walked through the parking lot, I was feeling that typical post-Duke football game depression feeling. And then I realized I hadn’t felt that way since the first week of the season. After the Richmond game there was an expected loss at Kansas, a “moral victory” against Virginia Tech, and five wins. Really, it was quite remarkable that I had gone that long feeling good about the state of the football team.

But the last two weeks have brought back those Old Duke feelings. I’m not going to pretend that I thought we would win today, but the absolute drubbing took me by surprise, and the walk to the car was a sad one, analyzing a season that is slipping away.

But on to the Wade Report…

-One group in Blue Devil Alley (the tailgating area of Cameron parking lot) placed tombstones in front of their tent marked with the name of each team we’ve beaten this year. Nice!

- The game could not have started any better. Thad was 5-for-5 on the opening drive, Duke marched down the field, and before you know it, the Devils are up seven and I’m fantasizing about a top-ten upset on ESPN2 as thousands of would-be recruits watch. Then we force a 3-and-out. Holy crap, could we pull this off?

- First huge missed opportunity: After a failed drive, Tech botches a punt snap and we get the ball in quick striking distance around the 20. But we quickly take losses and settle for a field goal. At the time I worried that we would look back at that moment as a big miss. In retrospect, I guess it didn’t matter. Still, 10-0 Duke.

-On the kickoff, the receiver muffs the ball, picks it up, and now the timing is disrupted. He charges all the way to the 2… 10-7. We couldn’t know it then, but everything shifted at this moment. The rout was on.

- Second huge missed opportunity: Now down 11, with something like four minutes left in the half, on third and two, Duke ran an unbelievably beautiful play. As the running back dove for the first down, I was straining my eyes to see if he got the first. And as I look, I see a ball float through my field of vision. Holy crap, it’s a pass! It fooled everyone, and streaking down the middle of the field is a wide-open Conner Vernon. No one was near him. Guaranteed touchdown. Every single person in that stadium who has ever thrown a football could hit him, that’s how open he is. Except Thad overthrows him. Crushing.

- The guy sitting next to me, who clearly watches a lot of Duke football, then proceeds to call Thad the most inaccurate passer in the ACC. He calls for Renfree. And while I argue this is Thad’s team and Thad’s time, my tattooed friend made a good point. Over the years, Thad has been prone to throw some inaccurate footballs. Riley once joked with him in an interview that their combo TD record would be higher if he hadn’t missed him a few times. I now wonder how joking he was. There’s no question Thad can get hot like he did against State, but there are times when his passing just isn’t sharp. Thad missed a handful of guys today, though none so glaring as this certain touchdown.

- I’m now losing chronological order, but speaking of Riley, there was a time when our only successful play was the streak to Riley. I acknowledge he’s no longer on the team, and I like that we can have success with some shorter routes and screens, but this was another one of those games where Duke simply refused to throw the ball down the field, instead only going side to side. Okay, back to the game…

- With the score 21-10, Tech drives down the field and connects on a longish TD in the back of the endzone. In real time, I didn’t think it was close to a completion, the ref made his signal late, but inexplicably the play was not reviewed. The big screen only showed it once (not slo-mo) so I never got a definitive look, but still, the booth has to review such an important play. After the extra point the refs huddled together as if to discuss it, but by then it was too late. I’ll leave comments up to those with HD televisions, but I was outraged, for this was the difference between a two-possession game and a three-possession game. But as I texted Head Dude later in the game, my anger subsided as the massacre continued and three-possession game became a six-possession game.

- Defensively, after the first quarter, everything was a mess. They simply ran over us. Even on plays where it seemed like we had the option covered they were getting five yards. The rest of the game is pretty much a blur, but they simply ran over us. There was a stretch where they scored TDs on five of six possessions, including a 75-yard touchdown bomb.

- Also, there were a LOT of missed tackles out there today.

- We have some guys banged up on D (Vince didn't play at all), so that certainly didn't help what we knew would be a difficult cause.

- Offensively, throughout the day we found ourselves in 3rd and longs. There were multiple 3rd and 20s, and we could only respond with same four-yard dump offs that are our bread and butter. Not bad on first down, but they won’t help you once you start moving backwards. Honestly, after that first drive, they did virtually nothing. And if you care to look up stats, you’ll see our running game set new standards of ineptitude, even for us (25 yards on 24 carries). Which is too bad, because we ran the ball well during that first drive.

- At the end of the game, Paul Johnson was doused with Gatorade. That’s how big opponents consider wins at Duke these days.

- Also, as we were leaving, two groups were selling $5 t-shirts labeled “ACC Showdown” with Tech and Duke helmets crashing into each other and today’s date. Almost as cool as those “I was on the quad…” for the NCAA Championship shirts. If my soul hadn’t been crushed and I was thinking more clearly, I would have bought a bunch to finish my Christmas shopping a little early this year.

- At one point Cut took out Thad and brought in Renfree, and he looked decent. Now, it’s hard to judge him accurately because at this point Tech was in full prevent mode. I turn to my friend and say, “Well, at least we’ll get a glimpse at the future.” And as I said that, on that very snap, Renfree fumbles and Tech recovered. The guy sitting in front of me turned around and stared incredulously at me. The future may look a lot like the past.

- As for the past? Well, just a few minutes into the third I struck the 1997 Wally Wade pose: feet stretched out on the bleacher in front of me, back and elbows leaning against the bleacher behind me. And as you can tell by the picture, the stadium quickly thinned to 1997 levels. Oh, and we had a field goal blocked, which brought back some mid-2000's memories, too.

- Earlier this week Snyderwine was named a Lou Groza semifinalist. So at least that’s a positive throwback to the Sims Lenhardt days.

- But we’re not here to talk about the past. After both the UNC game and today’s game, Thad said Duke needs to have a short-term memory. The dream is slipping away. Does the glass bowling shoe fit? We’ll find out next week at Miami…

Saturday, November 07, 2009

15-501 LiveBlog

Every week seems to present the biggest game in recent program history - tune in for today's edition in the LiveBlog!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Why Duke is actually undefeated

Since we haven't had a post in awhile, I thought I would throw out this theory for discussion.

Currently Duke is 5-3, but really, they should be competing for a national championship...

- The first "loss" came against Richmond. Thad was sick, so it doesn't count. 6-2.
- The next "loss" came against Kansas. Remember, this game replaced the Louisville game after we backed out of our series with the Cardinals. Louisville is 3-5 and ranked well below us in the rankings. That's an easy win. 7-1.
- The next "loss" was against Virginia Tech. That game turned on a bogus touchdown call that should have been a Wright interception. 8-0.

Bring on the Gators!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Duke-UVa LiveBlog!

Join us for a LiveBlog and see if Leon Wright can stop UVA's passing attack!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Duke - NC State LiveBlog


Join us for what may turn into an aerial assault at Carter-Finley.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Wright wronged, Duke misses out on upset bid


Saturday afternoon I took my daughter to her first Duke football game. Sunday morning she woke up screaming with a fever of 103. Have I officially subjected her to a life of physical and emotional anguish? Apparently so…

- I was a little confused about the spread. We were 17-point underdogs, but against a much-lower-ranked Kansas team, we were 24-point underdogs. Is the mystique of Wallace Wade worth a touchdown? I guess so.

- Actually, I left the game feeling okay. I never thought I’d say this about a Duke game, but there were simply too many field goals. We hung tough with a top-10 team, and while there were certainly some missed opportunities, I don’t feel like we shot ourselves in the foot and missed a golden opportunity. But Vince Oghobaase disagrees with me. “We don't celebrate moral victories here. We didn't get it done as a ballclub. We got to get better."

- Recognizing that the future of Duke kicking (my daughter) was in attendance, Will Snyderwine had the game of his life, booting FGs of 29, 25, 47, 43. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough. In the second half, Duke had three drives stall inside the 30, including one at the seven.

- Duke’s first TD was a beauty; a 48-yard play-action pass to a wide open Brandon King. Duke ran the playaction really well all game (the best I've seen), especially impressive considering their running game was pretty much no threat (38 yards).

- That said, I still really like Desmond Scott. He had seven rushes for 34 yards and moved with the ball really well. The Desmond Scott era might be a good one.

- The Hokies’ seven first half penalties helped the cause.

- The key play of the game came with VaTech up 10-7 with six minutes left in the half. On first down from Duke’s 28, the Hokie QB dared challenge Leon Wright. Wright seemed to have the interception, but as he and the receiver came down, it was ripped out of his hands. It was ruled a TD, but by my very biased eyes, I would say maybe an INT, maybe a completion out of bounds, but I don’t see a touchdown. The play was reviewed, and unfortunately upheld. Coach Cut called a timeout after the review and before the extra point just to yell at the officials as Duke players and fans gestured at Joe Alleva’s $1 million screen. Later, Cut had this to say: "I wanted to argue just for the sake of arguing. I wasn't happy, but it's just part of the game. It doesn't come down to those kind of things in a ballgame very often. You just make the plays you've got to make and move forward." And kudos to the Herald Sun photographer who took the above image from the game's key play.

- Another interesting Cut case happened in the third. Tech had the ball on the 40 (after our second kickoff out of bounds), then a series of penalties pushed them back. Ultimately, Cut had to choose between 4th and nine on the 41 or 3rd and 34 from the 16. He took the penalty, Tech connected on a long pass, and they end up kicking a field goal. I (nervously) agreed with Cut’s decision at the time, but it turned out to be an important moment.

- In the fourth quarter, there was a highly entertaining stretch of about three minutes. A brawl broke out one section over from me as two guys came to blows and began wrestling around. It took a solid two minutes for a yellow-shirted security guy to finally arrive, and an additional two more before the cops came. They were probably too busy making sure Big Daddy didn’t sneak into the good seats. But as that fight ended, an errant Thad Lewis pass conked a photographer in the head. A busy few plays!

- Defensively, in the fourth quarter we simply could not stop the run. They were just bigger and stronger, and although everyone in the stadium knew what was coming, they ran right over us on two long, clock-killing drives. This was especially frustrating because throughout the game, Duke, and Oghobaase in particular, did a great job stuffing the run.

- Interesting relatively irrelevant turn of events in the end. The Hokies ran a pick back to go up three scores, then the call was overturned, so Duke continued its drive and cut the margin to eight with 25 seconds left. Alas, the onside kick could not be recovered and the upset bid was lost.

- Frank Beamer said they played "the new Duke football team, not the old Duke football team." I just liked that he stole our “Old Duke,” “New Duke” theme. Who knew that he visited DudeSpin? I just hope he wasn’t able to exploit weaknesses he learned from the blog.

- A long wait for my next game, but I’m excited to know that when the Terps come to town I’ll be flanked by the dudes, wearing matching t-shirts, in perhaps our all-time gayest moment (and that’s saying something!) This year fans were allowed to buy spots in the Cameron lot for tailgating, and Duke provided them all with a tent and a name sign. I hope we visit them all, including Cutcliffeville, Cut’s Cookers, Crazy Towel Guy’s Tent, and my favorite, Oghobaaseville.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

49-14!


A few years ago I reconnected with old chum Big Daddy, and he became a faithful companion through the dizzying highs and terrifying lows of Duke Football. He was always loyal (even returning when racist ticket takers tried to keep him away), and best of all, he understood obscure references to Boomer Morton, Bobby Campbell, and every other figure fortunate enough to call himself a player under the Fred Goldsmith era. But after the Richmond game, Big Daddy became distraught and vowed to move as far away as possible, going so far as to apply for a job in Kuwait. He settled in Arizona last week, and it’s to him that I dedicate this post-game report. Big Daddy, you left a week too soon…

- The Richmond game began with several ominous signs, but last night things were different. As I was driving in, I passed an RV tailgating with two banners. One was a big, blue Duke banner, and the other was a military banner for 82nd Airborne. A very good sign, indeed.
- Central won the toss and chose to defer, giving us the ball. Big mistake. Thad was Rad, leading the Blue Devils to touchdowns on three straight possessions. Lewis looked much more accurate than he has all season, finishing 17-of-25 with 2 TDs and a rushing TD. Good numbers, especially considering the miserable weather conditions and that he sat for a huge chunk of the game. In the post game with Bob Harris, Coach Cut said, “Thad, for the first time, looked like Thad.”
- In Duke’s fourth possession, Thad got hit and Renfree came in. It was the first time I saw this young kid play, and I apologize for ever questioning Thad. The pick he threw that was returned for a touchdown was a horrible throw. He recovered, but there’s no question in my mind that the team moved the ball much better with Thad in the lineup.
- But the real story offensively was the running game. As you know, they have not moved the ball well at all on the ground, but despite injuries to their top two guys, the Blue Devils ran for over 200 yards. The line did a great job creating holes and protecting the QB. Maybe we are in the wrong division… True freshman Desmond Scott was especially impressive, and I liked his quickness and decision-making with the ball. He’s from Durham’s Hillside High on Fayetteville Rd., the very same street that Central calls home.
- Down 14-0 early in the first, the Central cheerleaders walked over to the Duke side and began cheering with the Blue Devil cheerleaders. Was this some sort of symbolic gesture emphasizing Durham unity, or were they jumping ship?
- Favorite play of the game… In the third quarter, on a 3rd-and-12 from its own seven, Cut channeled his inner Goldsmith and called a draw. But it worked for a 25-yard burst!
- Inappropriate text received during the game: “We rape their football team like we rape their strippers.”
- Two odd moments as a fan… In the third quarter Duke scored a TD and I wasn’t even compelled to stand up. Ahhh, taking scores for granted, what a feeling! Then late in the third, I actually asked, “Is this the first time we’ve punted tonight?” I was wrong, but still a nice thing to think.
- It was homecoming, so I attended the game with my old friend “Chain Smoking Journey Hater,” one of The Dude’s biggest rivals in college. CSJH expressed huge regret that “The Ricky Time Guy” was not in attendance, ruining what he felt should be a homecoming tradition.
- A friend of friend was also in attendance, and he didn’t know anything about Duke Football. This was most evident when we went for it on a 4th-and-4 from the Central 26 and he earnestly said, “They don’t have a lot of confidence in their kicking game.”
- The City of Durham tried really hard to promote this game and start a new tradition. On Thursday the old Bulls’ park hosted a pep rally featuring coaches, players, performance groups from both schools, the mayor, bands, kid games, and free food. I couldn’t attend, but I admire the effort.
- As I mentioned, the weather was terrible. There was a steady rain throughout, and it was really pouring down in the end. As a result, the stadium really cleared out by midway through the fourth. But seriously, if you’re a Duke fan, how could you leave that? I mean, trust me, it doesn’t get any better (though I was sad we fell short of 50)! I most likely caught pneumonia, but it was totally worth it.
- Final Thought: Next week is an afternoon game, so could very well be my daughter’s first Duke football game. But do I want to initiate her in a game against Virginia Tech? I mean, if a goalpost-going-down upset over a top-10 team is her very first game, won’t it be setting the excitement bar a little too high?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Better Plan for Thad and Sean, Jayhawks...

I'm sure most of you already saw this, but the Charlotte Observer is reporting that while Thad Lewis will be under center to start the game tomorrow, the Blue Devils will play Lewis and Sean Renfree during today's game against Kansas. That comes straight from Coach Cutcliffe, though it may just be to avoid either guy getting too beat up by a defense that has nine sacks in its first two games.

An interesting footnote to this game that I did not know: Duke was the only other school to offer a scholarship to small but mighty Kansas QB Todd Ressing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's Thad!

Coach Cut said Sunday that Thad is still rad to him and will start Saturday against Kansas. Cut said he thought Thad's been out of rhythm, perhaps because of limited practice time. Thad was one of the Blue Devils infected with Swine Flu, then came up with an ankle injury. Renfree took twice as many snaps this summer/fall.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Romine vs. Campbell, Part III

Three years after his first QB controversy, when he took down the self-described Tom Brady of Duke, Thad Lewis finds himself with a new challenger, Sean Renfree. After the game, Cut would not comment further about his QB plans, though he did refer to Renfree as the backup. According to the Herald-Sun, Cut had wanted to give Renfree some snaps last week, but it didn't work out, so he was extra-determined to make it work this time. He said he would have brought Thad back in, but didn't want to mess up "a hot hand." He implied that he wouldn't have put Renfree in had they been backed up on the field, but by the 4th quarter that sentiment had clearly changed, as Renfree took the field with the ball on the Duke 10during the (I think) second-to-last possession.

So where do we stand now? That Richmond loss really crushed my spirit, because in these situations I always support the experienced starter, but yesterday right after the game I was ready to dump Thad and was busy thinking up new nicknames. The Dude talked me back into Thad's experience, and I can't argue with what he's saying. I guess you also have to decide how much success you can have this year. If you think this is still a bowl season, do you want a freshman making his first start on the road against a ranked team? Probably not. But if you're looking to the future, Renfree was a huge get for the program, is almost certainly the future starter for several years, so you might want him to start learning on the job.

I have never, ever supported any coach who wants to play two quarterbacks, but I'm starting to think that's the way to go. Get both guys out there, see who's looking good, and go from there. Of course, I've only listened to Renfree play for two quarters, so what do I know? Clearly I'm just giddy over a big win.

Oh, and according to Renfree, Thad was doing his best Drew Bledsoe, supporting and cheering his potential replacement all afternoon. "He says he's a cheerleader, but he's a leader," Renfree said. "You'd expect any other quarterback to just kind of hang his head, but Thad was the opposite.... He was coming over to me all the time, saying, 'Hey, you're doing great. Keep doing what you're doing. I'm here for you.' "

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Duke Army LiveBlog

As Undude said, it's a game pitting a school full of rich snobs against a school full of kids willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country - a game in which the fates will surely smile down upon Duke. Liveblog in the comments.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Bedtime Story for the Young Dudes...

In honor of the next generation of dudes, I present a bedtime story…

Once upon a time in a fantastical, far-away land called Durham, over 33,000 people clad in blue gathered to pay respect to their King, Wallace Wade I. They sang, they danced, and they ate slaughtered pig in anticipation of a joyous evening.

But a swarm of large, red spiders marched into Durham ready to attack. At first, the good people of Durham did not worry too much. These spiders were from Dimension Two, a notoriously weaker dimension, and posed no threat. Besides, the people of Durham reasoned, they were protected by a mighty pack of blue devils and a fearless duke.

But these spiders should not have been taken so lightly.

They first used their magic powers to put a hex on all the legs of the blue devils. The hex worked so well that kicked balls would fly directly against the hands of charging spiders; those balls that did pass by untouched simply could not sail straight. The leg hex also made it impossible for any blue devil to run for more than three yards at a time.

As panic set in among the people of Durham, they turned to the brave knight Thaddeus, and his Lancelot, Johnny. This duo fought bravely and single-handedly destroyed many a spider. Johnny was so strong, in fact, he reminded the people of Lord Eron, a noble fighter who left Durham last year.

With 9:09 left in the first half of the war, No. 9 teamed up with Johnny and gave the blue devils their 9th point, and the stars seemed to be aligning in favor of our heroes.

But soon the spider voodoo magic worked against the two brave knights. The spiders confused Thaddeus’ mind, making him and Prince Cut believe the object of the game was to throw from side to side, and not down the field. Spider Magic clouded Johnny’s judgment, and he spiked a ball, needlessly negating a large gain on a key charge.

And when the spiders had killed off the last of the blue devils, they charged the innocent people of Durham. With piercing bites, the spiders sucked the joy out of the people’s lives, crushing their hopes and dreams, and leaving their hollow corpses to endure this type of cruelty 11 more times.

The moral of the story, young readers, is that being a Duke Football fan sucks. It's best you learn that now.

A few stray comments…

- Although 99% of the packed crowd left half way through the 4th quarter, the big fat guy in front of me stayed the entire game to keep me cramped in.

- Ill-advised promotion of the year: Andy’s Burgers, Shakes, and Fries is opening a restaurant in Durham, and the ad said that fans should celebrate Blue Devil football victories there.

- I absolutely cannot handle another season filled with field goal kicking like tonight. I am at my breaking point. I remain committed to the idea that I should train my daughter to become a kicker, and force her to choose Duke.

- Tonight they highlighted the opening of the new practice field and football building, and it gave me an idea. The two corporate dudes must start saving their money to some day buy a building on campus. The catch? It must be called The Dude Duke Football Building.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

John Kerry, Meet Bloody Sock

In the sad aftermath of the passing of Ted Kennedy comes the even more vomit-inducing news that grade-A jerk Curt Schilling is contemplating a run for the vacancy. Massachusetts, please tell you're smart enough not to hand a historic senate seat to someone who has, at various times:
- stumped for George W. Bush and John McCain
- showed up his teammates (ask Mitch Williams)
- made up things about Barry Bonds.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Taking the Offensive Out of Offensive Line

The Chronicle's ACC Football Preview came out yesterday - loaded with goodies, including this article on Airborne's offensive line. If Duke hopes to go bowling, this group must perform better than last year's unit - indeed, its performance may be pivotal. Though the Chron seems to feel good about their improvement, the Chron isn't exactly known for being objective when it comes to Duke sports.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Airborne Notes at T-2 Weeks

Well, I waited a while for Morgan to post his report from Meet the Blue Devils day - but alas, it appears to be not forthcoming, forcing me to read up on Airborne from the Herald Sun (registration required), in an article not written by Al Featherston.

Some highlights
- Freshman RB Desmond Scott is looking good in camp - though I would suspect that he would not be a major challenger to Requan Boyette and Jay Hollingsworth for playing time.
- Receiver Johnny Williams suffered an undisclosed injury - this is somewhat worrisome for Thad, who lost his top receiver Eron Riley to the NFL (presumably).
- It looks like Duke will be negotiating some issues early on with the kicking game given an injury to Nick Maggio. After Joe Surgan's difficulties 2 years ago, any hiccup in the kicking game is cause for worry.

Just two weeks! Go Duke!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Duke: Producing Good QBs for Itself and Other Schools!

I apologize for being late to the party on Thad Lewis news, but I was attending a destination wedding in the Bahamas. I recommend Sandals for anyone who's never been there.

On to the business at hand... Bruce Feldman of ESPN used his blog entry today to offer one explanation on why the ACC hasn't become a dominant football conference after adding Miami and Virginia Tech: too many highly touted quarterback prospects haven't panned out.

To sum up, between 2002 and 2006, the ACC had 13 QB recruits who ranked in the top 10 in the country as either drop-back or dual-threat prospects. Their track record has not been good.

The one man to buck the trend? That's right, Thad Lewis, who was the 10th-ranked drop-back QB in the Class of 2006.

A hearty "boo" goes out to Feldman later in the post, though, for saying that Thad "wasn't exactly an All-World recruit." Perhaps not, but he's done pretty well for himself considering he's upholding the honor of ACC signal-callers all by himself!

Also, though this is now old news, I couldn't believe no one on DudeSpin sounded off on the somewhat amazing fact that Greg Paulus was named the starter at Syracuse. I mean, I probably could have had a shot for some PT there too, but still.

Like all things, this story too, comes back to Thad. Reading through the 200 comments on the Paulus story, it didn't take long to come across knuckleheads spouting sentiments like "Duke football sucks, so if Paulus is so good, how come he didn't just stay there and start?"

Fortunately, some other posters set them straight, explaining that QB is the last position for which the Blue Devils need help.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Computers Like Airborne!

WhatIfSports - a favorite site of the Franchise and me - has projected the 1st two weeks of the college football season - and they like what they see from Airborne!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pig Sooey!

If a pandemic can't slow Airborne down, I'm not sure if the teams on this year's schedule have much of  chance.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

As usual, ESPN misses the boat

You may have noticed yesterday that ESPN.com's cover story was on the relationship between the purported top three Heisman favorites. In my mind, I saw the headline and expected to see pictures of Thad, Tebow, and perhaps Bradford or McCoy. But no, apparently ESPN ignored the will of the people (or at least DudeSpin poll voters), and features the other three. We can only assume that Thad was a close fourth, but regardless, ESPN has again demonstrated that Herbstreit, Holtz, and all those other yokels don't know what they're talking about.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

It starts...


With the Red Sox season slipping faster than Josh Hamilton's sobriety, this young man's fancy turns to Duke football.

Duke began practice Thursday, with Coach Cut talking bowl game. "I get specific about what our expectations are," he said. "We should be a bowl team. We're good enough to play in the postseason."

Of course we've heard this talk before, and we've never once felt the rush of booking last-minute flights to Idaho, but it's nice that the bar is set high. This article focuses mainly on the offense.

In a nutshell, most skill players are back, with the exception of unsung Obama campaign hero Eron Riley. Big shoes to fill, but I still believe Johnny Williams can be this generation's Corey Thomas. Behind center you have Heisman-favorite Thad Lewis, along with runningbacks Re'quan Boyette and Jay Hollingsworth. In a GoDuke article, Cutcliffe singled out those two as catching his eye early.

The biggest question mark offensively, as always, is the line. Cut's concerned about the lack of depth, and only have two returning starters (one of whom is changing positions). I don't know enough to really comment on this, but it should be noted that Duke has signed two impressive lineman for the class of 2010. Granted, that's no help to Thad right now, but a good sign looking forward. One of the recruits, Laken Tomlinson (is it too early to call him LT3?) is from the midwest and turned down offers from Ohio State, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Tennessee. I like that!

In conclusion, a few words about Thad from Coach Cut: "Thad has come a million miles. I think he's got some confidence. I never saw tonight him not knowing what to do with the football. He has so much courage and so much presence. Never, never doubt Thad Lewis' courage. He is a tough individual."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shocked? Honestly? Shocked?

My favorite quote from the "stunning" revalation that Big Papi was Roid Papi back in 2003 was this nugget from Torii Hunter: "He's still my boy, no matter what. David is a great person and I love him to death. Nothing going to change between us. I'm just shocked just like everybody else, that's all."
Honestly Torii - shocked??. And who is "everybody else" that is shocked?? I'm having a hard time finding one baseball person who would be shocked by the revalation that the Red Sox cheated their way to the World Series in 03 and 07.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Oh No! Jessmo is no mo!

One of NFL's storybook romances has called it quits! I suspect that Cowboys fans will greet this news with shouts of hallelujah!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Texas-Sized Hammer?

An old-fashioned Texas shootout appears to be underway between the Rockets, Mavericks, and maybe even the Spurs! I'm not sure if Marcin Gortat merits all the attention, since he's an unproven talent at this point, but at least three playoff teams are prepared to hand over a possible starting spot to the pride of Poland. And Houston is pulling out all the stops with thousands of fan emails used in the recruitment process.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Yao-uch!

Bummer for the Dude -- somebody get Deke back, quick!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

2009 NBA Draft LiveBlog


Where shall we go from here? Both of these life-long friends will watch the next chapter of their lives unfold tonight. Where will each go? Will Gerald find success in the NBA without a left hand? Will Tyler find success in a league where opponents won't be call for a foul every time they touch him? Those questions won't be answered tonight, but some will. So join DudeSpin for what promises to be a highly entertaining draft. We begin with a look back at the best and worst drafts of the Dude teams in the 2000s.
Dallas Mavericks
Best pick: Josh Howard (2003, pick 29)
Worst pick: Courtney Alexander (2000, pick 13)
With their success in the last decade, the Mavericks only had 2 lottery picks in the 2000s. Without much to work with, the Mavericks enjoyed one of the best draft coups in recent memory by drafting Howard out of Wake Forest at the end of the first round. The well-rounded forward has given Mavericks fans a steady and versatile presence on the perimeter, and some fun memories on YouTube.
Denver Nuggets
Best pick: Carmelo Anthony (2003, pick 3)
Worst pick: Nikoloz Tskitishvili (2002, pick 5)
It is rather strange when passing on Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh nets your best pick of the last decade-but that's what the Nuggets did in drafting their franchise player in 2003. But picking Tskitishvili over Caron Butler and Amare Stoudamire? That takes some more imagination.
Boston Celtics
Best pick: Al Jefferson (2004, pick 15)
Worst pick: Jerome Moiso (2000, pick 11)
Turning a non-lottery pick into Kevin Garnett almost makes up for drafting Moiso in the lottery.
Houston Rockets
Best pick: Yao Ming (2002, pick 1)
Worst pick: Eddie Griffin (2001, pick 7)
Rockets have the morbid distinction of having drafted 2 players with their 1st pick in the last decade who have already passed away: Jason Collier and Eddie Griffin. But having the guts to draft Yao no. 1 despite the considerable hype surrounding Duke's Jason Williams warrants some merit.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Starwatching in the NBA

An interesting morning of NBA news for heroes of two of the dudes.

(1) Dirk Nowitzki: he appears committed to bucking the trend of irresponsible athletes and wants sole custody of his unborn child. A professional star taking on the task of single parent certainly would be unusual in this day and age, and while of course he'd have nannies around the clock, it's still an admirable decision to raise the child properly and not with a woman who has 25 identities and probably would want $25 million in child support.

(2) Yao Ming: rumors of Cleveland's new Chinese owners wanting to sign Yao are spreading. He still has another year under contract, which means he could be eligible to leave at the same time the new owners would be looking for an incentive to keep Lebron. This, of course, would be heartbreaking news for the Dude.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Oh Come on, Rick Reilly

Is he for real? The five reasons America hates Kobe somehow don't include that "incident" in Colorado a few years ago. I guess it didn't make the list because Reilly knew there was no way to defend it. Apparently Reilly joins Mark Jackson and the rest of the ESPN crew as a proud member of Kobe's fan club...a club far smaller than those outside of the media and LA would acknowledge.

Question for the Franchise...

The Crosby "snub". Does it irritate you, or do you believe he was just late to the handshake line like he claims?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Papi Finds His Roids!

3 homers in the last 5 games??? What other explaination is there?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

So long to the Zack Attack

The once-heralded signal caller who infamously spent a summer working with Tom Brady has learned at least one thing from Brady - how to break rules. For Brady - it got him a bouncing baby boy; for Asack, it got him kicked off Airborne. Fortunately, I'm not sure that Airborne will miss a quarterback who can't complete a pass longer than 10 yards - especially when it returns senior Heisman candidate Thad Lewis.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

America...It's Greeeeeaaaaat!

Any guess on the Vegas odds four years ago of a highly-popular black president nominating a highly-qualified Hispanic female to the Supreme Court in 2009?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Duke beats 911ianni Jr.!

A federal magistrate has ruled that the lawsuit Andrew 911ianni teed up against Duke University went OB. This opinion is well worth the read. Just as sentences used by 911ianni in debate consists of a noun, a verb and 9/11 (thanks VP!), this opinion's sentences comprise a noun, a verb and a golf metaphor.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Big Papi Homers!!

Ordinarily, this is not news. But in 2009, it sure is!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A National Championship in Something!

On a bad day for Duke basketball, the women's tennis team just captured its first national championship! Before a live ESPNU audience, Duke closed out a 4-0 shutout and celebrated around our old friend Jamie Ashworth. Ironically, while the powerhouses of a decade ago featured a handful of pro players, this team doesn't seem to have any from what they're saying on TV, but I guess that's not what always matter. They no longer run through the ACC undefeated anymore either, but that didn't seem to carry over on the national stage either.
Nice to see another program cash in. Maybe men's lax will break through this weekend too.

Nuts...

Well, it doesn't appear that Duke will be contending for the national championship next year. John Wall apparently committed to Kentucky last night, and now Kentucky is an instant Final Four contender if its wealth of young talent can gel over the course of next season.

Meanwhile, Duke appears headed for another good season, likely ranked in or around the top-10, and then again susceptible to quick and athletic teams in the tournament. This should make a fourth straight year in which fans of most schools would be happy to have our talent, while fans of Duke will likely be left with an unsatisfying second or third-round exit and continue to wonder if K still can recruit like he did earlier this decade. If you've seen the clips of Wall, and heard the hype, he appears destined to be another Derrick Rose who could've lifted us back to the top, even if for only one year.

Sure, we're spoiled and don't appreciate the success we have enough. But a run like we had from '98-'06 where every year was a potential Final Four Team (with the exception of '03) makes it harder to forget the past.

WWE v. the Nuggets?

Who does the Franchise root for in this conflict? A friend of mine suggested a hell in the cell match between K-Mart and his mom, and Chavo and Vickie Guerrero - what do you think Franchise?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mr. 300!


Congratulations to Pudge Rodriguez - a dude committee favorite - for belting home run no. 300 today off Rich Harden of the Cubs in an Astros victory. With the eyes of Houston now cast upon the diamond - the local nine must kick it in gear to make this summer remotely exciting.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

She's All That!


Wire to Wire!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kobe Doin' Work

I cannot describe how excited I am about the television premiere on Saturday night. I am hosting a watch party at my house and all the dudes are invited.
























Uh. No.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yao-ch!!

And boom! there goes the season!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

Or was that Todd Marchant who came out of nowhere to score a triple-OT goal to beat the Wings almost 12 years to the day after pulling a double-OT trick against the Stars?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Beat LA?: Rockets Fortunes' May Turn On Potential Kobe-Stopper


Anyone who has taken the time to read Michael Lewis's extended piece in the NYTimes a while ago describing Battier as the no stats all-star certainly knows that Battier's success against Egomaniac and other elite wings is merely a part of the portfolio that makes Battier so valuable. But because the article singularly focused on a game against the Lakers, it is Battier's play against the Adulterer that has become focal point of Battier's enhanced reputation. In the game profiled, Battier harassed the Philanderer into a 13-32 shooting night, while rallying his team, playing without either McGrady or Artest, to the brink of victory only saved by a miraculous MJ-Wannabe bomb with 30 seconds left. If the Rockets are to beat LA, Battier (and Artest - who had quizzically called Brandon Roy the best offensive player he had played against Wednesday) will have to do yeoman's work against the best Admitted Cheater Who Had To Buy His Wife A $4M Ring Because He Can't Keep His Schlong Out Of A Hotel Hostess in the NBA. Will it happen? It seems unlikely, considering that the Rockets went 0-4 against the Lakers in the regular season - but it should be entertaining to watch, especially if Adelman unleashes Battier on the Accused Rapist.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Your Move, Denver

The Mavs are headed to the Mile High City after handing Tim Duncan his first first-round exit. At least I assume the Mavs are headed to Denver in light of last night's 58-point stunner. In all likelihood, this was the first of four Dude first-round wins ... and if Houston and the Nuggets can win one more game, Dude Domination of the West Conference will be almost complete. And isn't Big Daddy a Lakers fan?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thank you for being a friend



I'm stunned HeadDude did not report this, or perhaps he is too choked up with emotion, but this weekend we lost our sassy friend Dorothy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

DudeSpin Hall of Fame Inductee: Rolly Miller



I scoured the Internet for 20 minutes looking for a picture of Rolly for his "induction plaque" without any success. Of course, to say that Rolly was just Rolly would not do him justice. For many of us, including the Bloggers here who met at 301 Flowers, Rolly was the face of the Chronicle, and especially, the back editorial room. This was where Rolly was at his best - switching the radio in the middle cabinet there to bring some smooth jazz into the office, rolling up next to you to make some joke that was inevitably uproarously funny, or giving advice that was always much-needed by misguided college kids like us who had a bit too much time on our hands. In our time there, we were always enthralled with the story of Rolly's deck. And we were as glad as ever to see Rolly's deck and his poker room when we returned a few years later. Rolly, this has been a long time coming, given that you were a member of the inaugural class - but congratulations - you will always be a Hall of Famer in our hearts!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In Salute of Deke

One of the NBA's all-time great spokesmen and good guys saw his career come to an unfortunate end last night in Portland. Dikembe Mutombo's 18-year, 6-team career was perhaps best known for his finger-wagging after a blocked shot and the image of him lying on the court, ball cradled in his arms, after leading Denver to a shocking 8 vs. 1 upset of Seattle ... an upset that only has happened one other time (I forget when).

But off the court, Mutombo made his biggest mark, turning his money and popularity into action to help build hospitals, schools, and other crucial forms of assistance to his native Congo and elsewhere in Africa.

They don't come much better, and he's paved the way not only for other Africans to play in the Association, but other players from around the world as well. The NBA Cares ad may sometimes be forced, but not in the case of Deke.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Undude's Spring Game Report

Of course, this is not the Undude; and this is not a report about the Spring Game. Instead, this is where the report would have gone had Undude not attended a high school reunion of Undude's wife this weekend. This is simply a placeholder to denote Undude's dereliction of his duties to DudeSpin.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to fall four spots in one night...

Houston went into last night's regular-season finale against the Mavericks with high hopes of finishing second in the West and earning their first Southwest Division title this century ... and a good chance to win their first playoff series this century. Instead, the Rockets were completely dominated by the Mavericks down the stretch in a 95-84 loss and slid all the way to the fifth spot, and a road series against the young and healthy upstart Trail Blazers. Which means a first-round win is unlikely, and a trip to the Conference Finals near impossible with the Lakers waiting in the second round. As for Dallas and Denver, there's a much better shot that this is the one Dude vs. Dude playoff matchup we'll be seeing in 2009. Which means still a chance, even if an outside one, that Boston won't automatically be the last dude team standing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Paulus to Riley - And the Lambeau Leap!!

Sounds too preposterous to be true??? But that's exactly what happened last week as Paulus worked out for the Packers by throwing spirals to DudeSpin favorite Eron Riley. I just love the fact that there are rumors now that Paulus might transfer to Michigan to play football - given the unlikelihood of him beating out Thad Lewis next season.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Finally, The Franchise Has Returned To Houston!



Eight years after making his first trip for Wrestlemania XVII, the Franchise took a return trip to Houston for the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania. While the twin main events (Triple Threat; Orton v. HHH) definitely paled in comparison with Stone Cold's heel turn against the Rock in XVII, the latest installment featured one of the 3 greatest wrestling matches I've ever seen, live or in person - the Undertaker v. HBK.

But that aside, Team Asia - reconstituted as Team Duke for this trip, rolled their way to a thrilling 7-pin victory on the lanes past two formidable foes on Sunday. We eagerly await the next DudeMania, and the return of the thrills on the lanes.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Uh, Undude?

How do you feel about little Tommy Brady after something like this? On top of Gisele claiming that Brady's child with that other actress is like hers, having your goons shoot at paparazzi won't help in the PR department either.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Great Wall of Hope?

I have to admit that ever since Shaun Livingston committed to Duke and then turned pro, I've hardly paid any attention to recruiting, as it seemingly became a worthless exercise. And I think the fact K started missing on stars like Boynton, Patterson, and Monroe had something to do with it. But this season got my excitement level back up about the program, and the current recruiting battle going on has led me back to dukeupdate.com and even DBR on a daily basis.

For those Dudes not following thus far, Duke is now hot after uncommitted Raleigh point guard John Wall, the consensus #1 PG and top 5 overall recruit in this year's class. Until recently, Memphis was his pretty clear first choice, with Baylor in second based on their shady hiring of his assistant coach. On Sunday, Wall met one-on-one with K, got a tour of the campus, and left with Duke at least entering the conversation for him. Then, of course, Calipari left Memphis, and it's unclear if Wall will still consider Memphis, or now take a hard look at Kentucky. This could either be great news for Duke, or have no effect.

Wall, from what I've read, pretty clearly seems to be a one-and-done guy, which led this writer from the N&O to criticize Duke for recruiting such a player. But is it really? If Duke could get Wall, and convince Henderson to come back, even without wearing my blue-tinted glasses, Duke would seemingly be a prohibitive favorite to win the title. A starting five of Wall, Scheyer, Henderson, Singler, Kelly, and second five of Smith, Williams, Thomas, Mason Plumlee, and Zoubek would be unmatched, and Duke's most talented 10 since earlier this decade. Keep in mind, Kelly just won the McDonald's three-point shootout, and Plumlee was second in the dunk contest, so we know they're at least not stiff and tall white dudes. How much of an interior presence they'll provide is to-be-determined.

If Duke misses on Wall, they're taking a hard look at Eric Bledsoe, rated as the #9 PG in the country (top 75 overall), and a dude who calls Duke his dream school. I read something about there being academic questions, and whether he's good enough of a player, but the numbers seem to back him up. You wonder though how long he'll wait around if Wall delays his decision.

So what do the Dudes think about recruiting Wall? Are you okay with an avowed one-and-done player, something K seemed to abandon after Livingston/Deng played a combined one year. In my mind, with Scheyer a senior, and Henderson/Singler having no more than one year left, I have no problem going all in given our drought over the last 5 years. And it's not like in 2010 we'd exactly be suffering with Curry eligible and a base of other talent such as Williams, Nolan, Kelly, Plumlee, etc.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Look who's got some free time in Dallas

If it isn't the man with a soft sport for waterboarding and deception: George W. Bush - and he's throwing out the first pitch for your Texas Rangers. Another point for Dallas!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

RIP Alysheba

Several decades before there was Barbaro, there was Alysheba, the '87 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner who made this dude a fan of horse racing. Alysheba died at age 25 yesterday, apparently having lived his adult life on the oil fields of Saudi Arabia before returning to Kentucky this fall. His battles with Bet Twice brought me into the sport, and then he was off to a life as a stud, while other champions like Sunday Silence came and went. Much like Larry Parrish in baseball and Brad Davis in basketball, you can never replace your first favorite player.

Friday, March 27, 2009

AJ Retires



We all have good memories of AJ, who is retiring from the N&O -- my favorite was our fist bump right before the title game against UConn.

One bit of good news to emerge

Singer is coming back. Amazing how some guys like McRoberts and Randolph come in thinking they'll stay a year and turn pro, end up not being good enough, but show minimal commitment or dedication to the program and never end up being stars. Singler's a guy who wasn't good enough to go pro after a year, but took huge steps in improving his game this year, has a great attitude, and maybe by the end of next year will have himself in position to be a first-round lock. Very dude.
I still think Henderson could use another year to learn how to go left on offense, but I have my doubts he'll do that.

And another year bites the dust...

Well, it was a tough one to take, not even because it was a game that was seemingly sitting there waiting for us to take it in the first half, but because it's just another reminder that we're still one of the better programs, but certainly not one of the best right now. I just wish Scheyer, Henderson, and Singler had knocked down more of their open looks in the first half so we could've held the lead and put a little more game pressure on Villanova. The maddening part is it's not like Villanova made their spurt to start the second half because they got hot from outside -- they simply drove to the basket and locked down our offense. Perhaps it was summed up by Paulus' sequence in the second half where he dribbled the ball away and then hacked the Nova player, and when Scheyer at the end of the first half when stood and dribbled 30 feet from the basket, and then with 3 seconds left decided to pass to Zoubek, who fumbled it away. Scheyer's not a point guard, so he does the best he can, but all we could seem to do is pass around the perimeter. And still lose the ball. I watched the press conference after the game, and usually when we lose, K is at his snippy best about how he's proud of his guys, not disappointed, great season, etc. Last night he sounded more disappointed, admitted we didn't play well and that for some reason we were putting too much pressure on ourselves on offense. You would think a coach could draw up some plays to help with that. We had the talent to compete last night, and Villanova didn't have any inside presence, so it's a little hard to take.

The way I see it, the problem now looking ahead to next year is we get a few big men (Kelly and the other Plumlee), so maybe that'll help, but there's still no point guard unless Nolan grows into the role. Scheyer's a great scorer, and does his best, but you can tell it's not his spot. I read somewhere that we were trying hard to recruit one late in the process. That doesn't usually lead to a blue-chipper, but as we've learned, being highly recruited is no guarantee of success. Henderson said after the game he hadn't thought about next year or what he's going to do. Since he's projected in the top 10, I still suspect he's gone, but last night certainly didn't help the cause. I'm guessing Singler may be back. For a supposedly one-and-done guy, it's a bonus and I've really grown to like the guy -- he plays hard, plays smart, and really wants to win.

I guess if at least Singler comes back, we'll still be top 10 next year, and maybe top 5 since some of the powers like UNC, UConn, etc. lose a ton of talent. But unless the incoming freshmen fill holes, we'll still have the same deficiencies come tournament time, and after we lose, we'll still hear the Vitales of the world say like they did last night that we overachieved.

Shameful Dallas, Shameful

1) Failing to protect the President of the US? Check
2) Failing to safely escort presumed assailant to trial so that mafia conspiracy can be uncovered? Check?
3) Being inhumanly cruel? Check

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Journey Reunion - On the Outside Looking In

Perhaps the Journeyers did not want to make their former coach feel too bad about bowing out in the 1st round a few days ago, so they became one of the rare 1 seeds in the women's tourney to lose in the 2nd round tonight. Of course, the first question is, since when did a 1 seed play on the 8 seed's home floor? But, as longtime Journey fans, we're kind of used to let downs in the tournament. Who can forget Arkansas in 1998? or Minnesota in 2004?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Road Ahead

The big question today, having already started to move beyond last night, is what our chances are moving ahead to Villanova. Naturally, the pundits are ignoring our first-round blowout and Nova's first-round scare, and focusing on our second-round scare and their second-round blowout. Moreover, after yesterday's game, Villanova players talked about how tough they are and how they look to send a message early that they're going to push the opponent around. My first reaction was certainly that was the case with UCLA. My second reaction was try telling that to American University.

You look beyond the hype though, and Villanova's rotation has no one taller than 6-8. Which means they may be tough, but so are Lance Thomas and David McClure, and neither will be at a height disadvantage. And for anyone wondering about Singler's toughness and whether he was completely focused on winning, or moving into the Josh McRoberts category of thinking more about his pro career, I think last night was an emphatic answer. You can see it in the picture above, and you saw it with his tip-in that brought back memories of Battier's tip-in down the stretch in the '01 title game. That was all desire and a refusal to let his team lose. My fellow member of the Old Testament Club also showed his fight by spending 40 minutes pushing through multiple screens to stay on A.J. Abrams like matzah balls on soup.

We'll see how Pitt comes out today -- maybe they too will erase memories of a first-round scare with a strong performance. But merely because we gutted it out against an erratic Texas team that saved its best for less doesn't mean losing to Villanova is a foregone conclusion. Thoughts?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Super Saturday?

What shaped up as a glorious Saturday with 10 hours of basketball is, at the halfway turn, a big bust. I cheer for Maryland for the first time in 32 years ... only to recognize that cheering for Maryland means you're often faced with a blowout. So after a nap that began midway through the first half, the second half of today's quadruple-header is now underway. And UNC is tied early, with the big showdown against hated Texas to come.
Join us with your thoughts...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Special Olympics?

Eh, something tells me the President won't be going back on the late-night circuit too soon. The Duke game nicely ended just before Obama came on stage, and while I frankly missed the Special Olympics crack at the end while flipping back to see Eric Maynor miss a last-second shot two years too late, I get the feeling Republicans and others will be lining up to criticize today. And, let's face it, the guy was otherwise great for 40 minutes but it was an assinine remark.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama Picks Carolina

Like many of us, Barack Obama filled out a bracket earlier this week. Amazingly, despite all that he has to do, he knows more about the tournament than I do. Sadly, he did not go with his top personal aide and picked a lighter and crappier shade of blue to win it all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

DudeSpin Returns!

Sorry for the prolonged absence - which is solely attributable to us, and none other. Given that we've left our readers feeling quite deserted over the last month, I am going to provide a smattering of thoughts on various Dude topics in the past month.

- Congrats to the Cooler Sports Gal, who is expecting twins sometimes this year;
- Jon Stewart - Jim Cramer, the most extraordinary 20 minutes of television in recent memory;
- Journey v. Texas in the regional final would be the most deliciously anticipated women's basketball game in Duke history, too bad it will not happen;
- Pudge to Houston? I'm just hoping that he brought his roids with him!
- Bob Knight is an idiot - CBS should have publicly reprimanded him after that assinine women shouldn't be on the men's tournament selection comment;
- I stayed in the Journey team hotel in Greensboro two weeks ago for a wedding, and the Journeyers were generally frolicking in the lobby seemingly at all times of day! Brought back some old memories of covering the Journey;
- Undertaker will keep his perfect streak at Wrestlemania going against HBK;
- Barack is doing well, and if he keeps this up, the economy should slowly revive;
- The ball is tipped, and there you are; you're running for your life, you're a shooting star...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Airborne's Schedule Released

First off, I'm disappointed DudeSpin did not congratulate two former Blue Devils for key plays during the Super Bowl. Former tight end and transfer/traitor Ben Patrick scored Arizona's first TD of the game, and then Pittsburgh's Patrick Bailey made a nice tackle on the kickoff following the safety.

But that is the past, and at DudeSpin, we always look forward. So here's a look at next year's schedule...

5 -- RICHMOND
12 -- at Army
19 -- at Kansas
26 -- N.C. CENTRAL (Homecoming)

October
3 -- VIRGINIA TECH
10 -- at N.C. State
17 -- Open
24 -- MARYLAND (Parents' Weekend)
31 -- at Virginia

November
7 -- at North Carolina
14 -- GEORGIA TECH
21 -- at Miami
28 -- WAKE FOREST

Quick thoughts: Finally Duke schedules a smart homecoming game! I mean, I know at Duke no game is guaranteed and we always lead the league in homecomings scheduled against us, but it has always driven me crazy to see the likes of Miami and Virginia Tech on the homecoming schedule. Bring on Central... I'm also saddened to see that they have moved the Victory Bell game so it no longer closes the season. I certainly understand that the "rivalry" hasn't been all that intense on the gridiron, and it does make more sense to end things with UNC-State, but in seasons when bowl eligibilty was lost, the bell was always a nice consolation prize to play for. Of course, the ACC is probably recognizing that Coach Cut is creating the next Wake Forest and wants to establish this as a rivalry for the ages. I can't blame them for that... Like last year, the schedule starts off easier than it finishes, but I don't think the two halves are quite as lopsided as last year (though one can never really tell, given the rather unpredictable and disappointing way of ACC football).

Dudes, what say you?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Ballpark That Syringes Built

After the latest report that Alex Roidriguez tested positive for steroids, the question that begs to be asked is ... did anyone on the Rangers team that season NOT use steroids? Setting aside heavily suspected user Pudge Roidriguez, who had moved on to Florida by the 2003 season, that Rangers squad also boasted: (1) confirmed roid user Ratfael Palmeroid; (2) "everyone knows he's using steroids" Juan Gonroidez; and (3) "most people thinks used steroids" Hank Blaroidck. Who knows, maybe even Chan Ho Park was using??

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Mazel Tov Undude!

The blog would be remiss if it did not celebrate the birth of Undude's Daughter - the first child for the Undude and Undude's Wife. Congratulations all!

We attempted to sell the rights to publish the first pictures of Undude's Daughter to US Weekly and OK Magazine - and had driven the bidding to a high of $1.5 million until we were informed that such pictures would not be available.

Scheyer, Singler, Paulus, Smith, ...

Buehler, Buehler....

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Zack Attack Will Not Be Back

On National Signing Day, when it looks like Duke will be bringing in a pretty good class, at least locally, we learn that Zack Asack is changing positions. No sign of where, but I guess he must be pretty committed to the idea or probably would've transferred instead. Wasn't this guy recruited by some major programs?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Objects in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear

Look out Detroit -- we won't catch you in the standings, but Dallas sent a message last night in closing out the season series 3-1, that if we end up with the seventh seed, it may be a tougher first-round matchup than the Wings would prefer. And that's without us signing our 28-year old players to 12-year contracts!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Journey Reunion

The actual Journey team held its 10th anniversary reunion at halftime of the present day Journey's destruction of Georgia Tech today. Invitations for the Franchise and me must have gotten lost in the mail!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

RIP Kay Yow


The rest of you may have more to say about this than me, but sad news from the Triangle this morning.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Change has come ... and so has Reggie!


The incredible path of Reggie Love continues. The Dude posted the CNN lead picture from this morning, and this afternoon the lead is Obama entering the Oval Office ... with Reggie one of two people by his side. Unbelievable.

Change Has Come


Two years after a journey that first began in Springfield, change has finally come to the Oval Office, and not a moment too soon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Change Is Almost Upon Us


And can you believe it?

From the nurturing home of a teenage mother, to the highest office in the land.

From a student searching for identity in Hawaii, to the nation's Commander-in-Chief.

From a non-descript classroom in the basement of a law school in Hyde Park, to the appointer of the interpreters of the constitution.

From a community organizer struggling to get a meeting with local government, to the leader of a movement to change government.

From "I have a Dream," to a Dream Realized.

Noon Eastern tomorrow - it all happens.

Where will you be?

Friday, January 09, 2009

The RoughRiders are Moving to Auburn

Alabama beware, even with Nick Saban around your grip on football dominance in the state may soon end. After revitalizing Minnesota's defense, Coach Roof is bringing his roughriding style of defense to the Tigers. The SEC just got even better.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Why the NHL is crazy

I came across a story today where Alex Ovechkin was added to the NHL all-star roster. That's strange I thought - I don't know much about hockey, but i do know that Ovechkin is one of the two best players in hockey (along with Sidney Crosby, I think). How is it that he needed to be added as a reserve. Then i learned that various voting shenanigans put four players from the host Canadians on the squad. Hey NHL, way to de-legitimize an event that had no legitimacy in the first instance. How did your sport's best player not even get voted in?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Stunning News From Dallas...

No - not PacMan being involved in a strip club shooting - but that the Cowboys apparently have conduct and behavioral standards!?!? Now THAT's change we can believe in!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Melo-drama in Denver

While the Committee has grown to expect key injuries to the Rockets, last night's broken hand in Denver was a surprise. With Anthony now out 3-4 weeks, it comes at a particularly inopportune time for the Nuggets just as they were surging up the standings. With 6 of their next 8 opponents being Miami, Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix, Orlando, and Utah, and a stumbling Houston thrown in for good measure, Denver will have a tough time maintaining their current pace.

On the bright side, this should mean more playing time for surprise starter Dahntay Jones. And by surprise, I mean that I thought he was out of the Association a few years ago.

Hey FOX, Quick Question:

Do any of the players on the University of Texas or The Ohio State University not named Colt McCoy have family? Judging by your coverage and crowd shots of the game, it certainly does not appear. Way to not have slanted coverage - it's good to know that your sports coverage is just as fair and balanced as your news coverage.

Friday, January 02, 2009

DudeSpin welcomes 2009!

Well, another year in DudeSpin's annuls have come and gone. Although many will remember 2008 as a year where our markets cratered, our homes were foreclosed, and many lost their jobs, but it's fair to say that DudeSpin will remember 2008 fondly as the year that America embraced change and elected a potentially transcendant President in Barack Obama; a year that Head Dude and the Franchise embraced change by welcoming new members to their clans; and the year that the Dude returned to the homeland for a spectacular Olympic games. So without further adieu, DudeSpin presents a look back at the year in posts in DudeSpin!

January:
- 1/3: A definite harbinger of things to come as Barack Obama wins the lilly-white Iowa primary;
- 1/8: The dudes add $1,000 to Obama's coffers after disappointment in New Hampshire;
- 1/18: The Cowboys season goes down in flames after a Romo-Simpson tryst in Cabo;
- 1/27: In the least surprising post of the year, DudeSpin endorses Barack Obama;
- 1/28: One of the worst Presidents in history delivers his final State of the Union - a cause for celebration, and a DudeSpin LiveBlog!

February:
- 2/3: David Tyree punches Undude in the gut;
- 2/5: After Super Tuesday, Head Dude opines that "The biggest concern at this point is not letting the delegate deficit get too far away." Little did we know that the Obama freight train was about to take off;
- 2/19: The Dude attends a massive Barack rally in the Toyota Center in Houston, exclaiming, "With a victory in Wisconsin in hand, and March 4 circled on our calendars, there are 3 words that ring out in our efforts to deliver Texas to Barack - 'Si Se Puede!!'" That we did, at least when counting delegates.
- 2/22: A reason not to hate the University of Texas?

March:
- 3/6: Ricky Time! will get you in a brand new car with no money down!
- 3/16: The Rockets finish off one of the most unlikely winning streaks in NBA history;
- 3/18: The Race Speech in Philadelphia, one of the turning points in the primary campaign;
- 3/23: The Undude with a hilarious Easter greeting from the buckle of the Bible Belt!
- 3/24: The Vision with its now annual March flame-out!

April:
- 4/5: Broadway is Dark Tonight!
- 4/19: Airborne takes flight in the Spring Game. In a brilliant photo-journal, the Undude gave us this hint of the season to come: "Zack Asack looked good, and his Blue team moved the ball better than Thad's White team." The picture of Duh-cenzo adjusting his pants remains a classic.
- 4/23: Barack balls with Alison Bales; see video here;
- 4/26: The Franchise rolls out his Mock Draft, some highlights and lowlights: (1) advising the Falcons to take Matt Ryan, they did, and the rest is history; (2) waffling over whether the Ravens should take Brian Brohm or Ryan, but not a peep about Joe Flacco; (3) calling the Panthers' pick of Jeff Otah, reasoning "Panthers will let DeAngelo Williams take a crack at the feature back role and find someone already on the roster to spell him;" bingo; (4) saying about Rashad Mendenhall, "Mendenhall will be an immediate fan favorite" (5) correctly calling the Boys' pick of Felix Jones.
- 4/30: The Dudes and Big Daddy collectively write the obituary on the Little General and the Mavericks' run at glory;

May:
- 5/14: The Franchise treks to the Big D to take in NHL playoff action with Head Dude, and something about Modo!!
- 5/29: A classic photo of Reggie Love, the President-Elect and Chris Duhon;

June:
- 6/2: Obama clinches the nomination with Jeff Russell bolting down the save!
- 6/7: A short-lived Veepstakes Profile series that never quite got to Joe Biden;
- 6/12: The Dude takes in a fundraiser with David Axelrod;
- 6/17: The Committee celebrates another title for Beantown, this time - the Boston Three Party;
- 6/18: Head Dude and the Dude get into it over the Olympic Spirit; like always, the Dude was proven to be right

July:
- 7/12: Perhaps the best Veepstakes Profile, Shane Battier;
- 7/24: Apparently, being despicable runs in the Giuliani family;

August:
- 8/13-8/24: The Olympics LiveBlogs;
- 8/26: Stop the Presses! Head Dude admits that he's wrong!
- 8/28: Obama's Nomination Speech LiveBlog;
- 8/29: McCain picks Caribou Barbie, among the DudeSpin reactions: Dude: "this is a roll of the dice for sure;" Franchise: "I think this may have been the best candidate for McCain and company to cover as many angles as possible;" but perhaps Undude had the best react; "I think this has a chance to backfire on him. I hope Democrats or freethinkers can label this as a blatantly political maneuver. It reeks to me as a blatant attempt to get Hillary voters, and he basically chose a woman for the sake of choosing a woman. I think if voters (men and women) see that, it could make McCain look like a shameless politician who picked someone to play a political game, rather than pick the person he thought was best for the job."
- 8/31: Airborne debuts with a win over JMU and a brilliant LiveBlog from the Undude, which introduced us to Crazy Sweaty Guy

September:
- 9/5: the Dude rolls out the Airborne/Obama Challenge;
- 9/7: Airborne's National Title dreams die with last second loss to Northwestern;
- 9/13: Eron Riley earns much-needed bucks for Bama in a win over Navy;
- 9/21: Head Dude getting a bit too excited, a bit too early about, what I think, was a Terrell Owens block; what was most hilarious was Head Dude's comment that this was "a continuation of the Cowboys establishing themselves as the top team in the league"
- 9/26: First Presidential Debate goes off despite McCain's tomfoolery, the Dude picks up on McCain's petulant old man meta-narrative.
- 9/27: Duke snaps long ACC losing streak against UVa - unfortunately, that would be about it for the highlights as Undude continues to dream of oranges; and earns a total of $565 in the Airborne/Obama challenge!
- 9/30: Head Dude takes to the public airwaves to get the Dude to Ohio;

October:
- 10/15: The Undude strikes again with a hilarious picture recapping the 3rd and final debate;
- 10/18: Airborne trounced by Miami, but Big Daddy is re-introduced to the world as the Ricky Time Guy!
- 10/19: The BoSox bows out of the playoffs, and more inter-Dude spats ensue;
- 10/31: Head Dude debuts little Evan in the Blog;

November:
- 11/4: Jubilation!
- 11/30: Controversy and censorship strike DudeSpin as the Dude descends on Durham;
- 11/30: Airborne's season quietly comes to a close amidst a freezing drizzle at Wally Wade;

December:
- 12/29: Given that DudeSpin 2008 began in January with much public bickering over the Cowboys' early exit, it ends on a similar note.

Well DudeSpin readers, I hope you enjoy this year-end retrospective as much as I've enjoyed putting it together. Although our posts slowed down at the end of the year after the excitement of Change wound down, I am confident that 2009 will see a rebirth of DudeSpin. How could the blog not come back alive with the following things in store for 2009?

- more UTexas wining;
- the Undude's welcoming of a new member to the household;
- more Vision and Journey disappointments;
- the Franchise and the Dude's LiveBlog from Wrestlemania;
- Potential LiveBlogs from Vegas in fall of 2009;
- Obama's 1st 100 days;
- Rockets, Nuggets and Celtics playoff runs;

Si Se Puede.