Three Out Of Four

I’ve been meaning to write a lacrosse article for weeks now. Ever since Sports Illustrated put lacrosse on their cover (albeit as the secondary story), I’ve wanted to capitalize on their momentum. Since then, other news outlets have been running “lacrosse is hot” pieces. The local News & Observer ran one, the Greensboro News & Record did too, and so did the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In fact, Google News shows that the meme (standard blog term) is spreading across the country. Articles on how hot lax is can be found in Tahoe, Idaho, Green Bay, Salt Lake City, Portland and Santa Cruz.

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Blue vs. Blue

The rivalry is back.
And it might be better than ever.
A little recent history for you.
Not too long after Mike Krzyzewski had established Duke as a legitimate first-tier program in the late 80s and early 90s, Dean Smith retired (and to head off any hate mail, I’m not suggesting Dean retired because of Duke’s rise). Bill Guthridge did pretty well in his three seasons (he took them to two Final Fours), but clearly things were getting wobbly for the Tar Heels. Of course, you know all about the disastrous reign of Matt Doherty. In three years, he finished off the destruction, steering the Carolina tanker straight into an iceberg of dissent and failure.

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Life In The Trenches

I ran across an article that someone had cut and pasted to a message board at thesabre.com and thought I needed to share it. It’s not clear where the article originated, so I’m just going to paste the whole thing in here. It’s signed by a Ryan Jordan, who may or may not be the same Ryan Jordan who writes recruiting articles for scout.com.
The article is about what an offensive lineman goes through during and after games. It’s a great read. Enjoy.

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Tribal Conquest

Stewardess: Would you like something to read?
Woman: Do you have anything light?
Stewardess: Umm, how about this leaflet: “Famous Jewish Sports Legends”?
Well, it’s time to add another line to the leaflet! It might even be a pamphlet by now.
Not only is Duke recruit Jon Scheyer Jewish, but so was the entire starting five of his state champion high school team (and the first sub). Pretty amazing, given the stereotype that Jews are short and relatively unathletic. In college, I had quite a few Jewish friends who were very good basketball players, but I’m still surprised that this team could win a state championship in a basketball state like Illinois.
Big hat tip to a poster at the Sports Frog for finding this link.
And by the way, Duke haters are going to have plenty more to fuel their jealous fires. Duke has received commitments from two top-twenty-five recruits this week (Scheyer and Gerald Henderson) and another is likely on the way. Three in one week! Looks like Coach K will have a great team next season (likely preseason #1), a top recruiting class for the next year, and with three juniors already signed, plenty of time to get a headstart on the next batch of underclassmen.
Update: It’s now official. 7’1″ prospect Brian Zoubek committed to Duke today.

Rating The Coaches – What The Players Think

Mike at Braves & Birds found a fantastic site the other day. It’s a website that collects and reports ratings of college football, basketball and baseball coaches. The ratings are done exclusively by current and former players of those coaches. Talk about your interesting inside info!
The basketball ratings don’t seem to be very mature yet, so I’m most interested in the college football coaches. You can view the ratings here.

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Duke Gets Guard

Duke landed top prep shooting guard John Scheyer yesterday. Scheyer was named first-team all-state in Illinois this year after leading his team to the state title as a junior.
The really interesting side to this story is that Scheyer was heavily recruited by in-state power Illinois. Scheyer’s high school coach? A certain Dave Weber, brother of Bruce Weber, the head coach at Illinois.
Ouch.
When you can’t land in-state players off of your brother’s team, that doesn’t say good things. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that it says bad things about brother Dave. Either way, it’s tough for the Illini.
As you might expect the Duke Basketball Report has plenty more.
Update: I was a moron and wrote “Dick” Weber instead of Bruce Weber. Pretty sad when I confuse a college basketball coach with a bowler.

Strong Family, Jules

When Julius Hodge graduated from NC State this past Saturday, he was just fulfilling a contractual obligation.
Back before he began at State, his mother made him sign a document stating that he would graduate. And then she had the contract notarized.
Now that’s a great woman. I wish more moms (and dads) of players would expect the same of their sons. Too often, it seems that parents, players and even coaches ignore the lifelong benefits of persevering and earning that college degree. They get blinded by the bouncing balls and bright lights of fame (and money).
So, good for Julius and EXTRA good for his mom, Mary Hodge.
Out of respect, I won’t speculate how things might have been different if Hodge had projected as a lottery pick a year or two ago…

Chasing Chris

I’ve been a bit lax in my blog reading lately. My bad.
I just now caught up with Chris Chase’s site and found two fantastic posts. The first is about our country’s near catastrophic loss of the great Tony Danza.
The second one is a hilarious review of Shavlik Randolph’s curious decision.
Chris is bringing his A game. Must have been inspired by the Wizards making the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time in his lifetime.

Shav Stuff

When Shavlik Randolph declared himself eligible for the NBA draft, everyone was shocked. Some even speculated as to why he would do such a thing.
Since then, a single theory has gained the most credibility, largely because it came from the Shav Daddy himself – Kenny Randolph. Mr. Randolph said that basically all Shavlik was doing was feeling the waters. He has no intention of actually leaving Duke early – he just wants to know what the NBA thinks of him and what they think he needs to improve.
Now, before you snort (well, you probably already did), remember that Randolph is actually a very skilled player. He is one of those guys whose numbers don’t really reflect the player he is, or more accurately, the player he could be. Sure, he only scored 4 ppg this year and only 6 for his career, but he has the ability to put up 20+ in any game.
The thing is, he has very rarely shown up to play in college. He always seems slow. Not physically slow – he appears to be pretty quick for a 6’11” guy to me – but mentally slow. He’s obviously not stupid and he knows the game, but he takes forever to react, like he’s scared of screwing up.
So anyway, back to the plan of declaring for the draft and then coming back. Really, there’s no reason not to do this. The NCAA allows you to try it once in your career, so if you haven’t tried if by your senior year, you might as well take a swing. The only downside is pissing off your coach (just ask Damien Wilkins), but Krzyzewski seems on board here.
The flip side for Randolph is that I doubt he’s gonna learn much. His NBA draft potential isn’t that high to begin with (I’m being kind) and now he’s said that he’s probably not going to leave anyway. Why would they waste an invitation on this kid?
My guess is that Shavlik gets very little feedback on his game other than some guffaws and short phone calls. Of course, maybe that’s what he needs to hear.

Uche!

I don’t claim to be a college basketball recruiting junkie. I follow it, but not so close that I know all the players, their stats and favorite colors. I find the whole process a little creepy.
That said, I do know Uche Echefu. Hard to forget a name like that. For a long time, I thought for sure that he was going to go to Maryland. Then, when the Blue Exodus hit Chapel Hill, it seemed a lock that Echefu would join the Heels. That seemed even more likely when he trimmed his final list to just Carolina and Florida State. Hmmm, who would you pick, UNC or FSU?
Well, Echefu picked the Seminoles.
Man. That’s a huge signing for Leonard Hamilton.
Still, I think Uche Echefu’d up.