Remembering Coach Eddie Robinson

You probably saw it in the news yesterday, legendary Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson passed away at the age of 88. Robinson is famous for being a great football coach and great leader of young men, particularly the predominantly poor, southern black men who played for them.
The Sports Frog posted a story by Bob Pentland about meeting coach Robinson several years back. You may remember Bob as the author of the fantastic Eleven series here at Dave Sez. Go read it and you’ll understand a bit better what a great man Robinson was.

Forward Thinking

As soon as a season ends, the first thing most fans do is wonder about the next season. Will my team be better or worse? Is anyone going to leave early? What will I do without Jason Cain’s mustache?
Thankfully, some of the answers to those questions have been answered by ACC guru Dave Glenn. In a three-part series, he previews next year’s ACC taking educated guesses about who’s leaving and who’s staying. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
The bottom line? The league should be quite good next year. Unless Hansbrough or Lawson leave, Carolina should be even better. Georgia Tech could be really good. Duke will be better too. The only two teams who are really being decimated are Maryland and Virginia Tech. The Terps had some promising freshmen though and it might actually be a good thing to continue to sweep out another post-title recruiting class. Actually, Miami probably counts in the decimated category as well, but they weren’t too impressive to begin with, so that’s no big loss.
2008 should be a hell of a season!

Guerrilla Radio – Greatest Teams Since 1980

I’m going to be on Grant Thompson’s Internet Radio show again today at 2:35. In previous appearances, I talked about the ACC and it was going to do/was doing in the NCAA Tournament. Well, now that that’s all over and Florida repeated, the inevitable question comes up – where does this team rank among the all-time teams? They have to be in the conversation, since they are the first to repeat in 15 years and just the second in over 30 years.
For this particular discussion, Grant asked me to come up with my top four teams since 1980. I’m going to cheat a bit and break things into two categories – teams the won the title and teams that did not. College basketball can be a bit capricious and so sometimes the best team doesn’t win. I don’t think we should forget those teams.
So here are my nominees:
Champions
1982 UNC – Worthy, Perkins and Jordan
1984 Georgetown – Ewing, Williams, Wingate, etc.
1990 UNLV – Augmon, Johnson, Anthony, Hunt
1992 Duke – Laettner, Hill, Hurley
1996 Kentucky – Anderson, Walker, McCarty, Delk, Mercer
2001 Duke – Battier, Boozer, Williams, Dunleavy
2005 UNC – May, McCants, Felton
2007 Florida – Noah, Horford, Brewer
Non-Champions
1984 UNC – Jordan, Daugherty, Smith
1984 Houston – Olajuwon, Drexler, Young
1986 Duke – Dawkins, Alarie, Amaker
1991 UNLV – Augmon, Johnson, Anthony, Hunt
1999 Duke – Brand, Langdon, Avery, Battier
And the winner are ….
Champions
1982 UNC – Worthy, Perkins and Jordan
1984 Georgetown – Ewing, Williams, Wingate, etc.
1992 Duke – Laettner, Hill, Hurley
1996 Kentucky – Anderson, Walker, McCarty, Delk, Mercer
Non-Champions
1984 UNC – Jordan, Daugherty, Smith
1984 Houston – Olajuwon, Drexler, Young
1991 UNLV – Augmon, Johnson, Anthony, Hunt
1999 Duke – Brand, Langdon, Avery, Battier
Discuss …

And Then There Was One

One game left in the 2007 season. Sigh.
I always hate to see the season end. It just means months and months of tedious baseball coverage. Oh well. At least it’s a good matchup. You could definitely make a case that we have a game tonight featuring the two best teams in the country. I just checked and Pomeroy has Florida and Ohio State rated as 3 and 4, respectively. Neither of his top two teams, UNC and Kansas, made the Final Four.
The matchups on Saturday were both extremely promising, but neither produced a memorable game. Florida simply took UCLA part, pretty much exactly the same way they did in the finals last year. In the other game, Georgetown was curiously absent of the fire they showed against North Carolina. If the Hoyas had played the same way against the Tar Heels last week, they’d have lost by at least 10. Hell, they couldn’t even be bothered to bitch about every single call this time. It was curious.
Either way, in both games the better team won. I suspect that Florida will win tonight, becoming the first repeat winner in nearly 15 years. Pretty impressive. I’ve never particularly like Florida athletics, but I really like this team and they way it played the past two years. Sure, they could have been more dominant this season, but when it really mattered, they always won.
Two interesting side-stories tonight. The first one is the amazing fact that the same two schools are playing for the basketball title that played for the football championship. That really is incredible. For even one school to achieve that in one year is epic. I doubt we’ll see this happen again in our lifetime.
The other story is the nearly-as-amazing fact that Billy Donovan might actually lead Florida to back-to-back titles and then voluntarily leave for another job – one within his own conference! It may not happen, but clearly it’s still a possibility or he would have squashed the rumor as soon as Tubby Smith left Kentucky. For the record, I think Donovan would be crazy to leave. There’s no question that Kentucky has a greater program, but he’s built something special in Gainesville. Even before this run, he’s had the Gators at the top of the recruiting rankings nearly every year. It seems like every other top player every year has Florida among the schools they are considering. In that respect, they are really no different than Duke, Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Arizona, UConn and UCLA. Billy The Kid is building a Program at Florida. If he stays and coaches another 20 years there, they could join those few elite programs right at the top of the college basketball world.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
But that’s for tomorrow. Tonight, we still have a game. One last game.

The Duke Hatred Report

Everybody loves an enemy. You can’t have an “us” without a “them.” There’s no greater uniter than a common adversary.
And boy do people love to hate Duke. It’s pretty fascinating really, to see just how far this national obsession with the Blue Devils has gone. There have been a lot of hated teams in my lifetime – the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, Notre Dame football, North Carolina basketball, the Cobra Kai – but nobody has seen a backlash quite like Duke.
The Duke Basketball Report has a long article today taking a look at the phenomenon. It’s an interesting read, but I get the feeling that they never quite nailed the reasons why they are hated. I think it’s hard to be that close and still see what’s happening. It’s like trying to describe the Empire State Building while standing at it’s base.
To me, the hatred boils down to a few key points:
1. Duke wins, a lot, and has won for a long time . After a while, Americans tire of a winner.
2. Duke is everywhere. This is an offshoot of the first point, but it’s important enough to stand on its own. Nobody hates the Carolina women’s soccer team. Duke is on TV all the time and even when they aren’t, Dick Vitale and the other announcers talk about them. This has been going on for nearly two decades now.
3. Duke University is an elite school filled with largely rich kids. The kids who go to Duke are the ones you hated in high school – the ones smarter and richer than you. Then you see those kids on TV chanting and jumping and getting credit for being so much more clever than other schools’ fans.
4. Duke has had a lot of very good white players. I can’t explain why, but nobody pisses off opposing fans quite like a good white player, and Duke has had quite a few very good (OK, and some not-so-good) ones – Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, JJ Redick, Steve Wojciechowski, Chris Collins, Josh McRoberts, etc.
5. Mike Krzyzewski isn’t exactly the most lovable guy in the world. He screams at refs, his voice is whiny, he rarely talks to local reporters and he makes TV commercials about what a great guy he is. It’s like he wants folks to hate him. Seriously, I think he probably does want this.
Add it all up and you have a perfect storm of virulence.