Duke’s Cinderella Story

… We’re ACC Tournament Champs. Wow. What happened? Duke came back from deficit in their four wins in order to secure an ACC title. There was a point in the Notre Dame game where I almost changed the channel. Duke was getting destroyed with steals to fast breaks to layups. I was already drafting a bitter roast article where I’d compare Vasturia’s face to the face of a child who stole a cookie from the cookie jar when their mommy wasn’t looking. But there’s no need for that now, since Duke came back. So let’s talk.

Seeing Matt Jones make that huge three in the end to secure the win was unbelievable. I was beyond thrilled, and so was everyone in that stadium. It’s never Matt. Matt never gets the big plays. No one passes it to Matt to make the big shot. Usually, Matt’s on the bench by the end. But he got it this time. What a great senior moment. You can’t help but flash back to all of the great but unspoken things Matt has done for this team. He’s been a leader since sophomore year, not by play but by attitude. Matt is the grounding spirit of the team, and always has wise words to give to his teammates. He also stepped up sophomore year after Rasheed Sulaimon was booted out. Matt’s the gravity that holds the team together, and it was nice to see him get to be the big star for once.

Duke may have clinched a one seed in the NCAA tournament. It’s unheard of, but many sources see it as a legitimate possibility. They’ve beaten UNC two out of three times. They’re also title holders in the ACC. Duke’s showing promise, and there’s no doubt that the NCAA has taken note of that. Duke’s stock is soaring after the last four games. They are shaking up college basketball. Duke could be the first eight loss team to earn a No. 1 seed. Success is looking inevitable for the Blue Devils.

However, did Duke’s conference win ruin their chances for the National Title? Let’s look back at the curse of the conference over the years. Last year, it was UNC vs Villanova in the finals. UNC was the ACC tournament champion, while Villanova had lost to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament. Villanova ended up winning. And the year before that, it was Duke vs Wisconsin in the NCAA championship. Duke had lost to Notre Dame in the ACC semifinals, while Wisconsin had won the Big Ten tournament. It’s basically a curse. If you win your conference, you don’t win the national title. However, Duke’s been breaking records and standards all season. I wouldn’t put an NCAA championship out of the question for them.

Notre Dame aka the leprechauns wore the same jerseys two times in a row for good luck and still lost, never forget that.

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Don’t Sleep On Duke

If I’ve learned anything in all my years of watching basketball, it’s that Duke is never the underdog. Never switch the program when Duke is down. Don’t doubt Coach K. And never, and I mean never, assume Grayson Allen lost his talent. Tonight’s game against UNC proved a lot about Duke’s grit, intentions, talent, and determination. They went from being down eleven most of the game to being up eleven. I’m still not sure what all happened, but I am sure that Grayson was a huge part of it. If he wasn’t making a huge three, he was making a huge assist. He doesn’t change the play, he changes the game. No one can hate on him now. Now I could hate only UNC for the rest of this, but I think there playing spoke for itself. I will say, though, Roy Williams babies his players too much. They quite literally pout and cry when they get behind. UNC can’t pick themselves up from a deficit, since Roy has allowed them to become privileged and sheltered. That’s all I’m gonna say. So back to Duke. Winning tomorrow would be tough. In fact, no team has won four straight games to grab the ACC title before (maybe out any conference, don’t quote me though). All I know is, here are some things to for tomorrow:

Fatigue. Duke’s three tiresome games in a row. It’s gonna be a fight to the finish. Shots will be missed, lazy fouls will be called, and Duke will get beat to the rim. Duke plays like 7 people, and that includes Matt Jones. The Blue Devils are going to have to dig deep to find some energy. Their legs will be burning.

Notre Dame? The Irish are my pick for the finals, despite the fact that they have no discernible talent. There bigs will give Duke’s small and weak posts trouble. However, when it comes to the perimeter, anything they can do Duke can do better. Their coach may look like a Father Leprechaun, ready to cast a spell on the opposing team, but I’m not too threatened by the Irish. It’s also to Duke’s favor that the Irish have had two late games.

So let’s get that dub.

Roy Williams puts his deepest bench players in when he’s about to lose so the starters don’t take have to take responsibility for their failures, never forget that.

Grayson Allen, Welcome to Your Intervention

Grayson Allen will make a great psychologist one day. (If you don’t get it he’s a psychology major.) If you haven’t heard, Grayson’s done messed up again. His anger got the best of him. He got T’d up and ended up scoring no points against Syracuse. Now, well he had a great game versus Louisville, Grayson’s entire career is still in jeopardy. He’s just not cutting it. Where are his award nominations? Why isn’t he on any All- ACC team?  Grayson is in trouble when draft time comes. He is failing to keep it together. I want the world for Grayson, I’m not a hater whatsoever. However, there comes a time when you must give a wake up call to those that are struggling in order to help them snap out of it. Grayson Allen, welcome to your intervention.

Grayson is too angry for his own good. Passion is a beautiful thing. With passion, doctors are able to perform life saving operations, entire countries are able to get independence, and young minds are able to spark revolutions. There is nothing wrong with playing with your heart. However, Grayson has allowed his anger to grow inside him like a cancer, causing him to snap after any bad call or moment of panic. Grayson really needs to cool it. I don’t think he has psychological issues. Considering the hate he gets, his reactions are absolutely normal. But that doesn’t make them okay. It’ll take more than deep breaths and yoga to fix his problems. If Grayson wants to get better, he needs to have a ‘come to Jesus’ style meeting where he finds the root of all his issues.

Grayson also needs to find where he fits in to the team. Some games he drops 18, others he drops zero. Grayson still doesn’t know how to contribute to the team. They need him, alright, but there’s nothing he offers consistently. Luke is always the go to for threes. Amile has rebounds. Jason is a dynamic dribbler. Frank can drive and has great vision. Grayson needs to pinpoint something he can work hard to consistantly offer in order to thrive. He used to be a go to for driving. The team needs more from him now. As much as it breaks my heart to see him not start, I get it. He’s a coin flip, and the team never knows what kind of performance they’ll get from him. When he was a starter, no one ever knew what to expect from him each game. He need to work to be more solid, and he’ll rise up on the team.

Grayson needs to focus. The only that should matter to him is getting drafted. Grayson took summer classes in order to get his degree this year. His plan was always to apply for the draft after junior year, mostly because this years team looked so promising. He cannot afford to stick around as a four year player, but it looks like he’s going to have to. His stock is tanked. Grayson needs to find a way to make everything better for him, for his future. I want to watch him on the NBA not Dr. Phil. It was a big mistake to drop out of last year’s significantly easier draft.

Moral of the story, Grayson has a lot of work to do. But, as Abby Lee Miller has said about her favorite, “some kids are just special.” Grayson is a special, special kid who has made big plays for Duke. There’s no denying the fact that he won them the national championship. Grayson has created his own scale for judgement. He can turn this around, but it’ll take some work.

UNC has argyle uniforms, never forget that.

So Who’s Duke’s Dynamic Duo?

It’s an age-old question in sports, really. Who do you need to stop in order to win? Who controls the team? Golden State has the Splash Brothers (Kevin Durant fits in that duo questionably… and Draymond tries to force his way in). The Heat had Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Chris Bosh. The Thunder had Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant (shots fired).  And Cleveland has Lebron James and Kyrie Irving (don’t even try to tell me Kevin Love belongs in this list… that’s just disgraceful). Side noting from the main point- what’s up with Kevins though? Kevin Durant and Kevin Love both stirred up controversy in a short list, not to mention in the NBA every day. Must be in the name-. So who’s Duke’s perfect pair?

Gruke

 The obvious one that comes to mind is Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen.  The classic pairing of assists and passing ability with shooting and spirit. She writes, he rocks. Both are lethal when they’re on. Both are incredible three point shoots. Both show leadership ability. Combining their stats, they probably outperform any other pairing in most categories. So what could be wrong?

Grayson and Luke never have good games together. If Grayson’s shooting is on, than Luke’s shooting is off. If Luke is making baskets right off the bat, than Grayson doesn’t get any  worthwhile looks. The universe will not let us see what happens when both players are in beast mode at the same time. Like dividing by zero, the world would probably end if it was ever achieved. So sorry, Luke and Grayson will never be the dynamic duo of Duke. But hey, they’ll always have Plane Rides and Phone Pool.

Gramile

Grayson Allen and Amile Jefferson are both strong players, veterans, and National Champions. They even started off the season as captains together. Amile rebounds like no one’s business, and Grayson can always spot him down low for an easy 2. If either of them weren’t around this season, than the team would not be as prosperous and hungry as it is now. Not to mention, off the court Amile has shown to have a real soft spot for the mischievous-yet-lovable Grayson.

However, Grayson and Amile have not shown the dominance required in order to be Duke’s Dynamic Duo. With Amile’s injury last year, he went off the radar. The public, press, and even fans seem to forget about him every other game. His impact is always downplayed, which ruins his shot at being named MVP. Grayson has also taken a hiatus; a forced one, that is. With all of his controversy, overexposer, and hate no one will ever have the audacity to give Grayson his deserved recognition. He will always be downplayed. So together, with underexposer and overexposer, Amile and Grayson will never be accepted by the public. No one would grant them that right. But don’t worry, Amile and Grayson, we see you!

Lason

Luke Kennard and Jason Tatum have both made it clear that they are playing to win. No mercy. No holding back. On the perimeter, no one rolls their eyes or hold their breath if Luke or Jason take a shot, regardless of how open they are. Their teammates don’t even crash the boards when they shoot! Tatum has an undeniable dominance with his playing. He doesn’t have the “Freshman Fear” seen in Frank Jackson, Harry Giles, or Marques Bolden. He can dribble, drive, pass, and shoot with ease. In fact, and I hope I can say this without jinxing it, I think he’s playing like the glorious freshman from two years ago. They were leaders and commanded the team like seasoned pros. He’s more dominant than Brandon Ingram was last year. And Luke, well Luke’s really taken off. Instead of having a few remarkable games like last year, Luke is having MOSTLY remarkable games with a few rocky ones. He’s come out of his shell and now has some confidence. Luke isn’t scared to shoot anymore, and is now the best left-handed threat in the NCAA.

Let’s not forget their age, though. Jason Tatum is a freshman. Sure, he’s having a better adjustment than most newcomers in college ball, however, that does not make up for inexperience. A couple of games ago he went like 0-12 behind the three point line. He was too naive and new to the game to know what to do when his magic touch wasn’t working. Jason has trouble adjusting and shaking things off. Luke is a sophomore. Despite what every sophomore will tell you, the youngsters do not know everything. Luke still has to learn a lot about the game and himself. He also needs even more confidence than he has now. Sure, Luke has grown a ton since last season, but he still has much more to discover. They may be amazing players, but Luke and Jason do not have what it takes to take a team on their back.

Mrayson

Aahhh, the timeless duo of Grayson Allen and Matt Jones. If those two together don’t put a smile on your face, than clearly you’re no OG Duke fan. The two have an undeniably adorable friendship that warms all the Cameron Crazies hearts. Any video on Duke Basketball’s YouTube channel starring them gets hella views. Grayson is a superstar. His dunks are insane, his shooting range is phenomenal, his athleticism is unobtainable, and his heart is admirable. How could Grayson not be considered a leader? And Matt, he’s a special player. Matt probably should have struggled more than he did in his years at Duke. He doesn’t really shoot outside of the three point line (I’m not even kidding), he’s not dynamic, he lacks the speed and vertical all the youngsters have, he’s fragile, and there’s always younger talent coming in and taking his position. Remember, he was originally a SHOOTING GUARD. When’s the last time you actually saw Matt play shooting guard? Like never. In fact, I’d argue Matt’s the only player in college basketball that goes out their for extended periods of time and plays absolutely no position. He’s a guard, that’s as specific as you can go. Coach K’s literally like: okay we’ll put out a point guard, a shooting guard, a small forward, a power forward, and a Matt. But Matt’s survived his four years at Duke as a starter, a player, and a favorite. His defense is timeless. Matt’s the only person that can earn a steal, no one else has the defensive talent to knock the ball away without fouling or the ball basically being passed straight to them. He can also make big threes. His footwork and form is efficient, he only misses when he doesn’t have enough time to properly align or when he rushes. Matt started when Duke won the 2015 National Championship. He’s a special, special kid that impacts the team. I’d say Matt and Grayson shape the team more than anyone. And what the heck, throw Amile in there too. No one can deny they’ll ball their eyes out when Amile isn’t there to peace out to Bull City.

Mraymile

So there you have it. The captains (well i guess G isn’t a captain anymore but we don’t need to strike that nerve right now) take it.

There is no amount of drugs, alcohol, or overall stupidity that can explain why UNC would make up the word “Tarheel” to permanently label themselves and their team, never forget that.

Is Luke Kennard the New Grayson?

With all the young ages athletes that are leaving for the NBA draft in college basketball, it almost seems like teams are having to replace their star players each year. Underclassmen are constantly being required to take the lead and to live up to the legacies of their predecessors. However, Duke has been put in an interesting situation this year. After being carried last year by Grayson Allen, it seemed almost certain that G would be the undeniable star for the team this season. He was even projected to be the ACC player of the year. However, Duke’s season has not been going as projected, and sophomore Luke Kennard has been the one having a remarkable year. Every news site is reporting that Luke is Duke’s MVP. So what happened? Did Luke replace Grayson before Grayson even left?

The answer is no. Luke is not the new Grayson. I could give you some sappy lecture about how comparing two players is like comparing apples and oranges, or about how everyone is their own special self, but that’s not what this is about. Luke is not better than Grayson. Luke doesn’t carry Duke. And Grayson is not failing. So what’s happening?

This season, Luke Kennard has had 411 field goal attempts. Grayson has only had 299 attempts. Grayson also has the highest average assists per game on the team at 3.6 assists. Last season, with key players like Quinn Cook, Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow gone (and Amile Jefferson deemed out due to foot injury), Grayson was faced with the pressure of making up for all of the talent gone. The rest of his team was young and inexperienced. To be honest, Grayson was inexperienced too. He hadn’t played much in past the regular season, only truly stepping up in the Final Four and National Championship.  Nevertheless, he was given all the looks, drove to the hoop every time he got the ball, and led the team in most statistics. This year, Grayson feels less pressure to perform. Luke has stepped up and shown his unique ability to score. Grayson sees this and now favors passing over shooting the ball himself. Luke is getting far more shot attempts, so of course he has more points per game. And quite frankly, Luke can only play well when Grayson isn’t. Any time Grayson starts going off, Luke starts missing. It’s an unfortunate pattern, but if you watch the games as closely as I do than you’ve noticed it. Luke still doesn’t have it together enough to be the superstar.

Grayson has also been battling injuries all season long. He’s had a broken toe, dislocated finger, an ankle injury, and countless smaller issues. This affects everything in his game and has been holding him back drastically. Being healthy changes everything. If Grayson heals up for the NCAA tournament, than we can expect him to be a bigger part of the game. And then there’s the tripping incident. Oh yes, the three little controversial events that the media have blown out of proportion in order to ruin this poor kid’s career. They’ve labeled him as a dirty player, a punk, and an overall jerk that should be hated. How classy. However, I seem to remember Grayson spending the first half of his sophomore year having countless dirty plays happen to him.

He got elbows to the face, punches thrown at him, and he was able to average a 90% free throw percentage for the longest time due to all of his “trips” to the line for fouls and technicals. But he’s the villain. He’s the bad one. Not only did he miss a game due to his latest trip, but Grayson also lost confidence in himself. His outburst on the bench after the trip made it clear that the media’s hate has gotten to him. Grayson is shaken up, and all of the negative comments that have been made about him are weighing on him. Most college players don’t have to deal with an entire nation hoping that they fail. He’s too young to handle it. He doesn’t have the privilege of unlacing his shoes at the end of a game or practice, going home, and leaving his career in the gym. It follows him everywhere. Rude tweets, photos, and articles are posted on the daily. He can barely breathe without offending someone. So Grayson didn’t peak last year. He hasn’t lost his touch. He was never overrated, especially now. And no, Luke Kennard did not replace Grayson. No one can compare to G.

Justin Jackson looks like the love child or Dr. Doofenshmirtz and Obama, never forget that.

So Duke Lost to UNC. But Were We Really the Big Losers Last Night?

It’s true, last night the Tarheels beat Duke. Point one for Satan. However, was Duke really the big loser? Every time UNC plays Duke they expose themselves to the world. They’re no winners. When it comes down to it, UNC chokes every time they meet the Blue Devils. Remember how they lost to Duke earlier this year in Cameron Indoor? Yeah, they lost to the team that lost to NC State, and UNC destroyed NC State. UNC also lost to Virginia, a team that Duke beat pretty easily. It’s basically been proven that UNC can only barely scrape by when playing Duke. Their defense sucks, and Duke is almost always given the chance to counter back with a 2 or 3. That’s another thing, UNC can drive like nobody’s business, but when playing a team with range, they need to learn how to get more looks outside the perimeter. UNC is a pretty solid team, but every time they play Duke they prove to the world that they will never be good enough. UNC is not going to win the national championship. They’re too flawed. So I really feel like the took the L tonight. UNC U N Sucks.

The second loser that comes to mind is Notre Dame. This game really sucked for them. Along with having all of their players and fans bear an unfortunate resemblance to leprechauns, Notre Dame also has the unfortunance of being tied for 2nd in the ACC now. Second is the first to lose. They must really be beating themselves up right now. Remember when they went through that four game losing streak? Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia, UNC? I’m surprised anyone stuck around to watch them after that… And they didn’t just lose to Duke, they lost to Jeff Capel. Enough said. So maybe the Fighting Irish were the real losers of the game. And now all their poor fans have to go to work on Monday and stand there in front of everyone like they aren’t big losers.

Roy Williams has a dab video that actually makes you wonder if living in a world like this is actually worth it anymore, never forget that.