Duke was a little short of respect. Yes, they were #2 in the college hoops polls, and getting love from the ESPN talking heads, but columnists, bloggers, and everyone else who was paying attention was wondering if they were a little overrated. After all, they had loaded up on "cupcakes" and had yet to play the teams everyone thought were the best in the ACC, Wake Forest and North Carolina.
So with a struggling Maryland team coming into Cameron Indoor Stadium and a national cable television audience tuning in, Duke had an opportunity to prove to everyone they could beat a decent team.
They didn't take advantage of it. Maryland beat Duke at Cameron 75-66. They even played tougher than Duke down the home stretch, holding them to 2 points over the last 3:30 of the ballgame. Duke also got outrebounded 43-37. Duke players and coaches after the game even said that Maryland put up a better effort. So much for proving you deserve the #2 ranking.
Let me clarify something, I have no problem with Duke as an institution or a basketball team. They have one of the best coaches in the nation, Mike Krzyzewski, who also happens to be a Bob Knight guy. And like Bob Knight, Coach K has run a program that won national titles, recruited well without resorting to shortcuts, and graduated the majority of his players. Plus, most of the Duke players are good character guys that happen to have a lot of talent.
That said, I think they, and the ACC in general, get more attention than they deserve sometimes. This season Duke somehow got elevated to #2. Yes, they were undefeated, but they hadn't faced anyone else who was any good, even in conference.
I also don't care for Duke fan and Duke fan's arrogance, but that's a separate issue.
Karl closer to coaching Nuggets
The other buzz in Denver (besides the continuing problems with CU's athletic budget) is that George Karl is close to being named head coach of the Nuggets. Why?
I like George Karl, he can do a lot with a mediocre team and, unlike most NBA coaches, he actually runs offensive plays that don't involve isolation. But this isn't the job that works best for him. Most post-Jordan NBA players are too pampered to listen to him. He really deserves to be in college, where his coaching style actually works and he can choose a roster of players who will actually listen to him.
Super Bowl Item of the Day: Sit down T.O.
Apparently T.O. hasn't gotten the message. He's still trying to play, despite the minor detail that his orthopedic surgeon won't clear him. Naturally, neither the team doctors nor the training staff are standing in his way, even though they should be. I know your shots at a Super Bowl are limted, but T.O. should sit anyway. He's got more years ahead of him, and the Eagles have enough talent to make a few more Super Bowl runs in the future. In other words, he could sit this one out and easily make it back with the Eagles next year. (Heck, what secondary in the NFC has the personnel to match up with him?)
OK, Maybe one more Super Bowl item
Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press tells everyone why should just pick the Patriots now and stick with it:
Pretty soon, up will be down and down will be up. Pretty soon, Donovan McNabb will be a more reliable quarterback than Tom Brady. Andy Reid will be a better coach than Bill Belichick. Pretty soon, Terrell Owens will go from hobbled to never hurt.
Pretty soon, everything you thought you knew will be everything you knew you thought. Pick now. I'm warning you. Once the hype seeps in, it's like driving in a blizzard. Can't see forest. Can't see trees.
I've already made my pick. I'm just waiting until the last possible moment to reveal it
Tomorrow: The disappearance of Chris Rose
Next Tuesday: Part 1 of Cheap Seats' Super Bowl Preview