I've had enough. Following the most recent embarrassment of pro-Duke cheatery, I'm going to blow my lid. Forgive me if you're one of those unfortunate souls that's been duped in to thinking Mike Kryzyzyziezewki is someone to be admired and emulated. He's not. He is the John Stockton of college basketball, except he doesn't have quite the same rap as a dirty, dirty man.
On Saturday, during Duke's overtime "win" against Florida State, the Duke cheating reached an all-time high. (I'm not one to spout conspiracy theories very often, but the pro-Dukeness in college basketball is sickening, and, in my mind, undeniable.) With about nine minutes remaining, Florida State forward Alexander Johnson fouled Duke's Sheldon "I Make Sam Cassell Look Purty" Williams. He fouled him hard. An intentional foul was correctly assessed on Johnson.
But that's when the trouble started. Williams lept up and threw his pincers into Johnson, aggressively confronting him and instigating physical contact. Johnson threw his arms back and tried to move away from the rabid alien that was charging him. And what do the referees do? They assess a double freaking technical foul.
As if we should be surprised.
There's some good news in this particular story, however. The officiating crew from the contest was suspended for one game for their inappropriate call. I applaud the effort to punish them for their horrific officiating, but while this post-mortem punitive action may be a good thing, the incident itself is all too typical of how Duke is treated by officials.
Consider the same Florida State game. The Blue Devils shot a whopping 43 free throws in the game. That's a lot for any game, and you'd be wise to conclude the officials were calling it tight. Until you looked at Florida State's free throw totals. They had 11 attempts.
Huh? Are we to believe that the painfully slow, white Dukies were just too quick for Florida State, leaving the Seminoles no option for stopping them but to foul? Or, conversely, that the same slow, white Dukies were quick enough to avoid committing any fouls on the defensive end? Puh-lease.
It's so bad that one ACC Coach, speaking under condition of anonymity, told the Washington Post, "I wondered if Duke would start getting all the calls once they started contending for a number one seed in the NCAA tournament."
This is not one of those hard-to-believe, there-are-no-real-facts, conspiracy theories. Duke gets to the line at a ridiculously higher rate than their opponents. It's been going on for years, and everybody, short of Duke apologists, knows it.
It's not one of those blown out conspiracies where officials "want" Duke to win. That's going too far. But there's clearly an MJ rule for Duke. It wasn't so long ago that Michael Jordan had a special set of rules governing how he was to be officiated. It's gotten that way for Duke, though this recent egregiousness may finally curtail that some (in the short term, anyway). And you know what? As much as it pisses me off, it's credit to Coach AmEx. It's his job as a coach (and a "born leader", Ugh) to give his team the best possible chance to win. Do I blame him for doing all he can? No. Do I resent the results? Absolutely.
Duke somehow has this reputation as being a bunch of solid, upstanding young men. Some of them are, of course. Shane Battier comes to mind. But even among the nicest of these guys, they are taught to play dirty. I vividly recall Christian Laettner stomping on Kentucky's Jamaal Mashburn during the historic 1992 NCAA regional final. It's not atypical. The Dukies are dirty like John Stockton, but because Coach K is who he is, and does what he does so well, it's swept under the rug. Or more accurately, it's completely ignored.
On Saturday, after the ridiculous Florida State game, ESPN's Reece Davis put up a graphic showing how many more fouls the Dukies have drawn than their opponents. After handing the facts to Dick Vitale for comment, what does Vitale do? He yips and screams and barks about conspiracists trying to taint the sacred name of Duke.
"But these are the facts, Dick."
"Who cares? They're scintillating! They're sensational! Coach K's balls taste so -good- baby!"
(For more on this, see LD's excellent take over at Gunslingers.)
I guess I'd better stop and let it go at this for now. If this post disappears, don't look at me. Our boy Wiggins is to blame.
If you'd care for further Duke conspiracy reading, enjoy The Truth About Duke website.