An Incurable Case of the (Duke) Blues
You knew come winter I’d be back, that arrogant half-Yankee Dukie who barely conceals her disdain for Duke-haters.
That cantankerous old broad who adores tall boys in bright blue jerseys. That basketball maven who knows the post from the paint, a floater from a runner, a charge from a block — and went bonkers when devilish Duke triumphed over angelic Butler last April, in Indianapolis.
Remember, too, that I may be the only Duke graduate who risks diploma revocation by cheering for Carolina in all but two of its ACC games. A year ago November, I even bought a new high-def TV because the screen is shaped like a basketball court.
Well, the sneakers are a-squeaking, the trifectas are a-swishing and I’m busy analyzing my boys, not necessarily from an athletic perspective — although lord knows, at 15-0, the ACC wouldn’t look too good without their attributes.
Duke’s season as defending NCAA champs is shaping up like a well-constructed novel, with tension building after a podiatric tragedy early on — the toe injury suffered by frosh phenom Kyrie Irving in the game against … uh, let’s just say this time the Butler really did it. A toe: How could such a tiny appendage sideline a speeding bullet, a charging bull, a shooting star?
I’m devastated for Irving. But perhaps in the long run, this will make the season competitive instead of a runaway. In Irving’s absence, Coach K seems to be playing matchmaker: who dances well with whom.
And since whom rhymes with womb, let’s segue to the brothers Plumlee, as in one Duchess’ placard reading, “All I want for Christmas is the Plumlee boys.”
Miles, the younger (and cutest) blond bro, looks like he spent the summer bulking up. He’s his own man now, a force under the boards at 6-foot-11, with a year to shine before becoming sandwiched between Mason and 7-foot baby brother/high school senior Marshall.
I guarantee a Sports Illustrated cover.
If those siblings don’t go pro, they can always shill for Calvin, Ralph or Hugo.
Kyle Singler is still so hot-wired he practically glows. In contrast, Nolan Smith appears calm, cool, sneaky and wickedly effective. Andre Dawkins’ lucky number is 3, and Seth Curry has almost mastered the secret handshake.
Do not underestimate gangly Ryan Kelly, one of three North Carolinians on the roster.
In order to appreciate the grace and meld of these athletes, one must watch other teams.
Here’s where I wax really arrogant.
I’ve glanced at Kansas, Kentucky, Villanova and Syracuse — all capable in my knuckleheaded opinion, all strong, but lacking a certain zen, a Baryshnikovian grace only a woman notices. A woman invested in every zit, every bead of sweat shed by her beloved ensemble of short-haired, mostly clean-shaven young men who I wish didn’t tattoo but you can’t have everything.
As for stomaching that venomous rat-faced coach with the unspellable name, consider this: Whom would you chose for a heart transplant — a rat-faced surgeon with 15 Ks in his name and a stellar success rate, or sweet-talking pretty-boy Dr. Joe Smith who’s buried a few? Patients, that is, not alley-oops.
I hear the gnashing of teeth, the guttural growls, the four-letter words that don’t begin with D and end with E. You all want me to eat my pompous words come March — and well I may.
Anything can happen. Coach K’s hair might get mussed. Cameron Crazees could contract blue-paint dermatitis. Dick Vitale might (oh, happy day) suffer prolonged laryngitis. A cheerleader could be benched for cellulite. Nolan Smith could have a bad night (as he did against Maryland) and score only 18.
But I doubt it. I’m betting the Toe Fairy will cure Irving, the Plumlees will make Mommy prouder, Singler will double-double every game, and that devilish team everybody loves to hate will not only bring home the bacon from Houston, but also fry it up crisp.
Aim rotten tomatoes at firstname.lastname@example.org
More like this story