Editor’s Note: Here is Sunday’s column as it was written, before Duke continued its cruise to its fourth national title. This for all of those who were rooting against the inevitable.
It’s the Final Four, so anything can happen. We all know that much. Grainy highlights of Jimmy V and Ed Pinkney remind us of that often at this time of year. But given The Herald’s early-ish deadlines on Saturday night, this sports section — as you can clearly see — does not have the result of the national semifinal between Duke and West Virginia, which did not finish until after our presstime.
Chances are, faithful reader, you already know what happened. And you’ve probably heard the game broken down in myriad ways. And you’ve likely digested all of the postgame comments.
So what you find here in this space is obviously not an analysis of what transpired between the Blue Devils and Mountaineers, no dissection of Duke’s striking ability to snare offensive rebounds that went for second-chance 3-pointers or its towering inside presence and physical, tough-as-nails defense.
There won’t be anything in here about the Devils again finding a way to make an opponent’s best player rather ineffective, in this case, Da’Sean Butler. Or their vast experience taking control in the game’s final 7 minutes, where a close game gets stretched to a 7-10-point lead as Duke does every single little thing right down the stretch to close out the victory.
None of that is in here. Honestly, you don’t need it. It was readily apparent on the TV screen you watched last night.
But what you will find here is a completely unbiased portrait of a brilliant season by the Duke Blue Devils, a season in which a team without ready-made NBA talent used three go-to scorers, outstanding rebounding, a game-changing, legendary coach and a grinding style that belies their true nature — that of wily, cagey and deft precision basketball in the most important of moments.
It’s truly amazing how Duke does it, by…um…by…hold on a minute…I’ll get it out…
It’s truly amazing how Duke does it, by…um…by…
Oh, forget it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all know how good Duke is. We all know why they’re good. You don’t need to hear it again. And I don’t need to write it again.
Got that? Got it? Yeah, I respect Duke. Respect the heck out of them. They win the right way. Play a brand of basketball not at all unlike any of the other three teams in the Final Four. That’s why they’re there. That style of basketball won this year, and the last four standing are a testament to it.
And Duke’s the best of them.
And the Devils will win it all.
Doesn’t mean someone, possibly someone like me even, has to like it.
The questions is always out there: can a person report on his school’s rival, watch it and write about it in an unbiased, completely objective manner for his or her readers?
You bet he can. Some have been doing it for over a decade. Even longer. It’s out there, people, believe me. I did it, in fact, a little higher up in this here column. You know, just to prove a point.
But I ain’t doing it now. Not anymore.
Because I know what most North Carolina or N.C. State or Wake Forest fans are thinking this morning.
And this is for them.
Take it, leave it, ball it up or line the birdcage with it, I don’t really care right now.
Because I know they don’t want Duke to win the national championship. Not now.
Yeah, I said it.
And meant it.
Maybe that makes them bad people.
Tough. ’Cause they don’t mind.
I went to the University of North Carolina, and I’m a Tar Heels fan. Can’t lie. That’s my school. And that means some things to some of us.
And one of those things is to root against Duke.
Not every Heels’ fan or UNC grad is like this. They wish well for the state of North Carolina, or for the added prestige of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But I ain’t talking about them.
You can, though. Criticize them all you want, Dukies. Rub your national title in their faces and wax poetic about the winning ways of Coach K, Singler, Scheyer and Smith.
Go ahead and dance on the Tar Heels’ grave and say they are sore losers.
And so were some of you last year.