Off the Cuff: The Duke hatred builds

Live, after the fact, from lunch at Oregano's, it's time for another installment of Off the Cuff with Cat Tracks Editor-in-Chief Brad Allis and John Schuster. Brad's wife was there too, but she just pretty much rolled her eyes while basking in the March glory of her beloved Chicago Cubs.

Off the Cuff is a simple concept. It's a collection of thoughts from Brad and Schu during basic social occasions, like the consumption of meatball and red pepper thin crust pizza.

The topic this time: The hatred of Duke.

Schu: I think the Duke disgust is two-fold. 1. Unquestionably Dick Vitale and the ESPN promotion machine. 2. I think I'm like a lot of people who correlate Duke with Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley, the two greatest whiners in the history of college basketball. They were on the roster when Duke really started to separate itself as THE national college basketball power. Since then they've had Wojo, Dunleavy, a bunch of doofy inside dudes. Now they have JJ Redick, a guy who gets gushed over repeatedly then goes out and clanks six straight three-point attempts, only to actually make one late so he can be some sort of hero.

Brad: I think it's more than that. It's also Coach K and those squirrely expressions every time he doesn't get a call from the officials. People expect coaches to ride the officials, but they have outbursts and move on. Lute will jump on the sidelines, then get a drink of water or study the clipboard. That's ok. K just has that scrunched up facial expression. And he has nothing to complain about. This is the team that got every big call against Maryland in the Final Four and Arizona in the title game. Jason Williams is riding Jason Gardner like a hammock in the championship game. It would have been his fourth foul, but it was never called.

Schu: Well, if the ESPN machine wants Duke to be the hated dynasty, it's done a good job. I would argue Duke may be the most hated team in sports right now. Lots of people don't like the Yankees, but there are Yankees fans everywhere. Same with the Lakers. But Duke's fanbase seems to be pretty much concentrated in a section of North Carolina. There aren't many Duke fans everywhere else. This week, I'm the nation's biggest UConn fan.

…Onto personal commentary…

…Sadly, if Duke wins it this year it will have earned it. It drew what was universally considered the toughest bracket, and even though it got Xavier in the Regional Final, that Xavier team was playing as well as anybody over there and took out a two and three seed to get to where it was. If Duke got a break at all, it was not facing Arizona in the second round, but that was probably minor at best.

Duke will have to earn it in from here on out too. UConn looks like a team possessed, and at worse could wear down Duke in a matchup with a team that plays a similar style in Oklahoma State, or a Georgia Tech squad that already knows what to expect…

…Moving on…

…Kudos to FoxSports 1290 announcer Jim Donovan for being the first sports talk show host to ever drop the name John Cassavetes. It was the Friday after the first batch of Sweet 16 games, and Donovan was discussing how technically 12 teams were left, and how with 12 you had to come up with some cute catchphrase. Sweet 16, Elite Eight, etc. How about the Dirty Dozen? That was a great movie: Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes. Cassavetes was the man.

Donovan is right. Faces, Husbands, A Woman Under the Influence…and who can forget his brilliant portrayal of the evil orchestra conductor in that Columbo episode? Well, I can't, so that's one of us whos…

…More moving on…

…The high school girl who won the slam dunk contest. Is this the most overrated national story of the week? She won a slam dunk contest basically because she dunked the ball. She dunked the ball, period. How about that peek-a-boo? Uh yeah, cover the eyes, sort of, for a millisecond and dunk the ball. The way this is being broadcast, you'd think it was the women's basketball version of suffrage. Well, I have my right to vote, and I'm probably going to continue voting with my remote, and more than likely change the station if one of the options is women's basketball.

Let me get this straight. Because a woman dunked it's like some huge obstacle has been overcome. Look how much like the men we are. Now there's an aspiration. Women showing us they too can forego fundamentals, act like clods and clank no-look three-point attempts in an effort to somehow make a highlight reel.

I can't wait.

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