Tuesday, January 20, 2009


There are 341 teams in Division I college basketball. Quick: which one, out of all those 341 teams, would have the least room to complain about their treatment by the media?

If you answered anything other than Duke, you are wrong. The answer is Duke. Always, always Duke. I could list the thousand reasons why, but I don't need to. There is no room. None.

Remarkably, this did not stop Mike Krzyzewski from publicly airing a gripe this week about the polls. No, wait--as college basketball's polls are completely and totally devoid of meaning, and as Duke has always been treated with the maximum amount of favor, that would have already been stupid enough. But Coach K somehow took it a whole new level of stupid, complaining that the local News and Observer's coverage not of his team, but of his team's poll ranking hasn't been exhaustive enough.

That's right. Any college basketball coach arguing that their poll ranking is a big deal is dumb. The coach of Duke making this argument by bypasses "dumb" and goes straight to program megalomania. It would be one thing if this were football, and the polls meant something. It would be another if this was a smaller program for whom being No. 2 is actually news-worthy. But this is neither of those things. It is Mike Krzyzewski complaining that Duke deserves more attention for their poll ranking.*

Here's what really, really gets the proverbial dander up: that same Saturday, in the same city of Durham where earlier that day Duke had defeated Georgetown in a heavily-hyped game on national television, Division I transitional team North Carolina-Central took on D-II Chowan in the final game of UNCC's "B.C. Powder Classic," a little three-team invitational where the Eagles could take a break from getting their heads pounded in for money and play two winnable games on their home court. (The sponsorship of a past-its-prime but delightfully regional brand like BC? Perfect.)

In front of an announced attendance of 1,357, UNCC's Jamar Briscoe shot 9-of-15 from the floor, hit all 10 of his free throws, and led all scorers with 31. But it wasn't enough as Chowan drained a 25-foot heave in the dying seconds to escape with a 72-70 win and drop the Eagles to 2-19.

Two Durham basketball teams. Yes, there's a big difference in their quality. Yes, there's a big difference in their fan bases**. And yes, it only makes sense and is maybe, in some ways, only fair that one team gets a thousand times the attention of the other.

But there's not much difference, if any, in how hard the players on these teams work. There's not much difference, if any, in how much these teams care, how much they love the sport of basketball. The same amount of attention? No. But a little more attention for UNCC and a little less for Duke, a little more respect for what UNCC at least makes an effort to accomplish, even if they don't accomplish it the way Duke does? Yes. That, too, is only fair.

Would Krzyzewski agree with that if you put the question to him? He probably would. But that's not the statement he gave us recently. What we do have is a statement telling us, in so many words, that it is Duke that needs more press. What we have is Krzyzewski saying it is his players--the NBA prospects, hamburger All-Americans, and nationally-recognized stars--who are getting the raw deal.

Which is why, every March, I root against his team as hard as I can.

*I should point out that some of Krzysewski's beef may be rooted in the fact that the N&O is apparently a Tar Heel-slanted paper, but still: why on earth would he care what the likes of the N&O thinks or does?

**I don't think race is germane to this post at all. Nonetheless, for the fullest picture of the differences in Duke and UNCC, it has to be noted that UNCC is an HBCU and that Duke's commitment to diversity has, at the very least, been at issue. Just kind of a background FYI.


Reid said...

So you are sickened by the amount of media coverage that Duke gets and so you devote a post to them on an Auburn / Mid-major blog? Makes sense. Love the Auburn coverage and your writing in general, but don't fall for the hating Duke entries, everyone does it and it just comes across as tired and whiny.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Did I say the amount of coverage Duke gets bothers me? I don't think I did. I said that was only fair. But I think UNCC deserves more, and I think Coach K's sniveling about it deserved a response.

You're certainly right that Duke-hating isn't exactly a fresh, out-there approach, but we've got--ugh--almost nine more months before Auburn takes the field. I'll do my best, but not every post between now and then is going to be perfectly on-topic, I'm afraid.

Reid said...

After re-reading the post you are right you didn't directly say that. I apologize. I just figured that a dislike for the large amount of coverage Duke gets was probably one of your reasons for cheering against them every year.

After growing up a big Auburn fan in and all Auburn family I went to college at Duke. Before that I enjoyed hating successful / arrogant teams as much as anyone. Being a Duke student put me on the other side which has been an interesting fan experience. Fan hate of the Maryland variety is easy to deal with and mostly fun. They say they hate arrogance, we diagnose them with a huge inferiority complex blah blah. But every now and then it's hard not to respond in some way. I think what stung was the footnote on diversity. I was able to go to Duke thanks to substantial financial aid. There are plenty of rich white kids at Duke, but they are far from the majority. A better link for Duke's commitment to diversity might have been here http://news.duke.edu/resources/quickfacts.html#students .
(On a side note I actually worked on Roof's staff as a student filmer for three seasons. He struck me as a good solid leader who just didn't have the creativity for such a demanding job. I was very glad to see my football worlds crossover with him at Auburn.)

Jerry Hinnen said...

Reid, I must have reworded that bit on diversity a hundred times--there's a reason I only tacked it on as a footnote. I don't think it's an issue here and even before I looked over the URL you've got here, I would have said the "Duke=privileged, white" image is probably a bit overblown. But I feel like if we're going to be talking about disparities in Durham, the differences in perception of the two schools here has to be acknowledged somehow. Perhaps I could have acknowledged it with a little more even-handedness.

Thanks for your comments on Roof--especially since they're mostly positive.