People hate Duke's men's basketball team without even being able to explain why they hate the Blue Devils. It's unfortunate, really, because they are really a good bunch...even the snarky Jim Rome-wannabees really aren't paying attention if they've followed the 2009-2010 Dukies all the way to the Final Four and still grunt and groan...
In an era in college basketball besmirched by the "One-and-Doners" who don't even go to class, the Blue Devils stick around for three, sometimes four years. Oh, that's why you hate 'em? You hate kids for graduating from college?
Look at the four guys pictured...Lance Thomas and John Scheyer are seniors. Look at how happy they were when they engaged in synchronized celebrations with Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. You know...you should like that Singler and Smith were bright enough to pass up the lure of the NBA draft. They could've been convinced by some schnook in agent's clothes to apply for the draft and follow Duke guys like Josh McRoberts in the D-League with kids who believe their own hype.
Hate them because they seem to come from families with working parents who pay their bills? Or...love them because there hasn't been a basketball payola scandal at Duke in forever.
Just check this out...you're going to love the Blue Devils.
You hate Duke? Hmmm. You know that they're in the Final Four without having paid to steal any other school's recruits, right?
Look at what Kentucky nearly pulled off...throwing millions at John Calipari to buy a fantastic recruiting class away from Memphis. And...you want to waste energy griping about Coach K and his recruits?
While some enjoyed J.J. Redick's career at Duke, he was easy to dislike...OK, to despise...fans despised him.
But, hey, he's gone! And, maybe you can find some love for the program because...J.J. sucked it up, took his medicine, and has earned playing time for the Orlando Magic where, frankly, he rarely looks as smug as he does in this photo.
There was a point when gigantic Brian Zoubek's game appearances were highlighted by a quick foul and him falling down after missing a rebound or setting a moving screen.
Can't forget the walking calls when he tried a post move. Before Duke's second Maryland game, Zoubek became a senior center who played like he was sprinkled with magic dust.
What's not to love about a team that went from pretender to title contender because their giant senior somehow found himself...found a game...and became a force around the hoop?
Sure, they'll say it was hard work...but, the better guess is that the basketball gods did actually send a hoop fairy to sprinkle magic dust on this big goof...and, the result is that a guy who busted his tail for three years became a spotlight player and...it doesn't bring tears to your eyes? Zoooooooou!!!!
A basketball expert of no less expertise than ESPN's Bill Simmons tried to explain why he hated Duke and stammered and hemmed and hawed...and mention John Scheyer, shown here graciously signing an autograph for a child.
Simmons tried to compare Scheyer to the legion of Duke guards who got under people's skins, but...Scheyer really doesn't get under your skin.
Scheyer spent four years doing whatever Duke needed and is wrapping up a four-year career playing the position he wasn't supposed to be able to handle in college–point guard.
Not once has Scheyer pulled up his trunks and pounded the floor before an important defensive stand.
Lots of hot-shot recruits hit college, find they aren't scoring 20 points in 38 minutes a game...and split.
Villanova's Tyler King, for instance, left Duke because he apparently felt his high school reputation merited he do more than shoot 3s and fall back. Well, he left when he only got the minimal playing time he deserved.
Nolan Smith, conversely, came to Duke with a big-time as an on-ball guard who could score, distribute the ball, defend...but, as it turned out, he was inconsistent his first few years at Duke.
Fans who saw the win over Purdue and then Baylor saw what persistence will do for a guy like Nolan Smith...he carried the Blue Devils.
I wonder what Tyler King was doing over the weekend?
No...you shouldn't love the Blue Devils because Coach K did even Duke fans a favor by severely cutting Greg Paulus' playing time last season. You should love Coach K because if he'd ever done anything the least bit hinkey...even close to illegal...we'd have heard about it.
How many scandals has the 60-something coach with jet black hair been involved in? Oh, right...zero!
That leaves Coach K in an elite group because almost every big-time coach got caught up in recruiting shenanigans.
UCLA legend John Wooden got the greatest players from across the country and will go to his grave denying he knew that bag-man booster Sam Gilbert was paying Bruins through those great championship seasons.
Ouch, a knock at John Wooden?
If you find nothing redeeming about the Blue Devils, think about the times we live in...how basketball has become overrun by posturing muscle-heads who dominate the boards and are always right on the brink of doing something really silly...enter Baylor's Quincy Arcy.
Look at him and you can see he's probably pretty quick to wanna get down, maybe even throw hands, but when he tried to push by Nolan Smith to shove John Scheyer...the Dukies just let him do what he does...
Now, some will mock Duke for not fighting back to defend Scheyer. Some would be as foolish as Arcy...who picked up a killer technical foul that paved the way for Duke's win...
Realizing that macho displays are popular these days, it's still impossible not to love that Smith just stood his ground...Arcy shoved Scheyer...and Scheyer just turned to the official with a look that said, "You saw that, right? I'll meet you at the free throw line."
Don't hate Duke for being smart enough to know better...