Anti-Duke Manifesto-The Complete Hate

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Some suggest that the foul disparities can be explained by late game intentional fouls committed when trailing opponents seek to stop the clock during the closing minutes of a game. Vitale offered this excuse up as he discussed Duke throughout this years Gonzaga-Stanford game. But that justification actually died with the advent of the 35 second shot clock. In the 1970s and early 80s, large foul disparities were commonplace as teams frequently held the ball for the final several minutes of a game. Dean Smiths Four Corners offense was the classic example there. But all of this came to a stop with the shot clock. Now, it is rare for a team to intentionally foul more than three or for times for clock stopping purposes. Think about it: when was the last time you saw a game where the last four to five minutes were nothing but free throws? When Duke lost its senior night game to UNC, the team committed only three intentional fouls, (excluding Dockerys unpenalized shove to Hansbroughs face). By offering this obsolete excuse, Duke supporters actually only explain why Dean Smith enjoyed free throw advantages. It says nothing for why Duke enjoys its astounding advantage at the line today.

Others have attempted to downplay the disparities by pointing to other programs, such as UConn and UNC, that traditionally enjoy free throw advantages. This excuse too is specious. As previously acknowledged, superior teams do enjoy free throw advantages. Always have. That is not unusual for the reasons stated earlier. But lets try it again: What IS unusual is for a team (1) to play NOTHING but chest-to-chest, man-to-man defense, complete with constant hand-checking, (2) to lead the conference in steals and blocks, (3) to rely largely on a perimeter based offense, (4) to deliberately initiate contact with opposing players in an effort to draw offensive foul calls, which are always close and subjective in nature, (5) to rely on constant interior and perimeter screens in order to free its only two reliable scorers, (6) to have one of the most verbally abusive coaches in the country, and STILL enjoy foul discrepancies of this magnitude. This combination is unprecedented in the history of college basketball.

Good examples of the Duke bias came in late January. Duke struggled mightily in its game against newly added ACC foe Boston College before eventually winning by two. The final foul shot tally: Duke 37, BC 13. Thats right, 13 free throws for a team that confronted an aggressive man-to-man defense, a flurry of moving picks, and Shelden Williams signature elbows the entire game. The best part of the game came at about the four minute mark when a referee whistled an extremely controversial fifth foul on BCs pre-season All-American Craig Smith. Incredibly, before receiving any notification from the scorers table, the same ref sprinted to the BC bench and shouted, ‘Thats five! Thats five!’ One must ask if there is any legitimate reason why a floor referee should know an individual players foul tally and react with such excitement over a star players disqualification. By the way, that same All-American player, in thirty-five minutes of action, received zero (0) free throw attempts of his own.

As bad as the Boston College game was, the referees outdid themselves in Dukes next game against Florida State. In order to eke out this two point overtime victory, Duke needed every one of its 43 free throw attempts. FSU, meanwhile, saw a total of 11 free throws in 45 minutes of play. The refs finest moment came in the second half when Shelden Williams received a hard foul as he went up for a dunk. Williams jumped off of the floor and shoved Alexander Johnson in retaliation. Johnson simply raised his arms, hands open, in response. The referee, having already called an intentional foul on Johnson, responded to Williams shove by immediately pointing to both players.