Anti-Duke Manifesto-The Complete Hate

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C. The Duke Hand-Check.

Another Duke trademark is the ability of its players, primarily its guards, to hand-check opponents as they approach their offensive goal. Again, we see it on virtually every possession: the opposing team brings the ball front court. Immediately, Dukes guards ‘man up’ to their opponents with their legs spread widely and a rigid arm thrust into the opponents hip or gut. It is more of a stiff-arm than a hand-check, and it is vital to the aggressive man-to-man defensive scheme. Without it, the opposing player would easily blow by the Duke defender. By using this solid hand-check, Paulus, Dockery, and Redick buy that additional second needed to react to a quick move and to shift into flop position.

Here is a newsflash: The hand-check is illegal. And yet it is never called against Duke. This particular free pass is quite maddening given that it is another purported ‘point of emphasis’ for the officials. Remember the point of emphasis quoted above? The sentence that precedes it is the following: ‘The officials focus must continue to remain on eliminating illegal contact and rough play in the low post, off the ball, in cutting and screening situations, and during hand-checking anywhere on the court.’

So how on earth does Duke get away with this? Clearly, there is no answer.

D. The Duke ‘No Call.’

Another reason behind the foul disparities is the infamous frequency with which officials refuse to whistle Duke players for fouls, despite their trademark aggressive style of play. During the mid-1980’s, an ACC coach anonymously explained Duke’s defensive philosophy as follows: all five defensive players foul all five opposing offensive players at the same time, leaving officials too confused and stunned to respond. Since then, Duke’s impunity has evolved to the point where the game’s rules simply do not apply to the school. Referees absolutely refuse to blow the whistle when Sean Dockery and Redick push off defenders with their left hands; Duke guards are never penalized for extending their arms laterally to obstruct opposing players’ movements; moving interior screens are simply expected; Shelden Williams swings his elbows into opposing player’s faces throughout games in which he collects a total of 3 personal fouls, (none as a result of his headhunting); Coach K screams himself hoarse with profanity with never a technical called. Bench players accost opposing coaches or game referees no problem.

And who could forget last year’s first UNC-Duke game where K presumptuously ambled onto the court, in the middle of play, to talk strategy with Redick. As Billy Packer himself noted, it was indisputable grounds for a technical foul, but the refs never thought of blowing the whistle.

Some believe this seasons BC game, at least, can be explained as an attempt by the referees to introduce a new ACC member to the realities of ACC officiating. There may be something to this theory, as the officials took a similar approach in welcoming Virginia Tech to the league last season during the first of the Duke VPI games. Played at Duke, the game began with Shelden Williams driving his elbow at freshman center Deron Washington’s head, causing him to hit the deck. No foul was called, Williams scored an uncontested first two points of the game, and the tone was set. Throughout the game, Williams pushed, elbowed, and bullied his way through VT’s younger frontcourt players, with officials doing nothing. In the same game, however, the officials whistled an astounding thirty-four team fouls on Virginia Tech, many of which would have gone uncalled in a church league game. An amazing twenty-two fouls — nearly enough to foul out four players — were called in the first half alone. Not surprisingly, Duke won the game by 35 points, 30 of which were scored from the foul line. In an interesting contrast, when the same two teams met only weeks later in Blacksburg, the team foul tallies were essentially even. The result? A Virginia Tech win, (after which JJ Redick’s father complained publicly about the student body’s poor sportsmanship.)

To make matters worse, during the first game, the Duke students began chanting, ‘Please stop fouling,’ as if Tech was attempting to have its entire team disqualified. As the son of a V.M.I. graduate, I have no love for Virginia Tech, but could there be a greater example of the absurd lengths to which officials go with their favoritism?

This season has brought a new round of truly amazing no-calls and blown calls. Take this years Virginia game, which immediately preceded the infamous BC officiating fiasco. JJ Redick somehow was awarded three points on the games first basket even though both feet were fully inside the three point arc. The missed call was so bad that even Mike Patrick expressed surprise. In the home loss on senior night, JJ was given three points on two shots where a foot clearly straddled the arc one of which even Vitale conceded. In the game played at Virginia Tech, Redick, during a baseline drive, elbowed his defender in the groin, causing him to grab his crotch and drop out of bounds. Not surprisingly, Redick scored. On replays, the most glaring part of the play was the defenders reaction to having his bell rung. Nevertheless, Dick Vitales only remarks were to express awe at JJs head fake, ball fake, and general basketball genius.

Later this same season, against Temple, a clear push-off by Redick was similarly ignored. During the 2002-03 season, Dahntay Jones whipped Raymond Felton with an elbow to the face, which opened a frightening laceration and caused Felton to immediately drop as if shot. Again no foul was called; however, the officials did order Felton out of the game until the Carolina cornermen stopped the bleeding.

And what better example could there be than the Laettner foot stomp? During the 1992 Regional Final against Kentucky, Laettner stomps on the chest of a fallen Wildcat. He is given a T, but allowed to continue on and, ultimately, to hit the game winner that CBS cannot show enough. Can you imagine what would have happened if the tables had been turned and a Duke player had been kicked? No need to. We found out this year when Virginia Techs Deron Washington was immediately ejected after he ‘kicked’ Lee Melchionni while both players were on the floor. It wasnt a kick, and certainly wasnt a stomp. But it was grounds for immediate expulsion. And yet, only weeks later, the referees did nothing in response to Sean Dockerys decision to shove Tyler Hansbrough in the face during a deadball, even as it happened directly in front of an official.