I really would like to stop hating Duke. I really would. I mean I am an alumnus of the Law School and it feels weird that I take perverse glee in all of the shortcomings of my beloved school’s sports teams. I find myself occasionally pulling for Duke football and I am sure that Chris Duhon will never forget the day that he and I cheered on the Devils to victory over mighty ECU. Yes if I could get any glee at all for Duke, it would be not only normal, but understandable.
But I simply can’t. And one of the reasons why is the news that came out today. Coach K, the American Express Wizard, has cut Bruce Bowen from the USA Olympic final squad and decided to keep Shane Battier. Give me strength. Bruce Bowen, whose selection I questioned admittedly, is being let go because Shaney boy is Coach K’s friend….there is no other reason. I mean lets face it…..Battier did not always start for the MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES!!!! And yet he deserves to be on the US World Championship Team?
Duke arrogance is nothing short of astounding. Whether it showcases itself in the form of ESPN and CBS hiring stacks of Duke grads in their sports news rooms, or Coach K freezing out any media who does not worship the ground he walks on, thus ensuring positive press, the cycle always continues. And it is hard to stay away from its grasp. Even I found myself charmed by Coach K, this summer and genuinely a fan of Tommy Amaker, all the while hating myself for it. It is the Duke aura and it sucks you in.
But the US World team should be at least one place where we draw the line. Shane Battier is a nice enough guy. Heck we were told over and over by ESPN how smart a kid he is (AND HE PLAYS BASKETBALL….isnt it GRAND!!!) and every Duke recruiting video features at least one shot of him crying or attending class. But to act like he deserves to be within 100 yards of the team representing the best of USA basketball is simply comical. I know we are not looking for the 12 best players, but the best team. But when Memphis doesnt consider you part of their “best team”, I dont see how the USA can. Geez Coach K, you have Elton Brand…..isnt that enough?
Plus, Keith Bogans was available….