Hey guys. Its been awhile. Just fyi to all of my followers I’ve started a new site called underthebrooklynbridge.wordpress.com ill be writing all content under that page from now on so feel free to follow on there thanks for being patient its been a rough go lately but I’m back with more sports knowledge for ya. Peace and one love
Category Archives: Uncategorized
After the NCAA beat Penn State University to the point of death today (hell the death penalty mightve been easier to deal with) now we can put to rest the worst sports scandal in the history of sports and begin a process of healing.
That’s easy for me to say, I wasn’t one of the victims that were harmed by Jerry Sandusky or a student or football player that is affected by the cover up by former “leaders” Grant Spanier, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Joe Paterno.
The last ten months have been similar to a time warp in the twilight zone for everyone in the Penn State community. State College went from a haven for football on Saturdays where over 100,000 blue and white clad fans got together for white outs, 7 nation army chants and “We Are Penn State” chants to being known as a sanctuary for child molestation.
The entire community has been put through the modern day equivalent of chinese water torture. Their hero Joepa is now a fallen angel due to his inability to do more in reporting the vile and haneous acts of Sandusky. Their university once known as being heralded as the leaders of men is now a fractured and broken home where leadership led them astray and put things that didn’t matter ahead of things that should have.
For the football players past present and future their lives have been greatly affected even more so. The man that they took so much pride in being associated with let them down. The current players have no forseable future with the programs handed out today. Once NCAA head Mark Emmert handed out an unpresedented $60 million fine (one year’s equivalent of earnings from the football program), a four year bowl ban and a reduction in scholarships they saw their chances at college glory go to waste. For the future… who knows. Players have already jumped ship due to the current profile of the Penn State and with the sanctions handed down by the NCAA it makes it extremely hard for Penn State to recruit going forward.
The penalties pale in comparison to the terrible acts by Sandusky on his victims but it hammered home a point. The “leaders” at Penn State put football ahead of common sense, it’s only right that the proper punishment would be to cripple the football program setting it back for years before it can be competitive again.
Players can transfer if they want, but at this stage of the game it becomes a huge hassle for kids to transfer, comb through paperwork, move, find housing and get classes scheduling done. So for at least one year these kids are screwed as well.
You can argue about the penalties, punishment and how it was handled. One thing that you cannot argue with is that it had to happen.
Penn State had to face its maker and it did. The unfortunate part is that the people that are most responsible for it wont be apart of the punishment. Spanier, Curley and Schultz are already fired, Paterno is no longer with us and Sandusky… well lets just say the rest of his life and afterlife wont be the pleasant form of existence one can hope.
But it’s finally over. The healing process begins and even though a huge black cloud lingers over State College, PA the students, faculty, citizens and football players can try to find some sense of normalcy.
Hopefully many lessons were learned not just by Penn State but by colleges across the country as well. footbal is entertainment, not life. Life comes before football or any other monetary form of entertainment. Once you place life second bad things happen and many people get hurt.
Ten Months ago Joe Paterno was loved, he had a statue named in his honor, students walked around in solice in a carefree community, Penn State was a school that did things the right way, many alumni praised and lauded Joepa, and football was front and center in lives of the Nittany nation.
Today none of this is the case. Penn State suffered, hurt, and was punished.
Now they start from scratch. Hopefully they can gain everything back that they lost.
So as you have seen my blog was dormant all week. Working 60 hours sucks and has slowed the creative juices. Fear not things get back to normal next week. Expect a ton of posts and some new tweaks. Higher learning will return, plus I will have random thoughts, nfl power rankings and some other goodies. Thanks for reading as always and stay tuned.
Am I upset that TCU spurned the Big East to join the Big 12? Hell no. I think it’s a great move by TCU because the competition is better, it plays more towards their market and it’s a return to a sense of traditionalism for the conference.
TCU was a member of the old southwest conference before it merged with the Big 8 and became the Big 12 in the mid-90’s. TCU has long standing rivalries with a lot the current Big 12 members including Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor and the rekindling of those rivalries would be great for the conference and college football as a whole.
The move also gives the Big 12 another big name as Texas A&M bolts for the SEC and. The addition of TCU is a great start, but the Big 12 needs to go further… they should go back to their SWC roots and readmit SMU and Houston into the new Big 12.
Why not? Houston is a great mid-major football school that has flirted with BCS contention a few times in the past decade and SMU is back on the rise under June Jones. these moves would make the most sense geographically and football wise and bring more traditionalism back to college football.
SMU and Houston were two of the many schools forced out of the Big 12 in the mid 90’s as realignment changed college football the first time. For them to rejoin the Big 12 would bring the conference full circle and add more balanced competition to the conference.
Let’s be real with ourselves, Kansas is not that good of a football program and Iowa State hasn’t been relevant for years, Houston and SMU have had better seasons than both Kansas and Iowa State in the last few years (also better than Colorado before they left the Big 12) and have great fans and great football history. They are true football schools who care very much for their teams and embrace the spirit and pageantry of Saturdays. Football is religion in Texas, high school games are just as big as NFL games in other cities, to add two more Texas schools to the Big 12 would make Saturdays even more of an event then they already are.
SMU and Houston are mostly offensive schools and their schemes fit into the way that the Big 12 plays (because as good as Oklahoma State is we know damn well that they play no defense at all. same for Texas Tech and Baylor.). if you think Big 12 games are shootouts now just imagine if Case Keenum and Kyle Padron were in the conference.
The only issue with the addition of these schools would be stadium sizing and marketability. Both SMU and Houston have stadiums that fit 35,000 people and they would be the two smallest stadiums in the conference. Also could Houston and SMU draw a good TV audience? SMU is located in Dallas but TCU (located in Fort Worth) has a strangle hold on the market thanks to their recent run in the spotlight. As for Houston, The Texans were having trouble selling out games as recent as two years ago so how can the city embrace a college team in the spotlight?
Even with the big city issues the schools fit the mold for the conference because the Big 12 doesn’t need any big name programs to add to their name brand. They need good football programs to keep the games competitive and exciting.
In a era where realignment is the main topic of discussion and everyone is trading in tradition for money the Big 12 is rebuilding itself by returning to its roots. TCU is the perfect addition to the conference and will help to continue the high level of play that the conference is used to.
The Big 12 should continue its back to the future realignment by adding SMU and Houston. It’s good for the conference, the region of which it plays and it’s great for the fading tradition of college football.
When Yao Ming retired this afternoon after 9 injury-plagued seasons in the NBA I couldn’t help but think of what could have been.
When he arrived on the scene Yao was an instant hit. On the court he was a mammoth specimen with unlimited potential. At 7’6” and 280 pounds Yao was one of the biggest men to ever play the game of basketball and also one of the most skilled men at his position.
He wasn’t as big in terms of girth like Shaquille O’ Neal nor was he as nimble as the man the roamed the paint in Houston before him in Hakeem Olajuwon. But Yao had the moves to out maneuver some of the best big men in the NBA and the smarts to guide him through each game.
In his early bouts against Shaq it was a tale of two centers. One who was an immovable object in the paint that intimidated his opponents with his large mass and unbelievable power, the other which even at age 21 was cunning enough to force his opponents into foul trouble and break them down with his prowess and ever evolving game. Yao got the better of Shaq in the win column during those as he was able to overcome those slights in power and speed and guide the Rockets to victory via his wit.
That was Yao, he was a new breed of center. In an age where the center was supposed to be a relic he was on the verge of making it the most ballyhooed position in the league again and start a revolution of the position.
He was skilled on the block as well as the outside. Yao could hit 16-foot jumpers just as easily as he could back Michael Olawakandi down in the paint for layups. He was an exceptional passer who could find shooters with ease and made life for defenders hard whether they were guarding him or watching the perimeter.
In the paint on defense he was becoming an emerging shot blocker who altered shots with his large frame and made life hell for driving guards as well as big men who were trying to score over him.
More than basketball however, Yao was changing the game with presence off of the court.
In his nine years Yao made the All-Star team 8 times thanks to a large fan base from his home land of China that rule routinely made him one of the top two vote getters. His impact helped the league grow exponentially in China as it now regularly sends reporters to the NBA’s main events. Since Yao’s arrival, China now regularly hosts numerous NBA players in the offseason such as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant to hold camps in the country and help raise interest of the game.
Yao had a documentary about his arrival in the league, and a string of commercials that introduced him to the American population and showed off his funny side. He was truly the league’s first true international star and was on his way to being one of the brightest stars that the game has ever seen.
Then came the injuries.
After his first three seasons where he only missed 2 games, Yao missed 25+ games in each of his final 6 seasons including all of the 2009-2010 campaign. Whether it was his big toe or a forever broken left foot Yao couldn’t stay on the court. It prevented from having as dominant of a career that was foreseen by so many people from scouts to fellow players.
In 2006-2007 Yao was averaging a career high 25 PPG and looked like a surefire MVP candidate before his foot began to give him problems. After the injury he could never reach the potential that was seen in that season and in glimpses in the next few years. His lower body robbed him of what could have been a stellar NBA career and robbed the fans of a superstar that could’ve shined as bright as Michael Jordan, Julius Erving and the other big names before him.
Yao Ming was an exceptional player. He was an All-Star, one of the best centers of his class, and was a cultural force that transcended the Eastern and Western Hemisphere.
Unfortunately thanks to injuries we never truly got to see what Yao was made of. He could’ve been an all-NBA selection, a finals champion, league MVP and a possible hall of famer. We saw shades of it when he played Shaq and Dwight Howard and other excellent big men down in the paint. We could’ve been watching one of the best players of our era.
But we will never know.
The Mets have done a lot of dumb things in the last ten years; they gave Carlos Beltran $119 million dollars, they traded Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano, and they gave up half of their farm system for Johan Santana who has been a shell of his former self.
The Mets have become a big joke in major league circles and their money woes have only been topped recently by the Los Angeles Dodgers who filed for bankruptcy. Things were so bad that majority owner Fred Wilpon decided to rip everyone from his star third baseman David Wright to his superstar shortstop Jose Reyes.
Wilpon in particular said about Reyes that “he’s crazy if he thinks he’s getting Carl Crawford money” this offseason… if Wilpon had any sense in that old and decrepit skull of his he may want to rethink that statement.
Even though they sit nine games out of first in the NL East, the Mets have a decent shot at the wildcard at 5 games back and its mostly due… no wait, it’s because of the out of this world play of Jose Reyes. Coming into Thursday’s play Reyes leads the national league in batting average, runs, triples, doubles and hits, is second in stolen bases and in the top 10 in slugging and OPS. In other words without Reyes the Mets would be swimming with Jimmy Hoffa rather than having an outside shot at the playoffs.
And this is the guy that Wilpon wouldn’t give $142 million to, yet gave Beltran $119 million after one good stretch in October?
Beyond what he does on the field Reyes is the face of the team off of it. I know a few years ago the Mets had Wright positioned as their man of the moment but Wright hasn’t been that guy. Reyes is electrifying, he’s currently one of a handful of players that you HAVE to see play when he comes into town. Reyes is a marketable figure that you can bank on bringing in large amounts of revenue for your team. Who wouldn’t like having Reyes at the top of their order creating havoc on the base pads and then having the charisma to sell watches afterwards? You’d be crazy to think he’s not worth that.
Where I would see an owner not wanting to pay Reyes is due to his spotty injury history. Reyes has missed 155 of 324 games in the last two years, which would be a concern for anyone that has money to burn. Also in the years before his injuries Reyes was faded down the stretch when the Mets needed him most.
During their historic collapse in 2007, Reyes batted .205 and had an OBP of .279 as the Mets eventually lost their grip on the NL East to the Philadelphia Phillies and the next year Reyes faded again. As electrifying as he is Reyes still needs to prove himself when it matters down the stretch to show that would be worthy of such a huge deal.
After the bomb contracts given to Beltran, Santana and Carlos Delgado you could understand why the Mets would be hesitant to give another deal like that to Reyes. However, with the current state of the Mets Fred Wilpon would be stupid to let Reyes walk away to sign with another team and give fans in Queens even less of a reason to watch the Mets.
The smart thing to do for the Mets would be to sign Reyes and build around him for the future. It would give the fans a reason for hope and keep the Mets relevant.
However, with the way that things have gone for the Mets in recent years they may do exactly the opposite. They’re not called “The Mess” for no reason you know.
Yeah um… march madness took it out of me for a minute hence the lack of blogs in the last ten days. no need to fear though, there will be new stuff coming this week with the NHL playoffs, major league baseball and NBA playoffs all off and running and maybe even another feature. so no im not dead, just a little drained, but i’ll be back sooner than later peoples.
So… anything interesting happen in the NBA since last June?
Unless you’ve been under a rock then you know about the Miami Heat trying to buy their way to a championship. Sorry if I sound a little bit bitter while writing this. Keep in mind I live in Ohio now and in case you haven’t been attention again these people aint happy LeBron James dipped out on them to Miami. Of course I didn’t care about it much, I’m a Knicks fan WE GOT AMARE STOUDEMIRE IN THE GREAT SUMMER OF 2010… (Crickets chirp).
Back to James and Cleveland and everything in between. The controversy surrounding the decision and what was said in the aftermath I have already covered, the funny thing about it is how it continues to linger as Miami rises to the top of everyone’s list and Cleveland is in the running for Harrison Barnes in next year’s draft.
Cleveland number one has to get over it. It’s happened, there’s nothing you can do about it. LeBron is the new Art Modell a get that, but LeBron didn’t do anything for you all other than block some shots, dunks some balls and have a puppet. He hit one game-winning shot in his entire career and that was against mighty Golden State. In other words you had the new age Dominique Wilkins playing for you. I know the Q won’t be the same on game nights but you gotta let this go.
As for LeBron… well… he needs a new PR guy. I think I’ve learned that LeBron, the attention hog that he is really isn’t that smart when it comes to the media. The GQ interview where he stated that no one in Akron like Cleveland, fail. The reposting of hateful tweets, fail. The promise that he’s taking mental notes and it’s pushing him harder than before (until he gets to the playoffs and fizzles again), fail. I can’t believe this but we’ve actually found a sensitive athlete who cares more about perception of himself than anything to replace Alex Rodriguez.
First off this whole monster was his creation. From not being honest about free agency from the jump, to The Decision, to that interesting commercial that was just released where he goes off on everyone and says he won’t be what you want him to be. I’m sorry LeBron that all we wanted you to be was the media hyped sensation that you created by taking Jordan’s number, calling yourself “The Chosen One” and then fleeing to Miami with a big middle finger to the 216. See the bitterness is still there and I’m not even a Cavs fan.
(Side note: LeBron’s “Rise” commercial, and Tiger Woods’s commercial after his return from the incident that he still refuses to discuss were the most uneasy, uncomfortable and biggest ego stroking moments of two athletes who aint too well liked right now. What’s next? The Ben Roethlisberger commercial where he confesses some of his missteps in the last year? Nike, just sell some damn shoes.)
LeBron isn’t the only star than played a city, While Chris Bosh has about as much affiliation with Toronto as I do with Baltimore the way he put on a dog and pony show in front of them reeks of discrepancy. It’s not like Bosh ever won anything either, Bosh is a mid-level star who just so happened to be in the same draft as his two new teammates James and Wade. Bosh couldn’t carry the Raptors to the playoffs let alone carry himself to elite status so he decided to join forces and be Ringo to James and Wade’s Paul and Lennon. The whole thing was plotted ever since they won gold in the Olympics and the last two years they’ve been doing things to hide the scent of their obvious trail. The scenario wreaks of jealousy, greed, sloth and lust…ITS EVIL I TELLS YA!!
I actually had a Facebook status about this awhile ago just as a joke, think about this for a second; three men sign 6 year deals…. To play for the Heat… leave two cities in destruction… all for their own greed and purpose…get it? 3 guys, 3 headed monster, 6 year deals 666? Heat, hell fire? Greed? Destruction? IT’S THE TEAM OF SATAN!!!!
Ok not really but you have to think someone’s not happy about and already the Heat have injury problems from Wade’s hammy to Mike Miller’s injury that has him out until January. So the “Yes We Did” machine has slowed considerably in Miami.
Yet the NBA championship is still the main goal of this team. While they have some competition for the crown, it aint much. The NBA has turned into a 5 team league with a bunch of exciting players that will wither be like LeBron and join forces with another player to build a contender, or do it the Kevin Durant way, do it yourself like all of the legends did.
While everyone is so excited about the start of the season I could honestly care less. The league isn’t anything special until after the all-star break. Except for LeBron’s return to Cleveland in December I could care less about this season. it’s like my feelings on La Liga, I have to be interested in more than two teams to care about a league, and in the NBA there’s only 5 teams out of 30 that matter, Orlando, Miami, Oklahoma City, Boston and the Lakers (apologies to Dallas but you’re not their yet). While to some it makes for appealing basketball I’m more into the middle tier of teams Chicago, Milwaukee, Portland and the Clippers… yes Clippers I said it.
Come on Blake Griffin is back from injury, Eric Gordon is looking to continue his momentum from a great World Championships and the team looks like it can be competitive enough to make the playoffs. The Gordon-Griffin combo is especially exciting to watch because of the possibilities of what could become of these two, just keep in mind, these are the Clippers, anything can happen.
I’m also intrigued by Sacramento with Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins leading a young team that could be the next Oklahoma City. There is a ton of young talent in the league in places that they can build up to challenge some of the guard within the next few years. There are some special things brewing in Milwaukee as Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut lead a team that would be a Eastern Conference contender if not for the constant attention given to Miami.
Another team that looks intriguing is Minnesota. Granted they won’t come near the playoffs but they’ll be interesting with a new up tempo style of play and do it all wingman Wesley Johnson flying all over the place.
Yeah it sounds nice to give the little guy some pub, but it is all about the Heat and since Satan’s squad is getting all of the pub here are some angels that could rescue the NBA from the on court Armageddon.
In case you haven’t noticed the Heat have no inside presence at all. Bosh can’t guard any athletic big men, let alone the best center in the game. This has to be the year where Howard stops being so nice and turns into an animal. Even Superman knew when it was time to stop being a Good Samaritan and beat some ass. This is Howard’s time. Florida has been his state for the last three years and he and the Magic are on the verge of being overtaken. If Howard’s offseason workouts were really serious and he did get better then the Magic could make a run back to the finals.
KEVIN DURANT AND OKLAHOMA CITY
I really, really want them to take it to L.A. this year but they are still one year away. Durant is the real deal beyond a shadow of a doubt. He’s the guy that really wants to be the man in the big situation and doesn’t shy away from attention. It doesn’t hurt that he has Russell Westbrook breaking ankles at every turn and Jeff Green doing everything at both ends. With the King settling for becoming a prince Durant is now the man to beat for MVP and the next in line for the title of best in the league.
BOSTON’S BIG THREE
Don’t tell me that they don’t want a shot at Miami’s big 3. Boston might be old but the old legs still have life in them as well as Rajon Rondo running the point. If they stay healthy they get to finals due to their depth, if they break down then Danny Ainge may want to start the rebuilding process.
Did you hear Carmelo wants out of Denver? If you saw what that team was like you would too. Carmelo desperately wants to be a Knick along side of Amare with the possibility of Chris Paul joining them. Now that’s a big three.
But back to Melo for a minute. In that class of 03 with Wade, James and Bosh, Melo always seems to be the forgotten man. He’s t he best pure scorer in the league who whopped LeBron in Cleveland last year with a game winner at the buzzer. Carmelo has the potential of being the best in the league but he needs help more than anyone else. If he becomes a Knick with that much talent and possibly Paul following him than Carmelo may be the man to beat for the next few years.
DERRICK ROSE AND JOAKIM NOAH
Not Batman and Robin, just two dudes who back down from nothing. Come playoff time they’ll bruise the Heat inside and out.
Yeah… him… he’s still walking around. Injured or healthy there’s no one better that will bring it night in and out. Who would’ve thought five years ago we’d be talking about Kobe in a better light than LeBron. Kobe is the old-school player that we all admire. He wants the ball late, he plays the best offensive player on the floor, and he fears nothing. He’s also one ring away from matching the man that we all compare him to, Jordan. He knows this. He knows that his time is limited for as long as he’s played and the injuries that are piling up. You also know that none of this mattered as soon as he saw James, Wade and Bosh standing together and saw the entire world claim them as title favorites.
Kobe is a monster. He never forgets anything, ask Shaq. His motivation right is winning a title and if the Heat get in the way then destroy them. Kobe is still the best player in the league no matter who is walking around be it Durant, CP3 or Prince James. He’s also got (in no particular order) Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and a cast of shooters and role players that once again make the Lakers the real team to beat. Betting against Kobe is not smart, no matter whom Miami just acquired.
So sorry Miami for all of your hype, antics, controversies and other offseason craziness you’ve built up you won’t win the NBA title this year. That will once again go to the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers will save the NBA from Satan’s minions and keep the promise of good basketball alive for another year. However, you know evil never sleeps and anything can happen. I just hope it doesn’t involve the Heat in any way possible, they bring the anger out of me as a writer. Guess they’re doing Satan’s work well.
PLAYOFFS- ORLANDO, ATLANTA, MILWAUKEE, NEW YORK, INDIANA
NORTHWEST- OKLAHOMA CITY
PACIFIC- L.A. LAKERS
PLAYOFFS- UTAH, PORTLAND, CLIPPERS, SAN ANTONIO, HOUSTON
ECF- MIAMI VS. ORLANDO
WCF- LAKERS VS. OKLAHOMA CITY
FINALS- LAKERS VS. ORLANDO
6TH MAN- TY LAWSON
DPOY- JOAKIM NOAH
MOST IMPROVED- JRUE HOLIDAY
ROY- BLAKE GRIFFIN
COACH OF THE YEAR- TOM THIBODEAUX
For years as a tennis fan I’ve watched and waited for Andy Roddick to live up to his potential and become the next Jimmy Conners or John McEnroe. What has happened instead has been a series of meltdowns, shortcomings and malfunctions in his game that have driven me insane as well as every American tennis fan.
Roddick came along at the perfect time, when men’s tennis was drowning in mediocrity and we had trouble deciding whether Patrick Rafter or Marat Safin were the heirs to Pete Sampras’s throne. He had a terrific serve, the face and the game to back it up. However it never came to fruition. Roddick won one U.S. Open and by the next August we were asking, “Who’s got mojo like Roddick?” Apparently not Roddick because his defense lasted one round and he hasn’t been a threat since.
He was America’s great hope for tennis, hell, the entire group he came in with we’re hyped up as the next great ones of mens tennis.
Marty Fish, James Blake and Roddy Ginepri along with Roddick were supposed to carry on the legacy that was left behind after the Sampras-Agassi years. Instead what they’ve done has left a stain, if that, during their era instead of a major impact.
Only Roddick has made a Grand Slam final and the others haven’t even made a semifinal. While you can place blame on Fish’s injuries and Blake’s bout with depression, all in all the last eight years in American mens tennis has been an absolute failure.
This has been the Federer-Nadal era. Two middle European players who have made the ATP tour look like the AL East and everyone else has playing for third. In Nadal’s case he has led a charge by Spain to the top of the ATP rankings. Spanish tennis has dominated the top half of the rankings with seven players, including Nadal in the top 25 and Fernando Verdasco joining him in the top 10 at number 8. That was the dominance that U.S. Had envisioned years ago but has fallen well short of the expectation it imagined.
So what is the state of American mens tennis? Though Roddick is in the top ten in rankings he has been sliding down rapidly. Also he is 28 years which in tennis is equivalent to a 30 year old running back. He can continue to be a competitive player but he won’t be contending for majors much longer.
The hope lies in two players who like Roddick have big serves and lots of game. John Isner and Sam Querrey have bursted onto the scene in the last year by upping their game in hopes of contending with their Spanish counterparts.
Isner if you recall is the marathon man who’s Wimbledon match with Nicolas Mahut ran three days and came down to an epic third set with Isner prevailing 70-68 (god that still sounds ridiculous to say months later. That’s a ridiculous football score, ask new Mexico who got beat 72-0 this weekend by Oregon. But tennis? That’s silly.). However, Isner hasn’t made it past the fourth round of a major and has won one title on his career.
Querrey on the other hand has won four this year in what is becoming a break out year for him. With his fourth round appearance and beyond at the U.S. Open this year he should be knocking on the top ten by next years Australian Open.
The biggest buzz however had come from 18 year old Ryan Harrison from California. Harrison’s first round win and second round exit caused a huge stir at the Open and has started a new hype machine for the next generation of American men.
The baby faced Harrison has already been dubbed our new hope in the tennis world. While that may be the case, I would ask that we tread lightly with Harrison. As we’ve learned from the Roddick years too much hype can be a bad thing, and living up to it can be even harder.
5 years ago the words “DUKE” and “LACROSSE” were synonymous with every angle of wrong. Rape. Racism. Contempt. Players were embarrassed. A season was lost. A coach abandoned his team. They were a rising power in the world of lacrosse, newly minted number team in the land, viewed by many as the team to beat. Then the actions of three affected the lives of so many.
Fast forward to 2010. Zack Greer, Matt Danowski, Ned Crotty and Tony McDevitt were the remaining players from a scandal that rocked college sports. Fifth-year seniors who were granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA and that stayed at the program where so many of their friends and teammates abandoned them so as to not be mentioned in the same breath as Duke, their loyalty to their school was rewarded. The same team that was shamed in 2006 became champions in 2010 by beating Notre Dame 6-5 for their first national title. Some turnaround huh?
“We knew no one liked us and we definitely leaned on each other” said Crotty. We realized the only thing that mattered was us. We knew everyone else hated us, so we knew we only had each other. That’s why this team is so tight-knit.” They had to be. In the months after the scandal of 06 everyone from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to celebrities such as rapper Common blasted the team. They were disgraced and humiliated in a trial of errors from phony testimony to a DA only interested in re-election.
There was support from fellow Duke Athletes who wore “Innocent” bracelets at the 2006 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, but little else. Nothing good could have possibly come from the words “DUKE LACROSSE.”
After the soap opera played out in the court room, Duke went back to work on the field in 2007. The scene was different as Mike Pressler resigned and gave way to John Danowski. The results on the field were still the same but now there was a new tagline for the dukies, they couldn’t get it done when it mattered.
They lost heartbreaking one goal games to lacrosse powerhouse Johns Hopkins in the national title of 07 and the final four of 08. Then they were beaten to a bloody pulp by Syracuse in semis again last year. It seemed as though heartbreak and anguish just new when and where to find Duke in the previous four years.
This year was different. They weren’t the power of college lacrosse, not even in their own conference. Those distinctions belonged to North Carolina and Virginia whose men and women lacrosse programs have also had their share of rough times recently. Duke came in as a 5 seed in the tournament with little shot at making the semis again. Yet after dismantling Johns Hopkins in round one, then beating heavily favored UNC in the next round you could sense something brewing. It came to a head against Virginia in a 14-13 victory. Duke held off a late rally against the number one team in the nation to advance to the title game against unranked Notre Dame, who was also seeking their first title.
It wasn’t the type of game that the high scoring Blue Devils were used to. Irish goalie Scott Rogers and his 6’4” 260 pound frame kept the nation’s leading scoring team in check all game and with under minutes left, the Irish maintained a meager 5-4 lead. Then Justin Turri’s tally at 8:44 tied up the game and it stayed that way until overtime. C.J. Costabile scored the game winning goal just five seconds into overtime that gave Duke its first national championship in lacrosse and that finally put to rest the shameful past that has haunted its program. Once the goal went in and the celebration took to the field you could see more than just happiness that comes with winning a national championship, you could see the relief of players and a program that could now be known for more than just an awful set of circumstances that took place in 2006.
“I hope this takes over the story of Duke Lacrosse,” Crotty said. “Hopefully we can put everything else to rest, so when people think of Duke lacrosse, they think 2010 national champions.” hopefully so. The program and school never received apologies from the civil rights leaders that bashed them though evidence proved them to be innocent. There still is sentiment shown towards them in a negative light. However, those storm clouds have passed and it’s time to move on from a past discrepancy that was shady from its inception and only involved a few people. Crotty is right; this is what we should now know this program for. For perseverance during dark times and for showing championship grit when it mattered, because that’s what Duke has become, champions. “DUKE” and “LACROSSE” are no longer words to be scared of; instead it’s something to be very proud of.