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New Year's wishes for Duke sports

Tonight is the start of Rosh Hashanah, the day the three Jewish tribes of Long Island, Scarsdale and the Upper East Side converge upon the Rubenstein-Silvers Hillel to eat apples and honey, debate whether Cameron Goldberg will play on Yom Kippur and see if Jon Scheyer will go to the reform or conservative service.

Caught up in the spirit of the New Year, I give you three wishes, two predictions-and yes-a resolution for 5768 (the Jewish year, not the number of days its been since Duke has won a football game):

Prediction #1: Zack Asack will take over the starting job from Thaddeus Lewis

Before being suspended last summer, Asack was a lock to be the starting quarterback for the Blue Devils in 2006. So why isn't he at the top of the depth charts now that he is eligible to play? Lewis is winless as a starter. Asack is more mobile in the pocket and a better rusher. Additionally, Asack led Duke on one of its best drives in Saturday's loss to Virginia, setting up a chip-shot 26-yard field goal (that was missed). Even if Ted Roof isn't willing to start Asack, he should at least let him play more than one series.

Prediction #2: Gerald Henderson is who's now, who's next and who will be leaving early for the NBA Draft next year

My apologies to the people and the guy who might be up for the Nobel Prize in Physics, but there is only one Dukie to watch in 2007, and his name is Gerald Henderson. Toward the end of last season, Henderson showed signs of becoming the guy who can take over games for the Blue Devils, and his ability to just hang in the air will set off flashbulbs all over Cameron this year. Heck, even if he were a terrible basketball player, he should be praised for bringing The People's Elbow into the 2000s.

Wish #1: Open tryouts for the first-string kicker job

Football coaches love to say that competition is great for a team because it forces players to perform at the top of their games. Since the Duke kicking situation can't get much worse-Joe Surgan is 4-14 on field goals and 8-for-11 on PATs in his last 14 games-it's time this cliché is put to the test to see if one of the other 6,324 students at this school can do the job. It's not that I don't feel badly for Surgan, but he's at Duke for the sole purpose of kicking field goals and extra points on Saturday; not letting someone challenge him for the job would be like a scholarship student pulling a 1.0 GPA for a year and a half and not expecting to hear from the dean. Plus, just imagine how entertaining it would be to see soccer players, fraternity brothers and people who haven't been outside of Bostock since orientation try and kick a PAT. They could even do it on the main quad so that tour groups can get a crack at it.

The best part of this wish is that it might come true. This week.

Wish #2: Stop the choking

I originally considered listing all the terrible and agonizing loss es that Duke has endured in my three years here, but as I was sketching out the list I realized that it would require another two columns of space to catalogue them all. So suffice it to say that I would like to see the Blue Devils win a national title in a sport that's played on either a field or basketball court before I graduate. Is this too much to ask?

Wish #3: That the powers that be stop scheduling Duke-Carolina games during vacations

For some reason or another, two of the three biggest Carlyle Cup contests of the year are scheduled while Duke's classes are out of session. For the second year in a row the Duke-UNC football game is being held over Thanksgiving, eliminating the fun of pre-gaming on Franklin Street, getting into altercations with people in Carolina blue and watching Duke try to reclaim the Victory Bell. Even more bothersome, however, is that the men's basketball home game against the Tar Heels is scheduled for March 8-or the day after Spring Break starts. For those thinking of cruising over the vacation, most ships leave Friday, March 7 so you might have to choose between booze-filled nights in the Caribbean or in Krzyzewskiville.

Resolution #1: I will refrain from poking fun at places like West Virginia.

Sometimes my New York tendencies get the best of me, and it's tempting to put down the little guy. But at the end of the day it's important to remember that we are all U.S.-Americans and shouldn't disrespect one another.

Unless, of course, you're from Boston.


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