Fellow Duke fans, the holiday season is upon us.
If you're anything like me, you're probably looking forward to the men's basketball team's annual migration North to Madison Square Garden and wondering when the most passionate (read: craziest) fans will begin their two-month-plus quest in Krzyzewskiville for first-row seats to the North Carolina game.
This time of year, you're probably also struggling to brainstorm gifts for all of your friends and family. So in the spirit of the holidays, I figured I would help everyone out by suggesting appropriate gifts for some of my favorite characters associated with Duke athletics.
To Josh McRoberts, I give the "Blue Devils Stadium Seat Cushion," available (on sale!) for $27.99 from Amazon.com. Duke's former "star" center is currently riding the uncomfortable pine for the Portland Trail Blazers, having played a total of 36 seconds in the team's 16 games so far this season. Duke fans should be especially grateful for McRoberts this year-his departure seems to have paved the way for both the team's improved chemistry and Kyle Singler's emergence.
To the Cameron Crazies, I give three suggestions to improve the Duke Basketball stadium experience.
First, better food options. With the line monitors requiring students to be at games 90 minutes before tip, there often isn't a choice but to pay $6 for a Coke and a soggy slice of Domino's or a Chick-fil-A sandwich that has been steaming inside that metal wrapper for at least 12 hours. Is it too much to ask for a more comprehensive snack stand on the ground level?
Second, free water bottles for students at halftime. Yelling and jumping up and down for more than two hours is tiring. The Crazies get thirsty, leaving them the unenviable choice of staying dehydrated at the expense of their cheering ability or trying to navigate their way to the concession stand and back during halftime. Duke Athletics and DSG, I'm talking to you. Providing water for the 900-or-so students on the TV side would cost no more than $150 per game. This is a no-brainer. Let's make this happen, starting with Saturday's game against Michigan.
Third, a policy banning the "O" during the national anthem. It has nothing to do with Duke and is at least somewhat disrespectful to the spirit of the moment. We'd all be better off without it.
To Joe Alleva, I give the resumes of Dennis Green and Rick Neuheisel, two available coaches who haven't gotten much public discussion in Duke's football coaching search. Both coaches would fit Alleva's vision to bring in a top offensive mind, and both are the types of big names that would put Duke Football on the national map, establishing instant credibility on the recruiting trail and with the Blue Devils' notoriously-rabid alumni base.
Green, the former Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals coach, is now most famous for his post-game rant after losing to the Chicago Bears last year. But prior to his time in the NFL, he led turnaround efforts at both Northwestern and Stanford, guiding the two programs comparable to Duke to winning seasons. (And just think of the press conference possibilities: "The Tar Heels were who we thought they were!")
Neuheisel, the former Washington coach and now the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, has not masked his desire to get back into the college game, four years removed from the NCAA Tournament betting pool scandal that got him fired (and eventually a multi-million dollar wrongful termination settlement). The only question Alleva should have for Neuheisel is how far he had Duke going in his brackets.
To the moderators of the Duke Basketball Report, I give the official DBR "Royal blue lifeline" Classic thong. The DBR guys could use a little love after a couple tough weeks that saw them receive internal backlash for banning message board posters who suggested Ted Roof should be fired and a great deal of negative publicity for its whining about negative coverage from ESPN. For $10.99, available via DukeBasketballReport.com, what better way is there to say "I love you" than with an imprinted undergarment from your favorite basketball website?
Finally, to Singler and Gerald Henderson, I give a list of great classes for Duke students to take as sophomores and juniors. I sat behind a couple NBA scouts during the Wisconsin game Nov. 27, and both of them seemed too pleased with the performances from Henderson and Singler for my liking.
For now, though, I give Duke fans the enjoyment of the ride Singler, Henderson and the rest of the Blue Devils are giving us this season. It's shaping up to be a great new year.
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