With the way that the Blue Devils played today, yup ... put 'em atop the rankings.
They've earned it.
Let's face it: Max Quinzani was puttin' on a show as "a finisher" with those three goals in that span of barely more than a minute during the third period -- putting Duke up, 14-4 -- and there was no way that Loyola's senior midfielder Joe Landry (the Troy, Michigan native who is the son of Detroit Lions QB legend, Greg Landry) nor sophomore-transfer attacker Collin Finnerty (who, not long ago, was named as a defendant in an infamous-and-fabricated-rape incident at the campus of today's oppponent) was going to rally the Greyhounds.
And, they didn't.
Duke kept up the pressure and remained in blowout mode during the windy day in B'More ... blowin' the doors off Loyola, 21-8.
That victory, coupled with No. 1 Johns Hopkins' loss at Hofstra, will thrust the No. 2-ranked Blue Devils to the top of ... WAIT A SEC!
Were we 'sposed to be talkin' b-ball?
Who sez so?
The only way those of us in the La-Z-Boy Republic are going to get anywhere near Saturday b-ball is by going online to check the boxscores (after we've watched that YouTube clip -- for the umpteenth time -- of Makoto Nagano completing all four stages of Ninja Warrior, capped by his ascent up the Spider Climb walls before shimmying to the top of the Rope Climb and the top of the tower on Mount Midoriyama, all while beating the 30-second shot clock) and exploring all of the 3-ball shooting exploits of our favorite bricklayin' b-ballers (although we must confess that while clicking the channels from the Virginia-Princeton lacrosse match on ESPN to the Duke-Loyola tussle on the local ABC affiliate, we saw the final 25 seconds of the Georgeclown-Lousyville barnburner and what a hilarious, chuckle-filled 25 seconds it was, watching Earl Clark airball a three from the right wing with roughly 8.4 seconds to play before Edgar Sosa barely grazed the rim on a straightaway 3-ball at the buzzer ... a development which made Pitino's $2,000 suit sad and limp).
It's true: Makoto Nagano probably can't drain the 3-pointer.
But, neither can Earl or Edgar or Everybody Else (laugh track).
Besides that, Makoto Nagano is a fishing boat captain ... and, for those of us who are Ninja Warrior diehards, we shudder to think how quickly Earl or Edgar would splash into the muddy water during Stage One.
During the Barrel Roll?
Or the Jump Hang?
(Don't even say "Warped Wall" because that would be an embarrassing mismatch wherein a human would be humilated -- again -- by an inanimate object, y'know, the way that college b-ballers are teased and taunted and eventually defeated by a stripe painted on the floor which is 19-feet, 9-inches from the basket ... ).
We'll say it again: If somebody put a 5-point basket atop the backboard -- as it used to be in those ol' MTV Rock N' Jock b-ball games -- college players wouldn't bother shooting at anything else but that 5-point basket situated approx. 15-20 above the ground.
(For the record, Finnerty looked OK when he skipped that shot past goalie Dan Loftus, who didn't really have much of a chance even though he tried to slide to his left ... )
But, hey ... let's all keep an eye on Virginia this LAX season. That's not a bad choice for a sleeper (and, remember, casual conversation re: LAX keeps away that lumpy, bumpy, non-athlete-with-the-make-believe job ... Lumpy Joe Lunardi).
ESPN's employment of the Pillsbury Dough Boy as "bracketologist" makes no sense (not that much of what's decided at Bristol does), but, at least that sub-division of The Disneyland Sports Circus actually did the right thing at high noon by foregoing basketbore in favor of the UVa./Princeton LAX game played during a monsoon in New Jersey (seriously, if b-ball had been the noontime presentation, we in the La-Z-Boy Republic would've clicked over to "Soul Train" on WGN).
So, while Georgeclown and Lousyville (it's always fun to type that matchup) were clownin' around and playin' lousy on CBS, some of us enjoyed the sport which we didn't grow up with, but have grown to admire anyway, not withstanding the underaged drinking at Duke which precipitated RapeGate.
Here's a nugget: Virginia standout Danny Glading played high school b-ball with Roy Hibbert at Georgetown Prep.
Well, as the day w/o b-bore wore on, we stumbled across a few additional nuggets.
The first featured Coach ShuhSheffSkee acting solemn when asked about the homicide of Eve Carson, the UNC student body president who was gunned down on the Chapel Hill campus late the other night.
Coach Shuh gave us the standard we'll-honor-her-memory-by-playing-like-gentlemen-as-we-display-dignity-character-and-good-sportsmanship-blah-blah-blah ... sanctimonious platitudes which reinforced in America's mind the way that he bailed on the Duke lacrosse team amid the rape allegations of two years ago.
Was it really only one week ago when we saw three minutes of the Duke/NC State aftermath wherein Coach Shuh was an on-the-verge-of-tears mess moments after Win. No. 800?
All that Coach Shuh could say was, "Bob Knight, Coach Knight, Bob Knight, Coach Knight" -- a blatantly-veiled cry for help which screamed, "Why couldn't you have hugged me ONCE, Coach, and told me you loved me? WHY?"
Oh, by the way, Coach (and, you, too, Al Sharpton) ... this nation's 6 o'clock national news informed us that a black man has been arrested as a suspect in the shooting death of Lauren Burk at Auburn University and, oopsie daisy, Black America, it looks as though a black man wearing a Houston Astros cap (retro style, block H w/ orange star) was filmed on a surveillance camera attempting to use Eve Carson's credit card (so the story goes).
Hopefully, the black players for UNC and Duke will, in the weeks ahead, allow their on-the-court mad skillz and their off-the-court conduct be emblematic of the manner in which not every black man feels the need to put a bullet into the skull of some white bee-yotch.
America needs to police itself, 'cuz the po-po can't be everywhere -- and we can't always count on Jessie Jackson to show up on campus and condemn White America for being racist and forcing those black men into desperate acts of poppin' a cap in yo ass of the nearest random white chick.
"Huddle up, America! Hands in, hands in! 'Good sports!' on three. One ... two ... three ... GOOD SPORTS!"
That was fun.
And it promoted brotherhood.
Anyway, we're not going to discuss UNC-Duke here because A) They'll be playing again next week on something called Selection Sunday and because B) My god, what the F was the meaning of Digger's hat and Dickie V. gigantic sweat stains on that dark blue shirt which he shouldn't have been wearing inside that Duke gym hotbox???
Bob Knight joins this mix on Wednesday???
As we used to say during the TV game-show era of the '70s .... "joker! joker! joker!"
Hey ... "The Joker's Wild" -- "where knowledge is king and lady luck is queen ..." -- wasn't a bad show (better than that Howie Mandell waste-of-time on NBC) ... it was always intriguing when we'd see "joker! joker! U.S. Presidents for $50."
The contestant would then cross up Jack Barry by saying, "I'd like to go off the board, Jack, and take 'Overrated College Basketball Coaches For $100.' "
Every answer in that category was either "Billy Tubbs" or "Bob Huggins" (sometimes, "Gary Williams").
Wild-ass stuff ...
Speaking of which, our favorite player (the 7-foot Jamie Smalligan) and our favorite team (O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock, TX Division) dished out some frontier justice tonight.
The 7-foot Jamie Smalligan put on a show in his return to Madison Square Garden (where he and his Wuss Virginia Meltdowneer teammates captured NIT glory).
7-foot Jamie Smalligan played 9 minutes, missed his only shot (a 3-ball, of course), committed a foul and dished out 2 assists in WVU's OT win over SJU.
The Johnnies were only 7 of 18 from the foul line (which is kinda/sorta a problem in a close game).
Although 7-foot Jamie Smalligan's 3-ball percentage dipped from 18.1 to 17.8, he did extend his streak to six games in a row with zero points (and he has missed all nine 3-balls in his past seven games).
Before his recent slide, 7-foot Jamie Smalligan was shooting 21.27659 from beyond the arc.
Now look at him ... down to 17.8 percent.
At least he's crashing the boards and playin' enforcer inside.
Which is why we'll never quit on 7-foot Jamie Smalligan.
As for O'Reilly Auto Parts continuing to lose respect in the eyes of those who might've thought about coming aboard from either Kragen or Napa or Auto Zone, well, Senior Night was a disappointment (a loss to Baylor) -- except for the fact that Tyler Hoffmeister (winner of the unforgettable "Knight School" odyssey on ESPN two years ago) was allowed to start and, after his two minutes of action, was benched by Coach Knight, Jr.
Whereas much of America -- well, the non-Panhandle part of Texas which is Northwest Texas, anyway -- was clamoring for more PT for "The Hoff," Tyler and his fan club ("Ty'z Guyz") cannot escape from the inescapable truth which is the Rough Rider basketball program:
This is Bob's Team (w/ Bob-In-Absentia) until Bob Knight fucking dies.
Ya got that?
Are we clear?
"Are we CLEAR?!"
Make no mistake, Red Rover fans: Ty will play as much as Bob tells Pat is necessary.
Junior forward Damir Sujagic turned to senior center Esmir Rizvic on the O'Reilly Auto Parts bench and said, "I liked it a lot better when Daddy was running the show ... y'know, the devil I know vs. the devil I don't know."
Rizvic to Suljagic: "Give him time. He'll turn around that program in Toledo by 2017 or 2018, if not sooner."
So, to recap, let's steal some words of wisdom from Roy Williams following a semi-recent NCAA championship game, "I couldn't give a shit about North Carolina right now."