March 30, 2001

Who's Your Daddy

Print More

Who’s your daddy? Battier. Forget about it folks, this one’s as sure as another night of the news section being late. Duke’s got this championship in the bag. Remember a few weeks back when you were filling out your bracket? Think back to who you chose to win this thing. If you picked Duke, our conversation here is done. Go read the other three pathetic little stories about teams like Arizona.

If you didn’t chose Duke, we need to talk. You’ve made a terrible mistake. But it’s not too late to convert.

Now, I’m sure a few of you avoided Duke because of that old thing about “he who should win never does” — or something along those lines. You all erred in your ways, but you know deep down you made a mistake. It’s not your fault, sometimes we just get caught up the “Madness” part of March Madness.

But it’s time we look at the “March” part of that phrase, and realize that the madness is done, and it’s time for the boys of March to take over. In this case, it’s the sovereign entity known as Duke, who returns again to the Final Four. This is where Duke belongs, and where it becomes so tough. This is why this team has been to five national championships games since 1990. This is why Duke hasn’t lost in the semifinals since 1989.

But I’ll give you reasons. Reason one: Jason Williams. Williams is the best damn player in the country. I don’t want to hear anything about Gilbert Arenas or Loren Woods or anyone else. Williams will drop 20-30 points every night. Why? Because he can. Like M.J. (I’m not taking this too far, I promise) he can drive, he can shoot outside, he can pass, and he can defend. It’s automatic, you might as well put those points on the board ahead of time. If you think Maryland’s Steve Blake is going to stop this kid, you might think Ryan Leaf is the right guy to lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl. The only thing that can stop Jason Williams is Jason Williams.

Next, back to that little comment I made at the top — the one about the best defensive player in the country (they hand out awards for these things) and probably the second-best baller overall in the country. Shane Battier is incredible. He hustles, he blocks shots, he can defend anyone and he can drop a three like Shiva’s mom used to drop him on his head. Put Battier on any shooter and you might as well attach a bowling ball to the kid’s ankle. Coach K (the best coach in the country) can turn to this kid and tell him to not only lead but guard the other team’s best player. And Battier will do both. And he’ll do it better than anyone left in this tournament. They even tell me “Battier” is Slovakian for “team player,” (and if it’s not it damn well should be).

Reason three? The three ball. This team has shot 39% from behind the arc this season. I may be wrong (I’m not the math major in the bunch) but I’m thinking that’s a shade higher than the 32.8% Michigan State managed to drop in this year. J.V. will tell you that the three-ball isn’t important, but you must realize his foolishness isn’t his fault. If you’d grown up sucking in the toxic air of nearby Flint, Mich., you’d say crazy things too.

What makes it worse is that anyone on the team can drop in the long ball. If Duke can get teams to double up inside on Carlos Boozer, forget about it. The open looks from outside the arc will fall, and this will be all over. If you don’t double down on Boozer, he’ll use his 6-9, 270 lb. frame to back in and put the ball in the hole. Simple as that. It’s like a catch-22, but a hell of a lot crueler. Like growing up in Jersey.

That about wraps it up from here. I think you’re looking at one of the best Final Fours in years, but then, hey, I think we always say that. But Duke fans be ready, it’s your year once again. Before long, the whole country will be shouting from the rafters, “Who your daddy? Battier.”

Archived article by Charles Persons