Down Goes Duke! Stephen F. Austin Defeats Duke in an Upset for the Ages

Stephen F. Austin Defeats Duke
Stephen F. Austin hands No. 1 Duke its first non conference home loss since 2000

It’s one of the most heartening and heartwarming, feel-good sports stories of the year, at least for everyone who hates Duke. Yes, this one is being celebrated by non-Duke fans everywhere.  Little, lanky, Lilliputian Stephen F. Austin State University just defeated Duke 85 – 83 in overtime at Cameron Indoor Arena.  Unbelievable.  In other words, Stephen F. Austin (SFA) just became Cinderella personified and made a pre-Ball appearance in November, and she’s lookin’ girly good.  

It’s a long ways off from the madness of March, folks.

First of all, where IS SFA anyway?  I had to look it up. SFA is a public university in Nacogdoches, Texas. Yes, Nacogdoches.  Seriously.  It’s in East Texas.  SFA was founded as a teaching school and now has 12,614 enrolled students. And now this pint sized David just beat juggernaut Goliath with a sling shot and a stone.

As sports fans, this is what we live for. This is why every sports fan should go to church every Sunday (before or after the game). And this is how the theology of sports points us to the mystery of Godliness.

Upsets, comebacks and turnarounds is what Heaven is all about. God is the God of the underdog. Our Lord came to upset the negative status quo. The King of Kings is orchestrator of all comebacks, and the Root and Offspring of David is the one who turns every pitch black and hopelessly bleak situation all the way around, for good.

Here’s how we know: Duke was favored to win by 27 points. Stephen F. Austin was not just in the game, but they outscored Duke in the paint by a mile. That doesn’t happen every day, not even when Duke plays a RANKED opponent. 

After the historic game, here’s what Coach K had to say:

“They were better. Bottom line,” Krzyzewski said. “They were tougher than we were. They played with great poise. And we helped them. You can’t give up 64 points in the paint. We don’t even give up 64 points. And we gave up so many layups. You go 11-of-24 from the foul line in the second half, it’s just a recipe to lose. So we weren’t deserving of winning. That team was deserving of winning, and they won.”

If you’re wondering why this game, this upset win, is such a big deal, here’s what ESPN had to say:

“No. 1 Duke suffered its first loss of the season in stunning fashion Tuesday as the Blue Devils lost an overtime stunner at the buzzer to Stephen F. Austin, 85-83, in an absolutely wild ending at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke became the third No. 1 team to lose this in NOVEMBER, seeing its 150-game non-conference home winning streak snapped by Stephen F. Austin senior forward Nathan Bain’s coast-to-coast layup at the overtime buzzer. The Blue Devils entered the game as 27.5-point favorites, making the Lumberjacks’ win the biggest Division I upset of the past 15 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Duke took a 15-point first-half lead, but SFA — which had just lost to Rutgers and finished below .500 last season — came all the way back in the second half to take the lead in the final minutes. The game went into OT when Duke’s Cassius Stanley missed a contested midrange jumper at the buzzer.

Stephen F. Austin was able to secure a loose ball under Duke’s basket and then senior forward Nathan Bain drove the ball the length of the floor and banked in a layup just as the buzzer sounded.

It’s easily the biggest win the history of Stephen F. Austin. The team never backed down from Duke down the stretch of regulation and throughout overtime before this layup won it.” https://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/28172273/duke-college-basketball-latest-no-1-casualty-stephen-f-austin-pulls-ot-stunner

And there it is: there’s the epiphany and the theophany. The revealed Truth we are to live and learn is this – in the face of a big, bad, bully, never back down. Darkness will be defeated by the light, and right will overcome might. When all hell is breaking loose, never ever give up.

Never give up. You can make it! Your dreams are your ticket out, and your dreams can come true. Just ask Nathan Bain and the Stephen F. Austin University Men’s basketball team.

It’s Time To Dance

UNC Victory over Duke 3.9.19

It’s time to dance. And it’s time to do your victory dance. So do your dance. It’s a message for every wounded warrior and for every sanctified Christian soldier. It’s time for beleaguered believers and for every distressed disciple to dance. For every hater of evil that’s hungry for Heaven, it’s time dance. So do your dance.

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North Carolina just beat Duke for the second time this season, and in so doing they earned the No. 2 Seed in the upcoming ACC Basketball Tournament, the Granddaddy of ‘em all. Duke was without their best player, Zion Williamson, who got hurt in the last UNC/Duke game a few weeks ago. Then today, another Duke diehard, Marques Bolden, was injured early in the game. In the first three minutes of the latest Duke/UNC showdown, Bolden, Duke’s starting center, was helped off the floor and to the locker room with a knee injury suffered on a hard fall after attempting to block Garrison Brooks’ dunk. Duke scrapped and scraped almost all game, but in the end, Duke was not dancing.

Sometimes victories don’t look assured, and sometimes defeat looks like a distinct possibility. Duke was down but not out, and for most of the game they made it look like they could beat UNC at UNC without two of their best players. But for North Carolina, in the end, they could say as David said, “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.”

In the end, all of the North Carolina players were dancing and prancing and juking and jiving as they celebrated a sometimes pretty, but mostly ugly, hard-fought fight at the Dean Dome. The Tarheels outlasted and out defended and ultimately outscored their rivals on the way to a 79 70 victory that was well worth dancing about.

Dancing is the universal expression of joy and gladness. Michael Jackson said that “consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye but the dance lives on. On many an occasion when I am dancing, I have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists.”

“Dancing is so much more than just grooving on the dance floor to your favorite tunes. In fact, you’ll be surprised how many benefits are associated with dancing. Not only does it train your brain and your body’s motor skills but it also is an excellent exercise for your entire body. As such, it helps you to stay physically and mentally fit. Even more so, dancing regularly can improve your general well-being, boosts your self-esteem and has also been shown to improve your social skills.” http://www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/2017/dance-quotes/

When David killed Goliath, the women danced. When the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem, David danced. He dance with all of his might. And when the prodigal son came home, the father threw a big welcome home party for him. And they all danced.

So dance. It’s March, right? They don’t call the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament “The Big Dance” for nothing! So Dance! Dance like David danced. Dance like the North Carolina Tarheels danced. Dance like no one is watching. Dance like you’ve just beaten your greatest rival, again. Do your dance and celebrate the great victories that God has won for you.

Another Reason To Hate Duke: Grayson Allen is “Trippin’”

Jimmy V Classic

Coach “K” got it wrong. The Duke Coach got it all wrong. Coach Mike Krzyzewski suspended junior guard and former captain Grayson Allen “indefinitely” and the indefinitely lasted a whopping one game. Allen was suspended for just one game for tripping an opposing player, not once or twice, but for the third time. And now Grayson Allen is playing again. Unbelievable.

I say again, this marked the third time that Grayson Allen intentionally tripped an opposing player in the past year. Allen intentionally stuck out his leg and tripped an Elon player Wednesday night, December 22nd, an incident he later apologized for. Allen was defending Santa Ana late in the first half of the Blue Devils’ 72-61 victory. Santa Ana drove past him on the baseline, and Allen stuck his right leg out, sending Santa Ana to the floor. Allen was assessed a technical foul. He then became overly emotional on the bench after he found out about the technical.  Talk about a poor sport.

Grayson Allen has now thrice committed the same dirty play. Does that make him a dirty player? You tell me. Allen has now gone from a mild-mannered, Bible verse-tweeting potential All-American to the biggest villain in college basketball. The passionate, palpitant, hard-nosed Allen is arguably the Duke Blue Devils’ best player and is the heart and soul of his team. With him they have a shot at going deep into the NCAA Tournament. Without him, they’re toast. So is that the reason why Coach K and the Duke University brain trust are putting up with his behavior?

There have been many discussions regarding disparity in punishment as pertaining to race. Just think: what would have happened if Grayson Allen was another color, race or creed? He probably would have been kicked off of the team and possibly dispelled from his school. It is disappointing and disparaging to see a Duke player get treated differently than other players would certainly be treated. The  “conspiracy theorists” of the world all believe that there is a double standard, and Duke in general, and now Grayson Allen in particular, got off and got by after doing what is horrible at best and heinous at worst.

Allen has endured a significant amount of scrutiny and criticism, and has been caught up in a viral, social media firestorm; but he did this to himself, purposefully tripping three opponents in the last two seasons. First it was Louisville’s Ray Spalding on Feb. 8, 2016, then Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes on Feb. 25, 2016. The first incident was surprising; the second incomprehensible, a pattern of dirty behavior that no longer could be written off as a “Did he or didn’t he do it intentionally?” debate. No, he did it, with his right foot out, left heel up. It turned Grayson Allen into a trending topic on Twitter, an ignominious YouTube sensation and the topic of conversation around the country.

Then, this past December, Duke suspended Allen after the third incident. Here’s what Coach K had to say after the latest trip: “We have had the opportunity to thoroughly review the incident involving Grayson Allen from last night’s game against Elon. As I stated last night, the incident was unacceptable and inexcusable. . . . As a program, we needed to take further steps regarding his actions that do not meet the standards of Duke Basketball. To that end, we have determined that Grayson will be suspended from competition for an indefinite amount of time.” And Coach K stripped Allen of his captainship.

Former Duke standout Jay Williams had this advice for Grayson Allen:  “Grayson Allen has a choice to make, the same one another former Duke guard had to make a long time ago. Will he learn from being forced to sit and watch? What happens next will define him.” And one ACC coach told ESPN’s Andy Katz that Allen needs help handling his actions. To say the least.

ACC commissioner John Swofford issued a statement supporting the move, calling sportsmanship “one of the core values of our league” and adding that the suspension “demonstrates adherence to this important principle.”

And here’s what Allen had to say for himself: “I made a really bad play. I’m sorry to him, Santa Ana ….. I’m sorry to the officials who had to call that. I’m sorry to my team. It was selfish and taking away from them. I’m not proud of that at all.”

Duke’s season depends on whether Grayson Allen can grow up. Yes, Duke made the right move suspending Grayson Allen, but it’s what happened during his short time away — and WHY he returned so soon — that will define a season for a team many thought would play for the title.

The question was asked, “how long should Grayson Allen sit?” The answer?  He sat one game. A whopping one game. Wow. He should have sat for much longer.  In hockey, if a player is tripped on a breakaway (with no opponents to pass other than the goaltender), a tripping call may result in a penalty shot for the tripped player. Nuff said.

Yes I believe in grace and mercy and redemption, but I also believe in judgement, and in this case, the punishment did not fit the crime.  If there’s one thing I can’t stand its dirty players. Right is right and wrong is wrong.  And Grayson Allen was wrong, three times over, and he got away with what amounts to a slap on the wrist.

What’s wrong with that picture?

Can The USA Men Win Basketball Gold In Rio?

Carmello Antony USA-Olympics--Basketball-Men-s-Team

More than any other player, Carmelo Anthony is the face of the 2016 US Men’s Olympic Basketball Team. He represents their past and epitomizes their future. He’s an accomplished athlete who has won championships at every level, save the NBA. And it’s this asterisk next to his accolades, this rip on his résumé and this “but” on his byline that keep us wondering if Melo has the macho to guide this team to gold.

Carmelo Kyam Anthony (born May 29, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). In Anthony’s freshman season, he led the Orangemen to their first ever National Championship and was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Anthony then entered the 2003 NBA draft where he was selected with the third overall pick by the Denver Nuggets.

Since entering the NBA, Anthony has been named an All-Star nine times and an All-NBA Team member six times. In 2011, he was traded from Denver to the New York Knicks just days prior to the NBA trade deadline. On January 24, 2014, against the Charlotte Bobcats, Anthony set the Madison Square Garden and Knicks’ single-game scoring record with a career-high 62 points.

Anthony has been a member of the USA Olympic basketball team a record four times, winning a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics and gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. He is the United States Olympic men’s national basketball team all-time leading scorer.

But despite all of the firepower Melo and his teammates have, there is an aura of skepticism about Melo in general and this US team in particular; especially since they’re not blowing their opponents away like previous US Olympic Teams have in the past.

Luis Scola, an Argentinian national and a member of the Brooklyn Nets, said this about the US Team:

“There was this time that the U.S. kind of got bored of the FIBA (Olympic competition) thing,” Scola said. “And they didn’t put a lot of effort, didn’t put a lot of work on it. They didn’t really commit to it. And those years they lost. And then they said: ‘Stop. Enough.’ So I believe it’s pretty much up to the U.S.

“If U.S. takes this seriously, and they really put work into it, and they put their minds and their bodies into it, it’s going to be very, very hard to beat them any year they come and play. They have so many good players. They have so many athletes. The difference of the athleticism between those guys and everybody else is very, very big. So if they really focus on it, it’s going to be very hard to beat them in any tournament. It’s been like that forever.” http://www.espn.com/olympics/basketball/story/_/id/17314081/olympics-2016-how-world-underdogs-see-chances-upsetting-team-usa

And the same goes for you and me. When we set our minds anew on what we hope we can do, there’s nothing and nobody that can stop us. He who lies within us is greater that what lies before us. So with the help of Heaven and a lift from the Lord, with God all things are possible to those who believe.

One Team’s Trash Is Another Team’s Treasure

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Rasheed Wesley Sulaimon (born March 9, 1994) is an American college basketball player. He was the primary reserve off the bench for the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team during the 2014–15 season before being dismissed from the team on January 29, 2015. He transferred to Maryland to play his final season for Ralph Turgeon.

Sulaimon is a welcome addition. To Maryland. He came north from down south and has upped his game and put aside the shame and is now one of the top guards on one of the top teams in the land. Sulaimon was dismissed from being a Blue Devil but now he’s been acquired and is inspired and is admired by his friends and fans alike.

He’s a great player who can congregate his teammates and calibrate his classmates as he captivates the fans on the court game after game.  Never mind what happened at Duke. After what we’ve seen so far this season, who cares what Coach K says? There are two sides to every story, and the side we’re seeing isn’t half bad. In fact, it’s all good as Sulaimon and his Terps are 13-1 and No. 4 in the Country. He’s a big reason why Maryland is so good. So good that many are picking Maryland to be in Final Four this year. Because Mr. Sulaimon is as good as it gets. Not welcome at Duke? No problem. Now, he’s more than welcome in College Park.

So let’s learn another lesson: one team’s trash is another team’s treasure. What won’t work in one setting may well be the answer and the antidote and the remedy and the resolution in another. So don’t give up on a guy when he’s put down. It’s so spiritual. Just ask Peter and Paul and Ruth and Rizpah. All of these and some were given a second chance. And the guy or gal that gets a second chance and makes good on it can go from chump to champ in a heartbeat.

The so called “trash” of a guy may become a treasure trove overnight. And he just may be the same guy that sets you up and puts you up and gets you up and over the top, when given another chance.

A.B.D. — Anybody But Duke?

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I went to the University of Maryland so I have to hate Duke. I mean, I HAVE to. Even though Maryland abandoned the ACC for the Big Ten Conference, I still have to hate Duke. Right?

But Why? Why do I have to hate a team that is so great? Why do I deem to dislike and despise and deride and disparage a team that is good ALL of the time, and seems to be great most of a great deal of the time? Just because my team isn’t as good, or can’t beat them, or got beat down by them? Sounds good to me.

Nope. That can’t be right. Seriously, sometimes we don’t even know why we do certain deeds or think certain ways or say certain words.

So why DO people hate certain teams? Why do people yell at the Yankees and the cuss at the Cowboys and loathe the LA Lakers, and detest “le team du jour” . . . DUKE! I mean, they just won another — their fifth — national Men’s Basketball Championship. They came back from nine points down late in the game, and won going away. They have Coach K, the all-time winningest coach coaching today. They have Tyus Jones and they attract the best talent from near and far, and, of course, they’re Duke.

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Why do people hate certain winners and love other losers? Why do we root for the ugly team and rile on the pretty team? And why do we hate Duke? So much?

We must be wired wrong, because Duke just did it again. Duke just beat the team that beat undefeated Kentucky. Duke just showed that you can win with four freshmen in the lineup. Duke just proved that all kids today aren’t all that bad. Duke just did it.

And here’s the tie in:

Why do people doubt and question and suspect and disbelieve God? Because He seems unreachable and unapproachable and unfathomable and undiscernible? Because we don’t like the way things are and somebody’s got to take the blame? Because we don’t have what we want and somebody else finds what we fancy and we are jealous and envious and desirous of what the Dukes of the world have that we don’t? Like hating Duke, these are no reasons to hate and hold out on God.

Duke just proved that you can succeed when you have haters and doubters and cynics and skeptics and everything else in between. So have hope. Don’t sweat it. Don’t hate. Don’t be jealous. Be thankful for what you have and grateful for what you don’t have; and that’s the burdens and the bundles and the baggage that so many other’s do have.

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Duke did it. And nobody I know picked Duke. And there might not be anybody that’s picking you. But don’t let that stop you. Duke did it. And you can too.

Get Yourself A Good Coach

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A coach can’t play or win for you, but a good coach is good start to having a good game and a good season. A good coach is a good way to win without wallowing in defeat and wondering if you will be victorious more than just every other now and then. The rest is up to you.  

Coach K is a good coach. In fact, some would say he is a great coach.  And if he’s not the greatest college coach in college basketball, he’s at least the winningest coach in college basketball history. Some don’t like Duke for whatever reason, but the fact remains that under Coach K, year in and year out, the “Dukies” are a force to be reckoned with. And that only comes from having a good coach.

Coach Michael William “Mike” Krzyzewski (/ʃəˈʃɛfski/ shə-shef-ski; nicknamed “Coach K” has served as the head men’s basketball coach at Duke University since 1980.  Krzyzewski has led the Blue Devils to four NCAA Championships, 11 Final Fours, 12 ACC regular season titles, and 13 ACC Tournament championships. Krzyzewski is also the coach of the United States men’s national basketball team, whom he led to two gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Olympics.

Krzyzewski has amassed a record 82 wins in NCAA tournament games, while averaging 25 wins per season.  Not too shabby. And Krzyzewski’s 903rd victory set a new record, breaking that held by his former coach, Bob Knight.

And Coach Mike Krzyzewski is on the verge of yet another coaching milestone. The Duke Coach will become the first men’s coach in Division I history with 1,000 wins on Sunday, January 25, 2015, if his fifth-ranked Blue Devils beat St. John’s. That milestone could come in the same arena where three seasons ago he became the winningest men’s coach in college basketball’s top tier.

A win at Madison Square Garden would bring his record to 1,000-308 during a career that spans four decades. He says the wins that matter most are the ones that bring titles, not milestones, and he calls the forthcoming accomplishment “a heck of a thing … but it’s not a championship.”

And that’s the sign of a true champion, and a true championship coach. He doesn’t just want to win games, he wants to win championships. Too many coaches and players and people grapple just to win games, and battle just to believe they can be more than mediocre and mundane. But not Coach K.

And so the lesson is this: be picky when picking a coach.  Not every teacher and mentor and instructor wants to push you to greatness. But a good coach does. So, I believe that getting a good coach is a guarantee that you will at least be taught and tutored and trained properly. The rest is up to you.