Duke is off to the Wooden Classic for the first time ever, and awaiting the
Devils are the USC Trojans. Last time Duke played SC in California, to the best
of our recollection, was early in the Gminski era, and the game went down to the
wire, in a duel between G-man and USC's sensational Cliff Robinson, only to have
a truly despicable call at the end award the game to USC. The Pac-8 commissioner
(before expansion) actually apologized to Duke for the outcome.
If we remember correctly, one of the officials was Booker Turner, who had a
reputation, at least on the East Coast, for having a clear bias for West Coast
teams.Â Later he officiated the Duke-Arizona game in Tucson, where, again,
a critical call at the end of the game took a win away from Duke.Â We don't
have records here, so if anyone remembers differently, please feel free to let
us know.Â But we can say this without fear: in our opinion, Booker Turner
was a lousy ref.
Fortunately, we understand he's retired, and officiating, in general, has
been refined in the last 20 years, so we don't anticipate that kind of outcome
this trip, and it doesn't matter, it's ancient history. The only person who might have remembered that
loss would have been Max Crowder, and of course, to everyone's great sorrow, Max
died of cancer several years ago, and yes we miss him. Man, do we miss
All that said, USC is a very athletic team, coached by Henry Bibby,Â a
guy who played for John Wooden and Billy Cunningham, and we expect they'll give
Duke all they can handle and then some.Â When we watched the UNC-USC game,
we were very impressed by their talent level. USC is not normally a strong
basketball school butÂ Bibby seems to be turning the corner.
In the Maui Invitational, USC lost to UNC (incidentally, here's
the Orange County Register on Forte's early promise), after a first half
where they were stunningly more athletic, and
lost to Utah State, which sounds worse than it is, but Utah State took
Florida down to the wire.Â They could have literally stolen the game, but
the best laid plans and all that.Â They were in that game, and they are
competitive, which is the main point.
Both teams will come in at 2-2.
"Wicked" Hulan Pickett has an article up
on the McDonald's Classic and who is in and who's not. Chris Duhon is in,
giving Duke fans good reason to watch.