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A Duke-Syracuse Q&A

We did a Q&A with John Cassillo from Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. Our answers are posted over there; here are his.

Don't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.
Don't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

1) We obviously have a particular interest in Michael Gbinije. It seems like things have really worked for him lately. What's changed?

Since he hit the court for Syracuse last season, Gbinije has seemed to struggle to find his place. Last year, there was some overlap with C.J. Fair, and this year, his shot just wasn't falling. But recently... wow. Everything we (and you, probably) thought he could be as a collegiate player seems to have come to fruition this last few weeks. He can drive the lane, hit jumpers and actually plays scrappy defense too. The one bummer is his free-throw shooting, but if he can give us 15 points or more a night (the norm lately), we'll learn to deal with some struggles from the stripe.

2) It seems like Syracuse is dealing with a lot between injuries and the NCAA. Is it wearing the team down? The fans?

Well, we were never going to be worldbeaters this year -- not with the amount of scoring and defense we lost. But once Chris McCullough went down, and then later on, we gave ourselves that postseason ban... I mean, everyone's kind of worn down now. Jim Boeheim doesn't really go too far into his rotation either, regularly playing just six guys in a night, so that's obviously part of the exhaustion for this squad. For us fans, the exhaustion comes from constantly being locked into tight games and a fear that this self-imposed ban may not be the end (though hopefully it is).

3) What is the overall feeling about Duke in ACC season II?

Would've been nice to have us both in the top 10 again, just so there could be a little more animosity. But I think Orange fans still dislike Duke after last year's matchups -- especially the second one and the now-infamous jacket toss incident. Maybe we'll never get to the pure hatred seen from Duke/UNC or Syracuse/Georgetown. I think the Blue Devils and Orange respect one another too much for that right now. But we'll certainly ratchet up the dislike over time.

4) The most interesting matchup to us is Jahlil Okafor vs. Rakeem Christmas. How do you see that one playing out?

I'm not overly impressed with Okafor's defense, though his offense is obvious something worth bragging about (also, please send him to my Knicks in this year's draft). While he should still be able to put up some points and get physical with Christmas, I think Rakeem's athleticism in the paint and veteran savvy should give him the edge he needs to get around the Duke big man. It's also unlikely that the Blue Devils guard Christmas man-to-man, so that should also be taken into consideration. BC pretty much put four men on him the other night and he was largely shut down (for obvious reasons).

5) With regards to the scandal, the comment that sticks with us is that it didn't involve anyone who is there now. Does that mean that the staff had no idea? Is the NCAA likely to accept that?

Well... the current staff's been there a pretty long time, so I don't necessarily think they didn't know once it was reported. So no, I don't think the NCAA cares too much about that comment. I also think that Syracuse wouldn't have taken this action without NCAA input, so if that's true, it's hard to see much more action in terms of postseason bans -- though loss of wins (pointless) and maybe a couple scholarships in future years could be on the table.

6) Camping out down here means you might have a bad night or two but if it gets to be crazy they make the kids go indoors. You guys live next to Canada. We admire the commitment, but camping out in that weather is nuts. Do they stay regardless? Is there a cutoff point?

No cutoff point. If you want to hang out there through the cold -- within reason, before they make you go inside -- you can do so (and a lot of kids do). I slept in the Dome one night before the Villanova game (on College Gameday) in February of 2010, because it was about zero degrees outside that night. Like you guys, we love our basketball, even in sub-freezing temperatures.

7) A Duke fan flies up for the game. Where's the best place to eat?

Off-campus, the obvious answer is Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Now hear me out: they do a nice job of combining different types of barbeque, and you'll leave very full and satisfied, without breaking the bank. I'm a big fan of the Pulled Pork Cuban -- a sandwich I still dream about despite not having it for five years -- along with the mac-and-cheese side. On-campus, Faegan's and Chuck's are both solid options, though the former has the much better beer selection. The Varsity's also a must, just for its history on the Hill, and some pretty excellent pizza and wings.