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We’ve Been Putting This Off Long Enough

Rant incoming...

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
 CBS senior writer Matt Norlander is filmed for NCAA Final Four coverage at a CBS stage on Pan Am Plaza, Monday, April 5, 2021 in downtown Indianapolis, the final day of the NCAA Final Four. People Mill Around Downtown Indianapolis The Last Day Of March Madness In April
Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

We listen to a few basketball podcasts - our own of course, plus Jeff Goodman’s, Andy Katz’s and CBS’s Eye On College Basketball with Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander.

Parrish is pretty funny with his freeflowing riverboat gambler mentality that comes naturally to someone who grew up near the Mississippi. He’s an interesting pairing with Norlander, who is a New Englander and in some ways diametrically Parish’s opposite.

Parish, for instance, is pretty non-judgmental. He’s a live-and-let live type and doesn’t really pass judgement on programs or individuals.

It’d be nice to say that about Norlander, but as Duke fans, we can’t. Why? Because his dislike and disdain for Duke come through on a regular basis.

Sometimes it’s a tonal thing. Other times he starts to say what he really thinks and stops - but does so in a way that lets you fill in the rest.

He.Doesn’t.Like.Duke.

At one point, he repeatedly ran a mocking audio bit of Coach K saying “lets...go...Duke,” which, by the way, was aimed at Duke fans. He really delighted in it (Coach K may have had the last laugh: he does that phrase on the big screen now before every game).

So on Friday’s podcast, Norlander talked about Duke’s plans to honor Coach K Saturday. Looks like his former players are going to line the court as he walks in and then there will be a ceremony.

Non-Duke fans, he said, “might throw up in their mouth a little.”

Why go there? What’s the point? Why not just the facts and move on? Would he have said it about Roy Williams? Dean Smith? John Calipari when that day comes?

Parish gently stepped in there, pointing out that that was irrelevant and who needs the bile?

After listening for a good while now, it’s clear who likes the bile, even though he’s not honest enough to say so directly: Norlander.

You know who was honest enough? Art Chansky.

He was the sports editor of the old Durham Morning Herald for a while and after he moved on, he published an article that started: “I hate Duke.”

We all knew it obviously, but give him points for honesty (and a great lede).

Norlander should follow suit. We rarely call people out for stuff like this and if he were candid about his opinions, well, who cares? He’s entitled to his opinion. He can damn Duke to hell for all we care.

But this hemming and hawing and acting like a 13-year-old who doesn't want to admit his true feelings is ridiculous.

And so is this: of all the people CBS could have sent to Cameron to cover things this weekend, they’re sending Norlander. Not Kyle Boone, not Parish, not David Cobb, all fine, fair writers, but the one guy who has habitually made it clear - albeit more like a high school girl than a grown man - that he does not like Duke.

That’s who will represent CBS on Saturday on press row in Cameron. They could have done better - easily.

***

Small factual beef. Norlander says in the podcast that Coach K made Cameron what it is, which is not true. We’re not sure when the term Cameron Crazies came in but we think Al McGuire started that in the Foster Era (Correction - K era but not ESPN) when he came out with a stool, a whip and a pith helmet to tame them, much to their delight.

But Cameron was Cameron before we called the Crazies the Crazies and the guy most responsible for making it what it has become is not Foster or Krzyzewski but Vic Bubas. That said, Coach K has cultivated the atmosphere and did so in the age of ESPN. But it was there long before ESPN caught on.