It was a pretty cool experience exchanging emails with Julian King leading up to today’s Duke vs. Army basketball contest. Julian was one of two people who founded Duke Basketball Report in the late 90s and the website served as a place for fans to engage and follow all things Duke basketball related. It represented the main idea behind SB Nation well before SB Nation established itself as the best in its field. To check out more regarding DBR’s beginnings, check out this 2004 article that appeared in Duke Magazine explaining how it all began.
Army is looking to create some history of its own tonight by playing one of (if not, the) best team in college basketball this afternoon at one of the greatest venues in sport - Duke basketball at home in Cameron Indoor Stadium. There is not a better Veterans Day matchup and it is certainly a game worth watching starting at 1:00 PM on ESPN. You will see in his final answer of the Q & A that Julian understands the significance of Duke playing Army on Veterans Day. Thank you for your time and words Julian and thank you to ALL of our veterans for your sacrifices.
Q: Okay, we all saw Tuesday night’s performance against Kentucky. After witnessing that massacre, what is the goal of the season? Is anything less than a national championship a disappointment?
A: Honestly I’ve never bought into that idea. Winning the championship is always a long shot for everyone. So much has to go your way. But there is a lot of optimism around Duke right now. We’ve only seen one game however and it’s a long season.
Q: How does Duke make this game uninteresting? What Blue Devil players should take over from opening tip?
A: Uninteresting? Well if they start buying into the hype and don’t play hard maybe…right now it looks like RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson are the most dominant offensive players but all four of the freshmen are sensational in different ways. And they apparently have great chemistry which is amazing at this point.
Q: What lesser known players on the Duke roster today will make an impact on the court before they finish their collegiate career at Durham?
A: I would say Jack White first off then possibly Alex O’ Connell. White is much more athletic than people think and he can play all over the court. He’s special, baby! A real PTPer! Okay, sorry, my inner Vitale gets away from me at times.
Q: As you know, Coach K is a West Point grad and played for Bobby Knight. As a result, is it safe to say that Duke basketball fans pull for Army to win the Commander in Chief Trophy each year?
A: Well I would think a lot do but secondary loyalty only goes so far. For my part, I used to pull for Navy but now generally for Army. Mostly I just admire the hell out of those guys whatever academy they’re representing. They’re amazing people, every one. To borrow from what Rick Majerus said about the Mormons, they’re the best damn people in the world. To be that age and to be that much…it’s impossible to put it into words. Total respect though.
Playing Army on the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice…that’s really something to think about. My grandfather was on the way to Europe when it ended. What a lucky guy.
To sum it up, I always pull for Duke. I never pull against Army, even when they’re playing Duke. It’s everyone’s school.
Q: Considering this game is being played on Veterans Day, are you aware of any pregame or weekend festivities in Durham celebrating the holiday weekend that we should pass along to any West Point fans making the trip?
A: I’m not aware of any particular events for Veterans Day but I don’t live in Durham (but nearby) so I can’t really say. Fort Bragg is really not that far away though and I’m sure there’s going to be a lot going on there.
We don’t have any WWI vets left of course, but this weekend would be a great chance to tell a WWII guy how much we respect and admire what they did when they were all just poor kids struggling through the depression. They should hear it as often as possible while they still can. Every time I’ve been to the WWII monument in DC I see busloads of veterans coming, some in tears. They should hear how proud and grateful we are. None of our grandparents were lucky enough to kill Hilter in WWI, but those guys in World War II sure as hell took care of him and the rest of the villainous scum of Nazi Germany.
The rest of us should just put our beers down for a bit and consider what those kids went through and just how very much they accomplished. So many of them died in battle and so many more have passed away as old men. If you see one, thank him. He deserves much more than that but it’s the least you can do.