While the national sports scene seems to be focused on the New England Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady and what has become known as “Deflategate” for the lowering of air pressure in footballs used by that team making it easier for Brady to throw it, especially in bad weather, the local sports focus remains on Duke—former Duke—basketball player Rasheed Sulaimon and his pending transfer to the University of Maryland. Sulaimon, as you might recall, was dismissed by the Duke coach (to remain nameless in this space) for various reasons including alleged sexual misconduct, allegedly pushing an assistant coach, and, most importantly, definitely not fitting into the Duke coach’s scheme to win the NCAA basketball title this year, or any year, for that matter.
Word comes yesterday Sulaimon will transfer to Maryland and play for the Terps during the 2015-16 season as long as he graduates from Duke this August, prior to enrollment at Maryland. On the heels (no pun) of the announcement, there’s a rush by local columnists to pair Duke and Maryland in the coming season’s Atlantic Coast Conference-Big Ten basketball challenge. The Duke coach has said he will never schedule Maryland, which bolted the ACC last year for greener ($$$) pastures of the Big Ten, leaving the ACC after a lifetime. With challenge sponsor ESPN pulling the scheduling and match-ups chain, pairing Duke and Maryland is not just sexy because of its long-time heated rivalry, not just because Maryland left the ACC, but because of the pending Sulaimon transfer. ESPN would love to promote "Duke coach vs Sulaimon in player return to Cameron."
Two things about the possible match-up: Either it could happen with Sulaimon not as part of the Maryland roster or it will not happen with Sulaimon as part of the Maryland roster. The Duke coach has too much influence to allow the game to proceed with Sulaimon on the Maryland roster as an eligible player, not this year, not next year, not any year. The Duke coach doesn't want to face Sulaimon on campus much less on any basketball court. Prediction: If there’s an announcement before the end of the summer that Duke and Maryland will meet in the ACC-Big Ten challenge this coming season, Sulaimon will fail to graduate from Duke but not because of grades or failure to qualify to graduate. There will be some other reason. The Duke coach has the power at prevent it just to keep Sulaimon off the Maryland roster for a game against Duke.
Most interesting about all of this is that Sulaimon will someday soon, maybe as early as August of this year, be a graduate of Duke University, a proud moment for anyone. He will have endured the rigors of getting a Duke education while putting up with the harshness of the Duke coach. But in the long run, to paraphrase one of my closest advisors: Sulaimon will be a Duke graduate, yet Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, and Jahlil Okafor, all with just one year (maybe just one semester) of a Duke education, will be held in higher esteem by the school. Think about that instead of pondering if the punishment for Deflategate fits the crime or lack thereof.
Dictionary.com word of the day
hidebound (adjective) [hyhyd-bound] narrow and rigid in opinion; inflexible