RAH RAH GO DUKE. The men's basketball team departs this afternoon on a charter flight to China and Dubai with big spending fans.
First stop -- refueling in Alaska. Then Shanghai, and even though it will be almost midnight with 20 hours of travel already, there will be a bus trip which FC estimates at three hours to a hotel on the other side of Kunshan.
Fact one: though the first game is said to be on the new would-be Duke campus in Kunshan, that is not so. There is no facility there. The game will be held in a 6,000 seat arena in the city.
Fact two: though touted as a series of three contests against the Chinese national team -- the last on August 22nd -- the best Chinese players are all in London through August 21. They are playing in the London International Basketball Invitational in the arena that will be used for the 2012 Olympics. It's anyone's guess who our opponents may be.
Fact three: though touted as a team-building mission, the China courts and rules are significantly different than in NCAA play. A 24-second shot clock instead of 35. The three point line moved back 9 plus inches. And the lane widened by almost eight full feet. While knowing nothing about creating basketball teams, it would seem that practice in Durham would do just as nicely.
The Athletics Dept has refused FC inquiries about the cost of this trip -- and where the money is coming from.
Kunshan notes: FC notes that even though the Brodhead Administration insists Kunshan is not a backwater, the team is staying at the Fairmont Hotel in the lake vacation district, not near the city at all. The only Kunshan sightseeing that the team has planned is a visit to the Duke campus, which is an admission there is simply nothing in this dreary locale to do or see. And even though we are told it is "right next" to Shanghai and there is a nine minute train, the team is moving for its Shanghai game into that teeming city.