Sizing Up the Red Storm

Tomorrow at noon, Duke will return Cameron Indoor for matchup against the St. John’s Red Storm—the last nonconference team to defeat Duke at home.

To get a better idea of what to expect from St. John’s, we got to talk to Quinn of Rumble In the Garden, a pretty sweet blog dedicated to St. John’s athletics. We answered a few questions of his as well (you can check them out here.)

Duke looks to avenge the loss to St. John's in 2011. (Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Crazie Talk: You guys beat us pretty bad in the Garden last year, but this year’s squad is full of new blood. What’s different about this team, as compared to last year?

Rumble in the Garden: You’re right when you say that St. John’s is full of new blood. In fact, the Johnnies only returned one player from the team that defeated Duke, 93-78, at the Garden last year. What is interesting is that the one returnee (Malik Stith) plays the smallest role in the current squad’s seven-man rotation. The other six guys will be completely new faces for Duke fans. With that said, much of the way St. John’s plays on the court will look the same. Though Steve Lavin has only coached the team from the sidelines in four games, he has his fingerprints all over this young group. He has built a squad that is active defensively and utilizes forced turnovers into most of its offensive conversions in transition. They’re fast and high-flying, but perimeter shooting and rebounding really aren’t their cup of tea. The biggest difference from last year is the level of experience, naturally.

CT: What do the Red Storm do best? Where do they struggle the most?

RITG: One might look at the Red Storm’s record and say, “These guys will be a piece of cake.” Not so fast. If memory serves correctly, the Blue Devils had a lot of problems dealing with athleticism in that loss at the Garden. Much like St. John’s, Duke is a very different looking team as well. But you can expect to see a great deal of athleticism on the floor draped in red on Saturday (we here in New York always pray St. John’s don’t pull out the black uniforms). St. John’s will use that athleticism to attempt to dictate the pace of the game, one they’d love to see get as fast as possible. The Red Storm is built to play the transition game. Guys like Amir Garrett and Sir’Dominic Pointer play their best basketball in that style. And, subsequently, the Johnnies struggle most when things slow down. When they are forced to create offense in half-court sets, things get stagnant. Unless D’Angelo Harrison gets hot, they won’t shoot well from the perimeter. They also have issues boxing out defensively. Opponents get a lot of second chance opportunities.

CT: Moe Harkless leads the team in scoring and rebounding, and had a huge game against West Virginia last time out. Other than him, who should Duke be worried about?

RITG: When Lavin recruited Moe Harkless from the local Forest Hills High School to stay at home and play college ball in Queens, he hit the jackpot. Harkless is smooth offensively, and is at his best when he gets the rock at the elbow. He’s good around the basket, with both the right and left. He can be surprisingly tenacious down low as well, using his deceptive height to pull down double-digit rebounds. The problem St. John’s has this year is that Harkless is by far and away its most consistent player. Outside of he and Harrison, you can get just about anything from anyone else on any given night. On Wednesday, when they handled West Virginia without much scare, they got the first true team effort all season. And I’m not lying when I say that if they can find a way to do that consistently, they can be scary. As I mentioned earlier, Garrett and Pointer are defensive-minded players who score most of their points in transition. Phil Greene is a shifty guard currently transitioning into his role as a distributor. God’sgift Achiuwa, the Johnnies’ lone post player, shows signs of brilliance but can disappear at times.

CT: Lavin brought in a bevy of guys between 6’6-6’8 last year. How do these guys fit into your offensive system? How do you think your biggest guys, at 6’8, will match up with the Plumtrees?

RITG: Originally, Lavin’s 2011 recruiting class had six newcomers slated in that 6’6-6’8 height range. Due to some academic issues and de-commitments, that total has dwindled to just four. Achiuwa and Harkless are the team’s only players who spend most of their time in the paint, and I may even be stretching that statement with Harkless. There have been games, primarily the ones in which Achiuwa has struggled mightily, that the Red Storm’s interior game has been nonexistent. As any basketball fan would be able to tell you, that isn’t a good formula and usually leads to losses. We’ve learned it the hard way. With that said, the other guys can all get to the basket, especially against a Duke team who is lacking that interior defense presence that would alter such invasions. Rebounding has been a huge liability for St. John’s all season. I would expect the “Plumtrees” to grab a lot of the loose balls and get some chances to make up for their close misses.

CT: St. John’s has got some absolutely incredible names on the squad this year. Who’s your favorite, and why?

RITG: God’sgift Achiuwa. Sir’Dominic Pointer. Nurideen Lindsey (transferred in early December). Does it get any better than that? If only names won games. I think the easy answer would be God’sgift, for obvious reasons. But that’s the one that everyone always talks about. His siblings names are some sort of variation of God’speace, ” “Love, ” “Joy – or something like that. Personally, I love Sir’Dominic. It was a name given to him at birth, but he refused to use it throughout childhood due to embarrassment. He has since re-added the “Sir,” and I couldn’t thank him enough. I’m not even sure why, but it seems to go along with the way he plays the game and how he is off the court. It’s not always smooth and he can be a bit of a goofball. What are we going to hear next? If he ever gets knighted, will he become Sir’Sir’Dominic?

CT: Yes, you guys were the last nonconference team to beat us in Cameron all the way back in 2000. Do you think you can pull off the upset on Saturday?

RITG: I’m sure Duke fans don’t want to hear it, but we’re still living off of the Bootsy Thornton 40-point performance that sank the Blue Devils in 2000. And the Marcus Hatten walk-off free throw in 2003. Now we have the domination of 2011. Let’s not talk about all of the other nine meetings, okay? But in 2012, I can’t see such magic occurring. This St. John’s team is athletic and probably believes it can invade Cameron and shock the world. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility, especially if the Blue Devils decide to look past the Johnnies to Virginia Tech and next week’s match-up with UNC. Saturday will be the type of game where the Red Storm will hang around just enough to keep our hopes up, but expect Duke to pull away in the end. Duke 74, St. John’s 58.

Sizing up the Terps: A Conversation with Turtle Soup

In anticipation of tonight’s matchup against the Terps, we got in touch with Jeremy at Turtle Soup, an excellent site dedicated to Maryland athletics. He was kind enough to answer a few questions we had about their squad, and you can check out out our responses to his questions here.

Yeah...that sounds about right. (Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

Crazie-Talk: Terrell Stoglin has been excellent so far this season. Other than him, who should we worry about the most?

Turtle Soup: Well, it depends on the day.  This Terps squad is undermanned and relatively untalented as compared to past seasons.  Alex Len has been the wildcard since he was cleared to play in late December.  He’s 7’1″ with good agility and nice jump shot.  He will absolutely wind up playing at the next level, but he has struggled fitting into the offense.  He’s only a freshman and will improve as the season goes on. He sprained his ankle in the Terps loss to Temple on Saturday and is listed as day-to-day.  He may not play at all against Duke.

The other player to look out for is Sean Mosley.  He’s a well rounded player who does all the little things; but has frustrated fans over his 4 year career because he is not a consistent scorer.  He’ll score 20 points against Georgia Tech and follow that up with 3 points against Temple.  If he gets hot, the Terps are hard to stop.

 

CT:  What does this Maryland team do best? Where do they struggle the most?

TS: This is easy.  With Alex Len in the lineup; the Terps can be elite rebounding team.  For the first time in years, the Terps can simultaneously play a frontline of three players taller than 6’9″.  James Padgett (6’8″) and Ashton Pankey (6’9″) are both good rebounders who become more effective when Alex Len is occupying defenders.

In terms of struggling, the Terps are a dreadful free throw shooting team.  They are averaging an FT% in the low 60s but it is so much worse than that. The misses come at the worst possible moments. I can point to at least 3 losses where the outcome would have been different had the Terps knocked down their shots from the charity stripe.  The most frustrating aspect of the woeful FT shooting is that the Terps are getting to the line a TON.  They just aren’t converting those opportunities.

 

CT: Gary Williams will be in the house on Wednesday tonight. How has Mark Turgeon done in his first year in the post-Gary era?

TS: Terp fans LOVE Mark Turgeon.  The guy can coach.  He has won everywhere he has been.  He took Wichita State to a Sweet 16 and then led Texas A&M to 4 straight NCAA Tournament berths.  We was the point guard on the 1988 Kansas Jayhawk team that won the national title so he knows how to flat out win.  The Terps are lacking talent but it is easy to see that he runs good sets and make the most of the talent he has.  Often, it is the little things like beautiful plays that lead to lay ups coming out of a time out; so Terp fans can tell he is going to be good.  Gary Williams loves him too which is always a plus.  I honestly think in 5 years that MD fans will be glad the Sean Miller stayed at Arizona.

CT: Prediction?

TS: This season, Maryland is not in Duke’s class.  However, the Terps do play tough at home, and you know the crowd will be fired up for Duke.  The additional element of the court being named after Gary Williams will only increase the emotional intensity.  If Alex Len plays, I think the Terps have a 50/50 chance of pulling the upset.

Tales From The Tent: Day 2- From Dusk 'Til Dawn

My fellow Crazies, after a long wait it is finally that time of year- it’s tenting season. I will be bringing you a step by step account of my tenting experience for the next six weeks to give you an inside look at the most sacred tradition at Duke University- tenting.

2 days down
39 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

After a full 36 hours of successful tenting, it was finally my turn to take my first shift sleeping in tent FF. For almost two full days we had the appropriate tent members on guard around the clock, and so far all was going smoothly for us. But nighttime tenting is a different story. Line monitors can call a tent check any time of day or night. Obviously during the day time that is not an issue as long as the one required tent member is present and attentive, but any time is fair game for a check, so group members always need to be on top of their game. For students it is the ultimate balancing act, they are forced into an extremely social setting (a large group of people living in extremely close quarters) during the time when many of them do their schoolwork, and have to try and get some sleep despite the possibility they’ll be woken up for a check.

Early setup is a good habit to get into (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

The five of us set out for K-Ville just before 11:00 when daytime hours (only one person required) officially turn over into nighttime hours (six members required) on weeknights, which are technically Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Keep in mind that yes, we are college students, Thursday counts as the weekend so different hours apply. It was a relatively warm evening- the night before had been in the 30’s, but the temperature last night was in the low 50’s, which was fantastic for a January night. We arrived at K-Ville just in time and met up with our sixth member for the evening who was just finishing his two hour shift leading up to nighttime. Typically there is always a check done while everyone is still awake, but anything after that remains to be seen. We decided to set up our sleeping arrangements inside the tent as quickly as possible so we would not have to do it late at night. The setup went quite smoothly, as we arranged our air mattresses and sleeping bags in a way that would make it conducive to people entering and exiting the tent without causing much disturbance.

The first tent check came at exactly midnight. If you’ve never been to a tent check before, it’s basically impossible to miss a check unless you don’t have enough people there. A bullhorn pierces the night signaling the check and as you step out of your tent, you see a horde of line monitors with tent rosters ready to check names and IDs. The check lasts about 15 minutes as each line monitor is responsible for checking a handfull of tents, and tent FF passes once again with flying colors. After the check, the line monitors call grace for approximately one hour. On this night grace ended for us at 1:00 a.m. This means that we were free to leave K-Ville for that time if we wished. Grace is also called for the entire night if the temperature drops below 20 degrees or if there are more than two accumulated inches of snow, or for at least an hour before and after every Duke basketball game. Most people take them up on that offer, but as freshmen that live on East campus, there aren’t many places to go for an hour. Luckily for us, we found a pretty sweet spot to hang out in our free time.

I wouldn't call this the worst place in the world to spend an hour (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Where better to hang out for an hour with your friends than get some work done than next to all four of Duke’s national championship trophies? Luckily there are actually varsity athletes that are out tenting this season, and have full access 24/7 to the Krzyzewski Center for Athletic Excellence, which houses the Duke basketball museum. It’s a great place to hang out during grace time for freshmen who don’t have dorms they can run back to in fewer than five minutes. Unfortunately we do not have card access to the building at all times, but luckily for a few of my friends and me, as we walked up the ramp toward the museum a member fo the Duke fencing team had a similar idea and was able to get in. It was a nice relaxing hour sitting in the museum as all of Duke’s retired jerseys adorned the walls and the last few minutes of the 2010 national championship game droned in the background on repeat. Let’s just say it was probably the next most relaxing experience to spending the hour in Bell Tower’s Oasis.

Just because we're tenting, doesn't mean we're not human (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Of course what hour of grace would be complete without a late night snack? Most tenters use their free hour to go get some food. There are plenty of late-night options on campus, but tonight our choice was Jimmy Johns. For those of you that have never been to Duke, late night Jimmy Johns is the staple of a Duke student’s diet. After walking to the edge of the curb on Towerview Drive to pick up our sandwiches, it was time to head back to the tent. Grace was finally over.

Things slow down a lot in K-Ville after the first tent check of the night. Most students will retire to their tents where they will attempt to get as much work done or as much sleep as they possibly can. Clearly being in a tent is not exactly the most ideal sleeping scenario, but having a sturdy floor from our reinforced plywood helps to stabilize the structure and an array of air mattresses and inflatable pads seem to do the trick for the night. After hanging out with my six friends for about another hour in our tent, we decide it’s time to get some sleep.

A picture of the first tent check. People weren't nearly as awake at the next one (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

However, our slumber did not last very long. We awoke in the dead of the night to the wail of the familiar siren- it was time for another tent check. We scrambled to get everyone up and out of the tent as quickly as possible. Speed isn’t necessarily of the essence when it comes to a tent check, it’s not like we have 30 seconds to get out to the sidewalk, but knowing our sleeping habits as college students, it’s very easy to fall asleep if you don’t get up right away. K-Ville shakes itself awake as people begin to pop out of their tents, accompanied by a chorus of oh so familiar groans. None of us even know what time it is, so we ask one of the line monitors, who dont’ seem much more awake than we are, and they inform us that it is 5:30 a.m. Checks are known to happen in the middle of the night, at 2:00, or 3:00, or even 4:00 in the morning, but this timing seems a bit foreign even to the line monitors. 20 minutes later, we had completed our second tent check of the night, and once again we passed. Grace is normally given for an hour, but the line monitors were willing to give us grace until 7:00 on one condition, we had to sing happy birthday to one of the line monitors (apparently it was his idea to call the 5:30 check on his own birthday, none of the other line monitors seemed to know why). So we sang as well as anybody could sing at 5:30 in the morning and were on our way.

The extra half hour of grace might not seem like much, but it actually made a huge different. Daytime hours pick up once again on weekday mornings at 7:00 a.m., which means that by the time we had to be back in the tent, only one member of the tent had to be present. This gave the rest of us an opportunity to leave and catch up on some much needed sleep in our beds. Our daily tent schedule doesn’t start until 9:45, assuming that at least one group member that slept in the tent in the night before will still be asleep or hang around in the morning. Two members of our group volunteered to stay behind and go straight from the tent to their 10:05 class, which gave the four of us the opportunity to head back to East. We loaded up into my friend’s car and headed back. Apparently they tell me that as my friend started to back out I suggested we pull straight through the space, not noticing the giant lamppost sitting in our way in my half-asleep state. But I can’t be absolutely certain, I was really tired so I don’t remember much. After arriving back in my room to a surprised roommate (who got off of tent duty that night), I was able to snag a couple extra hours of sleep before I had to get up for my 10:05 class. Duke basketball never stops, but neither do classes, so it was back to the grind for me.

PS- A special shout-out to my good friend Jacob Zionce for volunteering to cover someone and sleep in the tent on his 19th birthday. Now that’s dedication.

Be sure to check out the rest of Dan’s tenting diary! Links galore below:

Pre-tenting: It Begins
Day 1: Welcome to K-Ville
Day 2: From Dusk ‘Til Dawn
Day 4/5: Into The Storm
Day 7: Losing Momentum
Day 9: The Other Side of Duke Basketball
Day 12/13/14: You Win Some, You Lose Some
Day 15: The First Taste
Day 18: Insanity
Day 26: When One Comeback Isn’t Enough
Day 29/30: I’ve Been Dreaming Of A White Tenting
Day 35/36: Taking Out The Trash
Day 40: It Gets Personal
Day 41: One Force, One Fight
Day 42: Go To Hell Carolina

Tales From The Tent: Day 1- Welcome to K-Ville

My fellow Crazies, after a long wait it is finally that time of year- it’s tenting season. I will be bringing you a step by step account of my tenting experience for the next six weeks to give you an inside look at the most sacred tradition at Duke University- tenting.

Tent, rope, tarp, and other supplies…$400
Tickets to the Carolina game (if you play your cards right)…$0
One incredible freshman tenting experience…priceless

The day had finally arrived. After weeks of preparation, it was time to pitch our tent and move into K-ville. Now I know what you’re thinking- it’s just pitching a tent, how hard can it be? Well let me tell you, it’s not nearly as easy as you think. We weren’t preparing for some family overnight campout where you find a spot that has only a couple of rocks in it, plop your tent on the ground, and call it a day. No, we were getting ready to build a tent site that would be able to stand against the mighty wind on a cold and muddy tundra and protect us from an onslaught of North Carolina rain (and possibly snow) for the next six weeks. Keep in mind, I talked to black tenters that had been out there for just one week already and said their tents were trashed. So bright and early (and by bright and early I mean 1:00 in the afternoon, bear in mind that we are college students) we set out to construct the most serviceable structure possible.

We loaded up in two of my friends’ cars and headed over to West campus to set up for that evening, but believe it or not the first place we went was not K-ville. I kid you not, to begin our tenting process we scavenged for wood. Very few tents actually sit directly on the ground in K-ville, and those that do often suffer the consequences when the rains come. The grass in K-ville slopes just about every which way, resulting in frequent drainage issues during storms, which as you can imagine wreaks havoc on tenters. Most people will try to build platforms under their tent to counteract this, putting their tents on higher ground and out of the way when floods occur. So off we went to find our wood.

"Stealing" free wood from underneath McDonalds has never been so easy (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

We struck gold at our first location- a loading dock underneath the McDonalds in the Bryan Center. There they had discarded of many pallets that would be perfect to support our tent. Students typically can find pallets like this strewn all over campus, including at the Duke Hospital and even on East campus, but luckily for us there were just about as many pallets as we needed. We began to carry the wooden supports up the hill toward K-ville, which proved to be a long and arduous process. Keep in mind, the tent we are using is very large, as it has to fit six people in it every night. It measures 14 feet by 10 feet (which is close to the average size of a room in Blackwell), so we needed to bring about 13 pallets. After pausing for a starstruck moment as Tyler Thornton walked by, we discovered a fantastic cart that was left unchained on the loading dock, so of course we borrowed it for our personal use. We were relieved to load up the rest of our pallets at once, and began to push the giant load up the hill toward our destination.

We were very content with our tent location as we began to set up shop (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

We finally reached K-ville, and it was time to stake our claim. The search was on for the perfect spot to pitch our tent, one that would not flood easily and was accessible without having to weave through other tents. After about 15 minutes of searching we arrived at a consensus on a spot. It seemed to be the best spot available at the time of our arrival. As you can imagine, most of the prime real estate was taken up by the black tenters, but this spot was a very good one. It was right next to a sidewalk where we would not encounter too much traffic and the door of our tent would be easily accessible. It was also one of the dryer spots after some significant rainfall in the past couple of days. So a few of us began to set up shop and lay our pallets out while others went to Home Depot to pick up more supplies.

Resident Boy Scout Nathan hard at work on the plywood (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

It didn’t take too long to get our pallets laid out. We were able to set up a nice spot for our tent and in the process meet some of our newest neighbors. Many black tenters that we knew came over to greet us and offer advice while we negotiated this new process. Two additional groups of freshmen were in the process of pitching their tents directly on either side of us, so there was a bit of negotiating to do in terms of space. By the time we had finished with this, the rest of our tent members had arrived back from Home Depot with about 150 square feet of plywood. We were ready to strengthen the pallets we had gotten (a few of which were in less than pristine shape to begin with) by nailing the fresh plywood down on top. We laid the wood out over top of the pallets, and with two hammers and a set of nails began banging away. About an hour and a half, 50 or so nails, and quite a few sore thumbs later, we had secured the layer of plywood on top of our pallets and were ready to construct our actual tent.

If actually pitching the tent was our last step, it would have been a quick and easy day (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

The pitching of the actual tent did not take that long. Luckily we had a few diligent outdoorsmen and a former boy scout in our tent crew, so this is one of the parts of the process that came the easiest to us. After the tent was constructed, we moved the tent from the sidewalk onto the platform. But the process was nowhere near over. We worked to secure the tent down and cover it with our rainfly. After this was done, we conferenced as a group and discovered that we needed a couple more supplies. One of our friends went to run and pick those up while the rest of us took a much needed dinner break. By 6:00 p.m. we were most of the way done.

But there was much more still to be done. After a quick dinner most of us took the time to catch up on some rest or do some schoolwork (some of us had forgotten that we are still taking classes), the tent reassembled in the Giles common room at 9:00 p.m. to discuss the schedule for that week and divide up tent hours. A few of us had worked to divide up the daytime hours in advanced (considering our class schedules do not change from week to week), but we sought to divy up evening and weekend hours on a weekly basis. We met for about 40 minutes and discussed scheduling, final plans to complete our setup, weekly meetings, and general tent rules to follow. I unveiled to the group the master schedule a few of us had been working on for the very first time, which was just about the most intense Google Doc you had ever seen. It had contact info and class schedules for every member of the group, including everyone’s availabilities during the week at any given moment, along with the schedule we would follow during daytime hours and slots for the evening and weekend schedules. We then divided up the hours and sleeping schedules for the rest of the week and were ready to press onward. With the 11:00 p.m. deadline to start tenting looming, the six members that were sleeping in the tent that evening prepared to head back over to K-ville for the night. Two more of us including myself volunteered to head over and put the finishing touches on the tent. Around 10:40 p.m. we pushed off and made our final descent upon K-ville to begin our tenting season.

Our tent just needed a couple of finishing touches after sundown (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

We arrived outside Cameron Indoor Stadium a few minutes before the 11:00 deadline. There were just a couple of things we needed to take care of before our tent was fully operational, but they would prove to be rather time consuming. Our mission was simple, we needed to adorn our tent with two tarps- one that would go underneath the tent above the plywood and one that would drape on top of the rainfly- to protect our tent from the elements. After speaking to countless experienced tenters, they all agreed that the worst possible thing that would happen to you in K-ville was for your tent to flood, so we took every step possible to make sure we would never encounter that situation. Getting the first tarp down underneath was no problem at all, but the second tarp was another story. One of our tent members had run out to the store around dinnertime to pick up this tarp and was struck with a dilemma- the store did not have sizes that accommodated us very well. One tarp was too small to fully drape over our tent, and one was a bit too big.

Yeah...this tarp was really big (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

He told me that it was bigger than what we needed, but clearly I didn’t understand how much bigger he was talking about. When we unfurled the glorious tarp on the field at K-ville, it nearly covered half of the makeshift tent city. Turns out that although our tent was 14 feet by 10 feet, we had bought a tarp that was 50 feet by 30 feet. That’s right- the tarp was 50 feet long. We considered a myriad of possible solutions, including folding the tarp over completely in both directions, draping the full tarp over both our tent and our next-door neighbors, and building some sort of complex irrigation system out of the massive tarp that was 10 times the area of our tent. We ultimately settled on folding the tarp in the way that best suited the size of our tent, using nature’s jack of all trades, duct tape, to secure the crease. After about an hour of figuring out the best way to drape this monstrous tarp over our tent, we staked it into the ground and our preparation was complete.

It was now time for my friend Nathan and I, who had been enjoying our “day off” messing with the tarp, to say our goodbyes and head back to Giles. We left the remaining six members of our tent in K-ville to endure their first night as blue tent FF. We were able to make it back to our dorm by 12:45 a.m., finishing the setup process in a swift 12 hours. Not too shabby for some first timers.

I’ll continue to keep you posted in the coming days on how my tent is doing. I hope you enjoyed reading about the beginning of our journey. Feel free to tweet at us to wish luck! As always, stay Crazie, my friends.

Finally all done! Tent, sweet tent. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

 

Be sure to check out the rest of Dan’s tenting diary! Links galore below:

Pre-tenting: It Begins
Day 1: Welcome to K-Ville
Day 2: From Dusk ‘Til Dawn
Day 4/5: Into The Storm
Day 7: Losing Momentum
Day 9: The Other Side of Duke Basketball
Day 12/13/14: You Win Some, You Lose Some
Day 15: The First Taste
Day 18: Insanity
Day 26: When One Comeback Isn’t Enough
Day 29/30: I’ve Been Dreaming Of A White Tenting
Day 35/36: Taking Out The Trash
Day 40: It Gets Personal
Day 41: One Force, One Fight
Day 42: Go To Hell Carolina

Tales From The Tent: It Begins

My fellow Crazies, after a long wait it is finally that time of year- it’s tenting season. I will be bringing you a step by step account of my tenting experience for the next six weeks to give you an inside look at the most sacred tradition at Duke University- tenting.

Some people have been waiting for a few weeks for this, others have been waiting for years. Me, I’ve been waiting for my whole life, and now the day is finally here. Moving into my dorm on East Campus was one of the defining days of my life, but for countless freshmen at Duke, the most profound day of their first year is the day they pitch a tent and move into a muddy patch of earth outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium.

K-ville will grow over the next few weeks from a small village to a packed city (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

You’re probably used to seeing it by now, every game from now until Carolina they’ll show a little shot walking through K-Ville on ESPN during a game. For most people their first reaction when hearing that Duke students camp out for up to seven weeks in the dead of winter (albeit a mild global-warming induced North Carolina winter) for the right to attend one basketball game would probably be why are these crazy people doing this? But for people that understand the nature of the Duke-North Carolina rivalry, your first question is probably along the lines of how does this process really work? As you read this I’ll probably be in K-Ville setting up my group’s tent, and I’ll bring you the trials and tribulations of setup tomorrow, but for now I’m going to walk you through the tenting process so you can understand what we are about to endure.

To start off, there are three levels of tenting. Each of these levels start at a different time and are used to determine the order in which groups are let into the Carolina game. When another set of people start tenting, all tents abide by that period’s tenting rules. You tent in groups of 12. Without further ado, let’s sort this whole mess out.

Black Tenting: Black tenting is the most intense period of the tenting season. This year black tenting started seven weeks before the North Carolina game on January 15, and lasted for one week. During this week, tents were required to have one member in the tent at all times during daytime hours and all 12 members of the tent were required to be there during nighttime hours and sleep there. This year there were 12 black tents, that will make up the first 12 groups allowed into the Carolina game this year.

Blue Tenting: The blue tenting period begins one week after black tenting has started. This portion of tenting season lasts for four weeks. During this time, tents will be required to have one member in the tent during daytime hours and six members will be in the tent during nighttime hours and sleep there. There will be a maximum of 60 blue tents. All blue tents will be behind each of the black tents in line.

White Tenting: White tenting is the shortest period of the tenting season. It lasts for the two weeks leading up to the Carolina game. During this time, tents will be required to have one member in the tent during daytime hours and two members will be in the tent during nighttime hours and sleep there. There wil be a maximum of 30 white tents. All white tents will be behind each of the black and blue tents in line.

Nolan Smith and Casey Peters knew how to enjoy K-ville, too (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Sound confusing enough already? But wait, there’s more! The majority of the groups that tent this year will begin tenting at exactly the same time. So how in the world are we supposed to figure out who got there first? Black and blue tents that start tenting at the beginning of their respective tenting period will not initially receive a tent number, but a letter. This signifies that they were initially in a tie with the other tents that began tenting with them at the same time. The way this tie is broken comes down to game attendance. The line monitors will track each member of each tent’s game attendance from the beginning of their tenting period until Duke’s February 16 contest against North Carolina State. Each tent will receive a point for each member that attends a game. These points will then be used as a tiebreaking system. After the points have been tallied, the tents will be assigned their final number.

Line monitors conduct tent checks multiple times per day. A tent is allowed to miss just one tent check during a given tenting period. These missed checks will reset when the next period starts. If a tent misses multiple tent checks they will be bumped to the end of the line for their given tenting period. This could possibly mean that a blue tent gets bumped back onto the wait list if they miss multiple tent checks.

Now that we’ve gone over most of the rules, let’s talk about my experience. This year I’ll be blue tenting along with 11 of my closest friends from my dorm. We completed our registration for tenting on Saturday afternoon and are now officially blue tent FF. Over the next six weeks, we’ll be living in Kville and balancing our busy academic and social lives with being full-time Duke basketball fans.

Our preparations to enter the tenting process were extensive. We began assembling our group over winter break and sought to put together the ultimate tenting group. Our goal was to find the perfect balance of people whose academic and social schedules would not conflict too much, but ultimately the biggest decision point was who you wanted to live with in such close quarters for the next six weeks.

My friend Jacob hard at work in our tenting war-room (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Just down the hall from my room, Giles 320 served as our tenting headquarters for this year. Many nights when we hadn’t yet startedwere finished a ridiculous amount of schoolwork a few of us would gather in the room to coordinate our group member’s class schedules in preparation for tenting. This was the hardest part of the process thus far- taking 12 students’ class schedules and trying to assign everyone an even amount of hours in the tent. But after weeks of scheduling changes, coordination, and maybe the occasional bloodshed, we are finally ready to go.

Today marks the beginning of one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. I’ll be trying over the next six weeks to bring you an insiders’ perspective on what it’s like to be a first-year tenter. But my goal is not just to tell you my story, I’ll be uploading pictures and videos to show you the different experiences of other Crazies to show you the good, the bad, and the Crazie of tenting.

Wish us luck, everybody. I’ll be posting another story tomorrow morning to walk you through our actual setup in K-Ville. Stay Crazie, my friends.

Be sure to check out the rest of Dan’s tenting diary! Links galore below:

Pre-tenting: It Begins
Day 1: Welcome to K-Ville
Day 2: From Dusk ‘Til Dawn
Day 4/5: Into The Storm
Day 7: Losing Momentum
Day 9: The Other Side of Duke Basketball
Day 12/13/14: You Win Some, You Lose Some
Day 15: The First Taste
Day 18: Insanity
Day 26: When One Comeback Isn’t Enough
Day 29/30: I’ve Been Dreaming Of A White Tenting
Day 35/36: Taking Out The Trash
Day 40: It Gets Personal
Day 41: One Force, One Fight
Day 42: Go To Hell Carolina

Section 17: Next Play

For the first time in my four years at Duke, I saw my Blue Devils fall in the hallowed halls of Cameron Indoor Stadium. I’ve been lucky enough to see some incredible games in Cameron during this amazing 45 game win streak (and lucky enough to miss the loss against Carolina in ’09), but this was a tough one to take in. FSU played a brilliant second half, punctuated by the three at the buzzer that silenced the stadium.

This one hurt. (Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

In a game that pitted a defensive stalwart against an offensive juggernaut, Duke failed to execute on both sides of the ball. FSU scored on seven of their final eight possessions – including the wide open three pointer from Michael Snaer at the buzzer – while Duke failed to capitalize on key opportunities and make free throws. We can talk about the refs – who had an incredibly absurd stretch of calls and no-calls that admittedly went in Florida State’s favor. We can talk about Austin Rivers’ amazing three pointer that apparently hit the wire that held up the basket – or the ridiculous banked three pointer that cut FSU’s deficit down to six at the end of the first half. We can talk about Florida State shooting 54% in Cameron, with a 50% cut (10-20) from three point land (Xavier Gibson and Okaro White made their first and fourth three pointers of the entire season tonight). But in the end, none of that matters. As much as it hurts to write, we flat out lost tonight because we didn’t bring it for all 40 minutes of the game.

At times, especially in the first half, we looked very, very good. At halftime, it seemed as if Florida State was very lucky to be within six. But FSU came storming out of the gate, erasing the lead in less that five minutes while taking advantage of a truly lackadaisical effort from Duke on the defensive end. The veteran Seminoles made the appropriate adjustments by forcing the ball inside and getting both Mason and Ryan in foul trouble. Of course, Ryan went on an 8-0 run by himself and Dre continued to hit big shots, but when Duke needed to get stops, FSU was able to score with ease. Down the stretch, poor shot selection and failure to make free throws made the difference.

The game of basketball, just like any other sport, is won by the team what exploits their strength while targeting their opponent’s weaknesses. Florida State was able to do that, time and time again, against this Duke team. And while it might hurt like hell for us fans to watch our guys go down on a buzzer beater at home, this game will pay large dividends moving forward.

Last week against Virginia, we learned that this team could really fight. Tonight, our boys fought and fought hard – but came up short. Obviously, defense – both on the perimeter and inside – remains an issue, but this season is not over. These guys have continued to learn and progress every single day, and this game is only going to help that cause.

Yes, Duke lost in Cameron, and it hurts. But we will look back, learn from our mistakes, and move on to the next play.

As always, go Duke.

Wake Forest: What to Watch For

After a four day layoff following their victory over Clemson on Sunday, Duke is back in action this evening as they square off with Wake Forest at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils remain the only undefeated team in the ACC, and look to push their record in conference play to 4-0 with a victory over the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is 1-2 in ACC play this season, with their lone win coming in an upset of Virginia Tech. The Demon Deacons then lost two close battles to Maryland and North Carolina State. This matchup should not prove to be a particularly close one, but we know that anything can happen in conference play, so let’s take a look at Duke’s three keys to the game:

1. The First Eight Minutes
Though they have come away with three tough wins in their first matchups in conference play, Duke has not made it easy on themselves. The Blue Devils controlled the game’s opening minutes against Georgia Tech only to surrender a large run to end the first half and make the game close. They struggled to do so in their matchups with Virginia and Clemson, allowing both teams to take leads in the early going, forcing Duke to fight an uphill battle for the remainder of the first half. Though they were able to tough it out and seize control of the game later on, this is certainly not a habit they want to get into.

Duke should plan to look for Miles Plumlee early against Wake (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

2. Go Inside Early And Often
If Duke is going to jump out to an early lead against Wake Forest, they’ll need to think long and hard about how they approach the beginning of games. Although the Blue Devils have typically relied on outside shooting to put teams away, they have struggled from deep as of late, shooting just 29.2% from beyond the arc in their past three wins. This is one of the reasons why Duke has fallen behind early in its last couple of contests- they start the game taking difficult shots that are not falling and quickly fall behind. The Blue Devils have been saved in conference play by the Plumlee brothers, who have continually asserted themselves as forces on the inside. Mason has been a go-to guy for the offense all season, and Miles has been coming on strong the past few games, so why not feed them the ball in the games opening minutes and let them get some easy points? This will allow Duke’s guard to get into the flow of the game before they start shooting long-range shots. Attacking the inside early will open up the perimeter for their shooters to knock down shots later in the game for a knockout blow.

3. Make Someone Other Than C.J. Harris or Travis McKie Beat You
Wake Forest is not a very good team. They’re not a very deep team, either. But they do have two of the top scoring threats in the ACC, and will rely on them heavily throughout the game. Junior C.J. Harris and sophomore Travis McKie average 17.3 and 17.1 points per game for the Demon Deacons, respectively. Both of them are capable of knocking down shots from anywhere on the floor. McKie, in particular, presents the most difficult defensive matchup for Duke. At 6-foot-7, he is a bit too big to be marked easily by Austin Rivers or Andre Dawkins, but may propose issues for one of the Plumlee brothers with his speed. If Duke can shut down both of these players, Wake Forest won’t have anyone else to turn to. Only seven players on the Demon Deacons roster average more than 11.1 minutes per game. They won’t go more than eight or nine deep very often, and this team is simply not talented enough to beat you if both of these players are not on their game.

Any conference game at Cameron is a good game, so tonight should be a lot of fun. Stay Crazie, my friends, and as always, go Duke!