Tales From The Tent: Day 15- The First Taste

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.

15 days down
27 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

Our first two weeks of tenting had finally come to a close- we had made it halfway through the blue tenting period. In my first two weeks of tenting, I thought I had seen it all. I experienced my first K-Ville setup, my first tent checks, my first robbery, and my first recovery of a stolen computer. Although I had already accomplished most of what I set out to do this tenting season (and a few things I did not plan to do as well) it was time to get down to business for some good old fashioned ACC basketball. That’s right- the third week of tenting marked the first set of matchups Duke would have against North Carolina this season, serving as a sort of undercard for the main event on March 3.

Our first taste of the Tobacco Road rivalry came in the form of our fourth tenting game of the year when the Duke women took on the Tar Heels at Cameron. Not only was it my first live exposure to the Duke-North Carolina rivalry, but it was my first time taking in a Duke-North Carolina basketball game as a Duke student. I figured that if I was going to be taking this rivalry in for the first time I might as well do so in style. I’ve served as a beat writer for the women’s basketball team for The Chronicle for the better part of this season, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to cover my first Duke-Carolina basketball game. As a result, I got to take in the whole thing from press row. Press row at Cameron Indoor Stadium is not a bad place to take in a basketball game, if I do say so myself.

I had covered a handful of women’s games this year, but that night’s game was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I went through the usual motions and went through the press entrance and headed straight for the media room, which was more crowded than I had ever seen it for a women’s game. Not only was just about every news source in the Research Triangle out to take in this contest (including writers from that rag down the road they call the Daily Tar Heel), it was also a nationally televised game, so there were many members of the national media there as well. There was the usual hustling and bustling around the media room, but tonight’s game had a special air to it. The place was electric- you could tell this was no ordinary basketball game.

I took my seat on press row and was met with an unfamiliar sight just behind me- there were students, and lots of them. In case you missed one of my previous posts, attendance at Duke women’s games by students is nothing short of atrocious. For your average non-conference women’s game or even a game against one of the lower tier ACC opponents, there is often little or no student support to speak of. But this game was different, because it was Carolina (and I’m sure its being a tenting game didn’t hurt much either). This was one of the few times the women’s team has played at home all year with any student section to speak of.

You could tell that the players were appreciative of the student support, and they showed it. The fans were rowdy from the opening tip, because even though this is the South and we’re supposed to be all chivalrous and respectful to young ladies, this is Duke-Carolina after all. The game started out slowly and a bit sloppy, as both teams failed to execute on the offensive end early and turned the ball over many times. But about eight minutes into the game, Duke caught fire. They took control of the game with a 22-6 run and would never look back. Shots were falling from all over the place at the end of the first half as Duke simply wouldn’t miss. The Blue Devils went 8-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first half, as Tricia Liston led the way with a career-high 23 points, knocking down four 3-pointers of her own. Freshman Elizabeth Williams filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks, five assists, and four steals. Her six blocks would give her a total of 85 on the season, setting the ACC freshman record.

Duke held its foot on the gas throughout the entire second half and never looked back. It received contributions from nearly all of its players before the night was done. The Blue Devils coasted through the second half to a 96-56 victory. The 40-point win was the second largest win by Duke in the history of the Duke-North Carolina rivalry. I headed back to the media room after the game for the postgame press conferences. As expected, the UNC players and coaches took the loss as though they had just been flattened by a truck they did not see coming. Duke’s players and coaches entered the media room with smiles on their faces, knowing they had just played a flawless game of basketball.

In the press conference head coach Joanne P. McCallie commented on her team’s performance, but she was incredibly impressed with the crowd that came out to support her team. With 8,595 fans in attendance, this was easily the team’s most attended game of the season, and the students that came out were a large part of that. I asked Coach McCallie if she had a message for any students that had just attended their first women’s game all season, and she said was very grateful for the student support but wished they came back for every game. She even tried to give them a little extra incentive. “I’ll even cook for them,” she said, “and I can’t cook.”

When the press conference was over I headed back to The Chronicle offices to write my story and have it copy edited. Unfortunately, the above quote did not make it into my story, but the next morning I woke up to the pleasant surprise of my first front page as a Duke student. You can check out the game story I wrote here.

After an emphatic first victory over Carolina of the year, all eyes turned to the men’s matchup in Chapel Hill on Wednesday. After dropping a tough loss the Sunday before to Miami, the outlook was not positive on campus, but spirits were high after the women’s team laid a beatdown on the Tar Heels at home. GTHC.

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