Tales From The Tent: Day 7- Losing Momentum

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.

7 days down
34 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

So I know what you’re thinking…the opening of my tenting diary ran about three weeks ago, so how are we only at day seven now? The obvious answer is I got behind on my tenting diaries, but it wasn’t due to pledging or school. In fact, there’s a pretty good reason for it. It’s a long story, in fact it will take multiple posts to complete, but here goes nothing:

Our first week of tenting was finally drawing to a close. After surviving the elements, our first roster substitution, and the perils of scheduling for our first seven days, it was time for us to enter the next phase of tenting- games. As I outlined in my overview of the tenting rules, tenting is about much more than being in the tent day and night. For tents like us that began on the first night of the black or blue tenting period, our tent number (which is our spot in line) is determined purely by game attendance. For blue tents, there are six home games (four men’s and two women’s) that count toward our tent number. There are twelve members in each tent, and for every member that attends a game, your tent receives a point. You do the math- that’s a total of 72 possible points over the course of three weeks. For the eight other blue tents that started the first night with us, the next three weeks would determine the order of tents 12 through 19. Our goal was to have every tent member at every game so we could be first in line behind the black tents.

Our first tenting game was January 28 when Duke was set to take on St. John’s. The morning started like many other had over the course of our first week- with a tent check. The siren rang around 6:45 a.m., painfully early for a Saturday morning, but this wasn’t just any Saturday morning- it was game day. I had been sleeping in the tent the previous night, so I emerged from my tent after about three hours of sleep with five of my tentmates and passed the check. After we passed the check, we were given grace until after the game, but for most of us that didn’t mean we could simply leave. Game days during tenting season are interesting because they are where the practices of lining and tenting collide.

Lining for normal games is a common practice for Duke students, and the rules are simple: you register at any point on a game day with a group of two to six people and receive a group number, and from that point onward half of your group has to be in K-Ville. The twist though, during tenting season, line monitors are adamant that there is a difference between being in line and being in your tent. Many groups will register the night before an ACC game, but in order to do that they will be forced to leave the “comfort” of their tents and sleep on the sidewalk in front of Cameron. Many die-hards that aren’t currently tenting will choose to participate in this as well, but in a way tenting actually puts you at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to lining.

So after the check we immediately moved ourselves over to the sidewalk and registered in line. Many took this opportunity to get some extra sleep, bringing their sleeping bags along with them. By registering all six of us into two separate groups, all twelve members of our tent were guaranteed to make it into the first tenting game. I know it seemed like we had quite a bit of time to kill before gametime, but keep in mind that this was a 12:00 p.m. tip, so we’re used to being in line for longer periods of time. For this game the doors would open at 10:30 a.m., so it was just a few hours to kill. Luckily, there was some excitement in K-Ville to keep us awake and entertained. Around 7:30 K-Ville came alive when a group of pledges from another fraternity came to perform their pledge task for the day- create an awesome pregame atmosphere in K-Ville. They succeeded, breaking out two large speakers and blasting some music to get the blood flowing. Not to mention they brought cornhole, and who doesn’t love a good game of cornhole. As the morning wore on people began to mill around and get ready for the game as the line grew. Before I knew it, I was in the midst of the best pregame atmosphere I’d encountered all year. There was a certain electricity in the air, but no pressure. We were all just there to have a good time.

Andre Dawkins added 14 points in Duke's win over St. John's (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

After an exciting morning capped off by a free Bojangles breakfast courtesy of the line monitors, it was time to go get Crazie. The doors to Cameron opened as students flooded in. After our usual 90 minute wait in the stands, the game finally got underway and Duke jumped out to a huge lead in the first half. They were firing on all cylinders, and it looked as though they were mounting an emphatic response after their home loss to Florida State. Not only did the team look great in the first half, but St. John’s was certainly one of the most entertaining teams we had faced this season. Their roster was like a list of examples of what not to name your firstborn son, headlined by guys named Gods’gift Achiuwa and Sir’Dominic Pointer (who immediately became a crowd favorite and actually flipped the Crazies the double bird after he fouled out). The team struggled mightily in the second half, however, mostly on the defensive end. St. John’s Moe Harkless went off in the second half en route to 30 points and 13 rebounds. The Red Storm were able to close the gap to single digits, but it was too little too late as the Blue Devils escaped with an 83-76 win. After the game Coach K was clearly upset with the team’s performance in the second half, as he should have been. The team was equally disappointed with its defensive effort in the past, and treated the game almost like it was another loss.

Speaking of losses…here comes the part of the story where you start to figure out what set me back so far in my tenting diaries. I was in the midst one of my busier days of the year on the day of the St. John’s game, but it was all about to come to a grinding halt. I had spent most of the morning working on a feature for The Chronicle, where I serve as one of the beat writers for the women’s basketball team. I had spent most of the week compiling interviews for it, and it was set to run first thing Monday morning. I had scheduled to have it copy edited at the office directly following the game, so as soon as the game let out I went over to my tent to grab my stuff and head over. Only problem was, my bag wasn’t there. After spending a solid 15 minutes searching the tent to see if it had ended up getting moved around by one of my tentmates before the game, there was still no sign of it. I went outside to start calling other members of my tent to see if someone had picked it up by mistake, but it was to no avail. My bookbag had been stolen out of my tent from K-Ville during a Duke game. Not only was my bag gone, but my laptop, camera, and keys to my room were inside it as well.

So there’s your explanation as to why it’s taken me so long to get back to writing, and unfortunately why there are very limited pictures left over from these days. If you think this is the last you will hear of this story, think again, there is certainly more. Luckily I was able to carry on for the rest of that day without a computer and did not have any schoolwork that was due on it, though my feature was lost and would never see its day in print. There was nothing left to do, so all I could do was sit in the chair outside of my tent in utter disbelief. What I had previous thought was impossible had happened- someone had violated the sanctity of K-Ville. It was a bitter ending to an otherwise eventful day.

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: Legendary

Eight miles. Two powerhouses. 92 years. Nine national championships. Thirty-six ACC tournament championships. A 38-37 head to head matchup favoring Duke before Wednesday night.  College basketball doesn’t get much better than this.

Austin goes for three of his game high 29 points against Harrison "The Black Falcon" Barnes. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

On Wednesday night, Duke and Carolina lived up to the hype – and then some – in an epic matchup that will go down as one of the best games in the history of this storied rivalry.

And what a game it was. Duke executed its offense to perfection for much of the first half, scoring at a torrid pace while keeping UNC at bay. Tyler Zeller seemed like the only Heel interested in scoring, carrying the load on offense while characters like Harrison Barnes remained completely invisible.

Just as our good friend Shane over at Grantland put it– it was beautiful, but it was also terrifying. Obviously we weren’t expected to win this game. But to be playing this well – or rather, shooting this well – was completely unexpected. Had the night that we had all been waiting for – the night where Duke finally puts it all together – finally arrived?

Yes and no. In a blur of a finish in the first half, Carolina somehow managed to lead by three at the half. Mental errors, miscues, and a few missed shots gave UNC a small window of opportunity, and they capitalized. Momentum was on their side. Duke needed to recover, and recover fast. Conventional logic would imply that the result of the game would depend on how Duke started the second half.

But of course, this was Duke and Carolina. Conventional logic doesn’t always apply.

Prince Harrison Barnes woke up from his game-long slumber and the combination of Henson and Zeller absolutely dominated the glass. 45-40. Then 50-42. Another Barnes layup made it 54-44. The Dean Dome was electric, the crowd amped up, and the Heels were on fire. Prince Harry and Austin traded baskets (threes, for the most part) but Duke was going to need one hell of a defensive effort to get back into this thing. Those stops didn’t seem to come. For the better part of ten game minutes, Duke and Carolina traded baskets, the lead fluctuating from eight to twelve, Duke unable to make a dent in what seemed like an insurmountable lead. With 5:29 left in the half, Kendall Marshall drove into the lane and connected with freshman James Michael McAdoo for an emphatic dunk. 77-66. The nail in the coffin. This one was going to hurt (hell, it already hurt) – because we had played so damn well.

Don't even know how to caption this photo. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Fast forward to the 2:30 mark in the second half. Coming out of a Carolina time out, K ran a play to get Ryan Kelly open at the top of the key. Airball. But wait – the refs rule that Henson had tipped the ball – and Duke would get another chance at chipping away at the 82-72 deficit.

To relive these final two minutes, check out the incredible video put together by @DukeBluePlanet on what was to become quite the comeback.

Tyler Thornton, the unsung hero of Maui, spots up for a three. 82-75. We had cut it down to seven before, only to give up another basket on the other end. But out of nowhere, Mason Plumlee somehow ends up with the ball. He gets the ball to Tyler, who throws the ball over Ryan Kelly’s head – what the hell is going on? Boom. Seth Curry drains a three. 82-78. We’ve got a ball game.

Now, more than ever, we need a stop. Duke fans everywhere – including myself – are willing to barter anything with the basketball gods. And they deliver. Barnes drives into the lane, one-on-four, and Ryan draws a huge charge. Schadenfreude.

The next trip down the floor, Ryan is feeling it – but his three attempt hits the back rim. Henson grabs the long rebound – WAIT. Ryan gets his own board and realizes that no UNC player makes an attempt to defend him. He buries the 15-footer. 82-80.

And now the crowd is back into it. They go to Zeller on the next play – as they should have done all game – who draws a cheap foul on Mase. Somehow he bricks the first – and now we can taste it. He drills the second, but Duke has the ball and all the time in the world. 83-80.

We’ve got momentum on our side, but Duke’s offense stalls. Coach K calls his final timeout with 20.3 seconds left. The past fifteen minutes – only two minutes in game time – have been an eternity. Carolina had the game in hand – but as Austin Rivers would say postgame, “we never gave up…Coach K kept believing in us and telling us that we could do it.”

The play is designed for Kelly, whose errant three is somehow tipped in by Zeller. It’s ruled a two. One of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen in a basketball game – especially since Zeller had no reason to touch the ball. 83-82.

Zeller is fouled immediately and heads to the line. He makes the first. Misses the second, and Mason comes down with the board. He looks to get the ball to one person and one person only: Austin Rivers.

He brings the ball up, calling for a Mason Plumlee screen. He moves to his right, drawing Zeller off the switch. Rivers with the jabstep. Zeller backs away, anticipating a drive towards the basket. What is he doing? He’s taking too long. This is unreal. Seth is in the right corner, screaming, “Go! Go! Go!” as the seconds tick away. One dribble, and he sets his feet.

Disbelief. Shock. Confusion. Elation. Pure, unadulterated joy. All in one moment.

One thousand words. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Zero. Game over. A collective roar of victory resounds through the grounds of East and West campuses. The celebrations in the Dean Dome and on the Main Quad begin. Legendary is really the only way to describe it.

Benches burned, illicitly, of course, on East campus, as freshmen experiencing their first win over UNC. But they quickly make their way over to West, where the recently maligned Cameron Crazies have gathered to revel and celebrate their beloved Blue Devils. This party quickly makes its way to Cameron, as word spreads that the team will make their triumphant return just past midnight.

Austin received quite the warm welcome as he made his way through the raucous crowd. He’s been called selfish, arrogant, and cocky. But on this night, he’s all smiles – celebrating with his team on what he called the “best day of his life”.

Coach K has been vocal about this team this season, especially their inconsistent effort, poor defense, and the lack of a true leader. Wednesday night was a huge step in the right direction. They fought, they defended against one of the best teams and the country, and most importantly, they played their hearts out. Austin became a Duke legend – and grew into the leader that this team truly needs.

Of course, this team still has a great deal of work to do to become a contender for a Final Four, but we can always talk about that later. Right now, this win feels pretty damn good.

Let’s go Duke.

Sizing Up the Canes: A Conversation with Category 6

Tomorrow, Duke will meet Miami in Cameron Indoor for the first time this season. We got to speak with a few guys at Category 6, a site dedicated to Hurricanes athletics, to get a better idea of what to expect from the U. We answered a few of their questions as well – you can check them out here.

Crazie-Talk: What’s different about this year’s Miami squad – as compared to last year?

Category 6: First off there are new players.  Most notable is Kenny Kadji, who has at times played like an all conference player. He’s 6’11 and athletic, and can even step out and hit the three. Trey McKinney Jones is a solid G/F who can knock down jumpers, defend and pass. And finally Shane Larkin is the “true” point guard Miami has not had in some time.  His presence allows Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant to play off the ball and focus more on scoring.
The biggest difference however, is the coaching. Coach Larranaga seems to keep his players in it better then Coach Haith did. While we wish Coach Haith luck at Mizzou his tenure was marked by the ‘Canes inability to close out close games. As far as X’s and O’s Miami has changed primarily zone to man-to-man on defense this year, with occasional “scramble” (half court traps) mixed in.

CT: What do the Hurricanes do best? Where do they struggle the most?

Category 6:  The ‘Canes are at their best when they play balanced offensively. They have a number of guys (most notably Scott, Grant, Kadji, Reggie Johnson, and McKinney-Jones) who can score in double figures. They struggle at times rebounding (even since Johnson’s return) and for whatever reason they have let a number of players have monster games against them individually by not closing out on long-distance shooters. Fortunately, the ‘Canes have improved on that area of the game during their recent run. Still, Duke has the ability to hit the 3 in bunches, so Miami will have to be aggressive and active to have a  chance to keep the game close.

CT:  Malcolm Grant and Durant Scott lead the team in scoring at around 13 points per game. Other than those two, who should Duke worry about the most?

Category 6: Kenny Kadji is more then capable of going for 20. As mentioned he is an athletic 6’11 250 pound forward/center who can score  in the post, face up and drive, or nail threes. If Kadji gets going hes very very hard to defend. What’s scariest is he seems to be improving as the season progresses in all aspects of his game. (he sat out the last two seasons with injuries and having transferred from UF).

Beside Kadji, Shane Larkin is capable of having a big game on both ends of the floor. Larkin has had some freshman moments but he is a blur taking it to the hoop or picking pockets. Additionally Austin Rivers and Larkin were high school rivals, so he may be extra fired up to face his old adversary.

CT:  How has Larranaga done in his first year? Was he an upgrade over Haith? How do you feel about Haith’s immediate success at Missouri?

Category 6: I think almost all UM fans are thrilled with Coach L. In fact the athletic department extended his contract through 2019. We do feel he is an upgrade.  The team seems a bit more organized. Turnovers are down.  Miami has been handicapped with suspensions, and injuries since the summer.  Larranaga has done an incredible job weathering it all and keeping the ‘Canes focused. Coach Haith is a total class act, so we wish him the best. We did not agree with everything he did basketball-wise at UM, but he recruited well and left Coach L a lot of talent to work with. He also inherited a ton of talent at Missouri which may explain some of his success.

CT: Duke hasn’t been dominant in Cameron this season. Do the ‘Canes have what it takes to beat Duke on Sunday?

Category 6: Absolutely. Miami has experience, talent, and an excellent coaching staff. Durand Scott comes in playing the best basketball of his career the last few games. That being said, “hasn’t been dominant” means what? Duke actually lost a game? LOL. We know Duke will come to play, especially at home, and Miami will need to play its best game of the year to pull off the big upset.
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Thanks to the guys at Category 6 for the Q&A! We sincerely hope that they lose tomorrow.

Tales From The Tent: Day 4/5-Into The Storm

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.

5 days down
36 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

As we neared the end of our first week in K-Ville, things were going smoothly. In fact, we soon found out that things were going a bit too well. Our first week, for the mostpart went exactly as planned. Our schedule was well organized, people were on time for their shifts, it was the model of the perfect tent we had set out to create. That however, would soon all change, and things would get much more complicated very quickly.

Where to begin…it was Thursday night and a group of us went about our typical nighttime routine. We set up in the tent around 2:30 a.m. (which is when night starts on Thursday) and prepared to get some sleep. As soon as we were finishing our setup, we heard the familiar drone of a tent check siren. We went out to the sidewalk and passed the check, and received grace until 4:00. As the rest of my group went back to the tent, I had one of those moments where you suddenly realize how awake you are and needed to kill some time. So I went with some friends to one of the 24-hour eateries on campus to grab a snack as the rest of my tent called it a night. After arriving back just before the end of grace and realizing I had class in about six hours, I figured it was time for me to get some sleep as well.

Turns out I didn’t get to sleep for very long. It was a balmy night- the temperature did not dip below 60 degrees- but as I slept a large storm moved into the area. My sleep was interrupted around 6:45 by the howling wind and the driving rain. The wind, which I later discovered had gusted up to 40 mph overnight, had knocked the obscenely large tarp off of our tent. It hadn’t just blown away- the wind ripped the tarp out of the ground. The wind was coming from my corner of the tent and had dislodged one of our stakes, causing that corner to cave in a bit. And by cave in a bit, I mean when the storm woke me up the ceiling of the tent was touching my face. After a few chaotic minutes trying to stabilize the tent and fathom how fast the wind was blowing, we had to go outside to straighten the issue out. After examining the aftermath of the storm in the morning, we were able to fix the tarp and reinforce it.

Little did we know, that was not the worst storm we would encounter that day. When we woke up on Friday morning, we knew there were changes that needed to be made across the board. At the beginning of the semester, most of the members of the tent entered the fraternity and sorority rush process. Tenting started on the night we received our bids, and six of our group members accepted fraternity bids, while two girls accepted sorority bids. A note on greek life at Duke- it is more or less considered common knowledge that tenting and pledging are not meant to be done at the same time. For the sake of argument, let’s not call what sororities do after they extend bids “pledging”, but for the six of us it meant that on top of this huge time commitment of tenting, we were going to be incurring another large time commitment with pledging. To make matters more complicated, four of us are pledging the same fraternity.

The pledging process contributed to our tent’s first casualty of the season. Don’t worry, nobody died, but one of our members decided that he would not be able to tent and pledge at the same time, so we were forced to replace him. We added another girl from Giles as our 12th member, but were still presented many challenges by the pledging process. For those of you that have never pledged a fraternity before, most of what you during pledging is essentially unannounced- we have no idea when we’ll be called upon to do something, day or night. This does not lend itself well to making similarly unscheduled tent checks throughout the day and night.

So we called our weekly meeting to sort this whole mess out. First thing was first, we had to reassign my roommate’s old slots and work our newest member into the schedule. Then came the hard part- we had to rework the schedule so that the pledges could avoid as many nights in the tent as possible. There’s no worse scenario than having as many as four of us sleeping in the tent one night and getting called out to perform a task. This would put our tent in serious jeopardy of missing checks, and that would not be fair to the rest of our tent members.

Luckily for us, many of the brothers in the fraternity we were pledging are enduring the tenting process as well. They have been throw both tenting and pledging before, and understood the types of time commitments we were about to make. So we were able to get some leniency from them, and were able to negotiate two nights of each week where we knew we could not be called.On those nights all four of us would sleep in the tent, which would leave each of the other members four nights apiece for the week. In exchange for this arrangement, the four of us were forced to pick up additional daytime hours to make up for the nights we would not be able to sleep.

At this point in time, the prospect of pledging and tenting at the same time was quite intimidating. All 12 of us were making sacrifices, but we also all had to balancing tenting with greek lives, social lives, and even school (we do tend to have classes every once in a while). But we all set out to tent with a goal in mind, and we were taking steps to assure we accomplished that. When the week’s schedule had been figured out, we all went our separate ways. It was a Friday night, after all.

Note: I apologize for falling behind on my tenting diaries, and assure you there is a very good reason for it. This will all be explained in my next post, and I will be catching you up over the next few days.

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