Section 17: Clean Slate

Miles addressing the crowd on Senior Night (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

No, the regular season did not end the way Duke wanted it to. There was no celebration, there were no championship banners, just Miles Plumlee standing at center court thanking the Duke faithful on senior night. Good news is, starting today, none of that matters. Duke saw its first action in the ACC tournament Friday night when it dispatched the 2nd-seeded Blue Devils dispatched of 10th-seeded Virginia Tech by a score of 60-56 at Atlanta’s Phillips Arena. Many call this tournament the Duke Invitational- Duke has been crowned champions of the ACC tournament in 10 of the last 13 seasons.

However, this year, the road to another ACC tournament championship would be a little bit tougher. Just as the regular season ended on a bad note with a loss to Carolina, the first days of the postseason were not favorable for the Blue Devils as well. On Tuesday the team received news that Ryan Kelly would be unable to play in the ACC tournament due to a sprained right foot that he suffered during practice. Kelly was not only a crucial piece of the Blue Devils offense due to his size, versatility, and ability to hit from outside, but he was also a part of Duke’s thin frontcourt rotation. While typically utilizing a three guard attack, Duke normally only uses Kelly along with Miles and Mason Plumlee at its forward spots. Especially with the Plumlees finding themselves in foul trouble during Duke’s last few games, this meant that the Blue Devils would have to attack Virginia Tech with an undersized lineup.

Duke will have to win the ACC tournament this year without Ryan Kelly (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)


The Duke team that we saw on the court against Virginia Tech was different from the team we’d been watching all season. This was both good and bad. Unlike the team we’d seen knock down shots from long distance all year, Duke was not stroking it from deep against the Hokies. They only shot 5-for-26 on the game- just a 19.2% clip, half of their season average. Meanwhile, Duke played far scrappier basketball than I’d seen them play all year. They were getting it done with defense, and although they only forced 10 Hokies turnovers on the game, a little bit of hustle went a long way for Duke. It seemed as though they were everywhere on the defensive end. They were timing their switches perfectly and their help-side defense was working to perfection. It seemed as though nearly every Virginia Tech shot was a contested one, and although the Blue Devils struggled on the glass in the game’s opening minutes, they were able to pull down crucial rebounds when it counted the most.

Yes, this was an ugly game. A very ugly game. The first half was close throughout, and even when Duke started to knock down shots and pull away in the second half, Virginia Tech was able to find its way back into the contest. But personally I’m willing to sacrifice some style points for fighting out a gritty win. I’d much rather win a close game by playing sound defense and hustling than by shooting the lights out and running away by 30. The shots will start to fall, but this is the type of basketball we need to be playing regardless of whether or not we’re knocking down jumpers. As we progress farther into postseason play, we’ll need to do both to beat some of the best teams in the country. But for now, I am perfectly content with playing lockdown defense while we wait for this shots to start falling.

Kelly’s absence meant more playing time for Josh Hairston, who stepped up admirably off the bench and contributed 17 quality minutes. This was the most Hairston has played in a game since December 30. Although he only contributed four points and three rebounds, Hairston was a huge part of Duke’s defensive presence throughout the game. His ability to hustle on defense and body up in the paint was huge when playing with an undersized team. Especially when Miles Plumlee had to head to the bench in the first half after picking up two early fouls, Hairston’s effort was crucial to Duke’s success in this game. After not seeing very much action in most of his team’s biggest games this year, props to Josh for stepping up when Duke needed him the most.

13 is a lot of 3-point attempts, but how can you not shoot them when you're this wide open? (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

Tyler Thornton was the MVP of this game. He contributed a career-high 13 points, adding four rebounds, two assists, and three steals. But it was what he added that doesn’t show up on a box score that was most important. Tyler emerged as a floor general tonight, similar to what we saw from him earlier in the season. He controlled the pace of the game, and embraced the fact that his team would have to grind out a win. He was constantly vocal on both ends of the floor, which was crucial to Duke’s success, especially on the defensive end. Although he only registered three steals, he completely changed the game on the defensive end, knocking down many passes, providing constant pressure, and getting in the face of Virginia Tech’s star guard, Erick Green, and making him fight for every shot. Tyler was also not afraid to step up and take big shots. He knocked down Duke’s opening bucket of the game with a 3-pointer, and little did we know but that would set the tone for the rest of the game. Thornton would go on to take 16 shots, including 13 from beyond the arc, which would be too many for him, if not for the amount of open looks he was getting. For some reason Virginia Tech felt very free to rotate off of him to supply double teams, leaving him open for a lot of looks. He’ll need to knock down a few more of those open threes moving forward, but he was definitely a presence that changed the outcome of this game.

Seth was a warrior in the second half, fighting to contribute until the shots started falling (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

This game highlighted a huge difference between Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry- Curry can still contribute when he does not score. Both of these players did not have very good games, each entering halftime without getting on the scoreboard. Dawkins was unable to bounce back, while Curry was able to fight through and make a difference. Andre finished 0-for-5 from the floor in 14 minutes. He looked lost on both ends of the floor. Seth turned it on in the second half, knocking down a huge three to get on the board and finished with nine points, six rebounds, and five assists. The Blue Devils had missed their previous 10 3-point attempts before Curry hit that shot. That kind of mental toughness is something that all of Duke’s players can take a lesson from moving forward.

We've come to expect these sorts of games from Mason Plumlee (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

Mason Plumlee was his usual man-child self, but with an added twist. Not only did he manage yet another efficient game with 12 points and 10 boards on 4-of-6 shooting, he went 4-for-5 from the free throw line. He’s shooting 79% from the charity stripe in his last three games, and has made a conscious effort to improve his free throw shooting during the second half of this season. Ever since his terrible 2-for-10 fiasco against Virginia, he’s been a different free throw shooter. I know it sounds a bit scary to say it, but I actually felt confident watching Mason Plumlee step to the line against Virginia Tech. Hopefully he’s able to carry this forward- he’s definitely getting hot at the right time.

It wasn’t pretty, it was very scrappy, but I think there are a lot of positives to pull out of a game that overall was not a very positive one. We showed that we could win without Ryan Kelly (keep in mind that we don’t know how long it will be until he is 100% again), we showed that we can win without hitting long range shots, and we showed that we can win by defending, not simply by outscoring our opponents. It’s a little disheartening to play inferior teams and consistently find ourselves in close game, but let’s face it, it’s tournament time. The only type of postseason game is a close game. By playing in high pressure situations throughout the season, we’re putting ourselves at an advantage over teams like Kentucky that are blowing their opponents out every night. Regardless of whether or not the other team is good enough to be playing us that tightly, learning how to win gritty, tight contests is how you have success in March. It’s time to put that to the test.

Recruiting Roundup: Duke-UNC Brings Out Top High School Talent

College basketball’s greatest rivalry is much more than just a game or a way of life. For Duke and North Carolina, college basketball’s biggest stage also serves as a vital recruiting tool. This season, a number of top recruits were on hand to watch the Blue Devils fall to the Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Let’s take a closer look at these high school phenoms and assess their chances of being the next generation of Duke basketball.

Shabazz Muhammad
Class of 2012
Bishop Gorman High School- Las Vegas, Nevada
SF- 6’6″, 215 lbs.
#1 in Rivals150, #2 by Scout.com, #2 in ESPNU100

Shabazz Muhammad was far and away the top recruit in his class until Tilton’s Nerlens Noel decided to reclassify to the Class of 2012 and graduate this spring. He still possesses an unmistakable talent and has had college programs across the country salivating throughout the year as they await his decision. This man is simply a scorer, using his sizable frame to get to the basket at will against some of the top high school competition in the nation. The lefty was named a McDonald’s All-American and will play for the West on March 28 in Chicago. He could stand to work a bit on his perimeter shooting, but Muhammad is easily the most NBA-ready talent in this year’s recruiting class. Although he has unmistakable offensive prowess, Shabazz possesses great skills on the glass and the defensive end for a man his size. He averaged 25.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in his junior season. Muhammad recently led Bishop Gorman to a state championship, scoring 36 points on 15-of-17 shooting as Bishop Gorman thumped Reno’s Hug High School 96-51. 30 of his 36 points came in the first half, in which he outscored Hug’s team 30-25. This was Bishop Gorman’s third consecutive state title.

Shabazz has narrowed down his top six schools to Duke, Kentucky, UNLV, Kansas, UCLA, and North Carolina. The most major players at this point, however, appear to be Duke, Kentucky, and UNLV. Kansas remains in the mix as a dark horse and UCLA, who was considered to be the outright leaders in the Shabazz sweepstakes earlier in the season, appears to have fallen out of the race. Although UNLV appears to be a black sheep on this list as a school outside of a power-six conference, Muhammad has indicated that he might not mind staying close to home, and the Rebels boast a young and revitalized team under first-year head coach Dave Rice.

Muhammad arrived for his Duke visit late Thursday afternoon last week. It was the last of his official visits- he had made his visit to Kentucky back in October for their Midnight Madness and attended Kansas’s second matchup with Missouri in February. He was hosted for a night by current Duke freshman Alex Murphy. Muhammad attended Thursday’s screening of Christian Laettner and Grant Hill’s documentary “Duke ’91 & ’92: Back To Back” with many current members of the Duke team. He also attended the Duke-UNC managers basketball game later that night and was seen having a good time with many of the Duke players. He was then on hand for the Duke-Carolina game at Cameron on Saturday night. Although the outcome of the game was not what the Blue Devils wanted, it appeared their visit with Muhammad was a very positive one. Although he seems to fit the mold of the stereotypical Kentucky one and done, he really did seem to enjoy Duke. Reports had surfaced earlier that week questioning whether or not Shabazz had received improper benefits and would be eligible to play next season, but it appears at the moment that his family is fully cooperating with the NCAA’s investigation and that he will remain eligible. Duke seems to be a stronger player for Muhammad than most people give them credit for. Although it does not normally serve as a destination for players who don’t expect to stay in college for more than a year, Shabazz is one of the most competitive high school players in the nation, so I’d consider his race to still be wide open.

Amile Jefferson
Class of 2012
Friends Central School- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
PF- 6’8″, 200 lbs.
#36 in Rivals150, #22 by Scout.com, #18 in ESPNU100

Amile Jefferson, also a 2012 McDonald’s All-American, has continued the tradition set forth by Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, and Rasheed Wallace of great high school basketball players to come out of Philadelphia. Jefferson recently led Friends Central to its fourth consecutive PAISAA state title, capping off the 2011-2012 season with a 22-5 record. He finished his senior season averaging 19.8 points per game and recorded a double-double in his team’s state championship victory over The Westtown School, outdueling fellow top recruit Daniel Ochefu. Jefferson has the quickness and versatility that will serve him well in college, though he will need to hit the weight room hard this summer to get strong enough to compete at the next level. He has an uncanny ability to drive and get to the hoop, especially for a power forward. One of Jefferson’s biggest draws is the unselfish nature of his play and his extremely high basketball IQ. It would be huge for the Blue Devils to land a big man like Amile in this year’s recruiting class. Their frontcourt could be a bit thin after this season with Miles Plumlee graduating and Mason Plumlee possibly departing for the NBA.

Jefferson’s college decision could be coming any day now. It was originally speculated that he would release his future plans on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, though Rivals.com’s ACC Basketball Recruiting Analyst Clint Jackson tweeted yesterday that according to Amile’s father, Malcolm Musgrove, an announcement should be expected “between Friday and Monday”. Duke entered the mix for Jefferson a bit later than most schools after it appeared they would not be able to land Lithonia, Georgia Center Tony Parker. Duke extended a scholarship offer to Amile in early January, but it appears Jefferson had his sights set on Duke for quite some time as the Blue Devils have quickly become one of the frontrunners to land him. Duke and NC State are the most competitive players vying for Amile, while he has also received scholarship offers from Kentucky, Ohio State, and Villanova.

Jefferson arrived for an unofficial visit last Saturday, just in time to watch Duke take on Carolina. He had already used up all of his official visits earlier in the recruiting season, before Duke was even in the picture for him. It is reasonable to assume that he stayed in Durham for all of Sunday at least. Amile was much harder to read when he was at Duke for his visit, mostly because the only time I saw him was while he was attending the game. Clearly he was not communicating with any of the current players or coaching staff at the time. However, unlike Muhammad, Duke seemed to be a much more clear-cut favorite for Amile prior to his official visit, so the Cameron Crazies could be well served to have a bit more confidence with him. This was believed to be his last official visit. He also made visits to Ohio State, Kentucky, NC State, and UConn in the fall. It is also reasonable to assume that as he lives in Philadelphia, he was able to see Villanova as well.

Be sure to check back for more on Amile later this week as he reveals his college decision.

JaQuel Richmond
Class of 2014
Wesleyan Christian Academy- High Point, North Carolina
PG- 6’1″, 170 lbs.
#25 by Scout.com, #24 in ESPNU25

Sophomore JaQuel Richmond is only 16 years old, but is already catching the eye of many top college programs across the nation. He has reportedly already received interest from numerous Division I programs, and has received scholarship offers from Charlotte, Oklahoma State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. Most of the larger programs will scout players from their sophomore years on but won’t come on stronger with recruiting pitches until he is at least a junior. Richmond has made himself present at Duke quite a bit this year, however, which can’t be a bad sign. His interest in the program is quite apparent. He attended Countdown To Craziness in October in addition to being on hand for the Duke-Carolina game last weekend. Richmond looks as though he would be a great fit at Duke, who has lacked a true point guard this season since the departure of Nolan Smith. Quinn Cook has looked like the point guard of the future at times, but is still developing. Richmond could potentially learn under Cook during Cook’s senior season before taking the reins for the Blue Devils in the future. However, this is still a very young kid we’re talking about, so it appears to be way too early for speculation.

Theo Pinson
Class of 2014
Wesleyan Christian Academy- High Point, North Carolina
SF- 6’5″, 170 lbs.
#11 by Scout.com, #9 in ESPNU25

Theo Pinson, a teammate of Richmond’s at Wesleyan Christian Academy, also made the trip with him for the Duke-Carolina game. Pinson is currently the more highly touted of the two, having already received 11 scholarship offers by the end of his sophomore year. Duke, Clemson, Connecticut, Georgetown, Kentucky, Marquette, NC State, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech have reportedly all offered him scholarships, and North Carolina is showing interest as well. Pinson possesses the athletic ability that is rarely ever seen in a high school sophomore. He is a dynamic scorer and his freakish leaping ability lends itself well to many highlight reel dunks in transition. He is a rare talent who played at the 17s level in AAU competition when he himself was only in 8th grade. Keep a watch out for this guy as he should continue to develop into one of the top recruits in the country over the next couple of years. Although it is way too early to speculate, Duke appears to be in a good position early for Pinson. It is the only of his eleven scholarship offers listed by Rivals.com where his interest level is denoted as “high”.

For the record, the highlights from this video were all shot during Pinson’s freshman year. Be amazed.

Any thoughts on these recruits? Comment below!

Tales From The Tent: Day 42- Go To Hell Carolina

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.

42 days down
0 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

I’ve never woken up at an indecent hour so easily. My alarm rang at 7:45 and I shot out of bed, somehow energized after just five and a half hours of sleep. It was going to be a long day, but it was a day I had been waiting for my whole life.

The best way to kick off your day (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

The GameDay crew comes to Duke every other year when Duke has the second Duke-Carolina matchup of the year. The broadcast was open to the public, but all tenters needed to attend because that is where their wristbands for the game are distributed. Doors opened at 8:30 and I was eager to get a good spot, so I tried to get over to Cameron as quickly as possible. I arrived just as doors were opening, and was able to snag a nice spot at center court near the back of the student section.

Some awesome signs for College GameDay (photo property of Crazie-Talk)


A live demo from the GameDay crew (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

The broadcast of College GameDay was not exactly what I expected. It was long and tiring- we ended up being in Cameron for over three and a half hours and stood the entire time. It was also surprisingly hard to follow the action of the show. All of the analysts’ backs were to us during the broadcast and it was nearly impossible to hear what they were actually saying. It was our job as the crowd to be energetic and make noise, but sometimes it wasn’t easy because we didn’t know what we were making noise for. Luckily for us having Hubert Davis there made it easy. We knew enough to get as loud as possible every time he spoke so he couldn’t be heard. However, it was really cool to watch the broadcast unfold live before our eyes. The analysts broke down the Duke-Carolina matchup, talked the NCAA tournament bubble, and each drafted their own all-time Duke-UNC team. Unfortunately, Jay Bilas was a bit disappointing. He picked Tyler Hansbrough with the last pick in the Duke-UNC draft and later picked Carolina as the team more likely to win a national championship.

I know a wristband doesn't seem like a big deal, but it is. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

After GameDay was over, all of the tenters went over to Wallace Wade Stadium to receive our wristbands. We sat in the stands as line monitors checked our name off of the roster one last time. They distributed the wristbands to us and we officially had entry to the Duke-Carolina game. After the wristband distribution we stopped in the IM Gym on the way out where we picked up our free K-Ville 2012 T-shirts.

Tenters then had the next few hours off before it was time to get ready for the game. I grabbed lunch with a few friends, went back to my room and packed for spring break, called my parents, and took a quick nap to energize. Before I knew it, it was time to head back to K-Ville. It was game time.

K-Ville pre-game aka painting central (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

We arrived at K-Ville just before 4:00 to begin our preparation. This meant paint, and lots of it. Now everybody has their own painting style, but just about every single student attending the game adorned themselves in some sort of paint. Some people go for the no shirt spell out a word painting, other people go for full face, while some prefer to leave it at facial designs.

Some excellent face-painting courtesy of Tent 14 (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

The best part about this game was that it gave Duke students the opportunity to show off their creativity. Over the course of the afternoon we saw just about every style of painting, as well as some very interesting uses of hair gel. This hour was a great time for the Cameron Crazies to congregate and share their mutual excitement for the game. The media was out in force, as photographers and videographers made the rounds through K-Ville seeing all Duke’s fans had to offer. Around 5:00 we heard the all too familiar drone of the line monitors’ siren. No, this wasn’t another tent check, it was time for us to get in line.

A little full-body painting courtesy of Tent 14 (photo property of Crazie-Talk)


Tent 14 ready for action (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

We snapped a quick tent photo in front of the tent, and headed off to find our spot in line. We walked forward along the sidewalk, passing countless tents until we finally found our spot near the front of the line, right between Tents 13 and 15. The next half hour seemed to drag on forever, but it served as a time for some reflection on our tenting experience. It was the first time in a while our entire tent had been together, and it was surreal to me that we were about to walk into the Carolina game. We had been working tirelessly for six weeks to make it to this moment, but it was unbelievable to think that in just a few short hours this entire experience would come to an end.

My view for the Carolina game. Not bad. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

At the stroke of 5:30 the doors opened. They began to let the first tents in. It was time to go. The line creeped forward for what seems like hours. Turns out it was only a couple of minutes, but before we knew it I was taking the same walk I had taken for every other home game this year, up the sidewalk into Cameron Indoor Stadium. I swiped in and sprinted inside to stake out the best possible spot to stand. I had spent much of my time in line contemplating which part of the court I would choose to stand by if I had to make a choice. I imagined that I would probably have a choice between standing in the second row at one end of the court between the foul line and baseline or moving back to the third row and staking out a spot near center court. When I walked into Cameron the scene looked just as I had envisioned. I had a choice to make, and went with my gut. I figured it would be best to be as close to halfcourt as possible, so I took a spot in the third row right along the halfcourt line.

As students continued to pack the student section to the brim, the anticipation for the game mounted. Both teams came out for pregame warmups, which meant plenty of time to heckle Carolina players and try and get the attention of Duke players. We also got a glimpse of Duke’s future when Rasheed Sulaimon appeared from the tunnel, and was hopefully accompanied by two more future Blue Devils in Bishop Gorman’s Shabazz Muhammad and Friends Central’s Amile Jefferson. As the moments ticked down and Carolina left the court for the final time, Duke had it’s Senior Night ceremony for its lone senior member, Miles Plumlee.

Nothing says energy like Dick Vitale crowd surfing (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

As the game tipped off, all of the energy pent up from six weeks of tenting just flowed out of me. It was by far the loudest I had ever heard Cameron. I’m not going to waste time giving a synopsis of the game in this story. We all know what happened. North Carolina was simply a bigger team and dominated Duke on the glass in the first half en route to a 32-15 rebounding advantage. Duke simply wasn’t knocking down shots during the first 10 minutes of the game, allowing Carolina to get out to a 22-5 lead after Duke had a stretch where they missed 15 straight field goal attempts. After that, the teams kept pace in terms of their scoring. Only problem was, the Blue Devils were playing from a 20-point deficit. Duke came out with significantly better energy in the second half and were poised to make a run, pulling the game to within 11 points with five minutes remaining. Austin Rivers took a trip to the line for one and one with the chance to pull Duke within nine, but he missed the front end. This proved to be crucial, as Carolina was barely able to grasp momentum away from Duke and cruise to an 18-point win.

Miles Plumlee addressing the crowd after the game (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

After the game, the team paid tribute to Miles Plumlee, who played one of the best games of his season despite battling foul trouble. He scored 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds despite playing just 26 minutes. He fouled out as the game wound down, exiting to a standing ovation from the home crowd. After the game, a video of his accomplishments was played in his honor and Miles took the opportunity to address the crowd following the loss. He expressed how incredibly thankful he was for his four years here. He then thanked his parents, who received a rousing applause for supplying Duke with not one, but three Plumlees (and getting half-joking chants of “one more kid” from the Crazies). Miles concluded his speech by saying that although the loss hurts, this isn’t the end, it’s only just the beginning of Duke’s postseason run.

So that was it. There would be no burning of the benches, no storming the court, no last second magic or championship banners, just one final walk out of Cameron Indoor Stadium back to Tent 14. We all hung around and sat outside the tent for a few minutes after the game, taking in the scene one last time. They say that there’s nothing like experiencing things for the first time during your freshman year, and over these six weeks we really saw it all. The end result stung a little bit, but you show up ready for battle regardless of whether you win by 20 or you lose by 20. That’s what Cameron Crazies do. Another chapter of the sport’s greatest rivalry is in the books, but the real season is about to begin. It’s tournament time, and I’m really hoping we get another shot at Carolina in the ACC championship. 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

Tales From The Tent: Day 41- One Force, One Fight

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.

41 days down
1 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

Just one more personal check was standing in my way of the Duke-Carolina game. Now don’t get me wrong, PChecks are a lot of fun, but by the end of a hectic week of school before spring break and six weeks of tenting, I was downright exhausted. Some say PChecks are just to have a fun time and reward tenters for their dedication, but I think it has a purpose. Duke basketball is special because it combines a rich history of winning with an unmistakable fan culture. Duke fans have experienced great successes, but like to have fun in the process. Last night was for partying, it got us prepared to put our entire spirit on the line against Carolina. But tonight was for a celebration of Duke basketball, a chance to remind Duke students where we’ve come from and where we expect to go.

Best movie theater in Durham. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Tonight was the night of the year students gather in Cameron to be addressed by Coach K and the team. But this year, there was a special bonus for us. Starting at 7:00 students packed into Section 17 for a private screening of Grant Hill and Christian Laettner’s documentary “Duke ’91 & ’92: Back to Back”. The film starts with the 1990 NCAA Championship loss to UNLV and takes you through the entire 1991 and 1992 seasons, with interview from countless Duke players, opponents, and analysts. The documentary is simply fantastic- it really takes you inside the minds of those players as the seasons unfolded, and gives you valuable insight into two of the greatest college basketball teams ever assembled. You get a great sense for how competitive Christian Laettner was from watching him speak in the documentary.

Just a movie with 1600 of my closest friends. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Getting to watch the film itself was great, but the experience of watching it in Cameron was unparalleled. The student section was filled to the brim as the line monitors provided us with free pizza. Across the court in Section 19 most of the team sat and watched the documentary with us from the bench. You could really tell that watching the ’91 and ’92 teams play was inspiring to them. Watching the film was an interactive experience. The crowd cheered when Duke won its first national championship and exploded when Christian Laettner hit the shot to beat Kentucky, but nothing compares to the crowd’s reaction to when Bob Knight called the Fab Five “The most overrated team in the history of basketball”. Be sure to check the documentary out when it airs on March 11 at 8:00 p.m. on truTV.

Excited for Sheed (left) to be joining us next year. Hoping Shabazz (right) decides to come with him! (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

After the documentary was over, the team exited the floor to a rousing applause. It was then we saw that the team was not travelling alone this evening. Our current Blue Devils were accompanied by Rasheed Sulaimon, who has committed to Duke as a member of the Class of 2012, and Shabazz Muhammad, who is the No. 1 recruit in this year’s Rivals150. Shabazz received a warm reception from the crowd as he exited the court, but overall he seemed generally uninterested. Although the game is by far the most important thing going on this weekend, this game is also a crucial recruiting tool, so we’ll have much more on him and many other top recruits after the Carolina game.

Goosebumps. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

It was now time for coach K to speak. First thing’s first, everyone else had to get out. This was to be a talk just between Krzyzewski and the Duke student body, so any members of the general public were required to leave. After a few minutes of grueling anticipation, Coach K and the entire team emerged from the locker room. Keep in mind there’s not much I can disclose because Coach K’s speeches to students are typically held to be private, but he told the Crazies that this was their game as much as it was the team’s. He wanted everyone taking ownership in the outcome of the game, and introduced to us a motto his team has carried with them all season, from Coach K’s time at West Point: one force, one fight. He spent a few minutes praising the hard work of the team’s only senior, Miles Plumlee, and Miles got a chance to thank the students one last time before his final home game. After Miles spoke Coach K let the team leave and talked to us for a few more minutes. It was one of the more inspiring speeches I’d listened to in quite some time. After he was finished, many students left to go outside while Duke and Carolina’s student managers took the court to play their annual basketball game.

The team seemed to enjoy its night with the Crazies. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

I went outside to take in the sights in K-Ville for one final night. After watching an incredible documentary and sitting just a few feet away from the greatest basketball coach in history as he addressed us, I was pretty revved up for the game, to say the least. But at the same time, I was also very very tired, so I was just about ready for my last PCheck. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait too long for it. At midnight the siren rang, and tenters scattered around the parking lot for the third personal check. When the line monitors checked me off, I was guaranteed access to the Duke-Carolina game. After six weeks of tenting, my mission was very nearly accomplished.

Feeling as validated as ever, I headed straight home. It was time to get some sleep.

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 40- It Gets Personal

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.

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

I woke up this morning and you could feel the buzz everywhere. It was finally March, which means the madness was about to kick off with Duke-UNC this weekend. After nearly six weeks of living in K-Ville, all of our hard work and dedication was finally about to pay off.

This first day of March was especially important because it was the last day of tenting. Now I know what you’re thinking- oh that’s really nice, they’ve been out there for such a long time (unless you’re a white tenter), they deserve to take a break for the two days before the game. That’s not really what happens. Tenting ended, but our K-Ville experience was only just beginning. It was time for Personal Checks.

Time to clarify what Personal Checks are. Each of us are still on a tent roster, which keeps our order, but none of us are part of a tent anymore. Line monitors are now only keeping track of us individually. Personal Checks could begin as early as 9:00 on Thursday and last from 9:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. on Thursday and Friday nights. Line monitors can call a check in K-Ville at any time during these hours, at which time you will check yourself in individually. There will be five personal checks over the course of these two nights and in order to get into the game you must make three of them. This means that the only reason to look out for your tentmates are because they are your friends. If one of them doesn’t make three checks, you are not penalized for it. However, if you don’t make three checks, all of you time and effort you spent tenting was for naught.

Now I know this sounds a little bit overbearing, but PChecks are actually one of the most fun part of the tenting experience. I know it sounds like a long time out there, but you can leave at any time, and it’s up to the individual to budget out when they’d like to make their three checks. I know what you’re probably wondering- what do 1200+ Duke students do in K-Ville for all that time? We do what Duke students do best- we have a party. PChecks is widely considered the second biggest party of the year at Duke, so while people are waiting around for line monitors to call checks, there is plenty of fun to be had. The entire parking lot in front of K-Ville is cleared out, every single food truck on campus sets up shop in the parking lot, and on Thursday night they always have a big concert for students. But it looks like I’m getting a bit ahead of myself- let me walk you through my first PChecks experience from the beginning.

Let’s start around noon that day. I get out of class and head over to take my tent shift. It is by far the nicest day of tenting. The sun is shining and it’s about 78 degrees- not bad for it being February yesterday. I am itching with excitement for this weekend. I know that all of the hard work and nights sleeping outside we’ve put in are about to pay off in the biggest way. K-Ville is abuzz as we watch event staff set up the stage for that night’s concert. The stage is huge, it takes up about half of K-Ville’s parking lot. It was just a wonderful day to be outside. I could have sat there finishing up my work for spring break for hours, there was nowhere better to be. Students were taking in the sunshine with me as well, and many were playing basketball on a hoop set up by Cameron (commonly referred to by K-Villers as Cameron Outdoor Stadium).

The beginnings of the walkup line. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

This afternoon was also exciting because it was my first chance to take a look at the walkup line for Saturday’s game. It’s a common misconception that the only way a student can get into the UNC game is by tenting. In fact, not everyone that wants to can tent. Some students try to white tent and lose the race to the secret spot. But every year there are a decent amount of students that can get into the game off the walkup line, which enters the game after the last tents have gone in. Students participate in the walkup line for every other game during the year, but for Carolina it’s a little bit different. The walkup line for the Carolina game began registration on Wednesday at noon. As you know, the game is not until Saturday night at 7:00. This means that students in the walkup line will be living on K-Ville’s sidewalk for just over three days to get into this game. They register in groups of two, and one of them must be in line at all times. Line monitors call consistent checks throughout the day, and any group that misses a check will immediately be removed from the line. Students in the walkup line are also not allowed to bring any structures with them (no tents), and are forced to sleep outside. In the middle of the afternoon on Thursday I’d estimate that the walkup line was about 30-40 people deep already. The size of the line would more than triple by the beginning of PChecks that night.

The set of College GameDay. Awesome. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

I left my last tent shift in K-Ville for the season around 2:00 that afternoon. I headed back to class knowing that the next time I would be back there would be my first PChecks. ESPN invaded K-Ville later that afternoon. They must have begun setup shortly after I left, but by 5:00 the set for College GameDay had been erected just outside of Cameron. We would all be attending College GameDay on Saturday morning to take in the insanity, receive our wristbands for the game, and ultimately hear Seth Davis say something silly. The set was absolutely massive- it stood just on top of where students were playing basketball earlier. We’ll be going inside Cameron for GameDay’s morning broadcast, but this set would serve for College GameDay’s afternoon broadcasts before the game, where GameDay makes its final predictions while students are in line to enter the game. It was there that two years ago David promptly predicted that Carolina would beat Duke in Cameron. They went on to lose 82-50.

At 9:00 I returned to K-Ville with a group of friends. It was time for PChecks. The best part about Personal Checks is that everybody on campus goes to them. Regardless of whether you black tented, blue tented, white tented, or didn’t even tent at all, PChecks is one of the biggest social events of the year. When I arrived K-Ville was already jam packed with people. Point Break, a band of Duke students, had just finished their set opening for the evening’s headliners, reggae band Rebelution. A mass of people crowded around the stage as the concert picked up, but the action was all over the place. Everyone was scattered throughout K-Ville hanging out at their tents and having a good time. It was a great opportunity for me to spend time with my tentmates, my pledge class, and fraternity brothers while taking in one of the quintessential Duke experiences.

Welcome to Personal Checks. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Rebelution headlining the PChecks concert. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Rebelution finished their set around 11:00, but there was still no sign of the first check. On the bright side, none of us were in any rush. It was a beautiful night, we were all enjoying ourselves with our friends, and the majority of us had finished our last classes before spring break. Around midnight, the first personal check finally came. I watched as the line monitors grabbed huge signs with our tent numbers on them and scattered around the parking lot while the siren began to blare. Everyone in K-Ville sprinted to their tent’s area, where we lined up by tent and line monitors checked us off. 11 of my 12 tent members were there for the first check, and we were one step closer to attending the Carolina game.

K-Ville is an incredible place. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Everybody has their own strategy with PChecks. Some like to try and get two checks out of the way the first night, others are satisfied with just one. I figured that with an 8:30 taping of College GameDay on Saturday morning, it would be best to get as much sleep as humanly possible on Friday night. I was going to try as hard as possible to get two checks in tonight, but the problem was you never know when that second check is going to come. Sometimes they’ll call them fairly close together, other times you might be waiting around until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning for that second check. Luckily for us, we didn’t have to wait very long. The second check rang around 1:15 a.m. The majority of Tent 14 stuck around for the second check, and when the line monitors signed my name off the list I was just one personal check away from earning my admission into the Duke-Carolina game.

The aftermath of PChecks. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

And with that our first night of PChecks had come to a close. Before we left each tent was responsible for picking up some trash in K-Ville (the place was, in a word, trashed) and we were free to go. Sticking around for that second check was definitely worth it. It was a truly memorable night for the Cameron Crazies to congregate, celebrate their dedication for Duke basketball, and get prepared for one of the greatest weekends of our lives.

The best part about this was that it was only just beginning. We still had another night of PChecks to go and a jam packed Saturday leading up to the big game. More festivities to follow tonight, expect another huge story tomorrow. We’re almost there. 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

Tales From The Tent: Day 35/36-Taking Out The Trash

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.

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

We were through to white tenting, hadn’t missed any tent checks, so it was all smooth sailing from here on out…right? Not exactly. We had seen weather over 70 degrees and under 20 degrees, bright sunny afternoons and cold snowy nights, but lo and behold we had one more weather related issue to survive. In the middle of the afternoon the line monitors informed us that we would receive a full night’s grace for the second time during white tenting due to extremely high winds and a tornado warning. Winds that evening would gust up to 60 mph, so it was probably a good idea not to have anybody out in K-Ville. But not only was nobody to be out in K-Ville that night, but neither were our tents. The line monitors strongly suggested that we all take our tents down, so for our tent’s safety we decided we would oblige them.

As a typical busy Friday afternoon at Duke drew to a close, we struggled to gather enough people to break down our tent. As the hours ticked by, our window of opportunity was quickly closing. The skies were gray and ominous, and as the storm moved closer to campus we decided we just needed to do what we could to get everything down. A couple members of my tent ran to K-Ville to try and beat the storm while I raced back from an off-campus errand to meet them. As I got there the skies looked as though they were about to open up, and I thought we had failed. I called them on the phone as I was parking the car behind Cameron Indoor Stadium and told them I was just pulling up. They said they had gotten the tent broken down, but everything was outside. I tried to extend my car rental so we could load everything up inside and take it back to East Campus, but no more rentals were available.  I rushed down to K-Ville just to see what still needed to be cleaned up. I couldn’t believe what I saw.

A truly creepy sight for any Crazie. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

First of all, K-Ville itself was a barren wasteland. Nearly all the tents were had been dismantled, and the barren patch of pallets and tarps looked like some sort of a graveyard. As I turned the corner towards my tent, the winds picked up and it looked like it was about to start raining. I had no idea what we were going to do with all of our personal belongings. Then I looked up and saw why they had hung up the phone so abruptly. If you don’t remember from one of my first postsabout our setup in K-Ville, my tentmate Nathan Brody has served as our resident Boy Scout throughout this process. His experience has been vital in the setup and maintenance of our tent structure. Now as you know, a good Boy Scout is always prepared, but I don’t think even he was prepared for what we were about to do.

Best. Idea. Ever. (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

When I looked up I saw three trash cans sitting outside of our tent. As I approached the tent I watched in disbelief as my tentmates took all of our personal belongings and stuffed them inside the trash cans. I know this sounds a bit unsanitary, but don’t worry, the bags inside them were completely fresh and had not been used. As we raced against Mother Nature to get everything inside the trash cans, it looked as though we might actually be able to squeeze everything in. Then as soon as the last lid was shut, the rains began. We had beaten the storm, but the storm was about to beat us.

Nothing can describe this but "an experience" (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

So we began our epic journey through West Campus in the rain with three of K-Ville’s trash cans. As we trudged down the stairs out of K-Ville, the rain began to pick up into a consistent drizzle. By the time we crossed Towerview Drive, it was pouring. Once we were under the first archway, it was torrential. All of our stuff was fine inside the trash cans, but by the time we made it to the main quad we were absolutely soaked. We decided that instead of trying to explain our way onto a bus with three trash cans, it would be smarter to take the trash cans to our fraternity’s section and leave it there. One ridiculous half hour after coming up with a genius plan, our belongings were safe and dry in Few Quad.

Our tent in majestic flight the morning after (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

The next day after Duke had capped off an exciting win against Virginia Tech, we it was time to set up shop one last time. We were lucky we got there when we did, because despite being staked into the ground our tent had almost blown away over night. That’s right- the wind ripped six stakes clean out of the ground. At first it was only me with one other person, but the wind was still not cooperating with us. We struggled to resurrect the tent, but every time we were close to getting it up, remnants of the winds from last night would roll through K-Ville and cave the tent in. After about 45 minutes of failure, we called in a few reinforcements, and after about another half hour of struggling with the forces of nature we were finally able to stake our tent down.

With the Carolina game looming just one week away, it was time for the home stretch. We are ready.

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 29/30- I've Been Dreaming Of A White Tenting

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.

29 days down
13 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

After four long weeks of living on the hallowed ground of Krzyzewskiville, we had made it. No, it was not time for the Carolina game (though the end was finally in sight), but it was time to make a great step in the tenting process. Out with the old, out with the blue, it was time for white tenting.

What is white tenting, you ask? White tenting is the final period in the tenting process, the last two weeks where K-Ville completely fills up (in fact a lengthy wait list forms) and the countdown to the UNC game draws to a close. Gone are the endless nights of six tent members sleeping together at once- the white tenting period requires that just two members of each tent sleep there each night, which means a lot more time in the comfort of your own bed (unless of course you are pledging, in which case sleep just hasn’t been happening for just about the entirety of tenting).

Though two people in the tent every night seems like the biggest change that accompanies white tenting, the biggest adjustment in white tenting is that the size of K-Ville nearly doubles. On the first day of white tenting the number of tents in K-Ville grows from 60 to 100, which is its full capacity. Now in case you haven’t gotten this vibe already, by virtue of it being a short period of time and not requiring many nights in the tent, white tenting is rather easy. In fact, most other tenters tend to look down on those who white tent. But because white tenting is so easy, lots of people want to try and sneak into white tenting and still get into the game, acting like they’re as completely Crazie as the rest of us.

Because of the short period of time they spend out there, there is no tiebreaking system that the line monitors can create for white tents based on game attendance, so instead white tenting is completely on a first come, first serve basis. This is determined by an annual race to a secret spot that is predetermined by the line monitors. Tents scatter their representatives throughout East, West, and Central campuses and the location of the spot is posted online at a designated time. All of the groups then race to that spot, and the first 40 tents to complete the race receives spots in K-Ville. For those who do not make it there fast enough, they are relegated to the wait list. This year the secret spot was within the Duke Gardens, which took many groups by surprise as it was not within either of Duke’s three residential campuses. A total of 66 tents completed the race, leaving a rather substantial wait list for those who did not crack the top 40. This also puts pressure on the white tents, who are often less organized than those who blue or black tent, to not miss tent checks, as they will be bumped out of K-Ville to the back of the wait list. I was also very excited to welcome other members of the team here at Crazie-Talk to K-Ville this season. Scott had recently joined during the last couple weeks of blue tenting as a part of Tent 35 and Amogh was a part of one of the first groups to finish the race for white tenting, joining K-Ville as Tent 68.

Our new neighbors was not the only change that accompanied white tenting. For the first time all year, we were no longer known as “Tent FF”. With the end of blue tenting came the end of tenting games, which means we were finally given a tenting number. That Sunday all of the tent captains were emailed the final tent standings and we proudly took our spot as the 14th tent in line, 3rd among all of the blue tents. Over the next couple days many of the tent captains would receive disgruntled emails from other tent captains about the fact that we never saw the actual scoring of the other tents and that the line monitors made mistakes (which in actuality, they did make mistakes, our tent in fact did not have a single member miss a tenting game), but this seemed like a pointless argument to me. We were all some of the first groups to gain entrance into the marquee event in all of college sports. I can’t see anything to complain about there, regardless of whether we were 12th or 13th or 14th in line. Being Tent 14 is an excellent spot in line. I can’t say for certain because I’ve never been to a Duke-UNC game, but being Tent 14 should place our group around second row foul line or third row center court, which are some of the best seats in Cameron.

Though it was a nice sight at night, we probably should have noticed the way our tent was slightly leaning... (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

We were all very happy it was finally white tenting, but it appeared that Mother Nature had decided to take the term “white tenting” a bit more literally than the Cameron Crazies did. On the first night of white tenting, for the first time all tenting season, it started to snow in Durham, North Carolina. Disclaimer: I use the term “snow” quite loosely. My classmates from the South and the West coast thoughtthat it was snowing. And yes, snow was falling from the sky, but it was not snowing. It wasn’t sticking to the ground. It would accumulate on buildings and cars, but nothing stuck to the roads. And people around campus thought it was a realistic possibility that classes might get cancelled the next day for what was going to amount to about an inch of snow total. I suppose this was a late “welcome to the South” moment for me. I’m from the North so I’ve seen a bit of real snow in my day. I’m used to getting a foot or two of snow at least once a year, so an inch or two doesn’t seem like too much of a big deal, but it was fun to watch everybody else freak out about the cold, white powder falling from the sky. It did make K-Ville look beautiful at night with snow glistening off the tents. The line monitors called grace for the night, so the white tenters didn’t even have to sleep out on their first night of tenting. As if white tenting couldn’t get any easier.

Whoops... (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Though the snow was a pleasant sight for sore northern eyes, it did not bode too well for our tent. When we arrived back to K-Ville in the morning, it was sunny and 50 degrees and all of the previous night’s snow had completely melted (so much for that snowstorm), but the weight of the snow on top of our tent had caused it to cave in. The team was out in force that morning as we tried to resurrect our tent, and after working hard to get it standing once again, we realized that a significant amount of snow had melted on top of our tent and seeped inside. Our worst nightmares had come true as large puddles of water sat on the floor of our tent.

Extra Chronicles hard at work! (photo property of Crazie-Talk)

Luckily for us, Wilson Gym was already open that morning and has a newsstand inside of it, and there’s nothing that about 50 copies of The Chronicle can’t fix. It took a day or two for that side of the tent to completely dry up, but luckily for us we only needed to have two people sleep in the tent that night. Our tent measures 140 square feet (which is actually bigger than some dorm rooms on East Campus, that’s right I’m looking at you, Blackwell) and is supposed to fit up to nine people comfortably, so the two people that slept that night had ample of room on the drier side of the tent to sleep.

One miniature crisis later, the last phase of tenting had begun. 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