Unparalleled Tradition: A Fresh(man's) Take

Editor’s note: This is  the first in a series of columns by our newest staff member: Daniel, a proud member of the freshman class of 2015! Show him some love! – AK

K-Ville, soon to be home. (Courtesy of BluePlanetShots.com)

What is Duke basketball? Duke basketball is tradition. It’s 105 years, four national championships, 15 Final Fours, 55 All-Americans, 23 first round NBA draft picks. It’s playing home games in the holiest basketball cathedral known to man. It’s having fans that can remember specific plays from a given game that might span back years, let alone decades. It’s men and women who graduated in the 60’s and 70’s and can still remember the cheers and jeers that are quintessential to the Duke basketball experience.

What is Duke basketball? Duke basketball is passion. It’s about fans who are more than proud to call themselves Crazy and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s striking fear into the heart of every opponent with a sea of the most beautiful blue on the face of the earth. It’s having fans that will travel thousands of miles just to catch a glimpse of their team play. It’s having students at a top ten university that are willing to wake up long before the sun to stand in line for an exhibition game against a team they’ve never even heard of. It’s looking forward to sleeping in a tent and enduring six weeks of mild (let’s not get ahead of ourselves here) Carolina winter just so we can tell the Tar Heels to Go To Hell.

What is Duke basketball? Duke basketball is my life. Some of my freshman classmates have been Duke fans for a couple months, some of them maybe even fell in love with the school a year ago before they applied Early Decision. I’ve been a Cameron Crazie since the day I was born. I was a month old when I watched Christian Laettner hit the shot against Kentucky. Every winter since I can remember, Duke basketball has been part of my routine. No matter what important work there was to be done, the Duke game would always come first. Going to a high school that sat just down the block from Villanova’s campus, I was not afraid to let my classmates know that I wouldn’t be jumping on any hometown bandwagons, and in return they felt free to remind me of the four or five times a year that we actually lost a game. Bearing the brunt of that abuse was the price I paid for being better than them in every possible way come March.

Now 18 years later I sit where countless freshmen before me have, milling away in piles of schoolwork while all I can think about is basketball season. After all this time I have finally arrived, Countdown to Craziness is upon us. It was great hearing President Brodhead and Maya Angelou speak during O-Week, but in all honesty I consider Countdown to be the truest of freshman convocations, the first time in a new school year where all of Duke comes together and does what Duke does best—basketball.

I’ve been lucky enough to get to games almost every year since middle school, whenever Duke would play a neutral site game in the New York area or play Temple or Penn on the road. But I’ve been missing the most important piece to my Duke basketball experience, I’ve been missing Cameron. Friday will mark the first time I’ve taken in a Duke basketball event at Cameron Indoor Stadium, a moment I’ve dreamed about since I was young enough to realize how important Cameron was to the basketball world. Even thinking about it now, trying to convince myself that this time is finally here sends shivers down my spine. There is one word I can use to describe what I think stepping inside Cameron will be like—electric.

The electricity, the buzz, the anticipation will be so thick you could reach out and grab it and squeeze every ounce of glory out of it. It will be about then, when 10,000 voices become one, when time will seem to stop. And if you look just closely enough, you’ll see 1700 wide-eyed members of the class of 2015 do that same double take they’ve done since the moment they got here. They’ll look around at the most beautiful sight in the world, a sea of their royal blue brethren, and tell themselves, ‘Wow. I am the luckiest person in the world. I get to be a part of this.’ And after a moment, they’ll come back down to earth, and we’ll yell. Really, really loud. Because that’s what Cameron Crazies do.


Grad Campout '09: Crazier Than Ever

“The Premier Social Event of the Year”

The basketball universe respects Duke undergrads for the absurd things we do to watch basketball games in Cameron Indoor Stadium. From sleeping in flooded tent cities to burning massive wooden benches, Dukies “blow off steam” in ways that the average American college student wouldn’t consider even at the pinnacle of inebriation. Thus, the Cameron Crazies are widely considered the best and most creative fans in college basketball.

But there’s one thing some Blue Devils may not know—the Graduate students just might be the craziest of the whole lot.

This past weekend, students from Duke’s 60 graduate programs flooded three Blue Zone parking lots with trucks, tents, DJ Equipment, and of course, a healthy, fun loving attitude. Typically, each graduate program carves out a section of turf and sets up dozens of tents, or in the case of the Fuqua Business School, rented RV’s.

Like K-ville, campers must complete mandatory tent checks signaled by blaring sirens. If you miss one tent check, you’re out of the running for one of the coveted 725 grad student season tickets. Typically, students enter the lottery in groups. For example, a group of 30 law students will camp out together. When the names are drawn, 15 of them win season tickets. Those 15 have their choice of games, but the home games are “divided” among the original group of 30. The system satisfies everyone.

Jonathan Page, a second year Divinity Student, observed that the high stakes of the weekend “makes for a more intense moment” when a tent check occurs. At the sound of the siren, the mass of students horded around the white check-in tent, arranged alphabetically by last name. After checking in, students dispersed back to their activities, which included a Guitar Hero tournament, basketball shoot-out, and enormous projection screens erected to watch college football and classic Duke basketball games.

The weekend is planned by the Graduate and Professional Student Council’s Basketball Committee. Campout co-chair Mark Kohler, a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry, said that the weekend took over five months to plan.

“About 2,500 campers signed up, and around 2,000 are here,” he said Saturday night, “it’s great to have everyone coming together for a great weekend.”

Kohler noted that since graduate students have different schedules than undergrads, the idea of “sleeping outside for weeks” is simply impossible. “People are teaching, grading papers, we’re all busy.” He also observed that Grad Campout has its traditions just like K-Ville. “Some people have come back for ten years running.” Traditions like creative t-shirts, beer pong tables, and late night karaoke lend the weekend an aura of intensity that would impress even the undergrad tenants of Tent 1.

The grad students may not occupy the marquee spots in Cameron, but as Campout Weekend ’09 demonstrated,  there’s no doubting their crazieness.

“The Season Starts Tonight”

On the same day that he was inducted into the Army’s Sports Hall of Fame, Coach Mike Krzyzewski stood before another group several hours after Duke football’s 35-19 win over the Black Knights in West Point.

We need to have an edge...

"We need to have an edge..."

Around 9pm on Saturday, Coach K and the men’s basketball team filed into the Blue Zone for Krzyzewski’s annual speech to the Graduate Students. The team donned the official Grad Student t-shirts, and K took up the microphone before an ocean of students seated on the pavement.

He began with introductions of the “new guys”–freshmen Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, Andre Dawkins, and Seth Curry. He noted jokingly that Dawkins is “going to turn 18 this month.” A voice then yelled out to Andre, “Show me your I.D.!” “Just don’t find one for him!” Coach K replied.

The trademark wit continued through the talk, but Coach K was sure to inform the graduate students of Cameron’s new developments. To the cheers of the crowd, K announced that the end zone opposite the graduate section, usually occupied by padded seats, is now part of the grad section. The new seats push the number of season tickets from 700 to 725.

Coach K also offered some advice: “We need an edge, not just enthusiasm…We should come [to Cameron] to kick someone’s ass.”

He reiterated throughout the speech that “the season starts tonight.”  Trust us, Coach. We can’t wait to see what the team can do in your 30th year at the helm.

Check out the video of Coach K’s speech below, which contains some language. For more scenes from the crazie weekend, check out our Photos page.



The Karaoke Station

At the karaoke station, people leapfrogged in a circle while a pair of students sung a heartfelt rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

– Fuqua students on their RV neighborhood: “We keep it classy.”

– A student asked: “Are we going to beat UNC at home this year?” To be brief, K was not too pleased by this question.

When Coach K mentioned practice, several students yelled, “You talkin’ bout practice?” mimicking Allen Iverson’s famous press conference. Coach wisely said, “If you don’t practice, you can end up in Memphis.” Nice.

Coach K is going to take us to the promised land.

"Coach K is going to take us to the promised land."

Coach K Quotables

On speedo guys: “I’m not a speedo guy. I’m 62…speedoes [sighs]…anyway. It’s not a good scene.”

– On Team USA: the experience has increased his shelf life at Duke, and has been positive in every way.

– After accepting a cozy from a student, Coach K joked, “Do wine glasses fit in these? I’m a big wine guy.” But not a big wine and cheese guy, hopefully.

– “Coach is going to take us to the promised land,” said Captain Lance Thomas.

– On the grad school campout and the commitment of the students: “Thank you for what you’ve done. Don’t ever lose this.”

Jake & Amogh collaborated on this article.