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 26- When One Comeback Isn't Enough

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.

26 days down
16 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

Fresh off of Duke’s thrilling win over North Carolina and a convincing home victory over Maryland, it was time for our final tenting game of the season. The final weekend of blue tenting kicked off as Duke matched up with NC State. Shortly after this game, our tent number would be decided and we would have a spot in line for the Carolina game.

You mad, State? (Photo courtesy DukeBluePlanet.com)

If you’ve never been to a Duke-NC State game at Cameron, it’s quite a spectacle. As a student who has never been to a Duke-State game before and did not grow up in the state of North Carolina, I quickly found out I had a lot to learn. Students do not come to the State game to take in superior basketball, they mostly do so to watch Duke beat up on NC State and taunt NC State’s fans for going to NC State.  We like to make our neighbors from Raleigh feel at home when they come to Cameron. Farm gear was in abundance as overalls and straw hats were abundant while the Crazies broke out into random choruses of “Old McDonald”.

E I E I O. (Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

The game, however, did not follow the usual trend of Duke-State blowouts. The Blue Devils came out of the gate and played arguably the worst half of basketball it had all year. It seemed as though they could not buy a shot. Meanwhile, their interior defense was once again proving fallible as Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie knifed inside for easy buckets. When Duke went down 8-2 before the fist media timeout we thought it was one of our usual start slow end fast games, but clearly we did not know what was in store for us on this night. The Wolfpack started the game on a 16-4 run, leaving the entire stadium dumbfounded. The Blue Devils also suffered an early blow when Seth Curry went down in the game’s opening minutes. The Crazies held their collective breath as he sat on the court and was eventually taken to the locker room. Knocking one of our players out of the game was a huge blow to the Blue Devils’ psyche. Duke simply could not rally back as NC State held onto a double-digit advantage for the remainder of the first half. In fact the lead continued to grow to 15 points, 17 points, and eventually a whopping 19-point advantage when State took a 44-25 lead with 1:53 remaining in the first half. There wasn’t much of anything going right for Duke at this point. They were being embarrassed on the glass by a smaller NC State team and they were taking advantage of an abundance of second and third chance opportunities. Mediocre shooting was not helping Duke’s case, as they could barely buy a bucket on the offensive end.

Going into halftime down 46-30, the student section felt like we were all sitting at a funeral. As I sat in the stands during halftime, I flashed back to just two weeks earlier against Miami, when we went into the half down double digits only to make a storming comeback. We would have won that game if not for poor execution and free throw shooting down the stretch, but it was hard to believe that after watching a half of basketball that poor that Duke had any business coming back in this game. They were simply not playing anything resembling winning basketball.

For a moment at the beginning of the second half, this game looked eerily similar to Miami. Duke came out with renewed energy, opening the half on a 7-2 run and cutting the deficit to 11. The crowd began to respond, hopeful that this would be a sign of things to come, but what they were not expecting was an NC State response. The Wolfpack went on a 13-4 run of their own to extend their lead to 20 with 11:33 remaining. The action broke for a media timeout, and we believed Duke’s spirits had been broken as well. But this would not be the day for Duke to be blown out at home. When the action resumed, Duke began to claws its way back into the game with defensive pressure. The run began from the free throw line when Seth Curry knocked down three free throws and Mason Plumlee went 3-for-4 in a two-minute stretch. While Duke’s comebacks against Miami and North Carolina began to flash through my mind, this game bore the strongest resemblance to last year’s contest against Carolina where Duke came down from 14-points down at the half. Seth Curry took over that game, and he did the same against NC State. After being knocked out early in the game, Curry scored 21 points in the second half on his way to a game-high 26. At one point Curry scored six straight points for Duke as it clawed back in to within nine points. With each of Curry’s jumpers, the Crazies came more and more alive while the score seemed more and more in reach. Austin Rivers added five points within a 30-second stretch as Duke had fought back to 69-62 with 5:29 left.

Floor slap. Legend. (Photo courtesy DukeBluePlanet.com)

We were in disbelief. How could a team that was playing this poorly in the first half be playing this well in the second? Everything was clicking on both ends of the floor for us, and it seemed to be a race against the clock for whether or not this game would be winnable for Duke. Seth Curry resumed his role of basketball deity after Duke called timeout, knocking down yet another jumper and dishing to Mason Plumlee for an easy layup to pull the Blue Devils within three. At this point there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to come away with this game. But NC State wouldn’t go down without a fight, padding their lead back to five with a tip-in from C.J. Leslie. As he had for the entirety of the run, Seth Curry responded by drilling a 3-pointer, and with three minutes to play this was going to be a sprint to the finish. At this point I was going absolutely insane, the building was shaking and the roar was deafening. On the next possession Miles Plumlee pulled down a defensive rebound and Duke had a chance to tie the game. Seconds ticked on for hours as Duke brought up the ball. We only wanted the ball in one person’s hands- Seth Curry. But Austin Rivers had other ideas. About 24 feet from the basket at the top of the key, Rivers pulled up for three fairly early in the shot clock. We were bewildered why he would take such a shot- until it went in. Then we went crazy. After being 20 points down just 10 minutes before, Duke had taken the lead with 2:29 to go. The Blue Devils would never look back, and unlike their failed comeback against Miami there would be no free throw shooting woes down the stretch. Duke missed its last six free throws when they fell to Miami, but made its last six free throws to beat NC State. After being able to wish a special Duke goodbye to three of the Wolfpack’s best players after they fouled out in the last two minutes, the clock struck zero as the Blue Devils escaped with another incredible comeback victory. They had just completed the largest comeback victory in the Coach K era.

As we made our way out of Cameron, only one word could come to mind – surreal. It was perhaps the most erratic game of basketball I had ever seen. Duke had played arguably its best and its worst half of basketball in the same game. Say what you want about this year’s Duke team. Call them overrated, say they don’t have the talent experience, but don’t for a second tell me they don’t have heart. Regardless of your opinion, this team finds a way to win games. Good teams win games they are supposed to win, and great teams find ways to win games they aren’t supposed to win.

On to the next one.

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 18- Insanity

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.

17 days down
25 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

The day had arrived. It was a day of hope, fear, pride and passion. It was a day we had been waiting for all season, all year. It was a day where all eyes turned to an eight mile strip of road in North Carolina. Chapel Hill had become the epicenter of the college basketball world for the evening as Duke made the trek down Tobacco Road to provide us with another installment of the greatest rivalry in sports.

I’m not going to waste your time by giving you a summary of the action. I’m going to assume that if you are taking the time to read this that you are familiar enough with Duke basketball (which in this scenario would imply that you merely understand that Duke has a basketball team) to know what happened the night we played Carolina. It was a game that will go down as one of the all-time greatest battles in the history of the sport’s greatest rivalry. All likelihood is my children and my children’s children will be watching highlights of this game twice a year on ESPN. And when they see them I will be able to tell them about the night I was there when Austin Rivers hit that shot. If you’re looking to find out the score from the game that night or who led Duke in scoring, you will not find that here. This is meant for me to share with you my story from this night, through the eyes of a Duke student.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you- the mood on campus the day of the game was not terribly optimistic. In a way this was understandable, we were just coming off of a tough loss to Miami at home and were going to face Carolina on the road. We also understood how talented Carolina’s team was this year, while we had struggled with our consistency throughout the season. But the campus was abuzz in anticipation the day of the game, especially for the freshman class, who had never been on campus for a Duke-UNC game before.

Around 8:00 p.m., everything on campus seemed to shut down. Everything was still as the tension on campus reached its peak. Students gathered across campus in apartments, common rooms, and fraternity sections in anticipation for the biggest game of Duke’s season. The first half was fast paced, which was to be suspected for a rivalry game such as this. The Blue Devils came out playing the best basketball it had played all season and built up an early lead before North Carolina mounted a run to end the first half and seize the game’s momentum. Overall, the half left most students surprised and optimistic. Duke was moving the ball and hitting from outside, but was dominated inside by Carolina’s superior front line.

The Tar Heels looked dominant at the beginning of the second half, extending their lead out to as many as 12. They held a consistent advantage throughout the half as they asserted themselves as the more talented team. Carolina was looking like the team many considered to be the odds on favorite to win the national championship at the beginning of the year, and it didn’t look like Duke could do anything to stop them. With 2:35 remaining Harrison Barnes knocked down a jumper to put Carolina up 10, and the game seemingly out of reach. After being shut down for most of the first half, Barnes exploded in the second half on his way to 25 points. They were playing like an elite team, we were playing like a very good team, but for all intents and purposes this game seemed over.

The rest is the latest addition to the long and illustrious history of Duke-Carolina lore. A 3-pointer by a defensive stopper who had missed his first five shots of the game, a steal and transition three by one of Duke’s previously struggling stars, an errant shot tipped in by Tyler Zeller and a jumper by Ryan Kelly put the ball in Austin Rivers’ hands as the final seconds ticked down. He held the ball for what it seemed like was an eternity. Cool, calm, and collected, he stared down his 7-foot defender and had just one thought in mind. As the clock ticked below two seconds the room became alarmed, thinking that he might not have realized how much time was left on the clock. But his intentions were clear the whole time- there would e no tip-in, there would be no rebound, there would be one shot to decide the game, and this 19 year old freshman from Winter Park, Florida who had never before participated in basketball’s greatest rivalry was going to be the one to take it. The shot went up and all of college basketball held its collective breath. When it fell through the net it elevated Duke to one-point win and Austin Rivers into college basketball legend.

Perhaps burning the East Campus benches was a bit too instinctual for members of the Class of 2015... (property of Crazie-Talk)

The common room I was watching in exploded. We had just witnessed one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of this rivalry. The feeling was euphoric as Cameron Crazies across campus embraced one another and tried to rehashed what they had just seen. Students flooded out into the East Campus quad and congregated in front of Bassett, the dorm in which the freshman basketball players live. A crowd of hundreds gathered as they erupted in chants of “Let’s Go Duke” and participated in one of Duke’s oldest traditions. Students from Pegram picked up the bench that sits in front of their dorm and threw it down on the grass in front of Baldwin Auditorium, threw some newspapers on top of it, and lit it on fire. Little did we know, our first bench burning was an illegal one, as the university had not secured a bonfire permit for this game. The bench was ablaze for about 10 or 15 minutes before campus police descended on East Campus and put an end to the impromptu celebration.

But the real fun was to be had on West Campus, so we headed over shortly after the fire began. Students had flooded into the middle of the quad there as well. The crowd was larger and rowdier as upperclassmen rehashed memories of Duke’s 14-point comeback at home last spring. Many were unaware of our lack of bonfire permit, so there was some disappointment when nothing got lit on fire. The line monitors informed us that the team would be arriving back at Cameron shortly, so the mob made a mass exodus to the holiest cathedral in college basketball. Students crowded the entire bus circle as we welcomed back our heroes from their victory. Some even hung from trees. As the bus pulled up the crowd sprinted toward it. As the team began to step off and weave their way through the crowd, the whole mob erupted. The players seemed to be more amazed with the spectacle than we were. After taking some time to engage with the droves of students who had come out at 1:00 in the morning to see them return, the players retreated into Cameron.

Most would think at this point the fun was over, but we simply ran around to the other side of Cameron to wait until the players walked out again. As the man of the hour finally emerged one last time from the tunnel, resounding chants of “three more years” echoed off the hallowed walls of Cameron Indoor Stadium. His name will certainly echo throughout its halls for decades to come. After all of the madness began to die down, we were all told we had grace for the evening and to go sleep away the rest of the night in our beds. We were all winners on this night.

Check out our original coverage of the game here.

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 15- The First Taste

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tales From The Tent: Day 12/13/14- You Win Some, You Lose Some

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.

14 days down
28 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

The second week of tenting claimed two more members of our tent. One was forced to drop due to the pressures of pledging. He was the only member left that was pledging and was not pledging the same fraternity as I was. We began the process with six members of our tent pledging, one of whom dropped during the first week, and now we were down to four. A second member of our group also was forced to stop tenting at the end of this week because she had been accepted to a program that travels to Costa Rica over our spring break this year. The Carolina game is the first day of our spring break, so she would be unable to attend. It didn’t make much sense for her to continue tenting, to say the least. So we welcomed two new members to our tent in their place, two girls that live on my floor in Giles. With that there had already been 15 people that were members of Tent FF in the first two weeks.

As our second week of tenting drew to a close, we could tell it was going to be a long tenting season. The amount of juggling and multitasking I was forced to endure was starting to take its toll on me. Sleep was not really much of an option at this point- on any given night if I wasn’t up late pledging, I was sleeping in the tent. Though the second week of tenting was unseasonably mild (temperatures in Durham were often in the mid-60’s and even touched 70 degrees at some points), the weather was starting to cool down and a February chill was returning to the air. When you’re forced to put up with the obscene time commitments associated with schoolwork, tenting, and for some of us pledging, a lack of sleep can come back to haunt you. One by one over the course of the week, members of my tent began to get sick. I suppose that when you’re overworked to begin with, sleeping outside in the cold doesn’t really help. I had been battling a lingering cold for the better part of tenting and it really started to catch up with me over the course of this weekend. It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to sleep at all, let alone in the tent, and it was around then when symptoms of viral conjunctivitis (aka pink-eye) began to set in. This would knock me out of the tent for a few days as I recovered and waited to become less contagious.

Friday night was possibly when I was at the worst point in this sickness. My throat was sore, my voice was gone, I was exhausted, and to make matters worse, I had a tent shift from 7-9 that night. The sun had gone down and it was starting to feel really cold. I was feeling like crap and it was a Friday night so I wasn’t going to get any work done, so I went inside the tent and decide to sleep through the rest of my shift. I wake up around 8:30 and check my phone, only to find a strange email from a person I don’t know. I opened it:

Hi Daniel,

Someone turned in a MacBook computer that I believe belongs to you. I’m sure you have been looking for it. It was left in the Center for Living parking lot. I’m not sure how it got there, but we have it here at Duke Integrative Medicine. The battery was dead when we got it, so I took it home to charge it and find out who it belonged to. I saw your name and email when I turned it on. So you can come pick it up at the front desk at your convenience. We will be open tomorrow from 9:00am – 2:30pm. Feel free to call before you arrive. Take care.

What came next was one of the strangest mixtures of joy and confusion that I’ve ever encountered. My thoughts raced as I tried my best to fathom that I was actually going to see my computer again, but there were still so many things that didn’t make sense to me.

  1. I had never been to Duke Integrative Medicine before. In fact, I didn’t even know where it was located.
  2. The e-mail said nothing about the other items that were stolen from me. Does that mean that they were all together or was my computer just sitting in a parking lot by itself.
  3. If that was the case, if someone was going to take my stuff why would they leave what was far and away the most valuable item?
  4. If they were going to ditch my computer somewhere, why would someone leave my computer at a medical clinic on campus?
  5. I had never been to Duke Integrative Medicine before.

So the next morning, after a quick trip to student health to confirm that I had pink-eye (which of course was viral, so they could do nothing for it), I headed over with a friend to Duke Integrative Medicine. It was actually on campus, but a little bit more on the outskirts than I had ever traveled before. We pulled up to the building and I was able to confirm that I had never seen this place in my life. I ventured inside and approached the front desk, and of course the woman there knew who I was. I’m operating under the assumption that I was probably the only person walking in there asking for a computer that morning. The woman who had emailed me was not there, but would later tell me that the computer was found by itself in the parking lot, and there was no sign of my bookbag, camera, or keys. I would later discover that the computer was never used during the week it was out of my possession and there was not so much as a scratch on it. It was a Festivus miracle, of sorts, and the only reason why it was slightly inconvenient was because I had given up hope of ever seeing it again and bought another computer. But in the grand scheme of the things, returning that would be far less inconvenient than what I might have been faced with otherwise.

Some surprises are the good kind and some aren’t as good, and unfortunately for us that was the best surprise we would encounter all weekend. It was much less pleasant when Duke surprised us by dropping a second home game at Cameron the next day, falling to Miami 78-74 in overtime.

Duke had no answer for Reggie Johnson inside, especially in the first half (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

It was a tale of two halves for Duke, allowing Miami to jump all over them inside during the first half to build up a 14-point halftime advantage. The lead would be as many as 16 in the second half before the Blue Devils came alive. They played inspired basketball down the stretch, knocking down shots from all over the floor and getting crucial defensive stops, something they had been unable to do virtually all season. As they continued to shave the lead down the stadium was rocking and the Crazies brought the noise. They were able to briefly take the lead with just a few minutes remaining in the game, but Miami fought back to keep within striking distance. When it was all said and done, Austin Rivers had two shots at the line. Duke was trailing by one with just over 20 seconds to go in regulation when Rivers missed the front end and knocked down the second. The Hurricanes had the chance to win the game on their next possession, but Miles Plumlee stepped up on the defensive end and shut down Miami’s Reggie Johnson- they didn’t even get a shot off.

Austin Rivers and Quinn Cook stepped up as leaders on the floor against Miami (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Overtime was another story for the Duke, as they fell behind early and trailed by as many as six points halfway through the period. For a team that spent so much time clawing its way back into the game, you’d have thought that they didn’t have the energy to finish this one off. But it appeared that we were refusing to lose. A three by Ryan Kelly and a jam by Mason Plumlee later, it was back to a one-point game, and Quinn Cook (who had been playing the game of his life, by the way) found himself with a chance to give Duke the lead back with 27 seconds left. He missed both free throws, but Duke would get the ball back when Johnson missed two free throws of his own. We would have one more chance to steal this game away, but Quinn threw up some kinda of inexplicable runner in the lane on our last possession and Miami pulled down the board. They would take the game 78-74 after Duke missed its last sixfree throw attempts in regulation and overtime.

With the first Carolina game looming just days away, many took mixed feelings away from this loss. Yes, the team had dropped another game at home to a serviceable, but inferior opponent, but it had also just played its best half of basketball we’d seen all year (discounting overtime). We were all a bit worried for what we might see this team bring to Chapel Hill later that week, but at this point all we could do was just wait and see. It was just one of those weekends. You win some, you lose some.

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