Tales From The Tent: Day 9- The Other Side of Duke Basketball

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.

9 days down
32 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

A week into tenting and pledging, I was tired, stressed, and computerless, but Duke basketball (and tenting) never stops, so neither do I. Fresh off our first successful tenting game, it was time to turn around and do it all over again. For our second tenting game, we set out to watch the Duke women’s team take on UConn in a marquee matchup of top-5 teams. This was the first of two women’s game we would have to attend for tenting purposes.

I had been to a few women’s game already this year, but for most of my friends it was their first experience with the Duke women’s team. In my spare time I serve as one of the women’s basketball beat writers for The Chronicle, so I had already covered the team quite a bit over the course of the year and was familiar with their players and style. For those of my friends who were seeing the team play for the first time, it was not the best representation of how good this team is. Duke shot 24.6% on the game and only made 17 field goals en route to a 61-45 loss, despite committing just 14 turnovers on the game. The team would rebound to win its next three games.

The student section was a moderate size for the game, but overall it was quite disappointing. For a university with such a rich and deep tradition for basketball, the support that Duke’s women’s team gets is quite atrocious, in my opinion. Earlier this season, Duke’s fanbase caught the national headlines for decreased attendance at men’s basketball games (numbers which were slightly misreported, by the way), but the general apathy among the student body for the women’s team is quite unsettling. Duke is a basketball school, not a men’s basketball school, so why don’t we start acting like it? The team has only averaged 5,320 fans per game this year, while other comprable programs consistently draw bigger crowds. When the Blue Devils traveled on the road to face Kentucky, they played in front of a crowd of 14,508 at Rupp Arena.

The worst part about it is, people here generally understand how good this team is, they just choose to ignore it. This is arguably the best team on campus we’re talking about! This is an issue that the team has not chosen to deal with as well. Head coach Joanne P. McCallie said that one of the things she want to do when she took the job at Duke was to increase attendance, and that has simply not happened. In fact, all of the attention the team got from the student body when Gail Goestenkors was at the helm has essentially been erased. Everyone here says “it’s just women’s basketball”, but this is one of the best teams in the country, and they play against top competition every season. Five teams in the ACC are currently ranked, not to mention Duke squares off with UConn on an annual basis. But for some reason students just don’t get it, and I can’t help but feel like you can chalk it up to anything more than pure sexist bullshit.

But anyway, that’s my diatribe about attendance at women’s basketball games. Once again all 12 of us attended the game, and it was disappointing that Duke did not put forth its best effort against one of the most talented teams in the nation. I’ve had the pleasure of covering this team up close and personal for most of the season, and am confident that they have the tools to make a very deep tournament run this season. They are also some of the nicest athletes I’ve corresponded with during my time as a journalist at Duke. They truly appreciate any support the student body can give them, and I am convinced that they deserve much more than they are getting right now.

I applaud the line monitors for making two women’s games a part of the tenting schedule for the year, but simply putting the games on a schedule is not going to assure students will start to care or even attend the game. The way line monitors check to see if you attended a game is by tracking a student’s ID to make sure they swiped in. Students can just as easily walk through the student entrance and swipe in and then walk straight out the other side as they can stay for the game, and for the women’s games in particular that is what a lot of people do, and it’s simply wrong. If anything, this calls for some sort of a change in the system, but above all I think it’s about time that other students here started to realize that they are lucky enough to have not one, but two incredibly talented basketball teams to watch this season.

As I walked back to my tent and by the time I was inside I was fuming, mostly because of the general lack of respect but also because I just watched a team shoot under 25% from the floor. I thought about everything I had set out to accomplish through tenting, everything that my neighbors in K-Ville were willing to sacrifice to get into one men’s basketball game, and clearly the reward is worth making these sacrifices. But most Duke students aren’t willing to walk up just before game time and take a couple hours out of their lives to watch one of the best women’s teams in the country play? That’s just sad.

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 7- Losing Momentum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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