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
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 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.
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. 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.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. 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.
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. 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.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. 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