Monday, March 10, 2008

UNC-Duke: an in-person recap

I slept outside on Friday night. In a sleeping bag. In the rain. On a sidewalk. And it was absolutely worth it.

What follows is an in-person recap of tenting outside in Krzyzewskiville, interacting with quite possibly the most famous and hated group of fans in the country, and witnessing the best basketball rivalry in the world from twenty feet away. If it seems disorganized and proceeds illogically, I blame it on being out in the rain for two straight days surrounded by booze. For those keeping track at home, Doubt About It has snuck into a definitive game for the number one college football team in the country (OSU-PSU in the fall) and now the biggest game of the season for the number one team in college hoops. Just throwin' it out there. Anyways, the observations...

- The trip down to Duke started with what turned out to be a six hour layover in Philly, where I sat amongst numerous Flyers fans. It's been said here and on ThePensBlog, but let me just reiterate: no one is emotionally prepared for a Pens-Flyers playoff series. You won't be able to go to work on days after the games. You won't be able to sleep. What school work? You will think of doing awful things to people you have never met. No one is ready. Take my word for it.
- I should elaborate on my plan to get into the game. You can tent in K-ville for two months to get into the Carolina game (which is insane, more on this soon...), or you can go into the walkup line two days before the game. My incredibly loyal friend, known as Brittlebones in this space, got in line Thursday and was waiting for me to get in on Friday. You enter the line in parties of two and one member has to be present at all times until tip-off. Many Duke students had just left for spring break, so I used a student ID from a friend of Brittlebones to pose as a student.

- Right next to the walkup line in Krzyzewskiville, where students had been tenting out for months to get into the game. Picture the muddiest, grossest patch of grass imaginable and that is where these students tented. I heard many students say it looked like a Refugee Camp. Despite the fact that most Duke students wouldn't know what impoverished conditions looked like unless their private jet crashed into a ghetto, the comparison was fairly valid. Endless beer cans, six inches of standing water, and about 100 tents. K-ville was rather subdued, but I was seeing it at the end of a two month run that surely saw some pretty wild times.

- Friday night I went into Cameron to hear Coach K talk with the rest of the students. He was quite funny, I thought. Cheesy, but funny. I wont repeat the things he said here because he has a strict no media policy at these things and Sam and I like to think of ourselves more highly than what we actually are.

- I slept with my head in a puddle of mud Friday night. Let's move on...

- ESPN Gameday was inside Cameron on Saturday morning, and I have to say that this Gameday was INFINITELY better than the football one I witnessed at PSU-OSU in November. No one knew what the hell was going on in Happy Valley during Gameday. It was just random cheering. Digger Phelps ran the freaking show here, playing to the crowd, telling the band what to play, and just making things feel upbeat.

- K-ville has student "line monitors" that regulate all the people who tent out for the game and who make sure that everyone is essentially in line for the game at all times. They have random checks (the walkup line was checked at 6am...thanks you freaking jerks) where you have to show them your ID. For those of you who might think that this whole tenting out for games thing is cool, I'm here to tell you that it is not. Waste of time...illogical...poorly managed...all of these words come to mind when I think of the tenting process at K-ville.

- After waiting until 8:45pm for the line monitors to let us in, we finally arrived inside Cameron. Put 85 people in an elevator and that is what it feels like in the student section. Unbelievably packed.

- Before I forget, what an awful tragedy it was at North Carolina with their student body president being killed. She was honored fittingly at the game, and my heart goes out to the community at UNC.

- Cameron Indoor...what else is there to say? Imagine a small church, stack all the peaus along the sides, throw down two hoops, pack in as many people as you can, and buckle in. It is unbelievably loud in a "small space" kinda way as opposed to a Beaver Stadium "tons of people" kind of way. The small size makes it so much fun to look around and see who is there. The Manning brothers were under one hoop (Eli was getting particularly fired up about some calls) and so was Matthew McConaughey (LeBron was supposed to be there with him but got snowed in...does that make sense in any way???). Jay Williams, Chris Duhon, Billy King, Laettner, and Pat Forde (if you think he looks like a d-bag on TV or online, he is ten times worse in person) were also spotted as well.

- The biggest shock of the entire experience...some kid leaving the middle front section of the student section to go get a pizza and coke at half time. Once you leave the student section, it is impossible to get back to your spot. So let me ask you this, coke and pizza kid...WHY, AFTER SPENDING TWO MONTHS IN A RAINY TENT TO GET A GOOD SEAT AT THE NORTH CAROLINA GAME, WOULD YOU LEAVE YOUR SPOT AT HALF TIME TO GET A FREAKING COKE AND PEPSI??!?! HOW STUPID ARE YOU? HOW DID YOU GET INTO DUKE? YOU ARE WITHOUT QUESTION THE DUMBEST PERSON I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED.

- As for the game, a herculean effort from Greg Paulus in the first half. Duke defended the hell out of Psycho T. Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington are damn good. Refs...eh, some shady calls, both ways.

But at the end of the day, what more can you ask than to be in Cameron Indoor watching Duke play Carolina, two minutes left, tied at 68? Without question one of the greatest sporting events I will ever attend, and thanks to BrittleBones for making it happen.

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