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A Response To The Courtmaster

We'll give the Courtmaster top billing today because he's a good guy and he
wrote a nice article. But there are a few points we would take issue with.

  • Duke is not evil now anymore than Maryland was when Lefty beat Duke like a
    drum for about a decade.
  • We think everyone in the ACC was devastated by Len Bias' death (not to
    mention the echo when his brother died as well).  We feel safe in
    saying that we all felt horrible after that tragedy.  Having said that,
    Maryland really botched how they handled it, and Driesell was left holding
    the bag to a large extent. It's a long time ago now, but we got the clear
    impression that someone had to take the blame, and it ended up being
    Lefty.  That's not to say he didn't handle things poorly, because he
    did. But Maryland allowed a lot of stuff to go until bad times hit, then
    suddenly the standards changed.
  • We've heard enough about Duke fan attitudes to understand not everyone
    likes to hear us.  For those of us who have been around a while,
    though, we remember when it was, in fact, reversed.  When Terry Chili
    hit two free throws to stun Maryland in Cameron in (about) 1975, that was
    the biggest celebration we have ever seen after a Duke game.  Kids were
    climbing on the basket, hanging on the rims. Amazing scene, really.
    Interestingly, nothing other than possibly benches were burned and there
    were no riots. In those days, there was considerable arrogance around the Maryland program. Some day the roles will likely reverse again.


Finally, one point we'd like to make which veers off of our response track
somewhat. Maryland fans and D.C. writers are fond (think Sally Jenkins) of
pointing to Duke's crowd as boorish, sophomoric, and obnoxious  They
frequently point to the Herman Veal episode of twenty or so years ago when Duke
students through panties, condoms, and the like at the Maryland star who was
accused of sexual assault. Aside from the obvious - it was a long time ago -
Duke fans jeer, taunt, and talk smack.  But they don't generally assault
people. The Courtmaster is right to say that not all Maryland fans threw bottles
or rioted.  But at Duke, if anything like that happened, Krzyzewski would
step in and put a stop to it immediately.

In fact, he has acted pro-actively on several occasions. He talked to the
students to make sure Loren Woods was received kindly after he "sort of
went mental," in Chris Carrawell's phrase.  He urged them to lay off
of Erick Barkley after he was being investigated by the NCAA.  Any number
of times he has stepped in and taken control of a crowd situation. One memorable
one involved a laser pointer, and he said he would forfeit the game if it showed
up again.

It didn't.

Now to be clear, the Duke crowd is capable of getting nasty and out of
control, but those urges are suppressed.  There doesn't seem to be anyone
at Maryland willing to be that stern, least of all Gary Williams, who said he
wished people would "get off [the fans] backs."

The Courtmaster is right in arguing that the vandals and hooligans is a
distinct minority of Maryland fans. But that said, this minority is coloring the
reputation of all Maryland fans, and if the University will not take
responsibility for their behavior, the courts will eventually become the
instrument of control.