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A Look Back to this Evening

After the four thrilling games Duke and Maryland played last season, it's no surprise that this game has received the hype it has. It got us thinking about a game that equalled (and perhaps exceeded) this evening's game on the hype-o-tron and which may offer some historical advice to the Cameron Crazies attending this evening.

Back in April 1992, Duke had vanquished Michigan's Fab Five to win the national championship. This had followed an early season game in which Duke won in overtime up in Ann Arbor, a game that was the national debutante ball for the Fab Five. Duke and Michigan also had, as they have continued, a nice non-conference series going.

It turns out that only eight months later Duke and Michigan were scheduled to meet again. Almost from the moment Duke won in Minneapolis, the Fab Five were talking how they would extract revenge when the two teams played again in Durham on December. And this wasn't just cockiness, this was major league trash talking taken to new levels. Christian Laettner and Brian Davis were gone, and Chris Webber was running his mouth how Bobby Hurley couldn't handle the pressure, that Jalen Rose was the best guard in the country and would school Hurley ("I pity Duke"), and how the Wolverines - the top ranked team in the country - weren't afraid of the Cameron Crazies and all of their "educated biology."

Even though the game was very early in the season - December 5th - college basketball fans everywhere had circled this game on their calendars, and the pre-game press coverage was massive. The media from all over the country descended into Cameron, and the television audience was expected to be huge (in fact, if we recall correctly, it was the first college basketball that was syndicated for coverage).

Here's where it provides a lesson for today's Cameron Crazies. From the moment the teams took the floor to warm-up it was loud. Not just LOUD, but SPACE-SHUTTLE-TAKING-OFF-IN-CAMERON LOUD. And it never ended. Not during timeouts or dead ball situations. Upstairs, downstairs, everyone was screaming. Remember how the crowd exploded when Trajan Langdon hit that three-pointer a few years ago to seal a long-sought win over UNC? It was that loud, but it went on for the whole game. During time-outs, Michigan coach Steve Fisher had his team sitting on folding chairs near the free throw circle in an effort just to be heard. Even the cocksure Fab Five struggled to maintain their poise during the decibel onslaught, and you could see Bobby Hurley and his teammates become more and more confident and energized by the crowd.

Duke won, 79-68.

That's what needs to be done this evening. Moreover, it's been a Cameron tradition to try to rattle the most emotionally fragile person on a team. This year, though, the Maryland players don't seem to have any one obvious target. Indeed, they appear to be a great group of guys who handle themselves with poise (we don't know of any opponent we have admired as much as Juan Dixon).

Fortunately, though, Maryland does offer us a wonderful target, and he's on the bench - Captain Ahab himself, Gary Williams. Do what you can to prevent him from communicating effectively with his team. Get in his head, get him irritated, get him frustrated by all the noise. Let him be reduced to screaming at his bench players with his back turned to the action (that shouldn't be too hard). During Maryland's last two victories at Cameron, Gary's actually been pretty collected on the bench. It's your duty as Cameron Crazies - indeed, as part of the team - to turn him into the raging, sweating basketcase we saw last year at Cole and in Minneapolis.

This is an unbelievably huge game for Maryland. It cannot be overstated the utter hatred their fans feel for Duke. That hatred, along with their long bout with a self-imposed inferiority complex that they are the red headed stepchildren of the ACC, has brought out the worst in them. I mean who riots when they lose and destroy their community's property other than some Glasgow Celtic hooligans? And who argues that throwing plastic bottles filled with water at players' parents is OK because it wasn't glass?

And it only frustrates them more when, in reaction to their claims that they are Duke's true rivals, Duke fans just look at them with nothing but bemused curiosity. Sorry, guys, UNC is our rival, and nothing - not the outcome of this game, not even Matt Doherty's coaching - is going to change that. Heck, one could argue that the Duke/Michigan non-conference series has been more of a rivalry.

So don't do anything that would embarrass Duke or make us their equals. Keep the cheers clean, respect the refs, don't throw anything, and scream your bloody heads off this evening. Finally, after the game, if you exit by the Maryland bench, watch your step - it's going to be wet.

And, then, about 36 hours later, you get to do it all over again.

Have fun!