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Duke used a stifling defense to make it clear to Florida State that they wouldn't be
allowed to stay in this game. Duke forced 24 turnovers and while FSU got the game closer
at the end, there was no way they were going to win this one. About the only
problems in the game were that Duke did let FSU get a bit of life late, and a stunningly
Dean-Dome like crowd that was so bad even Coach K was forced to comment.
Duke got a huge performance from Shelden Williams, who hit for 12 points, 16 boards,
and four blocks, and who had a double-double in the first half. Duke also
got a nice senior day game from Dahntay Jones, who ended up with 14 points, 10 from Duhon,
and 12 from Daniel Ewing, including a pretty spectacular no-look, back to the basket
Duke also outrebounded FSU 35-28.
On the downside, Chris Duhon had five turnovers to match his assist total, Duke ended
up with 21 for the game, and shot only .393 from the floor to FSU's .470.
Duke made good use of the St. John's game as they came out of the chute in this one
with fire in their eyes, and it looked for a bit as if FSU might not get double figures in
the first half. Even after they did hit a few, there was still no real sense that
they were in the game.
For Duke, it wasn't a perfect game, but it was pretty damn good. They would
probably have liked a more consistent performance from Duhon, for instance, but he did get
the job done.
Now let's go back to that previous point of Coach K's about the crowd. He's got
some valid points, some we've touched on in recent seasons. Great basketball doesn't
just happen. What's happened at Duke over the last two and a half decades is the result of
great effort and passion, and the Cameron crowd is a really big part of that.
There's been an argument simmering for a long time on the bulletin board between
older fans and current Crazies, with the basic parameters being: things just aren't
what they used to be in Cameron/you old guys don't know what you're talking about.
As a neutral party in this spat with good will towards both sides, may we offer a bit
of historical analysis?
In the 1970s, when a significant rift opened between Bucky Waters and the student body,
it took a while for that to heal. But when Bill Foster came in, he was keenly
appreciative of the Crazies, and their role in Cameron. He did a lot to nurture it.
In his first years, Cameron was more often a surly place, because winning was
uncommon, and the inventiveness was higher (and probably alcohol-fueled more so than
today). There was a meaner edge to it, as many of you will remember: the Oxy Five
team, the taunting of Tommy Burleson and others who got in trouble, the guy in the Bozo
suit who got into line when Maryland's Jim O' Brien came calling, and so forth.
Yet perhaps the greatest performance we ever saw from the Crazies was in 197...7?
We're thinking that's right. Was that the year Tate Armstrong got injured?
Anyway, at this time, beating Maryland was almost beyond the imagination. Yet
Duke got them into a tight game, Jim Spanarkel was having cramp problems, there were a
million and one reasons why Duke wouldn't win, but they did. Terry Chili hit two
free throws to seal the victory, and the place went nuts. It would be hard to top
Yet in 1979, a real sense of anxiety ruled the stands as the team struggled with
confidence. Two years later, Foster was gone, and Duke turned to a young, untested
coach with a name no one could spell, and he really went out of his way to fuse the
Crazies with the team, calling the Crazies "the 6th man."
We can't remember what year Al McGuire came out in a pith helmet with a whip and a
chair and pretended to subdue the mob, but he appreciated the crowd, and he underscored
Krzyzewski's shrewd courting of the Crazies.
Yet it's hard to maintain a burning intensity when you get used to your team performing
at a high level, year-in and year-out. The great temptation is to just wait out poor
games or young teams, because after all, you are Duke, and Duke prevails.
This doesn't work in Cameron, needless to say. As we said, we've largely stayed
out of the argument, but as long as K brings it up: he's right. Today's Crazies are
less involved, more risk-aversive, and they pick and choose their spots, both in terms of
cheering and in terms of attendance now, too.
Look, no one says you have to make basketball the center of your world (trust us, it's
not always a great idea), but if you're going to go, you should be cognizant of two
things: one is the national audience, which expects brilliance and passion from you, and
the other is those guys on the bench. Unlike a lot of schools, the basketball
players are pretty well-balanced. They hang out with regular kids. One of our
favorite memories of recent years is watching Carlos Boozer hug Starter (aka former WXDU
broadcaster Brian Horowitz) at a press conference. They were just two regular kids
who clearly thought highly of each other. It's not like at State or UNC or Maryland,
where you might see a basketball player once a year and whisper and giggle.
These are your friends and classmates, and they are doing extraordinary
things at an extraordinary level, and they deserve your maximum support. This is a
once-in-a-lifetime experience, the front row seat for the asking, and a chance to watch an
athletic program which has become the equal of any in history now.
And while we're at it, a lot of you people upstairs now can buy tickets because you can
afford to donate more to the Iron Dukes than the people who used to hold those seats.
Duke needs the money and that's reality, but it's also reality that a lot of
hard-core Duke fans can't go anymore because prices have gone too high. If
you're going to sit in those seats, then you owe it to everyone to take full advantage of
your chance to see basketball played at its highest level, not least of all the Crazies,
but also to the faceless people who can no longer attend
We get a lot of e-mail, most of it inane, talking about how K needs to do this or that,
or how the players aren't developing or being used properly, yadda, yadda, yadda..
But here's the reality: with only a handful of returning players and six freshmen,
Duke has had an amazing season. Duke has had two six man classes in the past that we
can think of - Casey Sanders and Andre Buckner came in with Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy,
Carlos Boozer, and Nick Horvath, who is redshirting. That class did pretty well.
But the previous one, the Dawkins class, struggled mighily his freshman year.
Having that many freshmen, it's just a crapshoot, but you guys get to see a master
psychologist and coach in action - when you show up.
It's not surprising that Coach K is upset about the crowd, and there's no doubt he's
right about his kids busting their butts this year. One school of thought says he's
doing his best coaching job ever, bringing so many new players into the mix and still a
Top 10 team. As people who cut our teeth on the painful four years of finishing last
in the ACC, we still have a residual feeling that that is Duke's fat, that while the
winning has been nice, it's still an aberration. It's like people who grew up in the
Depression and who can't throw away a bottlecap, because, come on, you might need that
You never know.
We'll tell you guys in a friendly way, as people who have watched for a long
time, that it's not what it once was. We don't say that to put you down in any way,
but it's just the way it is. Here's hoping that next year sees a Cameron determined
to live at her full glory. When you have a tradition like Duke has, nothing less
will do, and you guys have a chance to build on an amazing foundation. Let's go make