I am a Duke grad who happens to hail from the Nutmeg state.
Yesterday's Blue Devil victory revived a heated rivalry between me
and my childhood friends (none of whom were smart enough to go to
Duke, or even Yale, so they all ended up at the cow college in
I have a classic conflict of loyalty when Duke plays Uconn. I grew up
watching the Huskies, even if their arch-rival at the time was Yale.
Then the university of the state next to New York got a taste for
big-time basketball. They recruited Gene Hackman--I mean Jim
Calhoun--and a women's coach named Geno who has won back-to-back
national championships and sells out 16,000 seats every home game,
and my little home-state was on the national basketball map.
Because of my childhood loyalty, I am happy when Uconn does well,
except of course when they play Duke. Then I happily Lord my superior
Duke education AND basketball pedigree over my childhood buddies.
Duke (and by extension, me) had bragging rights for years. We
reliably beat the Huskies like dogs, most notably in the 1990
regional final (Laettner's famous "last-second shot") and again in
the Sweet Sixteen in 1991. Swaggering came naturally in my annual
summer trips home.
But then came a regular season loss in 1995, and of course the
painful 1999 championship game (Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Shane
Battier, William Avery and Trajan Langdon? Five average to great NBA
players?! Lose to Uconn?!!). The only silver lining that summer was
Khalid El-Amin's pot bust--further proof of the Duke curse--and firm
conviction that Coach K and Duke would eventually get even. In the
last 24 hours I have heard from five of my childhood friends (Uconn
grads all, and despite that handicap they all have reasonably nice
families and relatively successful careers), and placed five bets for
who buys the beer at this summer's reunion. A couple of the rubes
even gave me 11/2 points (testament to a Uconn education). Of course
it will be little consolation if Duke loses (but the best consolation
for Duke losing that I know of is lots of beer). Perish that thought.
Duke will not lose. I watched Uconn get manhandled by an ACC team
this year (Georgia Tech). And though it was early in the season, the
Huskies still can't shoot free throws. I have faith that Coach K,
Chris D, Luol, Shelden, JJ, Daniel, and Company (not to mention Coach
G) are going to give me an early Easter present, and a return of
bragging rights over my friends from Uconn this summer.
Scott Savitt '85