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UNC, Duke To Renew Rivalry Saturday In Cameron

And if I suggested that I’ve seen far more coverage of Allen’s two tripping incidents on ESPN this season than mention of UNC’s 18-year academic scandal – with pending NCAA charges of five Level One violations – would that remind anybody of an earlier “double standard”?

Feb 17, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen (3) with the ball as North Carolina Tar Heels forward Justin Jackson (44) and forward Theo Pinson (1) defend in the first half at Dean E. Smith Center.
Feb 17, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen (3) with the ball as North Carolina Tar Heels forward Justin Jackson (44) and forward Theo Pinson (1) defend in the first half at Dean E. Smith Center.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

There was a strange atmosphere in Cameron Indoor Stadium on the afternoon of January 21, 1984 when No. 1 North Carolina – an undefeated team featuring Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Kenny Smith and Brad Daugherty – came to Duke for a non-televised game against Mike Krzyzewski’s young Blue Devils.

The Cameron Crazies showed up wearing halos fashioned of wire coat-hangers covered with foil. They held signs saying, "Welcome honored guests" and greeted a questionable call by officials with the chant "We beg to differ."

You have to understand what was going on that afternoon.

Krzyzewski – after two straight 17-loss seasons – had finally fashioned a competitive young team around sophomores Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie, David Henderson, Jay Bilas and freshman point guard Tommy Amaker. Junior forward Dan Meagher was the only upperclassman who saw significant action.

That team had started 14-1 against an admittedly weak non-conference schedule, although there was a notable win at Virginia in the ACC opener. Then the young Devils lost at home to No. 5 Maryland and in Winston-Salem to No. 12 Wake Forest.

It was the Maryland game that led to the weird scene in Cameron when UNC came to town. The Terps featured a veteran forward named Herman Veal, who had been accused of assaulting a female on the College Park campus. The problem was exacerbated when Maryland coach Lefty Driesell called the young lady and allegedly bullied her, trying to convince her to withdraw the charges.

Nothing was done to Veal – no formal arrest and no disciplinary action. But the Cameron Crazies weren’t going to let the issue die.

When Veal was introduced with the starting lineup, the Crazies showered the floor with condoms. Throughout the game, he was treated to chants of "Rapist … rapist." My favorite taunt was the student who held up a sign: "Hey, Herman, did you send her flowers?"

The abuse didn’t appear to hurt Veal’s game. Indeed, he was inspired, scoring 12 points, grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds and passing out a team-high five assists to help Maryland to the 81-75 victory.

It was afterwards that the firestorm swept the Duke program. The Cameron Crazies were the target of national condemnation for their treatment of poor Mr. Veal. Keep in mind – no physical threat were evident and while there were plenty of individual obscenities that day, nothing obscene was organized, unless you count the "Bullshit" chants at the refs.

In hindsight, it’s amazing how much outrange was generated by the Crazies’ behavior that day, especially in the Washington, D.C., press, which a few years later, never seemed bothered at all by the bottle-throwing, rioting, Maryland students with their obscene tee-shirts and chants.

But Duke reacted vigorously to the criticism. President "Uncle Terry" Stanford wrote what came to be known as the "avuncular" letter to the students, urging them to clean up their act. Krzyzewski visited several student groups and talked to the students lined outside Cameron (I don’t think the area was named Krzyzewskiville at that point) and asked them to behave better.

Hence: Welcome honored guests.

Indeed, the Crazies were on their best behavior during what turned out to be an astonishingly vitriolic game. But the vitriol – and the bad behavior – was almost all on the other side.

Both coaches were on the refs the entire game. But it was UNC assistant Bill Guthridge who chased the trio off the court at the end of the first half (with Duke leading 40-39). Midway through the second half, Dean Smith wanted to get the attention of the refs while the game was in play, so he marched down to the scorer’s table and demanded that Tommy Hurt (later the director of football officials for the ACC … and a UNC grad) hit the buzzer. When Hunt properly refused to interrupt play, Smith went berserk, pounding on the control panel – briefly giving UNC a quick 20 points.

The officials stopped play and came over to see what the commotion was about.

No technical was called.

UNC fought back to win 78-73 with Coach K picking up a frustration technical in the final seconds (after the issue was decided). But the real fireworks came in postgame, where Krzyzewski delivered his famous "double-standard" statement:

"I want to tell you something," he told the assembled reporters. "When you come in here and start talking about how Duke has no class, you’d better start getting your stories straight – because our students had class and our team had class. There was not one person on our bench who was pointing a finger at the officials or banging on the scorer’s table. So let’s get some things straight around here and quit the double standard that exists in this league!"

Read that quote again.

It’s come to be portrayed as a complaint about officiating – for instance, USA Today not long ago, mis-reported the comments in a story about why everybody hates Duke – Imagine Coach K complaining about the officials … no wonder everybody hates Duke!

But read what K actually said and it’s clear he was talking about the public criticism of the Duke fans and Duke program after the Veal incident in comparison with a coach and program proclaimed as saintly and above reproach, even with a long history of questionable actions. That view has continued – recently the New York Times ran a story about the long-running academic scandal in Chapel Hill, but the author went out of his way to absolve Saint Dean Smith for complicity – even though the AFAM scandal started during his watch and was in fact, only a men’s basketball scam at that point (it later expanded to football, woman’s basketball and several other sports).

The famous double-standard game was actually a turning point in a rivalry that had been slipping due to UNC’s dominance. A week after losing that contentious game to UNC, Duke athletic director Tom Butters called Krzyzewski into his office and gave him a five-year contract extension. Six weeks later, Duke went to Chapel Hill and took No. 1 UNC into double-overtime before losing. But a week after that, the Blue Devils finally got their win over the top-ranked Heels in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.

Since that day, Coach K is a healthy 42-32 against UNC. He’s won five NCAA champions and 13 ACC championships … UNC has three NCAA titles and seven ACC titles in the same span.

Clearly, Duke has become THE standard for ACC basketball.


I bring up the Double Standard game for a reason.

North Carolina is coming to Cameron Saturday for the 2016 regular season finale and I see many similarities between what happened in 1984 and what it happening now.

In this case, the Cameron Crazies and the crowd behavior is not the target for the media’s censure.

Instead, the condemnation has been directed at one Duke player – Grayson Allen.

The sophomore guard is having an incredible season. He’s made the greatest statistical improvement in one season in ACC history – by a wide margin. He’s been clutch, winning games late against Virginia and North Carolina. He’s having one of the five best seasons ever for a wing guard at Duke. He’s going to be the first wing guard ever to lead the Blue Devils in scoring and assists in the same season. He’s averaging over 37 minutes a game in ACC play and shooting at a very high percentage for a guard – well above average from the field, from the 3-point arc and from the foul line.

So how has he become the face of villainy in college basketball this season?

Okay, twice he’s intentionally tripped an opponent. Not smart plays … certainly inexcusable actions, but BOTH incidents produced extended – and somewhat hysterical – reactions from the national media, especially ESPN, which led its college basketball coverage with Allen’s action in the second instance and continued to followup the story for the next two days.

The thing is, I don’t recall seeing any extended coverage or commentary when Louisville’s Ray Spalding elbowed Allen in the head – a blow that he later admitted was intentional. I saw ESPN’s late-night coverage after Tuesday night’s victory over Wake Forest and I never saw even a replay of Bryant Crawford’s vicious takedown from behind that sent Allen crashing to the floor, much less a commentary and a followup story.

Both plays –Spalding’s elbow and Crawford’s takedown – were much more physically threatening than Allen’s two trips.

And if I suggested that I’ve seen far more coverage of Allen’s two tripping incidents on ESPN this season than mention of UNC’s 18-year academic scandal – with pending NCAA charges of five Level One violations – would that remind anybody of an earlier "double standard"?


North Carolina will come to Cameron Saturday as the better team, despite Duke’s one-point victory in Chapel Hill three weeks ago.

The Tar Heels (24-6, 13-4 ACC) are ranked No. 8 nationally. This has not been the dominant ACC team that so many envisioned preseason, but UNC can still clinch a share of/the ACC regular season title with a win in Durham.

Duke (22-7, 11-6 ACC) is ranked No. 17 and appears to be reeling a little bit, perhaps the victim of "emotional fatigue" as Coach K mentioned after the Florida State win – a fatigue that seemed to show up in the loss at Pitt and even in the narrow homecourt victory over Wake Forest.

I haven’t seen the Vegas odds for Saturday’s game, but Ken Pomeroy actually gives Duke a 56 percent chance to win, projecting an 82-81 Blue Devil win.

That’s interesting, because three weeks ago, he gave Duke a mere 30 percent chance in Chapel Hill. I would argue that Duke was playing better at that point, coming off a four-game win streak that included victories over Louisville and Virginia.

The difference in his two projections almost has to be all about location.

Is the homecourt advantage worth that much?

Normally, I’d say that Cameron is a huge advantage, but recent history suggests that it doesn’t help much in the Duke-UNC series.

Indeed, since the arrival of Roy Williams, Duke has a slightly better record in the Smith Center (8-5) than in Cameron (7-5). Duke also has a neutral court win in the 2011 ACC championship game – so Coach K is 16-10 vs. Williams (19-11 if you count four matchups when Williams was at Kansas).

A closer look at the last four seasons demonstrates just how insignificant the homecourt is in this series:

  • 2015 – Duke won both meetings, but the game in Cameron was MUCH closer. Duke trailed by 10 points late, rallied to force overtime and barely prevailed in the extra period, 92-90. The later win in Chapel Hill was not easy, but Duke dominated the final minutes to win 84-77.
  • 2014 – One season where the homecourt edge did hold up. UNC won the delayed "Ice Bowl" game in the Smith Center, 74-66, then Duke won the rematch in Cameron, pulling away in the final minute for a 93-81 win.
  • 2013 – Again, Duke won both games, but the Smith Center win was easier. The first win, in Durham, was a hard-fought 73-68 come-from-behind win. The rematch in Chapel Hill was a much easier 69-53 rout.
  • 2012 – Duke fans will never forget Austin Rivers’ sensational game-winner in Chapel Hill, but would like to forget the season-ending rematch in Durham – a non-competitive 88-70 loss.

That’s a small sample size – and to be fair, in both 2010 and 2011, the homecourt edge did prevail. Still, in the K vs. Roy era, Duke has won three times in Chapel Hill while losing in Durham (2006, 2008 and 2012).

On the surface, this looks a lot like 2012 – an inferior Duke team goes to Chapel Hill and steals a dramatic victory on the road … then faces a difficult test against in the rematch at home. I would argue that the 2012 Tar Heels were a much stronger team – a near-certain Final Four team until point guard Kendall Marshall broke his wrist in the NCAA Tournament.

This UNC team might win Saturday and that might earn themselves a share of the ACC regular season title … or maybe an outright regular season title if Miami stumbles at Virginia Tech.

But it’s hard to see this UNC team making a deep NCAA run with senior guard Marcus Paige shooting as badly as he has this season. UNC remains the worst 3-point shooting team in the ACC (under 30 percent for conference play and just 4.9 3-pointers a game – both figures lowest in the league). Paige, a career 38 percent 3-point shooter over his first three seasons at UNC, is under 30 percent in conference play this season.

The truth is that UNC is where they are because they’ve beaten the ACC’s mid-level and bottom teams without the kind of stumbles that have plagued Miami (at N.C. State), Virginia (at Virginia Tech and at Georgia Tech), Duke (at Clemson and Syracuse at home), Louisville (at Clemson) and Notre Dame (at FSU and at Georgia Tech).

But against the ACC’s top teams, the Heels have struggled – losing to Duke at home, at Virginia, at Notre Dame and at Louisville. A homecourt victory over Miami makes them a mere 1-4 against the league’s top teams … and doesn’t bode well for UNC much beyond the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

Can Duke win Saturday?

The obvious answer is – yes. They have already beaten this UNC team once.

Can the Cameron Crazies influence their game?

I think it’s more likely they can help lift and maybe energize a tired Duke team than anything else. I doubt that UNC will be intimidated by the Crazies.

In fact, the Duke crowd ought to give the UNC visitors a nice reception. I can’t advocate a "Welcome honored guest" approach after all the revelation that have emerged about the UNC program in the last few years.

Not much to honor there.

But fans of the program that is THE standard for ACC basketball ought to have enough class to treat this weekend’s visitors with some measure of respect.