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How Should Duke Fans Feel About The Dean Dome Crowd Saturday?

Honestly, who cares? It’s gone from a wine and cheese crowd to just a whine crowd.

Duke v North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 05: Wendell Moore Jr. #0 of the Duke Blue Devils jokes with a North Carolina Tar Heels fans during the second half of their game at the Dean E. Smith Center on February 05, 2022 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Duke won 87-67.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

An interesting question sort of came up about Duke’s trip to Chapel Hill Saturday: did UNC acknowledge Mike Krzyzewski’s final trip and was that, in fact, an obligation?

Well first of all: no. Not really.

It’s a nice thing to do and all, but no one owes it. You’d expect it from Pitt and Notre Dame, since Jeff Capel and Mike Brey owe their careers to Coach K, but no one is required to bow and curtsy.

And honestly, we don’t think he much cares. Maybe he does. But it seems secondary at best.

And second, UNC did apparently acknowledge him in the pregame moments. You may have seen that picture of Coach K, Ol’ Roy, Hubert Davis and Jon Scheyer. That was on the scoreboard and it was a nice touch. And that was fine.

It’s a rivalry. You don’t really expect your opponent to sing your praises. It took the Duke camp a while to fully appreciate Dean Smith and if he were coaching today, there would still be a lot of animosity.

That’s just the way things are.


Having said all that, and mentioning El Deano, as John Feinstein used to call him, there are a couple of more things worth talking about.

For all of the ways he irritated Duke fans, and certainly vice-versa, Smith did manage to keep a certain discipline and dignity about his program. That has deteriorated a fair amount over the years. Davis talks about his appreciation of tradition but some aspects loosened up under Ol’ Roy - Smith never would have bought into the Late Night silliness - and continues to go downhill under Davis.

For a couple of examples, you can point to Brady Manek and Armando Bacot. Why Manek? Well, his grooming.

We know that coaches no longer have hair regulations and that’s fine. Things have changed. But Manek looks unkempt. We’re pretty sure Smith would have pushed him to at least trim his beard and hair. It doesn’t matter for most people on campus but, as Smith often said, athletics are the front porch of the university. It’s not a great look.

Neither is Bacot’s recent uh, physicality. If he keeps it up he’s going to hurt someone. He was fortunate to get out of Louisville without a technical and some of his play against Duke went right up to the line. We think Smith would have addressed it. Privately, yes, but he would have.

And we’re quite sure he would have addressed the obscene chant that the crowd directed at Coach K.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re not suggesting Duke fans have always been angels. Everyone knows that’s not true.

But you may remember that when he’s needed to, Coach K has never hesitated to step in and discipline the crowd. He’s even stopped the game on occasion to do it. Once he even threatened to forfeit a game because someone was using a laser pointer.

Smith would have certainly stepped in when the fans were directing that chant at Krzyzewski. In fact, we’re pretty sure the UNC faithful were so respectful that they would never have done that under his watch - at least not in his gym.

Smith, in fact, hushed the crowd whenever they tried to chant “bullshit!”

None of it much matters of course, except that it marks a general decline and a certain impotent rage about the current state of Tar Heel basketball. UNC’s assumption of moral superiority shattered during the academic fraud scandal and this is not nearly as important. But it is part of a continuum.

Whatever happens in Durham - we certainly expect to see a better effort from Carolina - we hope Duke fans find that combination of passion and fun that makes Cameron Basketball Paradise. That’s our gift and we should share it.