Duke prepares for UNC like a home game; leaving earlier 'not a feasible option'
Like it would for a 9 p.m. home game, the team gathers at 5 p.m. for a pregame meal. Then, for a usual game, the players have some down time before the bus leaves for Chapel Hill at about 7:15, giving the team about an hour-and-a-half to warm up, said Mike Cragg, senior associate director of athletics for operations.
But yesterday, the players weren't allowed to leave because the team had to "play it by ear" to see if and when they might depart for the Dean E. Smith Center. The plan was to have the 5 p.m. meal, have a quick walk through while they assessed the situation, Cragg said. The game was ultimately postponed and will be played Thursday, Feb. 20 at 9 p.m.
“We were all looking at it a day or two in advance," he said, noting they observed what happened with the previous snowstorm in Atlanta, where traffic was gridlocked. “In our role as the traveling team, it’s about the kids.”
Leaving before the snow started was never a consideration.
“It was never talked about," Cragg said. "In retrospect, I could see that’s not a feasible option in terms of finding a hotel, trying to get there, getting a bus to get there early. We never thought about it. If the opposite were happening, I wouldn’t expect them to think, ‘Let’s get there and stay at the Washington Duke tonight.’”
The tipping point, Cragg noted, was Governor McCrory's statement that people should stay off the roads. He declared a state of emergency Wednesday and said he had tickets to the game but wasn't planning on going if it were played.
“When he specifically mentioned the Duke-Carolina game, that raised our antenna pretty high," Cragg said.
Cragg added that coming back from North Carolina was a concern as well.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski spoke about the decision in an excerpt of his weekly radio show on Sirius XM College Sports Nation that was released Thursday morning, which you can read about here.