As the final seconds ticked away this past Saturday in Duke’s win against Miami, the talk of the town was the legendary performance of senior Ryan Kelly. But the win Kelly gave Duke also put one Cameron Crazie on the edge of a milestone: It was the 99th win this Crazie had seen in Cameron Indoor Stadium as a student.
Meet Sam Tasher, who in his eight years as a Duke student, will have witnessed 100 home victories if the No. 3 Blue Devils beat Virginia Tech on senior night.
Although rain is in the forecast for tomorrow, there’s no stopping Tasher. As a senior, he toughed out a bout with pink eye to see the then-No. 9 Blue Devils beat then-No. 8 Wake Forest 101-91 after the Demon Deacons had narrowly upset Duke earlier in the season.
“I was out for twelve hours, and I was trying to put the drops in my eyes and they were freezing,” Tasher said. “We got in there, and the place was rocking.”
Tasher graduated with a bachelor of arts in political science in 2009, completing his undergraduate career when most current undergraduates were attending high school. He then graduated from Duke Law at the end of last school year. As if that weren’t enough, Tasher is currently completing his master’s from Duke Law, making this his final year at the university where he has spent a third of his life.
All Crazies have moments they will never forget from a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tasher, meanwhile, has been in attendance for almost every significant home game Duke has had for the past decade. One of his favorite moments? Former Blue Devil David McClure’s buzzer beating layup against Clemson... in 2007.
“I was actually standing at the player’s entrance, and on the way out, I got a high five,” Tasher said. “I actually knew him—great guy. I took a class with him. They took a picture of him high fiving a bunch of fans, and I am right there.”
This season, Duke has experienced some tough road losses, ranging from a close decision against N.C. State to a historically bad loss in Coral Gables, Fla. against the Hurricanes. Although Duke hasn’t lost at home this year, a seasoned Crazie such as Tasher knows to keep his head up after any regular-season defeat.
“If I remember, our first loss ever I had was against, not even at home, just ever, was against Georgetown [in 2006], and it was just unthinkable,” Tasher said. “But you know, [the players] are kids. They are here to learn too. And you understand and respect that more being here for so long.”
Tasher wasn’t always the Crazie that he is today. When he first arrived on Duke’s campus in 2005, he was a run-of-the-mill freshman: He was excited to be in the building, but wasn’t necessarily a “Crazie.” It wasn’t until his junior year that he became the fanatic that he is today.
“I got in with a group of friends, and this was their sort of thing, so I would go with them,” Tasher said. “We would all turn this into a big thing, and my senior year I had never actually tented for Carolina before, so I said I would.”
Although the waning student attendance at home games is always a hot topic of conversation, it only makes Tasher’s commitment more impressive. When the eight-year student completed his undergraduate education, he was worried his time as a Cameron Crazie had ended. Nearly losing the opportunity only made him appreciate it more.
“It’s having had the loss of ability to go to Cameron when I graduated first,” Tasher said. “You come to appreciate what it is. Every person I know who graduates, friends always call me, and say, ‘Get me back in. I want to come back. You have no idea how much I would kill to come back. I miss it.’ I think that’s maybe what it is at this point that makes me appreciate the fact that I still have the ability to see this and do this.”
But even Duke’s Van Wilder can’t stay a student forever.
“I am gonna be that same guy calling my friends saying you have no idea how lucky you are,” Tasher said. “But I also at the same time respect that each Crazie has his time there and next year there will be a new generation of Crazies that will be trying to take the mantle. We each get our time and we do with it as we wish.”