Dear Fervent Followers of the Turtle,
As someone in attendance at last night's game, I must say: First, you had me. Then, you lost me.
I'm not gonna lie, as tip-off for the Duke game approached at the Comcast Center, I was impressed by your sheer numbers, noise and passion. I don't think anyone who has merely watched a Maryland game on TV can fully grasp what the gametime experience in College Park is like because it seems like nearly half the arena is filled with students—and not the calculator-toting, casual fan, going-to-the-game-to-be-seen kind of students either.
And sure, the Scheyer faces are great (although, come on, kids, Duke fans have enough mental sharpness to remember that you had them last year, as well). So, too, are those crazy, spinny Twilight Zone circle thingys you hold up when the opponent is shooting a free throw. All-in-all, I kind of dug your vibe, which is undoubtedly crass and obnoxious, and you definitely make for a hostile environment. I even turned a deaf ear when you dropped the f-bomb (multiple times) because I get that you have a street cred to maintain... people from surburban Maryland are so hard-edge!
But then, early in the second half, you crossed the line from crass and obnoxious to downright awful and disrespectful. When Dave Neal crushed Nolan Smith to the ground, you erupted in glee. You began a responsive and repetitive chant from one side of the stadium to the other—"Dave!" "Neal!"—with little regard to the injured and struggling player on the floor. I get it. You hate Duke. Fine. Yet there is a difference between playful hate and unmitigated vitriol, and the latter is what you put on display Wednesday night.
Some fans clapped when Smith finally rose from the floor, but it was too little, too late to make up for the behavior demonstrated in the minutes before. After all, it's only a basketball game. And you chose to celebrate a play that left a kid our age seriously hurt and unresponsive on the court.
There's a lot to fear in that side of the Turtle.
You stay classy, Maryland.