Nearly everyone I talked to after the North Carolina game was disgusted with the loss, and I guess you can't blame them, but that's not how I felt.
To be perfectly honest, after I left Saturday's game, the only thing I could think was, "I'm gonna miss this."
After four years of watching basketball in this cathedral called Cameron, and after realizing that the days of doing this regularly have come to an end, you come to understand that the W is not all that important. What's important is knowing that your experience as a spectator is unbeatable, even if the home team shows signs of mortality once in a while.
What's important is the camaraderie among the fans. As fun as the basketball is (I'll get to that in a sec), one of my favorite moments of every game comes when the band plays "Hey Baby," and all the students lock arms while swaying with no rhythm whatsoever. I was relegated to the rafters for Saturday's game (press overflow section), and it was a warm sight from overhead.
The very best part of going to Cameron-and maybe the best part of going to Duke aside from all the partying-is the moments. You know the moments I'm talking about. Not the routine Redick threes or the McRoberts slams that get the place pretty loud. That's not what I'm talking about.
I'm talking about those moments that happen twice a season, at most, when the building is in a state of pandemonium. It's when you can't even hear yourself think, and when all the Cameron Crazies feel ready to topple over like a bunch of dominoes. It happened at the end of our first ACC game this season, when Sean Dockery drained his half-court heave to bury Virginia Tech and stay undefeated.
It happened again Saturday, and for us seniors, it was our last time (as undergrads at least). It was some of the best 90 seconds of my sports-witnessing life-the Nelson three, the Williams block, the Melchionni put-in and the second Nelson three-and it was at this point when I stopped caring about winning the game. Why? Because this is what being a fan is supposed to be all about-pure euphoria.
There was also a prominent figure in the crowd watching this game for the last time as a regular. His name is Ed Venit, but most of us know him as the Viking Guy in the graduate student section. An undergrad from 1994-1998 and a biology grad student since 2001, Venit said he has pretty much decided to hang up his horns because he will spend next basketball season focusing on his thesis instead of waiting in line for tickets.
Venit just may be the greatest Cameron Crazie of all time, and he put Saturday's moment up there with the loudest moments he can recall in Cameron history.
"Cameron's got a scale of one to 10 in terms of loudness, and I've only seen like five or six 10s, where it's been that loud, in my nine years of coming here," Venit said.
He also said the thing he will miss the most about Cameron is doing the Crazie thing with his buddies, because that is what makes it fun.
I know I'm going to miss Cameron and that those of us graduating will miss Cameron, and you can bet the Duke Endowment that Venit will miss Cameron. Those of you who aren't leaving yet should feel lucky.
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