Rece, Digger and Jay might not be setting up camp outside Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday, but the Blue Devils are hoping to tap the energy of the ESPN crew's March 2006 K-Ville visit with their own "Duke GameDay."
The hour-long festivities, which begin at 4:30 p.m. and lead into the 7 p.m. Blue-White scrimmage, are the most recent of Duke's efforts to boost excitement for the upcoming season and include a raffle for the opportunity for two fans to
"coach" alongside the Duke staff by drafting the players for the Blue and White squads.
"Once we knew it wasn't parents weekend, we wanted to make sure that the students knew that we were going to make a lot of excitement around Blue-White," said Mike Cragg, Associate Director of Athletics and Director of the Legacy Fund. "We didn't want to just make an assumption that people were going to come."
The slate of the afternoon's events, from the raffle to speeches and a best-dressed Cameron Crazie contest, will be emceed by Duke Radio Network color commentator Matthew Laurance and women's head coach Joanne P. McCallie.
McCallie's presence, in addition to a scheduled Q&A with Wanisha Smith and Emily Waner, is just one of several ways in which the women's team is increasing its publicity Saturday. The women will also play their first-ever Blue-White scrimmage Sunday at 2 p.m. The newly-hired head coach, who held intrasquad games at both Maine and Michigan State, believes that her 16th version of Blue-White (although the Spartans wore green) is essential to her program's growth.
"That was as fundamental to me as showing up to work everyday," McCallie said of Blue-White. "Blue and White is a chance to bring everybody together to see the team. I can't imagine life without that Blue and White thing... it's too important to your fans, the teams and the community."
Although the Blue-White game has been commonplace for the men's side, the coaching staff and players are hoping that the "Duke GameDay" experience can make it feel as if it were their team's first opening exhibition as well.
"It's a good thing for us to make the Cameron experience better," senior captain DeMarcus Nelson said. "We've felt like that over the last year or so that Cameron wasn't as good as it had been in the past."
Cragg, who had a large hand in planning and executing the event, echoed Nelson's sentiment, saying the team should not take their fan base or popularity for granted.
He also acknowledged, however, that the activities were designed to draw in fans and that if "Duke GameDay" does not succeed in that, his team will get together and brainstorm ways to improve for 2008.
"We want it to be fun," Cragg said. "We'll define how we think it will be fun in our own way. If it doesn't work, we'll look at it, assess it, and do something different next year."
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