Last week, sports blogs were abuzz about some interesting changes that Miami's Department of Athletics is planning for the BankUnited Center.
In an effort to improve attendance at men's basketball games, The U has decided to bring some South Florida flavor to the arena by adding a lifeguard tower, a sandbox and-I swear I'm not making this up-a hot tub to its student section. Additionally, students will be encouraged to wear "beachwear" to the games, suggesting that basketballs won't be the only things vying for players' attentions on the court.
What these "amenities" have to do with actual Hurricanes remains to be seen, but the prospect of seeing Greg Paulus splashing into a Jacuzzi to save a loose ball makes the Blue Devils' Feb. 3 trip to Miami a must-watch in my book.
With Miami's improvements in mind, I've decided to come up with a list of ways to improve the Cameron Crazies in order to keep up with the competition:
- Bring back the hardcore taunting
Over the last few seasons, Coach K has made it no secret that he would rather see the Crazies root for the Blue Devils than heckle the opposing team. That approach was fine at first for select games, but it's gotten to the point now where the Crazies are so pacified that anyone who tries to start a slightly edgy chant is leered at in favor of a middle school cheer like "Well done, Gerald!" At this point, it honestly wouldn't surprise me if people chanted "two-four-six-eight, who do we appreciate?" after games.
Classy and hostile don't have to be mutually exclusive. At the very least, the opposing team's point guard should always be mercilessly heckled and ridden by the crowd the entire game. Compromising photographs of others team's players and coaches should be printed out and distributed to the masses. These things don't require profanity, which is a line that we should continue to respect. A few witty barbs can co-exist alongside the "Let's go, Duke" chant.
- Ban colored shirts and irrelevant costumes
I'm against the official student section shirt that other schools require, but it's not unreasonable to expect everyone to wear Duke blue, white or black attire to the games. Since the bookstore began selling those Duke shirts in colors like key lime and magenta, the student section has begun to look like a pack of Skittles. The reason why those multicolored shirts are always on sale rack in the Duke store is because they're hideous, and they should not be allowed to be worn through the turnstiles.
Additionally, enough of the attention-whore costumes that have nothing to do with the game being played and everything to do with finding the yellow blur that is your Wolverine costume on a split-second SportsCenter clip the next morning. This isn't Halloween or Tailgate, it's a basketball game. If you find a t-shirt or jersey to be too limiting of your creative expression, at least make sure your costume is blue and has some connection to Duke. Superman in blue tights with a Duke logo on its chest-cool. Batman-not so cool. Zoubek's Zoo-never again.
- D.U.M.B should smarten up
I can't tell you the number of times I've seen some version of this situation play out at a basketball game:
Duke does something amazing that even gets the people upstairs on their feet. The opposing team calls a timeout. The students get crazier. The band decides that this is the right time to play "Hey Ya!" and overtake the crowd noise.
Instead of playing during every time out, the pep band needs to recognize when to play a song to pump up the crowd and when to put their instruments down and join in the screaming. When it's a tie game with two minutes left, don't play "Hey Baby," play "Everytime We Touch." As a matter of fact, the band should only play corny random dance songs like "Listen to Your Heart" and "What is Love" since they are ridiculous and get the place jumping.
The pep band should also tailor more songs to taunt our specific opponents. Case in point: when UNC comes this year, Tyler Hansbrough should be serenaded with The Muppet Show theme as the crowd points out his uncanny resemblance to Beaker.
- Switch the grad student section to the other end of the court
In my three-plus years, I have yet to hear a plausible explanation as to why the road team gets to play towards the dead-end of the stadium in the second half. The athletic department should flip-flop the seating arrangements for the areas behind the baskets so that the opposing team has to play into the graduate student section during crunch time, making it much harder for them to hit free throws.
- Formalize the pre-game roll call
Players' names are usually chanted sporadically during pregame warm-ups, which is awesome when done properly but sounds terrible when done half-heartedly. People are skipped, names are repeated and the entire thing is kind of Bush League. Look at YouTube videos of the Yankee Stadium Bleacher Creatures to see how it's done.
- Issue everyone a singlet bathing suit
The legend states that no opposing player has ever hit a free throw while the werewolf-like body of Speedo Guy gyrates behind the grad-student basket. So imagine a basketball arena full of people in the one piece bathing suit from Borat. I have a feeling that this tactic might be so effective that it might have negative repercussions on our own players' performance.
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