As a college student who writes for the campus newspaper, there's a fine line between your experience as a fan and as a journalist. One day you could be criticizing a coach or player; the next day you might be braving cold weather and long lines just for the chance to cheer them to victory. I speak in hypothetical terms, of course.
Without a press pass in hand, I was drifting into fan land for Saturday's game against Boston College, which promised to be extra thrilling after Wednesday's huge win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Not wanting to fully relinquish my job as a sometimes-journalist, I decided to keep a running diary of my experience in Cameron for Duke's come-from-behind victory over the Eagles.
10:00 a.m.: My alarm goes off and I roll out of bed, which isn't too tough on this particular morning because I called it an early night on Friday after returning from the Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association Finals in Raleigh. For anyone who is still wondering where the rodeo scene from "Borat" could have been filmed, I recommend you check out this event when it rolls into town next year.
10:30 a.m.: I arrive in K-Ville to find a surprisingly short line, barely turning the corner next to Wilson toward the tennis courts. Despite the fact that Coach K's Blue Devils have risen to No. 2 in the polls and excitement has built on campus around this year's team, attendance in Cameron hasn't rebounded a great deal from last year's levels.
11:00 a.m.: I get my wristband from a lovely female line monitor, who does a wonderful, delicate job in avoiding my arm hair.
11:50 a.m.: I find my spot in Cameron after a little more than an hour waiting outside to get into the game. I usually aim for the "non-TV" side of the stadium-it helps with the feeling like a "journalist" thing, plus you don't have to jump up and down-but on this day almost all of those seats have been reserved for purposes other than student use. I would complain, but even with all the seats given away, the undergraduate allotment still isn't full.
12:05 p.m.: An ABC cameraman and production crew approach the group I'm standing with to ask if one of us would like to wear a microphone during the game to help them with an upcoming segment about the Crazies. I respectfully decline, but a friend I'm standing next to hesitantly agrees.
12:08 p.m.: The ABC crew pulls my friend out of the stands and onto the court to conduct an introductory interview. When my friend doesn't say exactly what they want to hear, the ABC guys start feeding him lines. My friend obliges. Journalism at its finest.
12:55 p.m.: The Duke team returns to the court for the final time before the game is set to begin. A never-ending stream of suits follows the players, and Coach K arrives about three minutes after the rest of his staff. This well-choreographed entrance seems to be virtually the same every game, indicative of the type of organization the Duke program is known for. But my real question is: who determines the order in which all the assistant coaches, graduate assistants, strength coaches, managers and others walk out from the tunnel? Did Coach K really sit down one day and map this out?
1:25 p.m.: With 9:21 to go in the first half, Brian Zoubek returns to action for the Blue Devils for the first time since breaking his foot in practice in early January to a huge ovation from the Crazies.
1:26 p.m.: With 9:08 to go, Zoubek is whistled for a foul.
1:35 p.m.: After Lance Thomas bricks two free throws, the game is tied at 26. Thirteen minutes into the game, the Blue Devils are 2-for-10 from the charity stripe. Somewhere Clemson's Oliver Purnell feels Coach K's pain.
1:55 p.m.: It's halftime, and Duke is down just one. More importantly, the Dancing Devils are getting ready to hit the floor for a performance. Before this semester, the Devils had been conspicuously absent from men's games since the 2006 home game against UNC. For my money, they're the second best halftime attraction Cameron has to offer, behind only Durham's own Bouncing Bulldogs.
2:15 p.m.: A DeMarcus Nelson steal leads to a Greg Paulus 3-pointer and the Blue Devils take the lead, 47-46. When was the last game Nelson didn't key a second-half run with tenacious backcourt defense?
2:40 p.m.: Kyle Singler and Nelson hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the Blue Devils up 10 with 6:39 left. The game appears to finally be safe in Duke's hands.
2:50 p.m.: At the under-four-minute media timeout, I overhear a couple of security guards talking about the improved chemistry this year without Josh McRoberts. I couldn't agree more. Indicative of this, Taylor King is jumping up and down-this guy must do 200 jumping jacks a game-and pumping up the Crazies, even though he didn't play a minute in the second half. Meanwhile, on Friday, McRoberts was promoted back to the NBA from the NBDL's Idaho Stampede, for whom he averaged less than eight points per game while apparently pouting even more than he did during his time at Duke.
3:00 p.m.: After some curious coaching decisions from Boston College's Al Skinner, namely allowing Singler to kill the clock without any pressure from the Eagles' defense, Duke holds on for the win, 90-80. On the way out of the stadium, I'm handed two bags of brown rice chips, which turn out to be surprisingly satisfying-just like today's game.
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