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The View From The Top—The Very Top

Photo by Lawson Kurtz/The Chronicle

The title of this post might look like a veiled reference to Duke's No. 1 ranking entering last night's game against Wake Forest, but it actually refers to my view from Section 238, Row S, Seat 3 at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

On a whim, several Duke students and I decided to purchase tickets about a week ago to see what we expected to be a matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country. Wake Forest's loss last week put the kaibash on that, but, as we all learned, No. 1 vs. No. 6 ain't bad, either.

As a Chronicle reporter used to covering games from the best seats in Cameron Indoor Stadium, adjusting to seats about a million miles away from the court—just four rows from the arena's back wall, and in the corner, no less—took some getting used to. But despite the poor seats, driving to Winston-Salem to see Tie-Dye Nation in all its glory was well worth it, if only to contrast last night's atmosphere with that of a comparable game in Cameron.

With Duke down a few points midway through the first half, I started chatting with a Wake fan and his son who were sitting next to me. It was his first Wake game, and he asked how the crowd that night compared to Cameron.

"It's dead here," I responded. And it was. The LJVM Coliseum got loud every now and then, but the scattered Duke fans' chants of "DE-FENSE" could be heard, at least in my section, throughout the game.

Former Florida State guard Sam Cassell once said that the Dean E. Smith Center, North Carolina's stadium, is not "a Duke kind of crowd. It’s more like a cheese-and-wine crowd, kind of laid back."

I'd add Wake Forest's home court to that list.

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