“It’s all over but the crying.”
The above line is taken from a song by the Ink Spots, and like a vast portion of their catalogue, the song is sad and mopey and starts with the same four signature notes. When heard on its own, it can be incredibly sad in a way that only ‘40s music can be—with the distant voices, the occasional scratch on the recording and harmonic despair that remind you how much you love the words “digital CD quality.”
That line came to my head when I was thinking back on Thursday’s game between Duke and Oregon, one that ultimately ended with the Blue Devils printing their tickets home after Grayson Allen’s attempt at a second straight heroic tournament came up short. By virtue of their victory, the Ducks, unfortunately, were granted the honor of running into the buzzsaw that is Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield Saturday, a game that would have been an uphill climb for Duke as well.
And with the 82-68 loss, my time watching the Blue Devils as a Duke student came to an end. But as the final buzzer faded and the sadness maintained, the tears never came. At first, the loss was expected, in a way. “If it wasn’t Oregon, it was going to be Oklahoma,” I told myself. But then Sunday evening rolled around, and as the all-ACC portion of the Elite Eight duked it out, the Blue Devils did not appear on the board. Their name was left behind on the bracket like the many before them, and I was left without a team.
The sting of the loss set in then—it wasn’t nearly as painful as February’s Super Bowl, but still. A lot of my fellow seniors were positive, referencing moments of victory from throughout our four years, like last year’s national championship or favorite games in Cameron (for me, it’s Ohio State in 2012. I still have never been in a louder arena than when Mason Plumlee slammed down that one-handed alley oop.)
What it made me do was think back to when my time as a Blue Devil began—when the school let me in.
I was never all that hesitant with my newfound Duke fandom in 2012 once I made the decision to attend school in Durham. I was all too ready for the chance to root for a winning program. Both embarrassing Facebook posts and memories of a frozen night spent in K-Ville can prove those points quickly. It was expressing that fandom in the time I spent at games as a student, and not a journalist, that forced me to extend beyond my usual boundaries.
Some may point out that prior coming to Duke, I was a fan of N.C. State, which is true—I remain a casual fan of Wolfpack men’s basketball and football and still have the newspaper clippings I’d cut out and hang on my walls every time they beat North Carolina (there aren’t a lot of newspaper clippings). But in the games between the Blue Devils and Wolfpack that have occurred since my enrollment, my allegiance has always belonged to Duke.
That is the result of the fact that I am an outwardly tepid fan, which led to a bit of teasing and a feeling at times that the Cameron Crazies were almost more fun to watch and experience than they were to join. I never felt out of place as a student, but I had to spend a good amount of time in K-Ville before I really went all-out for the cheers.
Regardless, when I’m watching as a fan, I always have faith. I get relatively loud if Grayson drills his fourth straight 3-pointer or if Marshall Plumlee does any one of his cool Marshall things—including, but not limited to: roaring, shouting, rebounding, dunking or roaring and shouting and rebounding and dunking all at once.
But, being a quiet person who is averse to shouting and being shouted at, I have never been one to scream every chant in Cameron, or clap loudly during a big comeback while watching at home. Rather, I am the one who watches silently, occasionally pumping a fist or clapping, and constantly reaches for more nachos. But being on press row—with four blue-painted Crazies doing their best not to get paint on me while I analyze (live-tweet) the game—were when my most special memories in Cameron took place.
After this honest reflection on the past, the Duke finale was not all sad. It would have been great to end my time here with back-to-back titles, but the Blue Devils—in other sports besides just men’s basketball—gave me four years of great stories, fantastic games and unbelievable moments.
But now, “It’s all over but the crying.”