|Editor's Note: Norm Bradley, a senior at Duke and the head tent monitor for Krzyzewskiville, took Page 2 inside the methods and madness of the Blue Devils basketball village:
Long before the TV cameras are rolled in, the heckling begins.
It's an hour and a half before game time, and 1,500 die-hard Duke fans have rushed into Cameron Indoor Stadium's courtside seats. The Cameron Crazies have arrived. Whether they're harassing the hated Tar Heels (as they'll do Thursday night) or picking on an unsuspecting non-conference team, the jeers always begin with
warmups. That's key intimidating time, when the opponents are all but forced to listen.
Me, I'm a senior at Duke, wrapping up four years of unwavering support for the blue and white. I've been to every Duke home game (and a good portion of the NCAA Tournament matchups) since my freshman year, dressed in my lucky blue hat and Blue Devil T-shirt.
But I'm not your ordinary Cameron Crazy. I'm also the head line monitor for Kryzyewskiville, the mass village of student tents perched outside the stadium for the privilege of earning those precious courtside seats. Because those 1,500 seats are free to Duke undergrads, I have to monitor would-be Crazies to make sure the first-come is really first-served.
For the Carolina game, the first fans began arriving Jan. 4.
Today's version of the campground scenario started in the early 1980s, when Coach K's teams first started to make the Final Four. A few people showed up the night before the game, and then some fans tried to outdo them the next game by showing up two nights before. Then three nights before. Then four. It got to the point where someone had to impose order.
Hence Kryzyewskiville, where the Cameron Crazies go to bed. Fans can start camping out whenever they want, but after half of the seats are spoken for, the campground is closed until two weeks before game time. At that point, I send out an e-mail and the remainder of the tickets go to the first 50 groups to find me, somewhere on campus. For this game, the fans tracked me down on the 50-yard-line of the football stadium, where I was hiding out.
Just because you've camped out since almost New Year's or found me on campus in time doesn't guarantee you'll get into the game. The fans are divided into 100 tents, with 12 people per tent. ("Tent" doesn't have to mean one physical tent -- many groups use two.) One of the 12 members must be in the tent at all times, or the entire group risks getting kicked out. I've had to boot a few tents for lack of bodies, and let me tell you, people get pretty upset.
But no matter how long they've been there, they have to give up their place in line. And they can't just join the end of the line --there's a 12-tent waiting list of people eager to take their place.
The rules for the UNC game are a little different. Within 48 hours of tipoff, all 12 have to be in the tent. (There are a few grace periods before the game.) Although it might sound harsh to force people to spend the night outside in sleeping bags, it's not as if K-Ville were in the wilderness. The Crazies set up Nintendo and televisions for entertainment, and the campground even offers e-mail and Internet access. The University spent $20,000 to install ethernet in the lightposts around K-Ville.
As Cameron Crazies, we want to make an impact visually. As you might notice from TV, there's not really a Crazy "uniform." The more eclectic the crowd's costumes, the more flavor there is in the arena. For example, someone's always roaming the stands in a full-body gorilla costume -- this badge of honor is passed from undergrad to undergrad before each game.
But it's not enough to rattle opponents with our outfits -- we need to voice our opinions. Some fans research opposing team's weaknesses, handing out cheer sheets complete with heckling suggestions. And we always start badgering the visitors during warmups -- no sense letting them feel comfortable in our house for a second.
Carolina brings a good team in this year, and that's exactly what we want. The Crazies have respect for the Heels. After all, you can't have a rivalry if one opponent is terrible. Some fans have gone so far as to hope that Carolina wins every game of the season but four (the two regular-season games against Duke, the ACC Tournament
and the NCAA Tournament). It makes our victories over them so much more meaningful.
Speaking of victories, a celebratory bonfire is already scheduled for after the game. My prediction is Mike Dunleavy with a 3-pointer at the buzzer -- Blue Devils 88, Carolina 87. Burn, baby, burn!
|Some Duke fans can go overboard in displaying their true colors.||