Thanks to a friend of Simply Duke Basketball, we have a rare opportunity to see what this year’s “Countdown to Craziness” weekend was like …
Bill Wheeler, a Fuqua School of Business graduate, and his lovely wife, Marcy made a weekend of the event. We thank them for this very special insight …
Around 9PM, Friday night, my wife and I drove to the Washington Duke Inn and ate at the Bull Durham bar. As we approached the turn in to the hotel, we could not help notice a new multilevel parking deck near completion on Cameron Boulevard. The bar was filled, yet we found two barstools in the corner. We talked to a Waitress and Manager about the number of patrons. They thought there was a Lacrosse reunion, and that “Countdown to Craziness” brought in the late evening patrons.
As we left the bar, we could not help notice 2 towering men standing in the foyer. It was Jeff Capel and Nate James. I got my wife to follow me a few feet down the hallway, and told her who the men were. Of course, I wanted to ask them some questions, but I realized they need their own relaxation, so we drove back to our off campus motel.
Saturday morning, we visited the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, and at Marcy’s suggestion, we took in an afternoon horseback trail ride in Hillsboro.
As we drove onto campus and turned right on Towerview Drive next to the Sanford School, we could not help but notice another new building with open glass, the Health and Wellness Center. We parked and walked towards “K’ville” around 4:30 pm. “K’ville” was alive with inflatable bouncing machines, a DJ, face painting and a gathering of Cameron Crazies.
We stopped to talk to a Security Guard and she gave us a brief tour, describing changes to the outside of Cameron. As we waited to enter the front of Cameron, one fan voiced their displeasure of the new Cameron look. Yes, I agree the nostalgia is gone.
The wooden arches just below the stone portico are gone and wooden doors are now enclosed. Just after the second set of doors is a separate set of stairs to enter a new Iron Duke’s Champions Club. My finances left me short to contribute the minimum annual for that club.
As we entered Cameron, some fans next to us said they did not like the new look of the Cameron entrance. Yes, we agreed …
As we walked through the doors, security gates and staff greeted each fan. It reminded me of entering a local Court building, yet with today’s threats we had some sense of comfort.
Congrats to the Duke staff for this improvement !!!
The pre-team entertainment ranged from Felix Kung “The Yo-Yo Guy”, who is actually a Duke student … 30 seconds to make 4 baskets for $10K … Pizza box throws from the 4 corners of the gym floor, to the JC Devils doing a modern dance, etc.
As the Duke Navy ROTC entered the gym with the American flag, all the Duke “A- Cappella” singers gathered on the opposite side of Mid-Court and did a great job of singing the National Anthem. It was a special moment with the blue horn lights shining and all the fans standing. Thank goodness I didn’t see any “Kolin ‘dis-respectfuls.'” !!!
The gym floor was used as a projector screen for video and laser introductions of the team and players. This was similar to last year and each player got great appreciation from the crowd.
From there the scrimmage felt a little anti-climatic. The audio sound may have been changed for the player intros and it was not readjusted making it difficult to hear announcements for the rest of the evening.
The Blue and White teams played 2 – 10 minute periods. Freshman Jayson Tatum showed great slashing and scoring ability. To my surprise, Chase Jeter seemed to have the upper hand in guarding Marques Bolden for 15 of the 20 minutes. Amile Jefferson appeared to be hungry and scrapped for every loose ball. At one moment towards the end of the scrimmage, a hush came over the entire crowd as Grayson Allen ended up spread-eagle to block a pass and collided with Amile’s legs near mid court sideline. Fortunately, Amile was able to walk off without injury.
Sean Obi and Harry Giles did not make it to the floor We know about Harry’s continued knee problems, and later discovered that Obi had had knee surgery this summer.
In past years, the star player for either the Blue or White would have been swapped to the other team for the 2nd Period. That was not done this year, leaving this fan with the need to see more games before determining the real caliber of this 2016-17 basketball team.
Bill Wheeler has a wonderful story about his connection to Duke Basketball.
Look forward to our Bio on him sometime soon !!!
Thanks for joining us for this very special report …
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