A sea of multicolored tents covered nearly every piece of grass outside Cameron Indoor Stadium. Some tents blasted music, several remained quiet for studying, and others had soccer balls lying around. Krzyzewskiville, or K-Ville for the locals, is the makeshift tenting town named after Duke’s famous coach, Mike Krzyzewski. Some students began tenting over six weeks ago to earn prime seats, while others tented a week or two before the game.
In February, the tenters endured snow and winds, unusual for Durham, North Carolina, which caused many tents to collapse and blow away. This group of 1600 creative students, known as the Cameron Crazies, packed the risers an hour before tip-off, standing and chanting. “It is very exciting,” said Dan Ringness, a die-hard Duke fan, and tenter. “Everyone is there for the same reason and there is a great sense of camaraderie and school spirit.”
Another Duke student, Jacob Hochstein, grew up as a Duke fanatic and when he was accepted to Duke he made it a priority to never miss a basketball game. “Even when it is raining or freezing out, everyone is excited because we are all in this for the same reason,” Hochstein said. “To watch our favorite basketball team beat down Carolina.”
This was the 100th year of the Duke-UNC rivalry game. Although Duke was ranked higher than UNC, both teams had this game circled on the calendar. “I have been very fortunate for 40 years to be part of this rivalry and [North Carolina] Coach Williams and I have talked about how lucky we are,” Krzyzewski said in his pregame press conference.
Tre Jones, Duke’s star point guard and the engine of the team, described the bond between him and his teammates. “We have gone through a lot now,” he said. “All the goods and bads, but all of that has made us a stronger and better team.”
Justin Robinson is a fifth-year graduate student at Duke and is one of two captains on the team. Robinson helps build team chemistry by motivating the players and looking after the younger guys on the team. Robinson is getting his master’s degree in management studies. “The fans are the best and have been so kind to me,” he said. “Even around campus people will give me high fives. When I get on the court they always cheer super loud for me.”
Gameday was not only a major day for the players but a culmination of a long wait for the students. The fans dressed in blue and white overalls, blue swimsuits, blue banana costumes, and blue onesies. As the tenters passed through the welcoming wooden doors of Cameron Indoor Stadium, they realized their time in the tent was worth it. One excited student who was painted as a blue angel, gained front row center court access for her seven weeks in the tent. Her favorite part about tenting was bonding with the group of tenter. “We wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything in the world,” she says.
The Duke band created an electric atmosphere. “All of the stadium’s energy comes from the drumset right here,” said one of the three drummers in the band. “It is our responsibility to keep the energy up and provide the fans with what they want.”
Right at the 6 p.m. tip-off, the Duke fans started with their signature chants, “Let’s go Duke” and “Go Devils go.” Whenever Carolina went to the free-throw line, Duke students held up a 30-yard long poster reading, “Brick.” Robinson hit the first three of the game and played the majority of the first half. By half time, Duke was leading 47-42.
Robinson started the second half and played the majority of it. Fans spurred on Robinson’s career game and called out, “MVP,” whenever he went into the game. The Cameron Crazies stood on their feet the entire game. After Duke’s 89-76 victory, seniors Jack White, Javin DeLaurier, and Robinson received a center court send-off from the fans.
In the post-game locker room, Robinson was mobbed by the media and his teammates for his 13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks and non-stop hustle. He did not take personal credit but acknowledged his teammates, coaches, and the students. “It was electric out there,” he said. “The Crazies brought it.”
DeLaurier was very emotional after his last game in Cameron Indoor. DeLaurier held his head in his hands using a towel to wipe away his tears. “The Crazies are arguably the best fans out there,” he said.
This game was supposed to be Duke’s last home game of the season and preparation for the ACC Tournament and NCAA tournament. Due to the health concerns from the Coronavirus, this rivalry game was Duke’s last game. Although Duke’s season ended prematurely, they finished with a 25-6 record and ranked eighth in the country.
After the final buzzer, the students rushed out of the doors to celebrate and burn designated campus benches, a Duke tradition when they beat Carolina. The orange fire and smoke pierced the night sky as the fans cheered and hollered in excitement.