By: Staff Writer Nathan Cole
Picture Credit: Google Images
I have the utmost respect for the Duke Men’s basketball program and the talents of their players. I would never truly wish any ill will against any of the school’s administrators, teachers, students, or student athletes. That being said, I hate Duke.
When I was a freshman, I was blessed with a phase 5 ticket to the UNC-Duke game at the Dean Dome. I was four rows away from the back wall, but I didn’t care. It was the gosh dang freakin Duke game, and it was gonna be awesome, even if I had to practically watch the game with binoculars.
That was the game we got down 14-0 in the first five minutes. It was awful. Worst experience of my life. I was despondent. We ended up getting blown out 69-53.
That was the moment I truly began to hate Duke. I hated Seth Curry and the fact he rode on the coattails of Steph. I hated Ryan Kelly and his incredibly-similar-to-a-rat face (I also hated the fact that he went to a rival high school of mine). I hated that Frankenstein Plumlee, and I hated how badly we got beat. But more than anyone, I hated Coach K. I hated the smug look on his face as his Blue Devils smacked us down and never let us get up.
“To hate like this is to be happy forever.”
I never knew what that truly meant. I never really followed college sports in high school. I filled out the brackets come March Madness time, but I never knew how amazing The Rivalry is. I never appreciated what Dean Smith had done, or how much Coach K looked like a rat.
That changed that night we got blown out.
Since then, I’ve rushed Franklin Street, and experienced the joy of going nuts in the intersection in front of Top of the Hill with hundreds, possibly thousands, of Tar Heels jumping over bonfires and climbing street poles. Best. Feeling. Ever.
This year, I got Phase 3 tickets, and this Duke team is one of the most hateable ones we’ve seen in a while. You have Brandon Ingram, the traitor of North Carolina, choosing Duke over the school his fellow Kinston High School alumni (Reggie Bullock and Jerry Stackhouse) chose as their alma mater. The token douchebag white boy, Grayson Allen, who is already showing promise of becoming the next Christian Laettner by tripping Louisville forward Raymond Spalding in their game against Louisville. And of course, you have the last Plumlee spawn in his last year in Coach K’s program, and he’s trying to be just like his older, more talented brothers, when we all know he really is just the baby of the Plumlee family and will always be the little brother.
So forgive me if I think that this will be a nail biter, a game you better not miss, a contest that will come down to the wire. Teams always have the game of their lives against us (See Notre Dame in the ACC tournament last year and Boston College, Louisville, and Notre Dame this year), and this Duke team will be no different. You know Grayson Allen thinks he’s the best 3-point shooter at Duke since J.J. Reddick, and that Brandon Ingram will want to prove to the booing Dean Dome that he is better off at Duke (but we know better), and that Lil Plumlee will want to dominate us just like his big brother Mason did three years ago.
But we know better. We know that we have the tools to beat them. We know that we have more experience on our entire squad then they do. We know we’re deep enough. The question is, do our players know?
I believe they do, and you should as well. I believe that Marcus Paige will come out of the gate strong, and just get better in the second half. I believe that Joel Berry will drain threes like he’s channeling his inner PJ Hairston. I believe that Brice, Joel, Isaiah, and Kennedy will dominate that defensive block, and completely shut down any pathetic attempt to cut to the hoop by either Ingram or Allen.
Above all, I believe that the hate won’t stop after this game. No matter what the red-headed stepchild down there in Raleigh thinks,* this is the greatest rivalry in the history of college sports (apologies to Ohio State/Michigan and Auburn/Alabama). The hate between Duke and UNC runs deep, and will never be completely and permanently satisfied.
So all I have to say to those devils 8 miles down the road is this: Bring it on. You have no excuse now that there’s no two inches of drivable snow blocking you.
*I apologize to all red-headed stepchild students at UNC for using that cliché, I know you’re insulted that I likened you to NC State, I mean no offense to your hair color or familial status.