The Forgotten Foe

Campus Life, CRDaily

Is there still a rivalry between UNC and NC State?

North Carolina’s Research Triangle has developed into one of the greatest areas in the nation. It is home to multiple companies and organizations, multiple outstanding institutions, and the center of North Carolina’s government.  However, in the middle of college sports season only one thing matters: what color blue you are wearing. When UNC and Duke University collide, the games not only create great moments for sports fans nationwide, but also a fierce hatred between the opposing teams. However, one major school has constantly been left out of any sort of discussion of Triangle sports in recent years: the North Carolina State athletic program. Placed only thirty minutes from Chapel Hill, it is somewhat shocking that NC State is not even mentioned as a rival in any sort of campus dialogue by not only the UNC community, but also a large portion of the sporting community. This has not always been the case.

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On October 12th, 1894, the first meeting between the football programs of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (who would officially change their name to North Carolina State University at Raleigh in 1963) occurred in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. What started with UNC winning the game 44-0, resulted in the start of a series of twelve games between the two schools until 1905.  UNC won eight of those games, and the other four were ties.  Another game wasn’t played between the two schools until fourteen years later, and in 1920, one year after the series was continued, NC State got its first win in Raleigh. For comparison, UNC played a series of seven games with Trinity College (based originally in Trinity, North Carolina before moving to Durham) from 1888 to 1894 before beginning a series in 1922, with the introduction of a “Victory Bell” in 1948 to the victorious team. The only team that was close in proximity to Chapel Hill simlar to that of NC State that had a better series than any two of these teams would be, what is now known as, Wake Forest University (then based in Wake Forest, North Carolina). This series was only played five times between 1888 and 1893, but a series began in 1908, sooner than either the series between State or Duke. Soon, basketball was picked up by these schools and the series found yet another battleground to fight on.

There was something indeed special between UNC and NC State. And after Wake Forest moved to Winston Salem in 1946, there was only two schools Carolina had to worry about.So, what turned the tide towards the now nationally recognized UNC-Duke rivalry? The introduction of Mike Kryzewski as the head coach of the Duke basketball program.

By 1980, UNC had one of the most dominant basketball programs in the nation. Great players had played for the Heels, including Larry Brown, Bobby Jones, Billy Cunningham, and Robert McAdoo. In addition, UNC won a NCAA tournament in 1957, and Coach Dean Smith had made numerous, and almost consistent, appearances in the NCAA tournament since the early 1970s. NC State had some success, winning an NCAA tournament in 1974, but it was a step down from what was happening in Chapel Hill. Duke had almost nothing. There were a few conference stars before 1980, but nothing compared to what was happening beyond the Durham city limits. So on March 18th, 1980, Duke University hired Mike Kryzewski after a five year stent coaching for the Army basketball team in hope of building a dominant basketball program. Since that signing, Duke has won four national championships, and had numerous talented players rise through the roster. Another competitive team had indeed risen up in the Triangle.

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But as one rose up, another dramatically fell apart. In 1989, the book Personal Fouls—The Broken Promises and Shattered Dreams of Big Money Basketball at Jim Valvano’s North Carolina State claimed that the Wolfpack program had gave large sums of money to players, had been covering up positive drug tests, and had the grades of certain players altered to make sure they were eligible to play. Head coach Jimmy Valvano, who led NC State to an underdog victory in the 1983 NCAA tournament, resigned in the spring of 1990 due to these charges and the program wouldn’t make an appearance in the NCAA tournament from 1991 until 2002. That wouldn’t be such a large deal, if the other two schools in the Triangle weren’t making one memorable moment after another. Duke won its first NCAA tournament in 1991, followed with their second in 1992. UNC won its third NCAA tournament the next year after that.

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Not only were UNC and Duke making championship caliber programs, they were also memorable games with each other. These included:

  • February 28th, 1981: Duke upsets #11 UNC in overtime.
  • March 10th, 1984: #16 Duke defeats #1 UNC.
  • February 5th, 1992: #9 UNC defeats #1 Duke.
  • March 4, 2006: #13 North Carolina defeats #1 Duke in Durham on Senior Night.
  • And probably the one UNC fans may remember the most from recent history, March 4, 2007: #8 UNC beats #14 Duke, even after Gerald Henderson gave a cheap shot to Tyler Hansbrough and broke his nose, causing it to bleed ferociously… on national television.

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While all of this is happening, the folks over in Raleigh were left in the dust with nothing extraordinarily memorable to salvage between either foe. Sure, there was a few upsets, but nothing that stuck with a national audience, who began to realize that ACC football had nothing compared to ACC basketball.

While Duke has taken the forefront in ticket sales and student expectations on the team to beat each season that doesn’t just mean we should forget that history, the similarities, and legacy the two public universities in the Triangle have. That carries over, and that shouldn’t be ignored for anything. Yes, even if a more challenging opponent out there.

However, that hasn’t stopped some, if not a majority, of members in the UNC community from ignoring NC State completely. Any student who goes to UNC currently knows that the chant at the end of our fight song is “Go to Hell, Duke”, which of course, has understandably changed with the times. This is not necessarily wrong, and it is quite understandable. I don’t blame that on a blind ignorance of sports history, but a different culture the student body has grown up around. When you are growing up in a culture in which the “Tobacco Road” rivalry is having not only countless moments being made and aired on national television, but also books and movies being produced, certain things will get weeded out as a result. Even then, NC State is getting pushed further out of the picture. As recent as the February 2013 basketball game between UNC and State at the Dean Dome, Carolina fans ended the game by chanting “Not Our Rivals” as the clock winded down. There are even some individuals who go even further and start blaming NC State fans for why they are getting pushed out.

Take, for example, the August 6th article on the blog Thrill City by writer Michael Hardison. He claims that the rivalry does not exist not due to the changing times, but rather because of a group of fringe NC State fans not being respectful. From Hardison himself: “The reason N.C. State’s most delusional fans have tarnished any remaining semblance of a rivalry between the two schools is because their hatred of UNC has delved into the realm of obsession. A rivalry implies that one team wants to beat another. The loudest portion of the N.C. State fan base doesn’t just want to beat UNC — it doesn’t want UNC athletics to exist.”

Hardison continues by blaming this on a select group of NC State fans. These include a few individuals on a Scout.com forum who suggested that “Dean Smith’s Alzheimer’s was exaggerated so he could retire early and that Roy Williams faked his cancer scare in 2012 to escape an impending NCAA investigation” (from Mr. Hardison’s own words), a group of individuals who stalked Hadyn Thomas (the individual who rented the GMC Yukon UNC basketball player PJ Hairston got caught doing certain illegal activities in), and even a “We the People” petition asking the federal government to take action and investigate UNC.

First off, to Mr. Hardison, blaming any overall group of individuals on a fringe of fans is not only wrong, but it is horribly immature to blame possibly thousands of people on a select few. To quote the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a fringe is “an area of activity that is related to but not part of whatever is central or most widely accepted”, or “a group of people with extreme views or unpopular opinions”. Believing forums, a few crazy fans, or an online petition that includes such important topics such as building a working Death Star by 2016 and investigating Jimmy Kimmel for a bad sketch (both of which have more signees than the investigating UNC petition based on your quote in your article) not only shows that you had no solid evidence for proving your case, but your lack of proper research towards striving for the truth. If you claimed that the rivalry was no longer existent because of the growth of Duke Basketball under Coach Kryzewski, that would be a respectable position that would create a dialogue. But, since you blamed everything on this relatively microscopic population of State fans, nothing substantial can be talked about, as you have forced the conversation in a small box with your limited and poor information.

Speaking of fringe fans, it is something a lot of groups suffer from. Possibly, even UNC. In late January 2009, a large portrait of the late NC State University women’s basketball Coach Kay Yow at the Free Expression Tunnel on NC State’s campus was defaced by light blue graffiti and profanity. Some of the defacements included putting a blue mustache on the portrait of Yow and the words “cancer rules” on the art work. To make matters worse, Yow died one week before the incident from breast cancer, and UNC had beaten State the night before in basketball. Immediately, the blame got placed on UNC, and the UNC went into a hectic mode apology, praying it wasn’t a Tar Heel who did this.

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These fans (if even done by Carolina fans. No one knows who the culprits are after almost five years since the incident) obviously don’t represent the Carolina Way of life. These NC State fans on the forums, in Mr. Thomas’ personal life stalking him, or those signed under bad web petitions do not represent the average NC State fan. Mr. Hardison, I hope you understand this. I hope that you understand that your overly biased and under researched pieces may attract a lot from the home crowd (especially after getting shared on the UNC Memes Facebook page), but it only creates one side for a conversation, instead of opening up a dialogue.  This isn’t the first time the blog you are part of has been called out for poor journalism.

Let us get back to if the is a rivalry still between UNC and NC State. If there is one statement that could simple turn the tide towards once again having a UNC-NC State rivalry, it is this: we are family. If you currently go to or have graduated from Carolina in recent years, there is a high possibility you have friends or family that have spent some amount of time at NC State getting an education. I am one of those individuals. Not only did some of my immediate family members attend NC State, but so have some of my friends from my hometown of Weddington, other conservatives I had the pleasure of going to CPAC with last Spring, and so on. The relationship between the two schools is so intertwined in our personal lives. It could even be fair to compare the relationship to one between two local high schools. There is so much culture and similarities shared between the two that it is crucial for the other school to win. For a brief period of time, they may brag to your face about it, but after the game, you go and hang out with them, you laugh and smile with them, and share in a moment of appreciate for the relationship you share.

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I’m not trying to take anything away from the UNC-Duke rivalry. Unless the 1980s repeats itself with NC State and Duke switching roles, nothing will change with what has emerged between the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils. However, for a few times a year, it may be okay to hate on the color red and the school that is associated with it. This is not because both UNC’S and NC State’s histories say so, but because our own personal histories believe it to be so.

Alexander H. Thomas

Heels to Play NC State at 7:00pm

CRDaily

We are past the half-way point in the men’s basketball season, and while the heels have failed to live up to their preseason hype, tonight has the potential to be a new beginning, and will almost certainly be a pivotal point in the season. After losing their first two conference games to Virginia and Miami, the Heels have managed to win three straight, improving their conference record to 3-2. A win tonight would mark UNC’s first win against a ranked opponent this season (although #18 NC State is likely to fall out of the top 25 on Monday following their loss to Wake Forest this week), and would be a huge confidence boost to a very young group of Tar Heels. On the other hand, a loss would undo the work that the Heels have done getting ahead of a five hundred record in the ACC, and destabilize a team that has only recently begun to show their true potential in streaks of cohesive play over the last three games. This cohesion has been driven by the play of Reggie Bullock, who has emerged as Carolina’s offensive leader. Bullock has proven to be a more consistent offensive threat than James Michael McAdoo, who began the season on a hot streak but has cooled off since ACC play began.

Some familiar problems continue to plague Carolina on both sides of the ball. On defense, our players consistently fail to make successful switches in man-to-man, and the weak-side wing is repeatedly left wide open, allowing opposing teams to eviscerate us from the 3-point line. On the offensive end of the court problems with consistency have been the primary dilemma. For instance, when the Heels played Maryland on January 19th they came out on fire, scoring 42 points in the first half (21 points by Bullock alone), but in the second half Carolina only managed to put up 20 points, while giving back twelve points of their lead to the Terps.

Despite the problems that have clung to the Tar Heels throughout the season, our boys have been slowly turning things around. With each conference win they are becoming more confident, and each week they are come closer to playing up to their potential. Unfortunately, new found confidence tends to be fragile and could be easily broken by a loss tonight, but with any luck that will not be a problem and the Heels will come out of the fray with the added confidence of a win against a ranked conference rival.

All I want for Christmas is March Madness

CRDaily

Yesterday, I saw a sign on Franklin St. that asked, “Do you have NIT fever?”

NIT fever.

It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen at UNC. Frankly, I’d rather pretend the NIT didn’t exist. Let’s talk about the NCAA tournament.

Every season I agonize over my bracket. March is the one time each year that my otherwise inappropriate obsession with basketball becomes mainstream. So in the four days between Selection Sunday and the start of the tournament, I release a lot of pent-up energy researching for my bracket. I start by dutifully looking at general team characteristics, coaching styles, wins vs. top 50 teams, etc., but eventually delve into terrifyingly raw philosophical deconstructions and epistemic paradoxes. Every year I go on a journey from hope to desperation to exhaustion to existential angst to a recognition of my own insignificance in the universe to the understanding that Georgia Tech simply doesn’t have the guard play to deal with Oklahoma State’s press.

To avoid a post of Jonesian proportions, I’ll only write about the most intriguing games.

East

#5 Temple vs. #12 Cornell: A lot of people have Cornell winning. Cornell has become one of this year’s biggest “water-cooler dandies”- people who follow basketball a moderate amount have heard of Cornell’s surprising flirtation with the top 25, know that they’re supposed to be good but don’t exactly know why and are mostly picking them as an upset special to impress their equally semi-informed friends. But I don’t see it. Temple and Cornell play very similar styles, mostly because Temple’s coach (Fran Dunphy, who was spent four years coaching under the venerable Gary Williams) was Cornell’s coach’s mentor. Temple’s just plays that style better. They handily beat Penn, who handily beat Cornell. The most telling stat to me: Temple holds its opponents to 28% 3-point shooting (Cornell’s offense runs on the three). In the end, I don’t think the mystical forces of fashionability can overcome talent.

Final four pick: Kentucky. West Virginia could be tough in the Elite 8, but they’re just so boring. They only have one real scoring threat (a relative term in the case of West Virginia). Kentucky’s inexperience scares me a little, but they’re just so talented. Of course, when it comes to teams coached by John Calipari, the number of final four appearances is probably directly proportional to the number of recruiting violations committed.

South

#4 Purdue vs. #13 Siena: Purdue is without their #2 scorer and rebounder Robbie Hummel. They scored 11 points in the first half of their last game (they only had 4 points in the first 16 minutes). This kind of feels like a trap. Siena seems like an all-too-easy upset pick. But then again

#8 California vs. #9 Louisville: This year’s batch of 8/9 games is relatively disappointing. Cal/Louisville is the most interesting 8/9 game to me. Louisville did beat Syracuse twice. But Louisville hasn’t done much outside of beating Syracuse, and they have trouble defending the three, which is one of Cal’s strong points. I’d lean towards Cal.

Final Four pick: Baylor. I mean, Duke does have an unconscionably easy road to the final four. But Baylor does have LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter. Not only are their names awesome, they’re also one of the nation’s better one-two scoring threats. And, if Duke’s outside shooting is off, they’ll have to deal with Ekpe Udoh, the nation’s fifth-ranked shot blocker. So Baylor winning isn’t inconceivable.

West

#4 Vanderbilt vs. #13 Murray State: Each year, there are one or two teams that shoot over 50% while holding their opponents to less than 40% shooting.  The 30 win Murray State is one of those statistical anomalies this year. Plus, Vanderbilt is a really weak four seed. I love Murray State for the upset.

Second Round

#5 Butler vs. #13 Murray State: I have a friend whose opinion I respect who has Butler losing to UTEP in the first round. I would love to see a UTEP/ Murray State match-up. Either way, I have Murray State in my Sweet 16.

Final four pick: Kansas State. I was leaning this way anyways, but with Onuaku iffy, I feel pretty certain about this pick.

Midwest

Second Round

#3 Georgetown vs. #7 Tennessee: This is hard to pick, simply because both of these teams are so bipolar. Both have really good wins (Tennessee beat Kansas and Kentucky, Georgetown beat Syracuse, Villanova, Duke, and Pittsburg) and they both have bad losses (Tennessee just lost to Kentucky 74-45, Georgetown has lost to Rutgers and South Florida)

#4 Maryland vs. #5 Michigan State: I know some people picking Michigan State simply because of Tom Izzo. But frankly, I don’t respect any team that lost to UNC this year.

Final four pick: Kansas. This is a really loaded bracket, so there are a couple of viable candidates. To me it comes down to: Sherrod Collins + Cole Aldrich +Xavier Henry +  Marcus Morris> Evan Turner (but just barely).

For now, Duke delenda est.

Defending the Indefensible

CRDaily

Three games into this year’s college basketball season, the early verdict is in: The new CAA ticket policy so far is a disaster. Today, the Daily Tar Heel published attendance figures for the first three games of the past two seasons. The statistics show a massive drop-off in student attendance of games.

2009 Season

vs. Florida International – 53% of student tickets used.
vs. N.C. Central – 47% of student tickets used.
vs. Valparaiso – 24% of student tickets used.

2008 Season

vs. Pennsylvania – 65% of student tickets used.
vs. Kentucky – 85% of student tickets used.
vs. UNC-Asheville – 40% of student tickets used.

CAA director John Russell says that students are simply not taking advantage of other ways to get tickets. For example, he points to the fact that although 400 tickets were returned for redistribution for last Sunday’s game, only 20 were claimed. However, returned tickets are only distributed at 5:15 PM the day before a game. But for most heavily scheduled college students, going to a game is something that requires a bit of planning in advance. Not knowing whether you are going to get a ticket until the night before is a major inconvenience when planning schoolwork and other activities. It’s a simple truth that making it harder for students to get tickets is going to decrease attendance.

Russell continues to justify the new policy by arguing that students are now twice as likely to receive a basketball ticket. This is true, but they are also far less likely to find friends with tickets in the same phase, and are therefore less likely to use their ticket. CAA Associate Director Clint Gwaltney argues that the previous system of giving two tickets to each student was not working because tickets were still being unused, claiming that only 85% of student tickets were used for last year’s game against Kentucky and something had to be changed.

Russell argues that students can get tickets if they really want them. This is true. This was true last year too. But the issue is not whether you can get a ticket if you try hard enough, it’s whether it’s worth the trouble. And when it becomes more and more trouble, more and more students will decide that it’s not worth it.

The solution to this is not to make it harder for students to go to games. Common sense dictates that if people aren’t doing a certain thing, then making it harder for them to do that thing will not make them more likely to do it. You simply do not promote attending basketball games by making it harder to do.

WASPketball

CRDaily

Every year as basketball season kicks off, I become nostalgic for my own basketball career. Surprising as it might be to some readers, I was a serious basketball player growing up. Over the years, I played on some very select, very good teams.

One experience, though, is especially illuminating given our very race-conscious surroundings. In 2001, I played on a summer league team on which I was the only white player.

Of course, I stood out because of my race. Whenever my parents showed up to one of our games, one of the officials invariably joked that he could guess who my parents were. And all of my nicknames involved the fact that I was white. I’m pretty sure that some of my teammates’ parents didn’t know my real name but, rather, knew me only as “Vanilla Ice.”

Looking back, though, my race didn’t really affect much. There was a little bit of tension over the fact that I started ahead of several black players, but that was never too serious. Our coach was black, so accusations of racial discrimination rang a bit hollow. Any racial strife didn’t get in our way, as we went undefeated.

But, while race didn’t really divide our team, differences in socio-economic status did, at least to some degree. As a middle-upper-middle class WASP, I had been raised in a different cultural milieu than my teammates (a couple of whom acquired criminal records and failed to graduate from high school on time).

This didn’t really affect what happened on the court nearly as much as it affected my performance of the little rituals that surround the game. For instance, I was forbidden from trash-talking, mostly because I once accidentally used the word “lugubrious” in one of my ill-conceived taunts.

However, my upbringing did give me advantages in other areas. I was always assigned to be the guy who complained to the refs about dubious calls. Excuse me sir, I believe you have erred grievously in assigning a foul to my cohort. While I do respect your position, I would only ask- nay, beseech you to be more cautious as the competition continues.

But, most significantly, I brought Diversity to the team. Case in point: during warm-ups, our coach usually played music to pump us up. Each of the starters got to choose a song to play. My teammates each chose hardcore rap songs, while I favored the Smashing Pumpkins. I firmly believe that any time the angst-ridden vocals of Billy Corgan are united with the ghetto-infused dissonance of gangsta rap, society wins.

Basketball Ticket Follies

CRDaily

Today, Carolina Review will bring you coverage of an issue which directly affects your life: Basketball tickets.

As you probably already know, the Carolina Athletics Association decided to change the distribution policy for men’s basketball tickets. Before, there were 3,000 winners in the student lottery and each student received two tickets to games. Now, each student will receive a single ticket, with 6,000 students receiving tickets.

The CAA claims this is necessary because too many student tickets were going unused. Now, I attended almost every home game last year, and I did not see any empty student seats. The CAA also tried to justify the new policy by saying that if two students had plans to go to a game together, and both of them won tickets, then two tickets would end up being unused. The statistical improbability of this rare occurrence notwithstanding, in my experience, students with tickets they did not plan to use almost always gave them to someone else.

Now, the most likely outcome of this new policy is that many students will win tickets, but none of their friends will win tickets in the same phase. This will mean that many of these students will not attend, probably leading to more unused tickets than before.

The CAA has pointed to the Duke ticket policy and football ticket policies as models. However, the football stadium seats 12,000 students, meaning that almost all students who want to go to the game are able to go. Most of the seats at the Duke game are reserved for seniors, so it is far more likely that people will know at least a few people from their graduating class.

However, the burden of the new policy will fall harder on some students than on others. Here’s a quick run-down of the students who will be shafted the most by the new policy:

Graduate Students

As geography graduate student Benjamin Heumann pointed out in a letter to the editor to the Daily Tar Heel, graduate students have far smaller social circles than undergraduates who make friends from numerous clubs and other events. Therefore, graduate students are even less likely than undergraduates to receive tickets to the same game and phase as their friends.

Dating Couples

Receiving two tickets guaranteed that couples would be able to go together. Now, they have to hope to hit the statistical bullseye, or hope to bum a ticket off a friend who isn’t using it.

Introverts

Not everyone at UNC has 800 friends. Some people only have small groups of close friends, thereby making it far less likely that at least two people from their group will win tickets. With each ticket winner getting two tickets, they were guaranteed at least one friend to go with.

People without “black market” connections

We all know the type, the person who runs a small distribution ring of basketball tickets. He knows hundreds of people, so many people give him their unused tickets and he redistributes them. Not everyone knows one of these people, and their only chance of getting a ticket is to win one. Now, their only chance of going with a friend (and for this type of person, going with a friend is the only way they will go) is for their friend to also win a ticket.

In summary, this is my third year at the university. I’ve seen priority registration, weekday registration, a $12 child care fee levied on 27,000 students to benefit 34 people, a session of student congress, and a ban on smoking with 100 feet of a building, and this new ticket policy is quite possibly the most ridiculous and most pathetically publicly justified action I have seen from any administrative body at this university.

Sign-ups for the first six games of the season end on Saturday. The CAA should move quickly to reverse this poor decision and re-institute the old policy of giving lottery winners two tickets, before the computer even picks the winners of the current lottery.