Cameron Crazies’ Top 10 Greatest Moments
10. Putting the Post In Its Place
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Duke’s Cameron Crazies are funny, lewd and often cross the line. With the Blue Devils hosting Maryland on Saturday, we count down the Cameron Crazies’ Top 10 Greatest Hits based on creativity of trash talk, comic value and lore.
Thirty years ago this spring, the Crazies gave Maryland’s Herman Veal a vicious welcome. After then-Terps coach Lefty Drisell allowed Veal to suit up despite allegations that he sexually abused another student (he was not charged), the Crazies showered Veal with panties.
The incident resulted in a (rightfully) damning story by The Washington Post. The Dukies responded to that with an edited version of its “If you can’t go to college, go to State” sign held up during an NC State game. Below the normal slogan was an addendum: “If you can’t go to State, write for the Washington Post.”
9. If the Shoes Fit
For all the success he enjoyed at NC State, Jim Valvano’s final days as the Wolfpack coach were mired in controversy. The Crazies had no hesitance in jumping on this opportunity to mock both Valvano and the NC State program.
One of the allegations made against NC State by author Pete Golenbock in his 1989 book “Personal Fouls” was that Wolfpack players sold their sneakers. (It was, in fact, the only one of Golenbock’s claim that the NCAA investigated and found to be true.)
During an NC State-Duke game at Cameron amid this controversy, the Crazies threw old tennis shoes on the court after Valvano walked out onto the floor. Valvano, to his credit, knew how to fit in with the Crazies. He once led them in a “Down with Packer!” cheer when TV analyst Billy Packer walked out onto the floor. Bravo, Jimmy V!
T-8. NC State Shall Not Steal!
It seems unfair that the Crazies should pick on NC State so much, yet No. 8 on our list is a tie featuring jokes made at the expense of two Wolfpack stars.
Lorenzo Charles may have been the hero of the 1983 national title game against Houston, but that meant nothing to Duke student fans two years later. After Charles was caught stealing two pizzas, the Crazies bombarded him with a shower of pizza boxes.
One year later, it was Chris Washburn who served as target practice. After the center was charged with stealing the stereo of another Wolfpack athlete, the Crazies greeted him with “a shower of headphones, album covers and LPs,” as Sports Illustrated’s Austin Murphy described it in a Nov. 1986 story.
Moral of the story for any NC State player: Any misdeed you commit will be used against you by Duke fans.
7. Twinkies: The Dennis Scott Diet
As perhaps the deadliest component of Georgia Tech’s “Lethal Weapon 3” attack, Dennis Scott was always a gifted player. But during his first two seasons with the Yellow Jackets, Scott struggled with his weight, not unlocking his true potential until he shed 20 pounds in advance of his junior year.
En route to averaging 27.7 PPG in his ACC and National Player of the Year season, Scott was greeted before Georgia Tech’s game at Cameron with a shower of Twinkies, doughnuts and other junk food. Some eyewitness accounts even claim that Scott picked up and ate one of the Twinkies.
After that appetizer, Scott proceeded to feast on hapless Blue Devils defenders for his main course, scoring 36 points as Tech barely missed out on the upset in an 88–86 loss.
6. “In-Hale, Ex-Hale”
If former UNC guard Steve Hale didn’t have a sense of humor, this entry would have fallen into the “tasteless” category. As it is, it’s remembered as a pretty clever play on words.
Prior to the Tar Heels’ 1986 game at Cameron, Hale had suffered a punctured lung after taking a knee to the chest in a loss to Maryland. For the duration of the Duke-Carolina game, the Crazies serenaded him with cries of “In-Hale, Ex-Hale.”
While bordering on mean-spirited, the chant was so funny that, supposedly, even Hale couldn’t resist smiling. Coincidentally, Hale became a doctor after graduating from UNC’s School of Medicine - making the chant even more fitting.
5. Different Words, Same Message
One of the critics of the Crazies over the years has been a man they idolize, Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K has asked the students to cheer for the team, not against the opposing team or the officials. Alas, he’s probably come to expect partial cooperation most of the time.
According to former Duke player Jay Bilas, the Crazies “used to yell, ‘The refs suck, they really, really suck’ ” after a bad call. For longtime ACC referee Dick Paparo, they personalized that chant to “You suck, Dick!” much to Krzyzewski’s chagrin.
To appease their beloved coach, the Crazies changed their tune. After Paparo’s next call, they chanted, “You suck, Richard” - which had to have Coach K and Paparo simultaneously shaking their heads and chuckling.
4. (nasal voice) “Did We Do That?”
Not all of the Crazies’ best chants are reserved for Duke’s ACC rivals.
When Lehigh visited the Blue Devils back in 1996, a skinny Mountain Hawks player in goggles and knee-high stretch socks made a trip to the free throw line. Befitting the appearance of the most popular character from “Family Matters” (then in its eighth season), the Cameron crowd started chanting, “Urkel! Urkel!”
Whether that Lehigh player made or missed those free throws is lost to history. But we’d put good money on that player being overjoyed at his alma mater’s mammoth upset over the Blue Devils in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Restitution probably never felt so good.
3. Not So Nice to Polynice
As a sophomore at Virginia, Olden Polynice’s Nov. 1984 trial before a jury of 12 fellow students following plagiarism charges was supposed to be a secret. When a member of the tribunal broke the honor court’s pledge of confidentiality and leaked details to the press, it was anything but.
Polynice endured harsh treatment from opposing fans during road games at VMI and William & Mary. In advance of a Dec. 8 game at Duke, Polynice elected not to make the trip to Durham, dreading the reception he might receive from the Cameron Crazies.
With Polynice absent for the game, Duke fans chanted, “Where’s Olden? At the copy machine!” Considering how vicious Blue Devils rooters can be, one can’t blame Polynice for wanting to “get away from everything for a few days,” as he explained in a note to then-Cavaliers coach Terry Holland prior to the game.
2. “Freeze! Police!” Free Throw Chant
The final entry on this list pertaining to a visiting player’s legal troubles will leave you in stitches, whether you like the Cameron Crazies or not.
During his 1983–1984 junior season, Maryland’s Adrian Branch was arrested and convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. With the Crazies ever-diligent in their perusal of police blotters, several students situated themselves behind the basket. As Branch was preparing to shoot a free throw, they shouted, “Freeze! Police!”
The suddenness of the outburst and its inherent comic value — “Even the other guys on his team had to laugh,” Jay Bilas recalled — makes this the best player-directed chant the Crazies have ever come up with. But not the best chant overall.
1. “Air Ball! Air Ball!”
Perhaps the most ubiquitous crowd insult at any level of basketball — high school, college, the pros, you name it — has its roots in Cameron Indoor Stadium, where it was first chanted by the Crazies in 1975.
The idea of the ball hitting “nothing but air” seems so basic to us now, but someone had to come up with it. Leave it to students at one of the most prestigious universities in the country to find a new way to describe a shot that doesn’t come anywhere close to going in.
Due to its everlasting nature in the lexicon on chants that mock the opposition, the “Air Ball!” insult is the Cameron Crazies’ greatest contribution to basketball. You don’t need to like them at all to acknowledge that.