Vaught’s note: Is it a dream game or nightmare game for a Kentucky fan to watch Louisville play at Duke. Enjoy Allie Townsend’s take on exactly that from last week’s game in North Carolina where she lives.
By ALLIE TOWNSEND
I am a displaced Wildcat. I am a Kentucky girl through and through, but life has brought us to North Carolina, where we have lived for 10 of the past 12 years, not even an hour away from both UNC and Duke. I love college basketball and will watch any game I think will be good.
As so many of us know, the symptoms we experience when watching our beloved Wildcats are heightened. Sweaty hands, elevated anxiety, and a racing heartbeat – I experience them all, and I’ll bet you do, too.
Last week, my love of college basketball and my geographical location converged and presented the opportunity to go to Cameron Indoor and watch the two teams I like the least: Duke and UofL. If pressed, I might have said I hoped UofL would win, although deep down, I would have hoped they both could lose. But hey, I knew it would be a great game, so I jumped at the chance.
Here is a comprehensive list of my observations:
- Don’t wear your UK gear to this game, no matter how much you’d like to do so. Don’t be that fan. You will thank yourself later. (See #10)
- Duke’s campus is beautiful, even in the dark. I have been to Duke Gardens and driven past Duke Chapel, but I’ve never set foot inside Cameron Indoor. I’m excited for this experience – I’d even say it’s a Bucket List item.
- Mother Mary, I should have brought earplugs. This place is unreal: intimate, but almost unbearably loud; intense; electric; intimidating; and traditional in a way that any college basketball fan can appreciate, whether I want to or not.
- Everyone should see a game here. All of us. Not at the same time, of course, because we can’t all fit into this tiny little building.
- As expected, the Cameron Crazies’ well-rehearsed and flawlessly executed chants are impossible to ignore.
- You are surrounded by Dukies. Don’t make those faces at those jerseys and banners hanging in the rafters. Just don’t even look.
- Oh my goodness, David Robinson is here. His son plays for Duke, but that can be ignored because he’s David Robinson. (Shane Battier is also here. How nice that he could come to support his former team and coach. He is probably on the Most Valuable Flopper list, if they have such a thing. Of course they do. Jay Bilas is calling the game. He might be a Dukie, but he’s smart and much of the time impartial, so I like him.)
- This place is crazy small. I cannot believe I can’t spot David Robinson.
- Can’t even go to the restroom without seeing Laettner’s and Hurley’s jerseys on display. Blerg.
- These people are serious about their basketball. I can respect that. They are intense but pretty friendly. Even the guy who took a picture of us told us that being a Louisville fan wasn’t so bad, “but have you ever met a Kentucky fan?” Well…
- My hands aren’t even sweaty. I don’t feel anxious at all. I am not the least bit emotionally invested in the outcome of this game. This is super relaxing, actually.
- Wayne Turner! I forgot Wayne Turner is on the UofL staff. He is my all-time favorite Wildcat, and you know it’s hard to narrow down that list.
- You know, I can’t tell what that sign over there says, but it’s probably not nice. I’m starting to feel bad for these kids who are paying the piper for crimes they didn’t commit. I know, I’m surprised, too, but they deserve better than what they are enduring right now.
- Wait a minute. Is that – is that Dean Smith? I know he’s no longer with us. But… nobody would think to look for him under a Duke hat, that’s for sure. Did he have a twin we never knew?
- Did I just see that? Sure did. Grayson Allen executed a textbook Duke flop and then tried to trip his opponent. Flagrant. Dirty.
- Who is number 45? Mitchell? I think I’m right but these throwback jerseys don’t have the names on them. I like him. He doesn’t have a quit switch.
- Still can’t find David Robinson.
- Well. As often happens on their home court, Duke managed to pull out the win.
- Game over. I actually feel bad for the UofL kids, but my blood pressure is still totally within normal range. I would do this again.
Following the game, we wandered around to the back of Cameron to wait and thank our staffer friend who had kindly left tickets for us. While waiting, I spotted Father Ed Bradley and started to feel sentimental about how he drove from Henderson to Lexington many years ago to administer Last Rites to my sweet grandmother. I was able to quickly hop onto the bus and say hello, and I loved feeling that connection to part of my youth and the memory of my beloved grandmother.
I also gave the secret UK handshake to Wayne Turner. Not really, but I did whisper, “Go CATS!” to him, and he might have smiled. Before leaving, we were pleased to meet Dillon Avare, the nephew of one of our college friends, Jennifer Lovell Duncan. Later in the week, announced he would be transferring to EKU, so we hope he will love it there.
You can take the girl out of Kentucky, but some things never change. I still hate Duke more than the Grinch hates Christmas. As much as it pains me, I’ll admit that I respect the tradition and intensity with which they run their program.
Never did find David Robinson.