I drove home Wednesday night before 8 o’clock – clear across town, partly on 15-501 – and there was barely a car on the road. And Duke couldn’t make it over here, somehow-someway, for a 9:10 game?
Look, everyone knows TV dictates all in sports these days. That’s why we have the dastardly 9 p.m. starts, which are bad in every way except for primetime ratings. That’s also why the game was not postponed earlier in the day, when it should have been. Now, Duke looks like it dictated a decision that was long overdue.
In this case, however, the late start actually made it possible for Duke to get here, if it could have found another bus or mode of transportation. The players could have tweeted, “We need eight all-wheel drive vehicles at 7 o’clock to go to Chapel Hill – drivers get to sit behind the Duke bench.” The gridlock would have been in front of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
UNC fans have been tweeting the last two days about 22,000 students being in the building when the Blue Devils arrived, anticipating the night of a lifetime. Screamers surrounding the court on all four sides, making more noise than the Dean Dome has ever heard, sounding like the Cameron Crazies on juice.
But Mike Krzyzewski has been behind enemy lines overseas and has lived in UNC-dominated Durham for 30 years, so that wouldn’t have scared him. Unnerve his team? Too bad we’ll never find out.
Duke had more legitimate concerns about before and after the game. They were getting reports of the mess on 15-501 and they worried about how their players, coaches and administrative personnel would get home after arriving back on campus.
Regardless of what the Governor proclaimed, the answer was waiting till the congestion cleared before departing, even if the tip-off had to be delayed. Some NCAA games don’t start until 10 p.m.
Leave as late as possible, after everyone had gotten where they were going or abandoned their cars in the breakdown lanes. By then, the roads were passable, if not clear of most traffic.
And while the team is in Chapel Hill, the support staff stays back and arranges rides for everyone when they return to the gym after midnight. Maybe those eight all-wheels finish the job they started.
UNC had the back end treachery covered by telling anyone who could not walk to the game to stay home, although some die-hards still drove in from Raleigh and Greensboro. That’s why after the 6,000 students with tickets were lined up since 5:30, any other students who wanted to go were instructed to line up at 7:30.
How Duke went about it looks like private, corporate arrogance. The bus can’t get there, so they decide not to come and tell the media BEFORE they received approval from the ACC?
At that point, the ACC can’t tell them to go back and work it out. WTVD and other local news outlets are already reporting the game has been cancelled.
So now Duke has laughers against Maryland at home and at Georgia Tech, gets Marshall Plumlee healthy to bang against the bigger Tar Heels and shows up next Thursday 10-3 in the ACC, having won 9 of its last 10 games and mad as hell about the Twitter abuse they have received for the last week.
Meanwhile, Carolina has to re-focus for a PO’d Pitt team coming off a last-second loss to unbeaten and top-ranked Syracuse and, two days later, travel to dangerous Florida State. The Tar Heels’ win streak, momentum and new-found confidence might well be gone by the Thursday night redo.
In many ways, it was shaping up as the perfect storm for UNC, which has one of these free-seating free-for-alls every 10 years or so.
The Tar Heels aren’t as good as Duke this season and needed such a perfect storm to help them spring an upset. They almost had it, but the Dukies took their ball and stayed home.