The atmosphere at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium is not inviting to opposing teams.
The team is a perennial powerhouse, led by a coach who demands precision, and the Cameron Crazies – the Duke fan base – root on the Blue Devils and deride the opposition with the same practiced nature that the basketball team takes to the floor.
And there’s a band, a blaring horn and symbol ensemble that plays while the students sing ribald lyrics. The student section, by the way, extends into the backs of the reporters who sit courtside.
Duke’s win at home against Kent on Tuesday night was their 49th consecutive non-conference win at home, but Kent nearly won, and although the 9,000-seat arena was primarily stocked with the schooled Duke faithful, there were a few Kent “Crazies” in attendance.
Those Kent fans didn’t have band to sing along with or a collection of well-rehearsed, belittling taunts, but a few of the Kent fans in attendance went out of their way to display Kent pride.
Chris Powers, a 2005 graduate of Kent, had his face painted in a blue and gold pattern reminiscent of the Ultimate Warrior.
“Yeah, dude, we’re showing them we’re better than they are,” Powers said at the end of the first half, which concluded with Duke reclaiming the lead on a Josh McRoberts’ dunk.
Powers was flanked by two face-painted compatriots, Kent students, Casey Palumbo, a communications major, and Matt Blore, an art history major, and the triumvirate agreed that an upset was imminent.
“We’re gonna win,” Powers said. “Duke’s overrated. We’ve been saying it all day. We’re gonna show them what tradition is all about because they don’t have any.”
Polumbo predicted a narrow 67-66 win for the Golden Flashes. “We do not lose,” Polumbo said.
Kent students Dan Sekerak, an architecture major, and Josh Fulton, middle childhood education, sat in the middle of the Duke student section, and they didn’t attempt to mask their allegiance.
Both Sekerak and Fulton donned Santa hats and blue and gold face paint. They also earned some ESPN airtime with a pair signs; one predicted an end to Duke’s non-conference winning streak, and the other was a simple Christmas wish.
It read: “All I want for Christmas is an upset.”
Of course, the wish wasn’t granted, but the final result, although disappointing, didn’t ruin Christmas.
“It was sweet,” Sekerak said. “It was amazing.”
Contact sports editor Joe Gartrell at jgartrelkent.edu.