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CAMERON CRAZIES DUKE FANS SHOWER FOES WITH LITTLE MERCY

CAMERON CRAZIES DUKE FANS SHOWER FOES WITH LITTLE MERCY

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Some say the Cameron Crazies' finest hour was the first Duke-Carolina basketball game of the 1984 season, known in campus legend as ``The Good Game.'

The Good Game was in response to an earlier ``bad' game against Maryland, one of whose players, Herman Veal, had been accused of attempted rape. Duke fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium welcomed Veal to their home court by showering him with thousands of condoms and women's undergarments.The incident drew nationwide publicity, and a Washington Post editorial denounced Duke's ``sick display.' Duke President Terry Sanford sent a letter of rebuke to every student on campus.

To the subsequent Good Game, thousands of Duke students wore halos of aluminum foil. One student presented Tar Heel coach Dean Smith with a bouquet of roses. Referees who made bad calls that night prompted the polite chant, ``We beg to differ!'

And Tar Heel players at the free-throw line weren't troubled by the usual thousands of swaying, screaming Blue Devil fans. Instead, a lone student behind the goal held up a sign saying, ``Please miss.'

Visiting teams, especially ACC teams, would argue that Good Games are few and far between at Cameron Indoor Stadium, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The loud and constant razzing from the Duke students is like an undergraduate combination of the Roman Colosseum and ``The Rocky Horror Picture Show.'

``It's been more or less a tradition for the past 20 years,' says '88 Duke grad Hazel Landwehr of Durham, author of ``Home Court,' a recently published history of the stadium. She succinctly describes the Cameron philosophy of mocking and frustrating the opposition: ``Make it unique, make it funny, and show no mercy.'

For example, Duke students always honor gray-haired Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins by wearing silver mop-top wigs and chanting back and forth, ``Grecian! Formula! Grecian! Formula!'

Washington's Detlef Schrempf was confronted by hundreds of Duke fans screaming, ``Airball!' in his native German. When N.C. State's Chris Washburn was accused of stealing a stereo, Duke fans wore prison stripes and headsets and chanted, ``Book 'em, Danno!' whenever he fouled.

Small wonder that TV analyst Al McGuire once said, ``This place is a zoo,' and entered the arena wearing a pith helmet and carrying a bullwhip, a chair and a sack of peanuts.

``I've read quotes from several people calling us obnoxious, but we can deal with it,' says Braxton Perkins, features editor of Duke's student newspaper and a proud member of the infamous forces of BOG.

BOG - short for Bunch of Guys - is a Duke residence hall whose inhabitants are known for sitting directly behind the visitors' bench and screaming taunts and epithets throughout the game. Blue Devils call them Boggers; visiting teams call them many things.

A favorite Bogger ploy to rattle the opposition is to start loudly counting down from 10 when there's really much more time on the clock.

Duke basketball fans enjoy a nationwide reputation. As the Blue Devils headed toward the Final Four in 1986, The Wall Street Journal grumped editorially: ``At this educational monument to a bad habit, basketball fan derisiveness has been honed to an art.'

Sometimes the Duke administration steps in, as Sanford did after the Herman Veal incident. More recently Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has complained about the tennis balls tossed back and forth across the court before games.

The Boggers even have prompted a ``buffer zone,' three rows of bleachers immediately behind the visitors' bench that are reserved for residence hall advisers, young trustees, VIPs and other ``people you could expect to be a little more sedate,' in Landwehr's words.

But her research indicates Duke crowd control was a problem long before Cameron was built. Duke's athletic director fretted about it as far back as 1924. In the '50s and '60s, raucous Cameron crowds were called the ``Duke Blue Bedlamites.' In the late '70s costumes and props were introduced, and the Cameron Crazies era began.

No secret society orchestrates the antics at Cameron, Landwehr says. ``Students are well-informed, and they do their homework, but it just seems spontaneous. It doesn't come from someone writing in the paper, 'Let's all bring shoes to the State game.' I don't think there's any sort of hot line.'

Perkins says many of the fan traditions have evolved over time, their origins becoming murky as they're handed down to incoming freshmen each year. BOG residents do, however, remember the first ``Hoop Head' - Greg Esses, a engineering major who devised the basketball-goal headgear for the TV cameras in the early '80s.

Many stunts are conceived while students stand in line for tickets, lounge in the bleachers or socialize in the tent communities that spring up on the Cameron lawn before home games. The arena's size encourages this sort of frenzy; Cameron holds only about 8,900 for basketball games, in contrast to 21,500 at Chapel Hill's Smith Center.

``It's small enough to feel like you're right there with the team,' Landwehr says. ``The Crazies are the sixth man, a support network for the five men out on the court.'

At the Feb. 25 Arizona game, the sixth man began on a deceptively friendly note, greeting each Arizona starter in unison: ``Hi, Pat!' ``Hi, Matt!' ``Hi, Ed!'

But soon the Duke students dropped the facade, chanting ``Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!' at the referees, waving mass bye-byes as Arizona players fouled out, and emitting an earsplitting, continuous, droning ``Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa' when the visitors got the ball.

Students weren't the only fans yelling. In the upper bleachers, women in high heels and dress suits and portly, gray-haired men in sweaters matched the Boggers down below scream for scream, their faces purpling, cords popping out on their necks.

Arizona players at the free-throw line were faced by hundreds of Duke students flailing back and forth. Or a sea of students chanting ``Huh! Huh! Huh!' and jumping in place. Duke eventually won 78-76.

Before giving Duke fans too much credit for their team's victories, consider the fact that chants of ``NIT! NIT!' at the underdog Tar Heels on Sunday did little to prevent a loss to hated North Carolina. Or that Maryland's Herman Veal, showered with condoms and underwear at that controversial game six years ago, got the last laugh.

``Maryland won 81-75, and Herman Veal had one of the best games of his career that night,' Landwehr says. ``He had 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals - and as he left the court he turned and winked at the crowd.'

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