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Student Sections (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday February 22, 2006 12:17PM; Updated: Friday March 3, 2006 5:52PM
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3. Kentucky

Our house: Of Rupp Arena's 23,000 seats, students occupy 5,000 with 650 in the eRUPPtion Zone, a standing-room only section behind one of the baskets in the lower arena. The pep band plays in this section. The rest of the students fill one of the lower arena's sections, where they stand throughout the game.

Signs of madness:  Fans in the front row held up a poster of the Playmate girlfriend of then-Florida Gator Matt Walsh. The only thing that kept the sign family-friendly was well-placed UK blue. Walsh was greeted with a chant of "Walsh is gay." Fans chanted "Nair" at South Carolina guard Josh Gonner after an interview in which he explained how his sister once brought him the stuff at halftime to keep his legs silky smooth. When former UK coach Rick Pitino came to Rupp for the first time after taking over at Louisville, a fan held up the sign "Joanne, we never liked you either" -- referring to Pitino's wife. A new sign -- "WASHER FLUID"-- is a reference to the AutoZone "Score for More" promotion that hands out washer fluid when the Cats score 70 points or more.


Dress for success: If it's blue or white, UK students wear it. Some are painted from head to gym shorts in blue, with "CATS" spelled in white across four torsos. The front row of the eRUPPtion Zone is where wilder outfits are seen as students strut their stuff for the cameras. The rowdiest denizens are the self-named Bluehearts who dress in plaid garments, blue kilts and blue face paint -- reminiscent of the armies in Braveheart -- in honor of coach Tubby Smith's hometown of Scotland, Maryland. Business suits, Elvis hair and glasses, '80's outfits and the traditional UK T-shirts and jeans are all common.

The ticket: Ticket lotteries for the Cat's next three games are held on Monday nights every three or four weeks. For the Louisville and North Carolina lottery this season, over 6,000 students waited in line. Some lotteries, which generally start around 9:30 p.m., have lasted past 1 a.m. Skipping Tuesday morning classes because of late nights at the lottery isn't out of the ordinary.

Overtime: Students have food delivered, get amped, and make posters while waiting outside Rupp 12 hours before game time. The Kentucky winter doesn't deter diehards. Tents are pitched for overnight stays and students huddle in sub-zero temperatures. The 15-time national champion UK cheerleaders have traditional cheers. During the second half, a massive white flag with a blue 'K' is brought out by two male cheerleaders. The rest of the squad forms a giant pyramid, with the Wildcat mascot on top. Another tradition is the spelling of Kentucky -- cheerleaders dive on the floor to form the letters, and a cheerleader drops out after each letter. After the second K, the Y is formed by a UK legend, celebrity, or fan favorite. Ashley Judd, Venus and Serena Williams, former UK forward Tayshaun Prince, UK career scoring leader and NBA coach Pat Riley, Lexington native/soap opera star Farah Fath, and former L.A. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda have been Y's.

- Tim Wiseman and Chris Johnson

2. Illinois

Our house: Most members of Orange Krush sit on the floor, behind the basket by the opponents' bench or on the sideline across from the benches. Because of the group's ever-increasing size, members who do not get courtside seats spend the game in the C-section, the top level of Assembly Hall. 

Signs of madness: Signs are not allowed in Assembly Hall, but the Orange Krush make up for it with chants. They crouch and start when an opposing player is ready to shoot, then spring up, thrust their arms in the air and lean left and right as if on a rollercoaster. The Krush also likes to confuse opponents when their shot clocks are running down. The fans will chant "Five, four, three..." when there are really 10 seconds left. In almost every game this season, opponents have fallen for this, firing rushed shots that rarely go in.

Dress for success: Krush members are issued a bright orange T-shirt with a new logo and slogan for each season. Midway through the Big Ten season, they get a surprise gift, from headbands and orange trucker hats to Weber Grills (Illinois' coach is, after all, Bruce Weber) and bright orange aprons with logo.

The ticket: Who sits where is determined by place in line, so it's good to get to the arena early and wait outside in the Champaign cold. At the beginning of the 2005-06 season, the Krush passed the $1 million mark of money donated to charity. No one who raises the required minimum dollar amount is turned away from the Krush section, which is why the group has had to expand into the C-section. It has has doubled in membership over the last few seasons. The section now numbers 1,200.

Overtime: The Orange Krush plans at least one road trip each season. Last season, the Krush chairs told Michigan that they were a youth group from Chicago and bought a block of tickets. They signed up for campus tours, and members posed for photos with Michigan coaches and players. No one knew who they were until game time.

- Courtney Linehan

1. Duke

Our house: We did everything in our power to unseat the Cameron Crazies but in the end, we had to agree with Dickie V: Duke's Student Section is No 1. Rumor has it that the air conditioning in Cameron Indoor is turned off for big games to crank up the heat and make it an even more intimidating. Approximately 1,500 undergraduates line either sideline, within arms reach of the players. About 1,000 graduates pack the bleachers behind one of the baskets. There's no such thing as a bad seat, but those who show up just before tip-off are often turned away.

Signs of madness: Opponents are welcomed by the infamous Cameron Crazies, who have made Chris Paul cry and visibly frustrated Julius Hodge, forcing him into one of the worst games of his career. Chants range from "Let's go Duke" to "Go to Hell Carolina, Go to Hell" to the absurd and creative. The Crazies waved bars of soap on a rope at Rashad McCants after he compared playing at UNC to being in jail, and looseleaf paper joints at a St. John's player who had been caught smoking weed. Speedo Guy is the ultimate free-throw distraction. As the students sit down, he strips to his Speedo and dances around. UNC is 0-for-4 from the line with Speedo Guy staring down the shooter.

Dress for success: While most Crazies wear Duke gear, many strip and cover themselves with Duke Blue paint, leaving no skin uncovered. Others cheer the Blue Devils in Gorilla suits, referee outfits and business suits. When Georgia Tech's Luke Schenscher came to Cameron, several Crazies dressed up as the center's look-a-like: Ronald McDonald. When Roy Williams made his UNC debut in Cameron, he was welcomed by characters from the Wizard of Oz chanting, "You're not in Kansas anymore." During that game, a student dressed in a Sean May uniform crawled around the court, chasing a Big Mac box dangled from a fishing rod.

The ticket: With an undergraduate enrollment of about 6,400, almost everyone who wants to see a game can -- unless UNC is the opponent. All games are free, and students pack Cameron, often waiting for hours to gain entrance.

Overtime: In 1986, 15 students pitched a tent in the quad outside Cameron in anticipation of the showdown with North Carolina. Krzyzewskiville was born. It has become a tradition to pitch tents, sometimes more than two months before the UNC game, to claim the best seats. Mike Krzyzewski often gathers K-ville residents for "team meetings" at which he answers questions.

- Michael Van Pelt

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