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The other side

Duke-UNC women's game proved to be just as nasty

Posted: Wednesday February 6, 2008 11:52AM; Updated: Wednesday February 6, 2008 11:52AM
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LaToya Pringle scored a team-high 18 points as North Carolina downed Duke, 92-76 on Monday.
LaToya Pringle scored a team-high 18 points as North Carolina downed Duke, 92-76 on Monday.
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Joanne P. McCallie thought she knew a little something about rivalry games. As the head coach at Michigan State, she'd been a part of plenty intense games against Michigan. As an assistant at Auburn, she knew how fierce the hatred between the Tigers and Alabama could be.

In her first season as head coach at Duke, the word rivalry took another meaning for McCallie. "It's a great tradition," she said. "I was used to fans being determined at birth. The difference is the whole emphasis of the triangle area is basketball. It heightens the rivalry even further. There is no better basketball rivalry than Duke-Carolina."

Even a 93-76 loss to the No. 3 Tar Heels on Monday couldn't diminish McCallie's enthusiasm about her first experience with the big game. She took part in it all, even handing out donuts to the Cameron Crazies. "They have such an ability to affect the energy," McCallie said. "Those Cameron Crazies are real. Everyone tries to copy them, which of course is the highest compliment. You look across the country, and everyone is jumping up and down and doing that thing with their hands."

And on Monday, the Crazies were performing to the very end. Even with their team trailing with 13 seconds left, the Duke faithful didn't let up. Their chants of "airball, airball" rung loudly after North Carolina's Jessica Breland missed the everything on a free throw attempt.

Despite being on the losing end of her first UNC-Duke game, McCallie said she couldn't help but notice the fan support to the end.

"They give great energy with some things they say and do," she said. "It is such a very unique basketball experience. I would have died to play in that environment. It's truly unique, how they never quit. Even when we were not doing our part, they were there to the end."

Of course, Monday was just the beginning of the Duke-UNC rivalry for this season. Tonight, the Duke men will travel to the Dean Dome. McCallie and her team will be on the road as well, preparing to take on Boston College. So, she won't have the chance to experience the other half of college basketball's most heated rivalries.

She will be watching, though. "Given the tradition that Mike [Krzyzewski] has created at Duke, it's gotta be times 10," she said. "I can't even imagine. It has to be absolutely unbelievable."