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Animal House
Austin Murphy
November 19, 1986
When the students at Duke turn out for home games, the idea is to have fun. At least they think it's fun
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November 19, 1986

Animal House

When the students at Duke turn out for home games, the idea is to have fun. At least they think it's fun

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Intellectual and basketball snobbery share a bleacher seat at Duke. A sign in Butters' office reads N.C. STATE WAS CREATED TO CORRECT THE CHAPEL HILL MISTAKE. DUKE IS HERE TO GIVE THEM BOTH AN EDUCATION. Even more difficult for visitors from Chapel Hill to stomach was the Duke students chanting "Private school! State school!" before the Carolina game last March, and then, putting entirely too fine a point on it, "We're smart! You're dumb!"

Q: Would students who are, by their own account, enlightened, flay someone for an unfortunate physical attribute?

A: Let us count the ways.

Short people have an especially turbulent time of it in Cameron. The Atlanta Hawks' Spud Webb, formerly an N.C. State guard, used to hear chants of "Hormones, Spud, hormones!" But at 5'7", Webb still has four inches on Tyrone Bogues, the Wake Forest guard whom Dukies know as Webster.

We're just following tradition, say the Animals. That they are. A few years ago, whenever he saw time in Cameron, corpulent Virginia forward Dan Merrifield was greeted with cries of "Orca!" In 1979, Tar Heel forward Mike O'Koren's acne earned him a banner proclaiming him OXY-1000 POSTER CHILD, on the off chance he wasn't already sufficiently self-conscious. Jim (Bozo) O'Brien, a Maryland forward in the early '70s, was easy to spot because of his thinning, curly red hair. During warmups at Duke one winter's night, a Student Animal sporting a red rubber nose, floppy shoes and a red Bozo the Clown wig joined the layup line behind O'Brien. Dueling Bozos. The crowd went wild.

In 1982, after a vituperative letter from an ACC coach, Duke officials imposed a "Buffer Zone" between the Student Animals and the visitors' bench. Tickets for those seats now go to relatives and friends of the guest team, who create a sort of human moat. "Before the Buffer Zone," recalls senior Phil Shaikun wistfully, "you could lean down over the players and address them. You could have actual dialogue with them."

Shaikun is a "Bogger," a member of Duke's Bunch of Guys house, a sort of unfraternity. Over the years, as Duke fans have earned their reputation, Boggers have marched in the vanguard. The family Krzyzewski—Coach K, his wife, Mickie, and their three daughters—attend a BOG barbecue every spring. Mickie has been known to sit behind the Boggers in Cameron and occasionally prompt them. "As far as I know," says Coach K, "we're the only major college program that gives its best seats to the students. They surround the court. And they don't sit down. It's a unique setting. I really like our situation here."

It's mutual. Krzyzewski is almost certainly the only NCAA coach to have had a village named after him. A few days before important home games, several dozen hard-core Dukies customarily bivouac in Cameron's shadow. As tip-off time nears, the number of squatters grows. Among the cardboard crates, tents and lean-tos blighting the campus before last March's North Carolina game, a hand-painted sign stood on prominent display: KRZYZEWSKI-VILLE: POPULATION 300+.

Behind the sign, a Cabbage Patch Tar Heel twisted on a length of clothesline, hanging by its chubby neck from a miniature gallows. On the eve of the game, wandering among his backers—whom he had just treated to 15 pizzas—Krzyzewski spied a group playing the board game Risk. "Who's got Poland?" he wanted to know.

Game Day starts early in Krzyzewskiville. Tents are struck at dawn's early light. An hour after sunup the line of Dukies waiting to invade Cameron wends back half a mile, 6 to 10 abreast. The doors will open at 11, tip-off is at 1. Beer rapidly establishes itself as the breakfast of choice. Meanwhile, anti-Tar Heel slogans are scrawled on posterboard and bed sheets. Blue wigs are donned, forged tickets are compared. When Devil with a Blue Dress On, the Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels classic, blares over someone's box, the queue boogies as one. Bare-chested against the elements, four freshmen daub bright blue paint on one another. Is this a ritual slathering designed to psych them up, to fulfill some remnant primal urge? "Nah, we want to get on TV," one says.

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