The stroke of 11 precipitates a fearsome stampede for the good seats. Smith and the Tar Heels are mercilessly baited from the moment they emerge from the locker room. Hobbled by injuries, they lose 82-74, handing Duke its first outright regular-season ACC championship in 20 years. The defeated Heels dress hurriedly and bail out. No one else goes anywhere. Krzyzewski's five seniors linger on the court, wallowing in the win. The pandemonium takes on a different, joyous flavor. Students embrace, security police smile and loosen up. The lady and gentleman scholars of Duke stop screaming, "Go to hell, Carolina!" as they have all day.
The graciousness is but temporary. Soon the Dukies will be pulling files on upcoming NCAA tournament opponents, dusting off old maledictions, creating new ones. In three weeks, to lend their pet epithet a properly nautical bent, the Animals will chant "Die, ocean scum!" at Navy's Midshipmen. On March 31, during Duke's tangle with Denny Crum-coached Louisville for the national championship, the school mascot, the Blue Devil, will have a peculiar slogan painted across its chest: POND CRUM.
Report cards from last season are in: The Dukies are better-behaved than ever. According to sources, cleverness is winning out over crudity. "They haven't been nearly as negative or off-color as they were in the '70s and early '80s," says Krzyzewski. Not that the sounds in Cameron will ever be fit for a nun's ears. As long as sticks and stones will break our bones, and names will rattle the guy at the foul line, the Dukies will keep on doing their inhospitable thing.
Billy Tubbs says there's nothing so awful about that, and he is right...as long as it's clever.