In Cameron?

Steve Lavin is a big believer in that whole “the Cameron Crazies are the best basketball fans in the world” narrative.

Last night on College Game Night, the upcoming UNC-Duke game was discussed with Jimmy Dykes and Steve Lavin breaking down the keys of the game. Dykes readily declared that UNC would win the game to which Lavin was absolutely incredulous saying:

“In Cameron?!?!”

Apparently Lavin thinks it is nearly impossible to win in Durham and is also wholly unfamiliar with the nature of this game. He is also ignorant of two other important points.

1. Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Marcus Ginyard, Mike Copeland and Bobby Frasor are 2-0 at Cameron. Besides that allow me to offer this reminder of the last time Tyler and Co. came to Durham for Senior Night.


2. UNC is undefeated on the road this season. In fact, a UNC win on Saturday would mark the first time(as far as I know) since 1957 a UNC team has finished a season undefeated on the road. These Tar Heels are battle tested on the road and have played in some tough venues this season and met every challenge. I also think when you are discussing this group of UNC players, it appears to me that playing in front of a hostile crowd just does not bother them and I am almost to the point where I think they have played better in some stretches on the road than they do at home.

And none of this takes into account the fact that Cameron and the Crazies have really jumped the shark in my opinion. When they first hit it big in the mid 1980s, they were witty and brought Duke a legitimate edge at home. However there came a point where the Crazies started reading their own press. They went from being original and entertaining to being somewhat ho-hum. I also think teams that play there every year like UNC and Maryland simply adjust to the crowd because their coaches have won there enough to keep their teams properly focused. I mean there is only so many times you can go in there and listen to the crowd go “OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH” for two minutes before it simply stops annoying you.

In short, to answer Lavin’s awe of Cameron, there are many things that will happen during the course of this game UNC should be genuinely concerned about. The crowd is not one of them.


46 Responses to In Cameron?

  1. 52BigGameJames says:

    outstanding post THF! does this mean you’re warming to Dykes?

    Tell you what–a good story imo would be to interview some of the original “crazies”, and get their take on the latest versions. My guess is that the really good ones pre-date K, beginning in the Gminski/Banks/Spanarkel era…something to do with “organic creative aids”.

  2. Will says:

    I’m pretty sure our guys haven’t forgot that Duke kicked our ass in the Dean Dome a month ago. Hopefully, they will be ready to play their best game.

  3. william says:

    Duke was even selling out the place in the early 80’s. I think most of the anecdotes you hear about were during the successful Foster years and then between 1984 and 1989 or thereabouts.

  4. william says:

    should read “was not even selling out”

  5. Tom says:

    But what about those scary jazz hands when the Heels are trying to inbound the ball? There’s not much more intimidating than a gym full of dance and theater majors.

  6. william says:

    In terms of going undefeated on the road, that is a good question. To my recollection, there are only a handful of years where that could have happened, 1976, 1984, and 1987, years were the Heels went 11-1, 14-0, and 14-0 in the ACC. They had a couple of 12-2 years in the ACC where it might have happened but I can’t remember off the top of my head. I believe in 1969, they lost to USC at home and also to Duke, both games by a point, but I think the Duke game was on the road.

    The other thing is that, like the Football Giants, it is not just on the “road,” but away from home that the Tar Heels have been successful which includes neutral courts, which bodes well because the NCAA tourney is played on neutral courts. If you include neutral games, then I don’t think Carolina has gone undefeated away from home since 1957. In 1984, Carolina lost to Arkansas in Arkansas, but in Pine Bluff, which may have technically been regarded as a neutral court.

    Because this issue is of interest to fans and to the RPI, the NCAA has tried to put forth guidelines for what is a home game, that could make those Duke retreats to N.J. be deemed home games. Pre-season tourney games are obviously neutral, but I believe that now if team A invites team B to play a game and team A makes the arrangements, then the committee designates Team A as the home team. Thus, while many deemed Carolina’s game against Davidson as a neutral game, I believe that technically, it was a home game for Davidson in terms of RPI.

    Anybody know for sure?

  7. Dominic says:

    Tom………you just made me spit coffee all over the computer screen at work, lmao!!!

    THF, thank you for this website, when Tony’s Tarheel page closed since I’m stuck out here in kansas, I was worried I’d never find a UNC fan site as good as what Tony provided.

    (I get allot of flack not being a ku fan, but i still keep the newspaper headline from the last UNC win over ku hanging on the wall in my office at work)

    With all respect to Tony, I think I found a perfect replacement for my TarHeel fix. Keep up the great work.

  8. Displaced Tarheel says:

    Dominic…I know how you feel. I live in Champaign, Illinois. You can imagine how “popular ” I was when we beat the Illini in ’05.

  9. Dominic says:

    That must have been fun times! I was actually dating a girl who lived in lawrence a few years ago(it’s only about 20 min from where I live) and everytime I went to her place, I’d have my TarHeel vanity plate on my car, and my UNC window flag sticking out of the window. I received a few hand gestures, and refused to leave my car sitting anywhere I couldn’t see it through a window! This was if I recall the first season after Roy went back home and the ku fans were not happy to see me driving around their campus.

  10. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Dominic, your welcome, thanks for reading.


    In 1976 they lost at home to NCSU but they also lost to Wake Forest in the Big Four Tournament in Greensboro. So technically they went undefeated in true road games in 1976.

    In 1987 the Heels lost at Notre Dame.

  11. Steve says:

    If there’s one thing Lavin knows it’s homecourt advantage.

    In Lavin’s final year he lost 10 times at Pauley Pavilion, average attendance was one-third below capacity, and they were often booed off the floor.

    My mother is a Bruins fan and she gives a bitter laugh every time the ESPN studio guys call Lavin “Coach”.

  12. william says:

    Can you imagine? Prior to 1981, it was not uncommon for the Big 4 teams to face another of the group FOUR times during the season, because of the Big Four tournament. This what happened in 1975, as Carolina lost to State the first two times, but then beat them the final two times, including the ACC tourney final. It is not easy to beat a team four times!

  13. […] that Dook and Carolina enter this game tied for first. Hard to believe, actually. Tar Heel Fan is not concerned about the douche bags. Grant Wahl has some b-side info on Tyler. Doesn’t seem like […]

  14. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I saw that earlier. Tragic death of a popular student less than a year after Jason Ray was killed.

  15. william says:

    I would say a murder with multipe gunshot wounds is quite a bit worse, although every death diminishes us. There is something very strange about this.

  16. william says:

    Going back to basketball, THF, I came across this about Ty Lawson when I was looking for info about Eve Carlson and I was frankly shocked that this would be published:

  17. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Wow, that was incredibly stupid. Anyone that has watched him play these two games knows he was not coddling, he really had serious problems with the ankle and the darn thing still is not 100% thus the bulky ankle brace and the unwillingness to drive the lane into traffic.

  18. william says:

    I am kind of shocked that the DTH, with its history for excellence, would publish unsigned “kvetches”(save that for Duke or some Yankee school, we speak English in Chapel Hill).

  19. rbl says:


    The 1969 loss to South Carolina was in Charlotte in the days of the North-South Doubleheader. We beat them in Columbia.

    This is going to be a great game in Durham. I’m glad Duke beat UVA, which sets up the match perfectly.

  20. william says:

    Thanks, RBL. That explains how the hero of the game Bobby Cremins was able to get back to Columbia in time to lose his virginity that night, as you might know the famous story that Cremins told Dean Smith 10 years later regarding that night, when he went to his first ACC coaches meeting after getting the GIT job.

    I used to love going to the North-South every year, although it was a pre-Cremins GIT and Furman match-up when I was old enough to go. Still, Furman pulled a couple of upsets.

  21. Josh Bowling says:

    I must say I am scared of this game, more so than our acc tournament coming up. First of all, I would rather finish 1st in the ACC than win the ACC tournament any day. We are in the process of finding ourselves yet again, due to ever-changing personele our team has endured this year. Playing the second best team in the conference while our star pg is just returning and getting used to/adjusted to his teammates doesn’t bode very well for UNC basketball. We will have to play like a team in order to be successful @ Cameron, as opposed to a collective group of individual star players. However, our current roster has experience winning and have been on the winning side of close games with them. Hopefully that killer attitude that we have demonstrated some this year will manifest itself come Saturday.

  22. william says:

    I expect the adversarial atmosphere to be muted by the tragedy at UNC today. I think that Duke will ask for a moment of silence to honor Eve Carson and then hopefully we will see a good game.

  23. TxTarheel says:

    I just want to kick some Duke butt on another Senior night. And I think i’d choose a different adjective than “killer” on any further posts, IMHO.

  24. 52BigGameJames says:

    wow-Ray Reeve-he of the gravelly cigar voice-iconic!

    check out the Nature-Boy in his prime, lol!

  25. Steve the State Fan says:

    Every time I see Lavin on TV, I thank God that Jed Clampett, oops I mean Lee Fowler, was unable to hire him a couple years ago. Sid may not ever coach his team to a win in Cameron, but at least he believes it’s possible.

    Obviously, Carolina won’t be intimidated by the gym, and I don’t think many teams are anymore. Jazz hands – that’s great. To quote Julius Hodge (I’m sure one of your faves) about the “crazies,” “I’m not gonna let some guy with a 4.5 GPA, acne, and bad breath determine how I’m gonna play.”

  26. Larry P says:

    I was at the South Carolina game at Carmichael when Cremins was a sophomore (no freshmen varsity players then) and he hit several free throws to beat us. I don’t remember what year, but it was either ’68 or ’69, and it wasn’t at Charlotte. I was a student back then and was devastated that a rookie guard could beat us.

  27. william says:

    Thanks, Larry, maybe we can all figure this out. I think it was 1968. The story about Cremins’ late night loss of virtue was in Art Chansky’s book about Dean Smith. That is right about the free throws. Apparently, Carolina was fouling him because he was a terrible foul shooter but he kept making them that night. Maybe they left Chapel Hill at 11 PM and she was waiting in Columbia at 4 AM, lol.

    You also bring up another interesting point regarding USC coach Frank McGuire, who seemed to have quite a bit of success against his protege, Dean Smith, apparently beating him in 1968, 1969, twice in 1970 and twice in 1971, which would make it 6 out of the last 9 times they met before USC left the ACC. Not many coaches would have that kind of run against Smith. Terry Holland, for example, only went 4-6 against Smith during the Ralph Sampson years. Dean would beat McGuire, however, in the Eastern Regionals in 1972.

  28. william says:

    As I check some materials, Cremins’ career ended in 1970, so the game in question must have been 1968.

    Cremins later talked about how nervous he was in 1971 watching the ACC tourney finals and said he had decided to leave the Church since there obviously was no God since USC was about to lose in heartbreaking fashion in the finals for the second year in a row, after losing in double OT to an NC State stall in 1970, when Kevin Joyce’s final shot got blocked by Led Dedmon resulting in a jump ball. Cremins’ reasoned that if such a great man as McGuire was faring no better than this against Carolina, there must not be a God. (Apparently, Cremins did not realize that St. Frank had exhausted almost a lifetime’s worth of luck back in 1957).

    Carolina proceded to botch the jump ball when the 6’3″ Joyce outjumped the 6′ 10″ Dedmon, tipping the ball towards Carolina’s basket where Dave Chadwick had failed to take his position to guard the basket. The ball when to Tom Owens of USC and he laid it in for the one point win, giving Dean Smith one of his three worse losses ever, along with the 1977 Marquette game and the 1984 Indiana game and giving Carolina maybe its most disappointing outcome in tournament history.(The 1976 loss to UVa was pretty awful too but at least Carolina got to go to the NCAA tournament. The 1971 team went instead to the NIT and won, beating Duke for the only time ever in post-ACC tournament competition.

  29. 52BigGameJames says:

    ok-sorry to correct, but this one’s burned into the memory of all who witnessed it—Joyce did NOT “out-jump” Dedmond!

  30. 52BigGameJames says:

    should anyone be interested in the origins of the Cameron Crazies:

  31. mugley says:

    Lavin is a prime example of what putting too much slickum on your head can do, wish I could remember the line from “O Brother” lol

    on a side note, its great to come here and read all the history in the comments, I’ve learned a lot and fascinating stuff fellows, thks

  32. william says:

    James, I was using the ACC tournament program from 1972 for the game summary. I was only 6 years old, so I don’t remember the game but I sure would love to see it if anyone has it on DVD. I notice in that blurb you provided that Joyce still claims to have gotten the tip, and people say that he was an excellent leaper, so who knows, I have never seen the footage.

    What might be happening is that the ACC tournament program does not want to say in its title summary (they have blurbs about all the title games) that “basically, Dean Smith blew this one.”

    According to Chansky, the 1971 loss to the Gamecocks was the only time that Smith ever blamed his players for a loss instead of himself, having allegedly said after the game, “I’m not taking the blame for this one.” Now let’s remember that Dean Smith was only in his 30’s at this time, and even if true, well, everyone says things they shouldn’t at some time.

    I noticee in Smith’s autobiography which came out 30’s years later, and which is excerpted in the link, that Smith refuses to name the player who made the mistake about where to line up (it was key reserve Dave Chadwick, now a very well known minister and radio personality in Charlotte) and says that if a player does not know what the strategy is or where to line up at the end of the game, that is the coach’s fault for not having taught him properly.

    In retrospect, it probably worked out for everyone. McGuire got his title with USC, richly deserved for their excellent play over two seasons. Carolina was not going to beat UCLA anyway, as they were too young and the Bruins were too good. We got to go to the NIT, where we won it all and got to beat Duke in NYC in the Semi-finals. Not too shabby.

  33. 52BigGameJames says:

    here’s my take fwiw–would love to hear others: with 3 seconds left, the “no-brainer” strategy would be for Dedmon to knock the ball towards the other end (which in similar situations for that time, was the consistent strategy for most teams), resulting in a USC “prayer-shot”, at best. Dean no doubt did over-think this one, and in retrospect, he’s said as much. Joyce was an excellent leaper, but not that excellent. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if both players are tipping the same direction, the claim could be made by the shorter player that he controlled the tip. This one was on Dean, but what’s apparently lost is that UNC had the game won, against superior opposition, which speaks to Dean’s coaching ability to get them to that point. As my Great-Uncle Don used to say: “everyone pays for an education”!

  34. 52BigGameJames says:

    and the NIT/UCLA reference is irrelevant when factoring in the “hate” engendered by Roche & Co over the previous seasons. Beating UCLA would have been nearly anti-climactic in that environment, and thats not much of an exaggeration.

  35. william says:

    Yes, but you have to remember, James, that half the conference was in North Carolina, then, with a quarter in South Carolina and then UVa and Maryland.

    The tournaments were always played in North Carolina, usually Raleigh or Charlotte, but in 1971, they moved to Greensboro, which was less than an hour from Chapel Hill, but over 4 hours from Columbia and UNC was playing more or less a home game. Up to this point, to my recollection, only one time had a non-North Carolina team won the ACC tourney and that had been years before when Maryland won one.

    The other thing is that yes, based upon the previous season, South Carolina had what appeared to be the better personnel, but during the year as things progressed, it became evident, as has happened this year with Duke and in 2006 with our own Tar Heels vis-a-vis Duke, that the personnel differences between the two Carolinas were far smaller in terms of quality than originally thought.

    George Karl versus John Roche–both excellent players, both future NBA’ers.

    Tom Owens versus Lee Dedmon–both excellent, perhaps advantage to Owens, but Dedmon got the Case award.

    South Carolina’s twosome above was probably slightly better, both in college and in the ABA and NBA and Tom Riker and John Ribock were decent players, but Carolina had the better bench and names such as Steve Previs, Bill Chamberlain, Dave Chadwick and Dennis Wuycik.

    The game was 21-19 at the half, with UNC leading. UNC led by 7 points, 42-35, with six minutes to play, which would be at least equivalent to a ten point lead nowadays. Several things were different back then, among them, the jump ball rule, and the absence of a shot clock or 3 point line.

    But more importantly in this game, there was a different rule with regard to the first six fouls during a half. Back then, you got a free throw attempt every time you were fouled, but only one, until the 7th foul. Then you got the bonus. This is why Lennie Rosenbluth has always been so far out in front in terms of free throws shot as he got at least one free throw every time he was fouled.

    Carolina began missing free throws and finished up the game making only a Clemsonesque 15-28 from the line, while South Carolina made 18-24 from the line, making up for their truly pitiful shooting performance from the floor, where they made only 17-61 shots from the floor, a phenonmenal number of shots for a game only in the low 50’s. Key to this was Tom Owens’ 19 rebounds. The “hero” Kevin Joyce was known as a talented but perhaps selfish player and even detrimental, went a pathetic 1-10 from the floor, but it was just enough to saddle Carolina with Smith’s first really crushing defeat in his career.

    According to some accounts, North Carolina-based CD Chesley was so shocked by the ending, having prepared for the UNC victory and post-game interviews, that they immediately cut off the feed as soon as the buzzer sounded causing some North Carolinians to think that the game might not have been over and wondering what was going on, while people down in South Carolina were enjoying the only win in the ACC tournament finals that the state would ever have, having beaten the smug UNC boys from their neighbor to the north and it just couldn’t have been any better thanthat.

  36. Josh Bowling says:

    Look TxTarheel, I had no clue about what happened when I made that statement about basketball. I don’t feel as if there was any need in you pointing that out. I am convinced anyone on this board would defer such language if any known prior incident had taken place. I just became aware of what happened on the 12’Oclock news today. Sorry if I offended you or anyone else with regards to that. I come on this site to discuss basketball, not world news. I nor anyone else on this particular site would have made such statement with a tregedy in mind. Please don’t assume that everyone on this site works at the University of North Carolina or listens to current media all day. I am not upset over you pointing this out, I am dissapointed that you would think I would use such an adjective having prior knowledge of what tragedy that had just taken place. Again, I am sorry.

  37. 52BigGameJames says:

    Spot on about Owens rebounding. Good Tarheel group for sure, but they didn’t have the same interior presence as SC’s twin-towers. McGuire’s act was wearing thin, even in Columbia at this point, and SC was hated everywhere they played during Roches’ tenure, so I’m not sure you can make a big case for that “home advantage”. Debatable whether the shocking nature of that loss was more severe than the previous when Leftwich “stole” the Championship from a heavily favored SC team….now THAT, was rich!

  38. william says:

    I thought he was being a bit rude when he said that to you and actually he was the one making a joke in bad taste with that crack but I just left it alone so as not to get into some big deal. We all know you Josh, you dont have to defend yourself.

  39. william says:

    No, James, 1970 was more shocking, but both years were unusual because the regular season champ did not win the tourney. That almost never happened until the NCAA expanded the tournament in 1975 and then it almost became the norm for the regular season champ not to win the tourney.

    I do think that McGuire and Sloan’s success in the early 70’s separated by McAdoo’s lone year does show that it is the players who win to a large extent and not coaches. When Sloan had David Thompson and the second best 7 footer in the history of the ACC, Smith could not beat State. When McGuire had Roche Rikker, Ribock, Joyce and Owens, McGuire got the best of Smith. When Smith had Kupchak, Ford, Walter Davis and Tommy Laguarde, guess what? Carolina was pretty good as they would be when they had Jordan, Perkins and Worthy.

    McGuire and Sloan eschewed Smith’s fancy offensive schemes and let their players free lance and McGuire even preferred a zone defense. Al McGuire was a carbon copy of Frank McGuire and freely admitted that Smith was a far better teacher of basketball than he was and lamented later that his son Allie had not gone to UNC instead. But guess what, when McGuire had Butch Lee and all those excellent big men during the mid-70’s, his success exceeded Smith’s.

    I still believe that Smith was the best X’s and O’s guy ever, and the master of the end game, which was something that he learned from McGuire initially, but I also think that there could be times where he did overcoach a bit.

    The success of the Four Corners was often over-rated. It worked great some times, but also other times looked ragged. Look at the Youtube video of Carolina vs State in the 1975 tourney and you will see. Carolina turned the ball over again and again in the Four Corners. That wasn’t what won the game. I think he did it more in a Sun Tzu sort of way, to annoy the opposing coach and just look who thinks he is slick by running the 4 corners at the end of games now: Coach K.

  40. rbl says:

    We lost at home in 1968 to South Carolina, ironically Larry Miller’s last home game.

  41. 52BigGameJames says:

    I never liked the 4 corners, but if ever a player was born to run it…

  42. william says:

    Larry Brown invented it. Someone wrote to SI this week and said that the dribble drive motion office is just the four corners with a 30 second clock.

  43. 52BigGameJames says:

    Dean invented the 30 second clock.

  44. william says:

    I think that part of the 4 corners emphasis was that he was offended by teams playing zone and he wanted to keep annoying everyone until college ball had a 30 second clock. And remember, just like Congress, they suckered everyone. They started out by turning it off in the last four minutes of the game, so that coaches could still use strategy in the last four minutes. And that lasted about 3 years. And don’t forget, he just kept doing it after the other teams stopped. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, the ACC tournament had a rash of ultra low-scoring games.

  45. 52BigGameJames says:

    william: I’ll take 68 & 72–shoot me a pm when you get a chance.

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