No sympathy for the Devils

College basketball: Nothing rouses Terps fans like facing Duke. Why? There are 25 years of reasons.

Maryland Vs. Duke

January 21, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

Asher Page, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Maryland, has a frizzy red wig on his head, the letter "P" painted on his chest, and the Duke Blue Devils on his mind.

"I absolutely can't stand them," said Page, who, with the help of some friends, spelled out GO TERPS! in the front row of the student section during Maryland's 90-84 victory over North Carolina last week. "They're a bunch of rich snobs, and they don't respect us at all. ... We don't like North Carolina, either, but it doesn't even compare to how much we hate Duke."

Page and his friends certainly aren't alone. Tonight when Maryland and Duke tip off at Comcast Center, the decibel level from nearly 18,000 fans will rival that of a jet airplane. Obscenities will fly, cheers will erupt, and students will proudly wear T-shirts comparing the Blue Devils to both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Win or lose, tonight's game will only add fuel to a series that, during the past 25 years, has evolved into an obsession for Maryland fans. Duke is not just another game on the schedule. It is the game.

"When you grow up in Maryland, you learn two things as a child," said Kristen Hogan, a sophomore at Maryland. "To hate the Yankees, and hate Duke. It's like your birthright."

But how did things get this way? How did Duke go from being seen as the other school in North Carolina to being the focus of such animosity in College Park?

The best -- and perhaps only -- way to answer that question is with a history lesson. Years and years of classic battles between the two schools have helped make the matchup one of the most anticipated in college basketball each year. From the legendary wit of Lefty Driesell to the legendary intensity of Gary Williams, here's a look back at the games that shaped a rivalry.

March 1, 1980 -- Duke 73, No. 7 Maryland 72: If you want to know where it all began, you need to travel back nearly 25 years and picture Terps forward Buck Williams -- knees bent, arms raised -- standing under the basket, poised to snag an offensive rebound in the closing seconds of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against Duke at Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum. Trailing by a point, Albert King takes a turnaround jump shot from 18 feet, and the ball bounces high off the rim, then hits the rim again on the way down before trickling off. What happened next has been debated ever since.

"Everyone felt like [Duke forward] Kenny Dennard undercut Buck," said Jack Zane, who was Maryland's sports information director for nearly 20 years. "But there was no foul call."

The ball eventually found its way into the hands of Blue Devils guard Gene Banks, and the game found its way into Maryland lore as one of the most difficult losses ever. It was the fourth time Driesell had taken a team to the ACC championship game, and the fourth time he came away a loser.

"I think that game right there was what started the rivalry," Zane said. "Prior to that, it was all Carolina. The players were just devastated in the locker room afterward. I remember Albert King was named the tournament MVP, but we couldn't find Albert to get him to accept the trophy. I finally found him sitting in the back corner of the shower, crying. ... Everyone was that upset."

Duke lost in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, and Mike Krzyzewski, who had gone 9-17 the previous year at Army, was hired to take over the program the next season.

March 11, 1984 -- No. 14 Maryland 74, No. 16 Duke 62: It was a very different feeling four years later, when Len Bias, from nearby Northwestern High of Prince George's County, then just a sophomore, scored 26 points against the Blue Devils to lead Maryland to the ACC championship in Greensboro. It was the first time Maryland had won the tournament since 1958, and it's a feat the Terps have not duplicated.

It was a particularly satisfying victory for Driesell, who, despite being a Duke alumnus (Class of '54), had always provided the Blue Devils fans with plenty of comic fodder. On trips to Cameron Indoor Stadium, Driesell was teased unmercifully by fans wearing skullcaps.

"After the [championship] game, Lefty joked that he wanted to put the trophy on the hood of his car and drive around North Carolina for two weeks," said Johnny Holliday, Maryland's radio announcer since 1979. "Only Lefty could get away with saying something like that."

"They were definitely the pretty boys, and we were definitely the state school [kids]," guard-forward Adrian Branch said. "We had a little edge to ourselves. We just wanted to kick their tail, because of who they were, and what their [program] was becoming."

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