Taste Test

Fans: Urged to keep it clean, UM students face a big exam regarding their tactfulness tomorrow night.

Maryland Vs. Duke

February 11, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - The Duke Blue Devils will be at Maryland tomorrow to add a chapter to one of college basketball's best rivalries. ESPN will be here, too, in another huge game for the Terrapins and an equally big test for their fans.

For university and athletic department officials, Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams and many others, the game will gauge the success of efforts to curb inappropriate behavior at Terps sporting events and alter the image of the school's student fan base that was sullied the last time Duke was in town.

Vulgar chants directed at Blue Devils guard J.J. Redick were audible on ESPN's national broadcast, resulting in an avalanche of negative attention that branded students and embarrassed university officials.

"This is the largest stage," said Michael Lipitz, Maryland's senior associate athletic director for administration. "Fairly or unfairly, people will look at this game more so than others. It's an opportunity to continue a positive trend that started here in the [Florida State] football game.

"It's an opportunity to determine how students are viewed by the nation ... for the entire weekend. We'll be on national TV [See Fans, 4c] [Fans, from Page 1c]

from [today] to Sunday."

ESPN2's morning show, Cold Pizza, is visiting the university today, the start of what is being billed as "Maryland-Duke Weekend." The network's College GameDay crew will air live from Comcast Center tomorrow morning and at other times throughout the day, leading to the game broadcast.

On Sunday afternoon, the Maryland women's team takes on Duke (ESPN2), with the school hoping to break the attendance record of 14,500 for an Atlantic Coast Conference women's game.

"We want the cameras to go into the student body and not be afraid to show the students," said Williams, who will speak to the students in the audience for College GameDay tomorrow morning. He also wrote a letter to the student body in yesterday's Diamondback, the school's student newspaper.

"We'll see what happens," he said. "There has certainly been enough said about it, written about it and enough meetings about it. I think we've done very good with it all. [Students] know how I feel. I think the majority of our students want it to be a crazy [atmosphere], but a good crazy."

Creative chanting

This season, the crowd at Comcast Center has been more creative than crass. When North Carolina State star Julius Hodge, who has been jeered in College Park nearly as much as Redick, was here last month, he was greeted by chants of, "Julia," and sent off with shouts of "Won't get drafted!"

The fans directed chants of "Napoleon" at Georgia Tech's 7-foot-1 redheaded center, Luke Schenscher, who they apparently felt resembled the lead character from the popular movie Napoleon Dynamite.

"I don't know if the J.J. chant will happen again, but I think students have made progress with the chanting," said junior Andrew Rose, the senior vice president for the Student Government Association, who admitted that he is more concerned with post-game rioting. "Gary Williams has gone out and let students know that's not what fans do."

Fans still shout "Sucks" and shuffle newspapers at the introduction of the opposing team, though another one of the fans' favorite customs was missing in action until Tuesday night's game against Virginia Tech.

The Student Sportsmanship Committee, which became a standing committee late last year after the fallout from the Duke game, asked the band to cease playing - at football and basketball home games - Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2," a song that prompts most Terps fans to customarily add a chorus of "You Suck," and "We're gonna beat the hell out of you," while pointing to the opposition. That move wasn't well-received by many students, who got the chant going Tuesday for the first time this season.

"I understand that they don't want a lot of vulgarity, but to elevate a phrase like `You suck' to that level, where they feel it has to be banned? For me, it's taking away from what has been a great college experience, and I just think the benefits of [the song] far outweigh the negative consequences," said Brett Cohen, 20, a senior from Silver Spring.

The university went to the state attorney general's office in late January 2004, not long after the Duke game, and asked if it had any recourse to deal with the issue without violating students' First Amendment rights. Officials were advised they could draft a policy limiting offensive chants, signs and clothing; however, a student task force decided against it and gave students an opportunity to police themselves.

The results have been well-received.

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