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This round's secret ingredient:
CROWD GOES WILD
East Coast Bias
There is wild, and then there is absolute Richter Scale bedlam. All four of us were present for the same volcanic eruption of emotion, and it changed our perspective.
January 17, 2002. Maryland fans had been waiting for five years to see the highly-ranked Terps beat Duke in College Park. The year before was crushing. Fans were ready to storm the court before Maryland lost the game in the most heartbreaking way possible, choking away a 10 point lead in 54 seconds.
The next year, hopes were high again. The Terps had jumped out to a 7 point lead in the first half and fans were starting to think they'd finally get to see a win over Duke. Jason Williams held the ball for the final possession of the first half and Terp fans were thinking how great it would be to go into halftime up by 5. Steve Blake had other ideas.
As Williams dribbled to run out the clock, he kept checking back to look at Coach K for instructions. He looked back once, twice, and the third time he tried, Steve Blake broke on the ball, timing his move perfectly. Blake was halfway down the court before Williams even knew the ball had been stolen. The entire building went nuts as Blake completed the play by making a very difficult layup around a recovering Williams.
The explosion of emotion is difficult to describe, because our desperate fascination with Duke makes no sense to most outsiders. The fact is that Duke had some psychological hold on not just our team, but our students as well. They can't be a more prestigious academic institution AND better at basketball, can they?!?! Steve Blake instantly TOOK Duke's mystique from them, and we knew this time was going to be different.
Most of us don't get to play in a packed stadium. We don't know what it's like to have thousands of eyes focused down upon us. And we sure don't know what it's like to make what would objectively be called "a crowd" go wild. But fortunately, defining a crowd is a subjective determination, and limitless glory and timeless anecdotes can come from even the presence of a small one. The following is based on real events, although much of it has been altered to make me look cooler. If you have a problem with that -- or if you're Canadian -- please feel free to send me an email, which I will eagerly ignore.
The Canadians are way ahead -- again. Not your stereotypically soft-spoken, polite pushovers, these Canadians are dirty, loud, boorish, insufferable and equipped with a combined 13-foot wingspan that have enabled each of them to stretch nearly half the distance between the sets of cups.
All night, they've dominated the table -- accumulating defeated victims; destroying interest; crushing hope. And after each successive victory, strutting around the table -- arms spread and head bobbing -- they've rubbed it in our faces, incessantly repeating "Are you not entertained?!?"
Down to our last lonely blue solo cup, we look across to see red cups with friends, six of them in a perfect ordered triangle. It seems we're destined to join the unfocused chatter surrounding us -- a fate that seems all the more sealed when -- plop -- a plastic miniature basketball, 4 centimeters in diameter, swooshes into our final drink.
But still, life -- albeit, very little. Armed with a shoot-til-you-miss retaliatory shot each, my partner and I could dampen defeat -- a task at which he miserably fails.
And with just me left, the unfocused chatter orders itself momentarily as the Canadians next victims scramble to prepare for our spot at the table and as my shot flies into the air.
Plop. Collective Sympathy. Plop. Intrigue. Plop.
Now, with half the remaining cups from only a moment ago, a single voice, perhaps sensing something special -- or perhaps unaware he is saying anything at all -- starts slowly and deliberately, "U... S...A.... U... S... A...." Others join in with hesitations and reservations. Plop. The chant moves faster and grows slightly louder.
"U.. S.. A!.. U.. S.. A!..." Plop. All hesitations and reservations are gone. Everyone is here. Everyone is watching. Everyone is screaming, "USA! USA! USA!..."
Plop... Overtime... And the Crowd Goes Wild.
Knibb High Football Rules!
/rich kids assemble tents behind him…
/bends over…/slaps floor…/replaces hips…
/flings poo at Bill Belichick
/ plays music…
/starts fog machine…
/riots, loots, burns Millen in effigy
/parties with sexy undergrads…/suspended
/turns camera on…
/forgets to check IDs.../awaits trial
Well there you have it. Three altogether different takes on CROWD GOES WILD. Cast your vote for who best used the secret ingredient in the comments. As Abe Lincoln once said, "Vote or Die, bitches." Or was the Puff Daddy? I always mix those two up.