SU hoops fans get amped up for Duke game

SU hoops fans amp up for Duke game

Despite a tragedy that has rippled through the Syracuse community, basketball fans aren't deterred from packing the Loud House.
Published: February 23, 2019
SU vs Duke Basketball Pregame
Students party on the Delta Kappa Epsilon house porch before heading to the Carrier Dome for the Syracuse-Duke game.

It’s been a rollercoaster week for the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team: they had a 20-point upset against No. 18 Louisville, followed immediately by the news that head coach Jim Boeheim had been involved in a fatal accident and then the uncertainty of whether he would coach today’s game against No. 1 Duke — or if the game would happen at all.

Although ESPN College GameDay canceled its visit to Syracuse and instead broadcasted the show from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., that didn’t stop fans from wanting to be a part of what was anticipated to be a record-setting game of more than 35,000 faithful fans inside the Carrier Dome.

Sean Manzella, Broadcast and Digital Journalism freshman (left), and Alex French, University of Connecticut freshman (right), slide down the icy driveway after leaving a pre-game party along University Avenue.

“I was going to come out here, GameDay or no GameDay,” SU senior Josh Horowitz said. He had been camped out in “Boeheimburg” near the Gate P entrance since 10 Thursday morning.

Horowitz was joined by about a dozen other dedicated Otto’s Army members who set up camp the night before in hopes of securing a front row seat in the student section. Since then, the diehard fans rotated shifts to make classes during the day while still maintaining their spots in line.

“You have to plan it out in advance,” Horowitz said. “Communication is 100 percent necessary.”

Though the weather was not too cold, at least by Syracuse standards in February, and the campers and their tents were shielded from the wind and elements at this particular gate, their dedication to stick it out until Saturday afternoon is admirable.

Sophomore Haley Vaughan said the campers passed the daytime playing cornhole and hanging out. However, the sleeping accommodations for the past couple of nights were less than ideal.

“The concrete sucks the life out of you,” Vaughn said about sleeping on the ground, mentioning a desire to run home and grab a comforter.

Vaughan said she and her friends built camaraderie around making signs and coming up with chants to use during the Duke game.

“It’s a community at this point,” she said.

While Otto’s Army members had positioned themselves to be first in line, they certainly weren’t alone.

SU pregame vs Duke
Syracuse and Duke's fierce rivalry and mild winter weather brought fans together for tailgate along East Adams Street prior to the game.
Syracuse and Duke's rivalry and mild winter weather motivate tailgaters to set up along East Adams Street prior to the game.

The SU-Duke rivalry had already produced one thriller with the Orange upsetting No. 1 Duke in overtime at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, creating an intense hype for Saturday’s rematch.

Tickets sold out weeks ago and the interest only intensified with the unusual nature of Duke forward Zion Williamson’s injury against North Carolina that sidelined him Saturday and then the uncertainty of Boeheim’s return to coaching.

In the end, the 35,642 in attendance would eclipse SU’s two previous records as the largest gathering for an on-campus college basketball game by nearly 200 fans — and yet another testament to the excitement the Orange can generate here in Syracuse.