Tournament fever! The spirit of St. Louis! A carload of Harvard undergraduates survived an extreme case of blue delirium this weekend in Providence, R.I., as Duke University dunked its way to the NCAA finals by defeating both Penn and Villanova.
From the moment an ardent Duke fan hugged me after Friday night's game until athletic director Tom Butters opened the first bottle of champagne at the Attleboro Holiday Inn on Sunday, Blue Devilirium slowly crept up on us until we found ourselves totally infected.
Blue Devilirium can be recognized by its many symptons--the most obvious one is the melange of blue and white clothes that appeared on every fan's body in sections 210-225 of the Providence Civic Center.
Bobby Murrah, the official Blue Devil who sports all the accoutrements of an underworld basketball fanatic including Blue Horns and a Blue Trident, was the only person on the basketball court available for an interview after Duke demolished Villanova yesterday, 90-72.
Murrah was chosen from more than 30 competitors for the honored "Blue Devil" position and he wanted to say hello to Henry Salloway, a sophomore at Harvard, so--"Hello, big Hen."
Now, where were we? Oh yeah, Blue Devilirium. There were Blue Devil buttons, Blue Devil beanies, Blue Devil scarves, jump suits, hats, pennants--and if we had stayed later, we might have seen Blue Devil drawers!
What were some of the highlights of tournament fever? Well, there was Gene Banks, standing on the shoulders of fans, with scissors in one hand cutting down a net, and Murrah's trident in his other hand, waving menacingly in the direction of the NCAA finals in St. Louis next weekend.
A special group of well-heeled alumni and fans comprised the "Iron Dukes." These stalwart Blue Devil supporters probably suffer the most from "tournament fever." Many Iron Dukes arrived in Providence on Thursday and decided to wait until Monday before returning to Durham, N.C. (The home of Duke) in order to enjoy an extra night of partying. Although this four-game weekend severely tested the imbibing endurance of fans, next weekend's trip to St. Louis could prove even more strenuous.
Our carload was thoroughly infected by tournament fever. Laura and Shrinivas Rajagopalan are both offspring of Duke professors and Doug Richards lives in Kentucky, which won the Mid-East regionals. Richards actually wore a Wildcats' shirt and hat into the Holiday Inn where all the Duke fans were celebrating. Doug was ribbed by numerous Duke fans, but at least the North Carolina residents were not averse to drinking Kentucky whiskey as they toasted the Blue Devil stars.
When the stars of the show, the Duke basketball team arrived at the hotel the crowd jammed into the lobby and chanted "We Got the Fever, We're Hot We Can't Be Stopped," as the individual players filtered through the doors Soon the song changed to "We Don't Give a Damn About Digger, Digger Digger Phelps (three times), We're from D-U-K-E, Duke." As expected, Notre Dame will be Duke's first-round opponent next weekend in St. Louis.
Since spring vacation begins next week, Laura has decided that the St. Louis climate really is pleasant and there are many places there to visit. Other than the Budweiser Brewery, Bill can't think of any reason for going to Missouri.
As Bill sees it, we should stay in New England and watch Wisconsin skate to its second NCAA championship in a row. After all, Providence is south o Cambridge and must be warmer than Massachusetts.
Well, we made up our minds--see you in Florida over vacation. Good luck Blue Devils and Badgers.
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