Friday, March 6, 2009

Best, worst of ACC arenas

I’ve received some e-mail this week regarding my story in Tuesday’s Charlotte Observer that asked whether Duke’s Cameron Crazies have lost their edge.

Some Duke fans agreed with the story’s premise that Duke’s students are more eager to dress up and get on TV than with coming up with witty ways to elevate the Blue Devils and rattle opponents.

Others accused me of being a North Carolina fan (which I’m not) and couldn’t figure out why anybody would criticize the best college basketball fans in America. I haven’t been to every arena in America, but I can break down the best and worst environments in the ACC.

Here’s what I’ve got:

The best

1. Duke: They may not be as inventive as they used to be, and they lose points for getting spit on my computer screen while jeering from behind me at Florida State’s Derwin Kitchen on Tuesday night. But Cameron still ranked first in my preseason poll of ACC players, and it was incredibly loud for the North Carolina and Wake Forest games.

2. Maryland: When Duke played up there on Feb. 25, an impressive number of students carried poster-sized photos of Jon Scheyer’s face twisted in an awkward position. When the Terps are desperate for a win, these fans can be intimidating.

3. Clemson: When the Tigers aren’t good, it’s a lousy atmosphere. But coach Oliver Purnell has his second straight NCAA tournament team, and Littlejohn Coliseum routinely sells out. The fans still are more accustomed to supporting the football team, but considering Clemson’s struggles in that sport, it may be on its way to becoming a “basketball school.”

4. Wake Forest: I love “Welcome to the Jungle,” but I’m not crazy about the motorcycle or indoor exhaust fumes. Still, the tie dye motif gives the Deacs some identity, and the arena has been electric for big wins over North Carolina and Duke this season.

5. North Carolina: Strictly because of its sheer size, the Smith Center noses out Virginia Tech’s Cassell Coliseum for the fifth spot on the list. The “wine and cheese” rap doesn’t stick anymore now that there are more noisy students close to the floor on the baseline. But the big-money boosters in the courtside seats still wait for the team to fire them up rather than taking their own initiative to motivate the team.

The worst

1. Maryland: How can it be one of the best and the absolute worst at the same time? Two words: No class. Chanting “(Bleep) you, Singler” in unison at one of Duke’s players was a low point. Coach Gary Williams ought to rein in the students the same way Mike Krzyzewski has at Duke.

2. Miami: Really, who can blame anybody for not getting excited about ACC basketball when the weather is gorgeous at that time of year and the beach beckons?

3. Florida State: The arena is an old county civic center that lacks the character of many on-campus facilities. The students are more energized than they used to be now that they’re standing behind press row, but basketball just really isn’t their thing in Tallahassee.

4. Georgia Tech: The atmosphere was dead even when Duke visited and it wasn’t yet clear just how bad the Yellow Jackets are on Jan. 14. Coach Paul Hewitt is lucky he has the nation’s top recruit (Derrick Favors) coming in and the economic downturn has made it difficult to justify buying out coaches.

5. Boston College: Got to wonder if it would be better if Connecticut and Providence were coming to Chestnut Hill every season rather than N.C. State and Florida State. Conte Forum might be a better facility for college hockey than for basketball.

And what of N.C. State? The RBC Center is a beautiful facility that causes opponents to compliment the amenities.

But it, too, is a much better building for hockey. Because it has to be used for hockey, the seats are too far away from the basketball court. That prevents noise from impeding opponents even when the arena is full. And let’s face it, it’s not often full.

If N.C. State still was playing at Reynolds Coliseum, it would have been difficult to choose between Reynolds and Cameron as the best atmosphere. The noise at Reynolds was sensational.

I remember covering an NIT game against Georgia in 1998, back when fans actually liked coach Herb Sendek, who was in his second season. The crowd was deafening – for an NIT game – and I decided that it’s almost unfathomable how loud that building must have been when David Thompson was starting at State.

The RBC Center doesn’t have nearly as much soul.

- Ken Tysiac


JAT said...

FSU does sell beer, however, and has more hotties in a row than have ever gradu-ma-lated from dook.

But, yes, Terp fans are dreck. Been to hundreds of sporting events and the only one I was CERTAIN I was going get jumped at was at Cole Field Hut whilst wearing a Carolina sweatshirt.


Oh, and when State can bother to sell out ANY game besides Carolina, you can mention their "home" arena.

Anonymous said...

To correct this article, it is the whine and cheese crowd at UNC. No one ever called it wine and cheese. WHINE, get it? The Dean Dome where the students do not get the best seats.

Anonymous said...

Ever heard of the "Thrillerdome"? Ever been to Alexander Colusium other than this year?

Georgia Tech has one awful year in the last 25 and you base the ranking on this. It is a great on-campus arena and there is not a bad seat in the house. There have been great games there and the crowds were rocking.

I expect pro-carolinas rankings from the paper but GT's arena is not among the worst. As good as they are, there is a basketball world outside Duke/UNC.

Anonymous said...

Reynolds Coliseum is a great place to watch basketball. Similar to Cameron, its small and lacks all the modern amenities, but the volume level can be deafening. I'm glad the Pack still play one home game there per year.

Anonymous said...

Also the RBC Center sells out plenty. I really don't know where you're getting your "lets face it" disinformation.

Anonymous said...

UNC would be right up their in noise with Cameron if they still played at Carmichael, but that place was/is a dump compared to Cameron overall.

Also, how can you one week say that Duke's fans have lost their craziness and reference the thugs at Maryland and this week say Gary Williams should reigned them in? We live in a P.C. world now, get used to not having any fun anymore unless it's P.C. to do so.

DT said...

Basically, the worse the sportsmanship shown by the fans, the "better" the arena is?

A big reason the Dean Dome is not as vulgar and noisy as other places is that the people there actually want to see basketball, not act like a spoiled mob of brats.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what has the leader of men who happens to coach basketball ever done to reign in the fans at CIS?

Chanting "Orphan," to a player who lost his parents to a murder/suicide is Klassy, and it hasn't gotten much better.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, how can CIS (stadium? more like a high school gym) be considered the best when the typical duke fan can't even watch a game there? Mostly only undergrads that can't even name half of the duke roster at any given time can get tickets. Also if all the noise, heat, and legions of dorks covered in body paint give duke such an advantage why has UNC won 4 of the 5 in CIS?

Anonymous said...

Worst Sportswriters on East Coast:
Ken Tysiac
Ron Green Jr.
David Scott
Robbie Pickle
J.P. Giggalo

Anonymous said...

"be considered the best when the typical duke fan can't even watch a game there? Mostly only undergrads that can't even name half of the duke roster at any given time can get tickets."

It should be mostly undergrads, we might be fans but it is their team. I believe it is a better system than having nothing bu 60 year old bosters up front.

Anonymous said...

"A big reason the Dean Dome is not as vulgar and noisy as other places is that the people there actually want to see basketball, not act like a spoiled mob of brats."

Excuse me while I try not to die laughing. The Dean Dome is full of the biggest load of bandwagon fans in the league. Some of the students may be there to watch basketball and a handful of the rest, but the majority are there to be seen and act snooty. It's the reason both the basketball arena and football stadium empty out like the joint's on fire when they're losing...

Reynolds was astoundingly loud, like Cameron. It should've been they're nearly identical. The RBC just doesn't have the soul that Reynolds did. It's cold and sterile. It's top notch as far as modern facilities go, but it's just not the same.

Anonymous said...

The typical Duke fan cat watch a game there because all the students get excited and camp out and quite frankly they deserve them. Unlike at chapel hill where snotty a-holes with money get the best seats so the can sit there and yawn all game unless they have vince carter doing a 360 between the legs dunk to get their asses off their seats. Unc doesnt even deserve to be on the list of best arenas for a college environment quite frankly.

Anonymous said...

Like the whine and cheeese rep, here they are, acting like the babies they are. The reason they have won 4 of 5 at CIS is because they have had MUCH better teams. That doesn't make the venue worse, its the crappy players Rat Face keeps recruiting. UNC fans suck dingleberries, friggin elite 8 game with tickets under face value and they didn't even fill it here last year.

Anonymous said...

"It should be mostly undergrads, we might be fans but it is their team. I believe it is a better system than having nothing bu 60 year old bosters up front."

all duke has is "up front" if they cared about their fan base they would spend some money on the only sport in their whole athletic program that can compete in the ncaa and build a larger venue. It is nice that the put the kids that only want to look stupid to get on tv during the games first but you would think that they could do better than that pos they play in.

This is one reason why their are more UNC fans in durham than duke fans. At least football and baseball tickets are easy to find. lol

mr wuf said...

Mike K, Duke fans and "class" in the same sentence? Was that a joke?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe a UNC fan called another group of fans "spoiled brats" are you kidding me? While Duke students have crossed the line many times, K does try to reign them in. I would agree with tthe assessment that Garyland is the bottom of the barrel when it come to class(lessness)

Anonymous said...

Ken great assessment of the arenas. Couldn't agree more on your analysis. As always you're the most objective writer in the conference. Not like most of the other UNC butt-boys, to borrow a term that Rush has been introducing us to a lot lately. But it seems to fit when you year all these writers fawn over the dean dome, which is nothing compared to even Littlejohn in Clemson.

John said...

Personally, I love the dimming of the lights and the Harley ridden by the Deacon at the beginning of the game at Wake

Anonymous said...

The UNC-FSU game I attended last year at the Dean Dome might have been the most boring, sleep-inducing athletic event I've ever witnessed. I'll never go back.

Anonymous said...

"The UNC-FSU game I attended last year at the Dean Dome..."

lol at F$U. F$U got busted again this week for cheating.
F$U fans can only get excited if meth. is involved.

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