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Remembering CSU’s Previous Games Vs. Duke

November 8, 2019

Tonight will be the 3rd time in CSU’s history that they will play the Duke Blue Devils. When I step into Cameron Indoor Stadium tonight, it will be the third time I’ve seen the two teams play live.

The first time was in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City in 2003. I remember attending the selection show at the McGraw Center wearing my Duke sweatshirt because it was being predicted heavily that the two would meet. Roars met the announcement on the TV. ANd afterward I stopped by to chat with Head Coach Dale Layer who shared his respect for Coach K based on experiences he had while coaching Queens College in Charlotte.

And then of course I remember the 39″ of show that fell midweek, putting our drive to SLC in jeopardy. A lot of shoveling and neighborhood pooling of money to pay a guy with a plow ( my neighbor was an OB/Gyn and needed access to the hospital.) and somehow we made it out of the neighborhood . The first 300 yards were the hardest.

What do I remember about the game?

I remember a crowd that gave CSU the greatest home advantage they have ever had. All in the crowd of 15000, other than a small Duke contingent, cheered loudly for the Rams. And the game was close throughout as CSUs SSenior leaders Brian Greene and Andy Birley did what seniors do. With two minutes to go, CSU trailed by 2 and the ball. They ran an inbounds play and the Red Sea parted for Micheal Morris to those down a vicious driving dunk. But als, Mike had taken a short skippy step and was called for traveling. I am convinced that a Morris dunk would have lifted the roof and propelled the Rams to victory that night.

But it wasn’t to be as CSU was forced to foul and Duke’s wonderful freshman JJ Redick calmly drained free throws pushing the final margin to 10.

What a game?

The second meeting was at Duke on December 7th 2011. It felt like Coach Tim Miles had given me a personal gift when he shared a copy of the contract the summer before. December 7th is my anniversary and of course we would head back to celebrate.

Because I’m not enough of a high roller with CSU, I had to look for tickets through different sources. My good friend Dr Bill Mallon, whom I had attended Duke with and whom I had later caddied for on the PGA Tour, was living in the area and he kindly arranged for a pair of tickets that turned out to be in the Duke Athletic Department section.

You may recognize this guy who sat about 3 seats down from Robin and I.

The Duke team that year was loaded with six flute NBA players, manu of whom are still playing. Austin Rivers, Seth Curry, Quinn Cook, Mason Plumlee, Miles Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly. CSU was led by Dorian Green band Pierce Hornung but Hornung had to miss the game after suffering a concussion vs Stanford earlier in the season.

CSU began the game well but Duke,s athleticism took over and the Blue Devils won by 20+. But something remarkable happened that day as Tim and staff somehow transcended the loss and used it as a teaching moment for their players. I am convinced that this game was the one that gave the players confidence they could play and they springboarded it into an NCAA At-Large bid later that season.

I also remember Miles sending me a photo that I don’t have anymore that was never shared with anyone. He and staff regularly used the expression GATA (Get After Their Asses) with his team. Tim left a souvenir on the wooden border of the whiteboard in the visitors locker room that night. GATA written in permanent black Sharpie.

I doubt that the same whiteboard exists 8 years later. If not there physically, the thought is still there that links this year’s squad to those marvelous teams of the past.

GATA Rams,

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