Saturday morning 8:15am
My friend and I climb into his car for our first to Clemson! We are leaving very early in hopes of knocking out the 4 and a half hour drive from Durham fast enough to get to Clemson in time to watch North Carolina vs. Kentucky and then the Lady Blue Devils play at UCONN. The weather is absolutely perfect and the stage seems set for a great day.
Saturday at 11am
We have been on the road for over two hours and I don't think we have talked about anything other than College basketball. I see the "Welcome to South Carolina" sign ahead and make a mental note that I have visited yet another state in this fine country! However I quickly learn that it certainly is not one of the better states.
Upon crossing the border into South Carolina we immediately realize a major oxy-moron. Every single billboard is advertising adult entertainment and encouraging truckers to stop at their spot. Yet we start channel surfing on the radio and all we find is very aggressive Christian preachers spewing the usual brimstone and hell fire type threats like they are God Almighty. Looking around at the scenery, I realize there is not much here in South Carolina.
Saturday at noon
We arrive at a gas station and I begin talking with the attendant who works there about my first trip to South Carolina. She explains to me that South Carolina has three things to offer, Myrtle Beach, Clemson Football and Charleston.
Saturday at 12:15am
We are 30 minutes from Clemson and are searching for the UNC vs. UK game on the radio. We search the entire AM dial, then the entire FM dial. We have no luck and I resort to calling my dad to find out what the score is.
As we arrive on Clemson's campus we realize there is no one there. The campus looks like a ghost town. We search high and low for a restaurant or a hotel that has a bar where we can have lunch and watch the games prior to heading to Little John. We can not find anything that is open and every hotel does not have a bar or restaurant. Finally a hotel desk worker points me to a place called "Rockhoppers" which is connected to a Ramada Inn. We walk in and are the only two customers for the next 3 hours. The food is good, the staff is very kind, especially since we are the only two people there and we have a great view of the game on the big TV after we ask for them to put the game on.
The second half of UNC vs. UK starts and we are very surprised that UNC still has the lead. Agreeing that watching the game is like being in between a rock and a hard place, we make the obvious decision that we want UK to win. We pull hard for UK (a first for me in this lifetime) and we watch as the Tar heels crumble and play overly cautious basketball once UK grabs a lead.
UK wins and the celebration is on. We are desperate to know why McCants was on the bench for the final 6 minutes and speculate that he has pissed off Roy yet again, which makes seeing UNC lose even sweeter. Lunch is complete, but we aren't going anywhere. We still have the place to ourselves.
They cut to the Duke vs. UCONN game which has already started. It is already 11-2 UCONN. As we watch it becomes 13-2 and it keeps getting uglier.
We are down a bunch at halftime and we decide to take a quick drive around campus to check out Clemson. We see Death Valley and a golf course with the brownest grass I have ever seen. I take some pictures.
We head back to "Rockhoppers" to watch the second half. I am pessimistic about our chances at this point. I grow even more negative when I see we are still down by 17, and then down by 20. We consider leaving and going somewhere to sulk, but decide that we are loyal fans and should stick with our girls no matter what. We are still the only two people are "Rockhoppers" which appears to seat about 200 people.
We are showing no signs of a comeback with 10 minutes to go. I am growing restless. I want to forget about this game and go watch the men play to get my mind off of it. But we stay!
5 minutes to go and we are down 14. It seems hopeless. We are missing a lot of shots.
We start to press and UCONN looks like a deer in headlights. UCONN appears to have never seen a press before. I grow a little optimistic and tell myself we are going to at least make it look respectable.
We cut it to 5 and it is a whole new ballgame! Then we hit a 3 and cut it to 2. I am in disbelief.
We steal the ball on another Taurasi turnover. It looks like she is trying to gift wrap this one for Duke with lazy turnovers as we tie the game.
Taurasi gives UCONN the lead with 4.7 seconds to go, plenty of time to get a good shot off. Harding passes to Foley for 3…………SWISH!!!!!!!! We go nuts, we are out of control. I run out of the place so I can celebrate without pissing off the waiters who have been so kind. I am running around the empty parking lot uncontrollably and hooting and hollering. I call Brittany Hunters dad and neither one of us say a word, all we do is yell "AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH", but it was an awesome moment none the less.
We arrive at Little John and take our seats. I am thrilled to see how close to the Clemson cheerleaders we are seated. They make me feel even worse about the appearance of the Duke cheerleaders. Little John reminds me tremendously of where Virginia plays. However, Little John has been recently gutted and re-done. Just like the streets in Clemson, there are paws everywhere in the place, even all over the seats. It seems like overkill, but it isn't Duke so I really don't care.
A player's father who I know arrives at the gym and I ask him if he saw the women's game vs. UCONN. He frowns, shakes his head and says "Yes, they got killed." I inform him that Duke actually won on a buzzer beater and he does not believe me. I convince him they really did win and he is thrilled!
Duke and Clemson tip-off and Duke immediately takes control of the game.
It is halftime and I head to the bathroom. Despite remodeling Little John, I realize that Clemson has taken a note from Duke and like Cameron, is out of paper towels in the bathroom at halftime. At least they had soap, something Cameron frequently lacks. Thank God I wore jeans.
Second half begins and Duke continues to dominate. We are right next to a small but vocal group of Clemson fans who are getting personal with the Duke bench despite being down by 15. A dark haired fat kid with a beard keeps calling Shelden ugly. This kid's hair looks like he has not washed it in weeks. He yells it over and over. Fed up with it, I make eye contact with him and yell "Look whose talking." All his friends laugh at him. He tries to rebound from my attack by saying what he is yelling "Isn't about me", but I think it is too late. I got him! I chalk one up for myself. (footnote: DO NOT ever respond to fans at NC State like that, I made that mistake last year and no matter what the situation is, they will see to it you do not enjoy the game from that point on)
Daniel catches fire and we pull away and never look back.
Duke officially wins the game and we head to the car. When I arrive at the car, we talk to the Duke fans parked next to us and realize that one of them is a poster on TDD. Small world huh?
As we drive back to Durham we listen to the Panthers beat Dallas. I also learn that Illinois has beaten Illinois State in overtime. I am thrilled that I went 5-0 on the day and have trouble remembering a day in which all my teams won! It was awesome. The weather was magnificent the whole day. 60-70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky!
We arrive home and I fall into bed and pass out! It was a great day!