New Friend, New Breed?
Sometime back, I told you about selling an extra ticket I had outside the Smith Center before the Kentucky game. The gentleman who bought the ticket came to the seat next to me and I thoroughly enjoyed talking hoops with him because there wasn't much going on during the game that interested me.
He and I have maintained an e-mail relationship since then and it occurred to me that my new friend whom we will call ACC Man might be willing to share some of his experiences in the ACC since he visits various arenas around the league and is uniquely qualified to give us an unbiased perspective on things. You see, ACC Man is unlike anyone I have ever met in that he is intensely interested in ACC basketball but his loyalties are to no one team. He just likes ACC basketball.
Let me tell you a little about his background. He was raised in the Philadelphia area and for years followed the Big 5 in that city. These teams are Pennsylvania, St. Joseph, LaSalle, Temple, and Villanova. Since 1990, he has lived in N.C. and, believe it or not, he moved there for the basketball. Of course, he has a job since he has to eat but the impression I get from talking to ACC Man is that he likes it in N.C. and according to him "they don't have to worry about me going back to Philly."
ACC MAN has seen games at every ACC school except Florida State and estimates since 1991, he has seen over 250 games, many of them in the ACC. He usually goes to the site of a game without a ticket and trusts his luck that he will be able to secure one after his arrival. He never mentioned that he has been unsuccessful and I think he would have mentioned it if that had ever been the case.
I asked ACC MAN if he would share his impressions of fans of the various schools in the ACC and he has agreed to do so. His impressions are as follows:
Maryland-probably the most rabid fans-vast majority of the crowd under 35 years old. Also Cole ( with one walk way around the arena ) can promote unruly behavior.
Virginia- Generally polite and knowledgeable, definitely the earliest exiting crowd I have ever seen.
Wake Forest- Overly polite and fairly knowledgeable. Most family attended arena with good age distribution of fans ( 8-80 ) providing good support.
Duke- Fans ( beyond the crazies ) are very Duke oriented and well behaved, but surprisingly not very knowledgeable. Attended a few games there the year they finished last in the ACC ( 1995, I believe ) and was amazed at how emotionally distraught the fans were. They obviously have regained their "swagger" in recent years and have a strong expectancy to win.
UNC- Overly polite and definitely the most knowledgeable ( probably an extension of Dean); however, are by far the most unenthusiastic.
State- Big homers ( root for their team and don't care about anyone else ) cannot get over the fact that they are not on the same level as UNC and Duke. Seem to go from very enthusiastic to "armchair quarterbacks" as game progresses. Wins over anyone other than UNC or Duke don't seem to mean very much.
Clemson- Also big homer fans though more well manned than State- seem to accept losing and are thrilled with any ACC win- Rick Barnes seemed to bring out some unruly behavior when he was there.
Georgia Tech.- Lean towards being homer, but somewhat knowledgeable. Crowds seem to enjoy games more as social events, probably related to numerous sporting events available in Atlanta. As interested in post game activities as the game itself.
FSU- Have not attended a game there yet.
I'll add that I have never seen an incident occur at any of the ACC arenas- the closest was probably the game where the Barnes ( he was forcibly ejected from the game )- Smith feud was born- that crowd appeared on the verge of turning really ugly. As someone who has attended many games in the New York/Philly arenas, I'd say that any of the ACC crowds would be considered extremely well mannered."
Welcome ACC MAN. We will look forward to more of your unbiased views of ACC basketball in the future.