Georgia Tech's practices have been spirited this week and not just in the figurative way you'd expect as the Yellow Jackets prepared to face No. 10 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium Thursday night.
The Yellow Jackets have been practicing to piped-in sounds of the infamous Cameron Crazies chanting as well as the Duke pep band playing its fight song, over and over again.
They were recordings presumably taken off a TV or radio broadcast – not that Tech coach Paul Hewitt is telling -- but they were authentic, or as authentic as possible, before Thursday's 7 p.m. tip-off.
The No. 21-ranked Yellow Jackets bring confidence into this matchup, having beaten Duke 71-67 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 9. But they also bring a measure of humility too, knowing what can happen in this 70-year-old building where 1,500 students surround the court intimately.
Duke is 12-0 at Cameron this season.
“They are a different team in that building,” Hewitt said.
All four of Duke's losses this year have come on the road, including Saturday at Georgetown.
If Tech (16-5, 4-3) beats the Blue Devils (17-4, 5-2), it could create a bottleneck at the top of the ACC with at least three 5-3 teams, including Wake Forest. It would be only Tech's sixth win in 40 meetings at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
For that to happen, Tech has to be prepared for more than just generic crowd noise. Both D'Andre Bell and Zachery Peacock, who've been to Cameron for games in 2007 and 2008, recall teammates being personally targeted by taunts from Duke students.
It went deeper than the chuckles the Crazies gave themselves over former Tech center Luke Schenscher by wearing Ronald McDonald wigs or the statistics students shouted at former guard Javaris Crittenton about what Duke had done to other ACC freshman point guards like Wake Forest's Chris Paul and Tech's own Jarrett Jack.
"It got real personal to where they start talking about people's lives," said Peacock, declining to divulge any further. "I wouldn't even feel right repeating it."
So how would Duke students even know something so personal? Peacock wonders about that too.
"Do they sit home and just Google everything they can about you?" he asked.
Peacock conceded he has taken a little inventory this week, trying to reassure himself he's got nothing to be targeted about. He smiled and said that's one of the reasons he doesn't divulge a lot on his Facebook page.
Still, he knows that despite all efforts to the contrary, it's hard to block it all out come game time.
"Even if you do win, it's hard to focus on it 100 percent," Peacock said. "I feel like it's 95 percent, just because of the craziness going on. It's going to catch your attention. You have no choice but to pay attention to it."
Tech freshman guard Brian Oliver has played at Cameron Indoor Stadium at Bob Gibbons' AAU tournament. This isn't the same thing and he knows it. Until he finds out for himself, his teammates have offered a little advice.
"They said ‘Think North Carolina, just a lot closer to you,' " Oliver said. "And they're even crazier."
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