Local News

UNC fans take to Franklin Street after win over Duke

Posted March 8, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— Fans piled into Franklin Street on Sunday evening, basking in the warmth of a UNC victory over Duke and the late sunshine of the first day of Daylight Saving Time on the last day that Tyler Hansbrough and six other senior Tar Heels took to the Dean Dome hardwood.

Jubilation echoed up and down the block at the center of downtown, and fans filled East Franklin at the intersection with Columbia, the traditional place they gather to celebrate. As seen in video from Sky 5, their partying included at least one of the bonfires for which UNC fans are known after Duke basketball games.

Sunday had brought the expected mix of excitement and concern – excitement on the part of fans and concern and careful planning on the part of university and town police who have to keep post-game uproar in bounds.

Chapel Hill police Lt. Leo Vereen said a great majority of the town force, including normally off-duty officers, were working. He would not discuss specific numbers, however.

Police had no plans to close streets, though they said their actions would depend on events later in the evening. In previous years, when Carolina has defeated Duke, fans have mobbed Franklin Street, setting bonfires and prompting officers to keep cars away until the crowd dispersed.

For UNC seniors, Sunday marked the last installment in a twice-a-year rivalry that almost defines sports at the two universities.

Long before tip-off, seniors trekked to the Dean Smith Center – known as the Dean Dome – for the highly anticipated game.

It's a feeling unlike any other," said senior Jason Vignola.

Nick Bailey recalled some memorable Duke/Carolina moments.

“My freshman year at (Duke’s) Cameron Indoor Stadium, ruining J.J. (Redick’s) and Shelden (Williams') senior night. Tyler Hansbrough hitting the 3-pointer with just a couple of seconds left on the shot clock – that was absolutely phenomenal,” Bailey remembered.

“Beating them at Cameron my sophomore year was really good just because the riot on Franklin Street was probably the best one I've been to. It was pretty intense,” Elyssa Sharp said.

“Antawn Jaimeson scored 55 points at home, 26 of which were dunks. That was my first Carolina game that I saw. It was just momentous,” Abhinar Komandur recalled.

Spotting a Duke fan going into the Smith Center for the game is almost like a game of "Where's Waldo." Stephen Clark may as well have on that red hat and stripped shirt, and he took a lot of heckling for his loyalty.

Clark tried to talk about his Blue Devils.

“He doesn't know what he's talking about! Go Tar Heels!” Clark's future father-in-law, Rick Horrow said.

“I have no choice, basically,” about who he has to be with, Horrow said. “He's marrying my daughter, who is a UNC person, so there's really not a whole lot I can do. It's very interesting, though. The Thanksgiving conversations are amazing," Clark’s soon-to-be-relative joshed.

At the Dean Dome, Clark can only find support from strangers like Chase Scott.

"Coming here the past two years, I get all kinds of stuff. I still hear stuff about J.J. Redick a lot," Scott said.

Clark was philosophical about it all.

"It's a lot less hostile than walking into Cameron as a Carolina fan,” he conceded.

All the fan action Sunday was in Chapel Hill. Duke students were on spring break.