Life on the Undercard

Do standards and practices no longer exist for television?

Apparently not, judging from what I found sitting down with my lunch in front of the TV. There on Fox South was a replay of Wake’s game at Pitt from last night.

As if it wasn’t bad enough to subject the viewing public to the game live, Fox South has the unmitigated gall to broadcast that affront to everything we’ve ever associated with ACC basketball again.

Aren’t they worried about the kids, and what kind of effect it will have on young, still-developing minds watching a Wake team going nowhere extended to such great lengths to claw out a meaningless 63-57 victory over a Pitt team long since gone? Aren’t they worried that they’ll turn those kids off from college hoops forever?

Unconscionable.

As a whole, it was a great night for the ACC. On one channel we got to watch resurgent North Carolina win at Syracuse in front of a cacophonous Carrier Dome crowd of 27,165, and by doing so extend its winning streak to six straight and deal the Orange’s hopes for an NCAA bid a staggering blow. On another, there was Duke carrying on quite well without Marvin Bagley III by routing Louisville 82-56 in front of the perpetually crazed contingent of 9,314 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

And during timeouts, we could check in with Virginia Tech outlasting Clemson 65-58 while 9,725 adoring Cassell Coliseum denizens cheered on their every basket and stop.

Then there was the undercard, a Wake team that had won three ACC games against a Pitt team that had won none. In front of what was announced as a crowd of 2,420.

From where I sat I couldn’t see anywhere close to two thousand people in the stands. On the other hand I wondered why more than 200 would even show for this game in the first place.

Wake, back when Skip Prosser was head coach, played a preseason tournament in some tropical clime. Honesty compels me to admit that I can’t remember what season, or what tropical clime the Deacons visited.

But I vividly remember what Skip said when I asked if there was any crowd for the tournament.

“F and F’s,’’ he replied.

“F and F’s?’’ I wondered.

“Friends and Family,’’ he explained.

Which got me to thinking that if Wake’s game last night at Pitt was played in front of friends and family, it must have been very, very close friends and immediate family. I’ve seen bigger crowds at Cozmik Croquet Tournaments.

It also got me to thinking what it must be like for the Wake fan of today, particularly those Wake fans who work and associate with alumni and fans from schools like North Carolina and Duke. Winston-Salem has always had its share, and more, of Tar Heels, Blue Devils and Wolfpackers, so I can only imagine what the banter around the water cooler must be like for anyone still faithful to Wake basketball.

How long will those responsible for the direction of Wake basketball allow – no, make that require – their fans to be the butt of everyone’s joke?

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