Saturday, November 26

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Ticket-seekers build 'Carmodyville'

The sign hanging from Jadwin Gym spoke for all those camped out below it: "Carmodyville – Population 100."

Beneath the sign, a colony of alternately haggard and ebullient students gathered with a singular purpose: to follow coach Bill Carmody and his Tigers basketball team wherever the NCAA tournament committee would send them, be it Washington or Sacramento, Hartford or Boise.

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With only 100 student tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis, the line began to form at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Within an hour, a constitution had been written, a sofa had been set up, "The Rock" had been popped into a student's VCR and a third of the new colony had been settled.

Working night and day in two-person shifts to preserve their spots in line, the ruddy-faced students braved the freezing weather for 48 hours, gambling that the eighth-ranked team in the nation would be seeded as close to home as possible.

The gamble paid off.

When CBS announced that Princeton would be playing at the Hartford Civic Center Thursday, a cheer went up among Carmodyville residents who were grateful their team had not been shipped out west.

Refugee camp

Between Friday and Sunday night, the narrow strip of concrete outside Jadwin bore witness to a sight unlike any Princeton has ever seen.

To passersby, the row of sleeping bags, tents, sofas and disheveled students bundled in layer upon layer of clothing must have seemed particularly out of place in our 'ivory tower.'

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Nevertheless, students did their best to give their temporary homes some of the more familiar trappings of a typical dorm room. "I feel like I'm in a refugee camp – with Nintendo," one student was overheard saying.

Maintaining only fleeting contact with the rest of campus, the community at times began to resemble a scene out of "Lord of the Flies" – only with a lot less violence and a lot more Domino's Pizza deliveries.

From beginning to end, however, the focus of Carmodyville was basketball. Discussion among students invariably centered around match-ups against up-tempo teams, the best route to Oklahoma City and sophomore center Mason Rocca's injured wrist.

Dedication

For 22 seniors, these topics had been batted around for much longer than two days. Doyl Burkett '98 said he and his friends reserved two Winnebagos to travel to this year's tournament the day after the team's first-round loss to University of California last year.

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"We're going to go everywhere; it's just a matter of how," Burkett said of the seeding possibilities. Even if the basketball team had been placed in Boise or Sacramento, some members of the group had been willing to fly to the games, Burkett said.

Burkett's group had given so much thought to every aspect of getting to the "Big Dance," they even prepared a system to regulate the line. In a study in Lockean theory, the entire community was premised on a highly organized system developed by Burkett's group and the 10 sophomores who lined up in front of them.

Before arriving, Burkett had printed the numbers one through 50 on watermarked paper to hand out to the first 50 campers. Each student could purchase two tickets, but each pair was required to have one member present at all times. Netty Richter '00, a member of the first group to arrive, wrote a constitution outlining the rules for the community.

"We'll all self-protect," Burkett said. "We figured once we got to 50, we'd have order."

By early Saturday afternoon, all 50 official numbers had been handed out, the "group of 22" had retrieved new videos from their rooms and several students were passing the time with a game of "Koosh basketball" on a special hoop affixed to the gym's window.

Later that afternoon, the hoop would become the site of a vigorous game of "horse" between senior guard Mitch Henderson and several Carmodyville residents. Minutes earlier, junior forward Gabe Lewullis had stopped by to take group photos of the colony.

Most notable among Carmodyville visitors was the keynote speaker at a baseball convention held at Jadwin Saturday morning. Dressed in uniform, former Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets slugger George Foster stood mouth agape as he scanned the surreal lineup.

"I've seen things like this before on television," said Foster, who knows something about devoted fans from his days on the Big Red Machine of the 1970s. "But I've never seen it in real life."

(Senior writers Jed Seltzer and Griff Witte were residents of Carmodyville.)

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