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Blue Blood

Author: Art Chansky
Year: 2005
Pages: 357. A typical sports book. Pretty quick once you get going.
Rating: 77/100. Doesn't capture the magic of the rivalry.
Amazon: Blue Blood

Blue Blood traces the history of the college basketball rivalry between Duke and North Carolina over the last fifty years. Despite being only eight miles apart on Tobacco Road the schools are radically different. Duke is an exclusive private school attended by northern transplants (including the youngest Litvack) with a basketball coach, Coach K, who is a living legend. Carolina is a public institution that embodies the entire state and has rebounded to regain its spot among the elite programs in the nation under new coach Roy Williams who carries on the legacy of Dean Smith. The book does a nice job of chronologically telling the story of how the two teams have see-sawed for dominance of Tobacco Road as well as their impact on the national stage.

Some of the most interesting chapters aren't that well-known, such as when the Larry Brown led Tar Heels battled Ary Heyman and the Blue Devils in the early 60's. Both Brown and Heyman were jewish kids from neighboring towns in Long Island. Both were highly recruited and both had a disdain for the other which boiled over into a huge brawl in Cameron Indoor Stadium on a snowy night in 1961.

Chansky also chronicles both teams in the 90's, a decade in which each team reached the Final Four five teams. Perhaps the most enlightening chapters discuss the post-Smith years at Carolina with the Matt Dougherty fiasco leading to Roy Williams finally taking the job and bringing a national championship back to Carolina.

Litty's Take

As a college basketball fanatic I've always had a special affinity for the Duke-Carolina saga. It always seemed so special and so different from a professional sports rivalry. If I was able to attend or watch only one college basketball game a year it would definitely be Duke-Carolina in Durham over any other game. I was hoping Chansky would bring me into the rivalry and explain it's magic. I wanted to learn about Jordan on campus, Leittner and Hurly at Duke and the legend of Dean Smith. What I got was a lot of bland stories about the coaches and the outcomes of each season.

I wouldn't recommend this book unless you were dying to get more Duke-Carolina info. If you are a Duke or Carolina fan you already know all of Chansky's stories. If you're a college basketball fan who just wants to better understand the rivalry I would recommend you get some tapes of classic Duke-UNC games and see for yourself what it's all about.


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