CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- What’s it like being a member of the Blue Steel, North Carolina’s corps of walk-ons?
Sometimes pressure-packed, and often amusing, judging by an online chat Adam Lucas of TarHeelBlue conducted with the trio of Stewart Cooper, David Dupont, and Patrick Crouch on Wednesday.
A small sampling of the questions sent in, and answers given:
What’s it like having the crowd put pressure [on] you to hit the 100-point mark? I get pretty mad at the crowd for cheering for biscuits rather than cheering on the team, but I always wonder what it’s like in your shoes and what you think of the matter.
Cooper: I’m glad someone finally said that.
Dupont: It’s the most pressure of the whole game.
Crouch: We’ve been sitting for two hours.
Dupont: I would compare it to a game-winning shot.
Cooper: I would compare it to defusing a bomb with thousands of people watching.
(The question was referring to a promotion by fast food chain Bojangles. If the Tar Heels score 100 points at the Smith Center, they offer two sausage biscuits for a buck at local locations.)
What do ya’ll do for fun out of the Dean Dome? Any fun stories of experiences in Chapel Hill?
Cooper: We had a guy cry when he met us. His name was Jason.
Dupont: He said it was the best day of his life.
Crouch: He was from Kentucky and is a UK grad. He said it was the best day of his life. He was 26 years old.
Cooper: Basically, we just go around inspiring people.
Dupont: When we’re not changing local fast food policies.
(I asked Lucas whether the players were kidding about the crying guy. He said no.)
All laughs aside, UNC coach Roy Williams during his Monday radio show addressed the importance of the walk-ons, who serve as the scout team. They are treated like every scholarship member of the squad, he said, be it what they eat during pregame meals or how many sprints they have to run during workouts.
He was also impressed with their calm during Sunday's win over Monmouth, when the crowd began its 100-point chant.
"I’ve never seen so much pressure, when that crowd is yelling, ‘We want biscuits!’" Williams said. "That crowd, and those guys standing out there, and David Dupont having to shoot free throws, and if you make it you get 100 and you get free biscuits or whatever the dickens it is.
"I turned to [assistant coach] Steve Robinson and said, ‘That’s more pressure than the game-winning shot.’ My gosh, 21,000 people wanting biscuits, I don’t know if we can handle that much longer."
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.