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Dawn's early light

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The steady drone of the blades and the flashing landing lights of the helicopters above provided an Apocalypse Now feel to the Durham campus late last Wednesday night.

Half a mile away, a child's life hung in the balance at Duke Hospital. Half a world away, thousands of soldiers were poised for war, ready to cross a desert to give their lives. Helicopters droned on, ferrying hopes of life, promises of death.

Exiting Cameron Indoor Stadium at midnight, 9,000 hoarse, happy campers celebrated the Duke men's basketball team's most recent wonderful return to the mix, a revival of old Duke defense, inside strength and outside marksmanship.

A helicopter's steady pounding almost drowned out Coach K's post-game gospel of "Cameron moments" and a freshman who stepped up and told his older teammates that he wanted the ball.

There was no louder place in Durham that Wednesday night as Redick and Ewing sank their threes. Then a helicopter's humming in the crisp night air added another tenor to the background, more poignant, more ominous, maybe more promising.

We watch the 24-second clocks, have half an ear tuned to the news channel, joke about duct tape and live for the threes as time winds down.

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