Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Greatest Test of the Perfection Proclamation...

...happens tonight.

Duke against #19 Georgia Tech, at Cameron. 7pm.

Those with good memories will recall that we lost to Tech on the road by 4 earlier this season in one of the most annoying games of the year. The revenge motive should be strong tonight, and I'm sure we'll come out gangbusters after the embarrassing Georgetown loss. I underestimated the Hoyas in my mini-preview last Friday, which is a mistake I won't repeat with any 2010 Big East teams. But Georgia Tech? Not good enough to hang with us at home, sorry.

Duke 83, Tech 67.

Put that in your book, comrade. (Addressing hypothetical people as 'comrade' in a snide tone makes me feel like a badass.)

On a sad note, my basketball league meets tonight, so I'll have to miss the game. This is, shall we say, frustrating. But when the chips are down, I'd rather play then watch a regular season game, so sacrifices must be made. I have some sporadic thoughts on other sporting minutiae.

*Kansas escaped Colorado with an OT win last night, proving the point that no team is infallible this year. Many years, dominant teams emerge toward the end of the season; even though UNC lost a handful of games last year, it was pretty clear they'd win the title or at least come very close during tourney time. Ditto for Florida two years earlier. They may have struggled, or gone through the mid-season doldrums, but when the chips were on the line, that team wasn't losing.

But this year? I don't see it. This isn't Kansas' first close win. They squeaked by Cornell and Baylor at home, and have now won two straight OT games on the road. Good? Yes. Great? Who knows? So far in this year's NCAA, it looks like anybody* can beat anybody** on a good night.

**Someone better

*I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a second athlete from my hometown, Bill Demong, who will be seeking gold in the Nordic Combine event (ski jumping and cross country skiing).

Bill was a couple years older than me, so I never really knew him, but common friends speak really highly of him, and this profile on NBCSports is excellent. In 2002, he shattered his skull diving into the shallow end of a pool in Germany. It kept him out of competition for a year, and he was forced to reconsider his life path. He took classes, did carpentry, and tried to strengthen his short term memory, which was so bad that he couldn't remember the length of a board he was cutting less than a minute after he'd measured it. When he came back, he struggled for a few more years, and had rough results in the 2006 games in Torino. But now he's in top form, having won 5 World Cup victories in 2009. His season culminated in the World Championships, and I'm stealing an excerpt now from this article:

That experience showed up at the world championships last year when the Americans could have swept all four gold medals but were disqualified from the four-man relay when Demong couldn't find his bib when they got to the top of the jump hill.

Not five minutes after being denied the chance to compete, he found it tucked between his suit and one of his boots.

"If you were to go back to 2002 or Torino, that might have been a fatal blow to our team," Demong said. "By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I felt crushed. I felt like I let our team down, but when I walked into our cabin, Johnny just started laughing. And then Todd walked in, and I was kind of nervous. Todd had just won two medals and was gunning for his third. But he came up and gave me a big hug. He said, 'Screw this. Let's go watch this on TV and get ready for Saturday."'

Demong won his first world title 48 hours later.

Pretty great stuff. Also in 2009, he got a tattoo of a 'no diving' symbol, which is hilarious.

The Nordic Combine works like this: each competitor gets one ski jump, and based on their scores (distance and style), they're assigned staggered start times for the cross country portion. First person to cross the line wins. There's a small hill event, a large hill event, and a team relay event.

The Japanese tend to be awesome at nordic combined, if memory serves. Although looking at the World Cup standings now, there are no Japanese in the top ten. Mysterious. Anyway, Demong was third in last year's WC standings, and is a legitimate medal hope. The first event is Valentine's Day. Could he and Burke make it a Saranac Lake double? We shall see.

Some Super Bowl stuff tomorrow, and etc.

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