Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Italian Hoops

From the time TigerBlog started doing this until the beginning of this month, he had never mentioned "An Officer And A Gentleman."

Today, he offers his third reference to the movie in August alone.

TB mentioned the movie on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2. If you don't want to reread them, they were about how TB walked four miles to see the movie when it came out and then, the next day, how he couldn't get the song "Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong" out of his head.

This time, TB refers to the movie because it was on the other night. TB hadn't seen it in a long time, so he watched it, while flipping back and forth with one of the greatest movies ever made, "The Great Escape."

It was a challenge, making sure he saw the best scenes from each movie. And he had to do all this knowing full well there was a "White Shadow" marathon all weekend on the Decades channel.

Anyway, there are four great scenes in "An Officer and A Gentleman." The first is when Louis Gossett Jr. walks out of the building to meet the new recruits. It's one of the two great walks in movie history, along with John Travolta at the beginning of "Saturday Night Fever."

The second is sort of a continuation of the first. It's when Gunnery Sgt. Foley (that's Gossett's character) "welcomes" the new recruits to the Naval Officer Candidate School. When that scene ends, Gossett has already sewn up his Best Supporting Actor Oscar, what with the walk and then the intro speech.

The third is when Foley catches Mayo (that's Richard Gere at his unquestioned best) as he's running his black market inspection business and puts him through a hellish weekend to try to get him to DOR (that's "drop on request;" it sounds better when Foley/Gossett says it).

The last, of course, is when Gere carries Debra Winger out of the factory at the end.

Now, TB had to balance not missing any of those scenes with making sure he saw all the best scenes from "The Great Escape," though this is difficult, because the entire movie is one great scene after another. And heartwrenching scene after another, especially with Blythe gets shot after he and James Garner get shot down.

The first time TB saw the movie was with MotherBlog. Her favorite actor was Steve McQueen, and her favorite Steve McQueen scene was when he jumped the barbed wire fence on the motorcycle near the end.

Oh, and for every time TB has seen the movie, he still can't tell if the German commandant says to McQueen "it looks as if you will see Berlin before I do" or "it look as if few will see Berlin before I do" as he's being taken away from the camp.

"The Great Escape" is the best World War II POW movie, beating out "Stalag 17" by a reasonable margin. The third best is "Von Ryan's Express," with Frank Sinatra as Colonel Ryan. Set in Italy, Sinatra, three other Americans and a whole camp of British soldiers bust out, hijack a German train and then basically follow the same itinerary that the Princeton men's basketball team is following on its Italian trip now - going from Rome to Florence to Bologna.

The Tigers have one more day in Italy before returning tomorrow.

Princeton has played three games in Italy, one of which was epic. That game actually came on a day when several members of the team climbed to the top of the Towers of Bologna, leading TB's colleague Andrew Borders - on location with the Tigers - to write this for the game story:
"Earlier Friday, members of the Princeton men's basketball team climbed nearly 498 steps to the top of the Towers of Bologna, and yet it didn't end up being their most impressive climb of the day."

That's pretty good.

Princeton was down by 21 heading into the fourth quarter of the game against Fortitudo Kontatto, a professional team in Italy's second division. Was it over? Nope. Back came the Tigers to win in overtime, 93-87.

That's a 21-point comeback in 10 minutes.

The standard of all Princeton comebacks, of course, is the 50-49 win over Penn in 1999, when the Tigers had been down 40-13 with 15 minutes left.

Then there was the 2013 game against Penn State, when Princeton was down by 20 with 8:29 to play before winning 81-79 in overtime. Current Tigers Spencer Weisz, Hans Brase and Pete Miller all played in that game.

It's possible that coming from 20 down at Penn State in 8:29 was tougher than coming from 27 back against Penn in 15 minutes. Or that erasing a 21-point deficit in Italy against a pro team in 10 minutes might be tougher than either.

Still, historical context matters, and so doing it at the Palestra - in front of what was a totally rabid Penn crowd - rises to the top.

Princeton played its final game in Italy yesterday. TigerBlog turned the game on YouTube just in time to see Myles Stephens dunk to give Princeton the lead with 2:30 to play. He'd dunk again to force overtime too, where the Tigers would fall 84-80.

Princeton played three games in Italy, winning two. The Tigers had one massive comeback, one that was close throughout and one where they were in control throughout.

As TigerBlog watched the end of the game yesterday, he couldn't help but think ahead to the next games, which are a little more than two months away.

It'll be then that Princeton will really be able to draw from the on-court experience in Italy, when this veteran Princeton team finds itself in a tough spot on the road in the league - or maybe even in the Ivy tournament.

There have been other experiences for the team too, including climbing all those steps in the tower in Bologna. There's a really good video on goprincetontigers.com that has Jackson Forbes as narrator. You can see it HERE.

Today is the last day for the Tigers in Italy. They fly out tomorrow, with two wins, one loss and a lot to build off of as the 2016-17 season approaches.

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