Monday, April 5, 2010

One of Those Days

Today is just one of those days, one of those hands-shaking, heart-pounding, check-the-clock-til-game-time days.

I haven't had one of these days in a long time. I've missed them so much.

Tonight, Duke takes on Butler for the NCAA Championship. I know I'm in the minority in rooting for Coach K and his team, but I really couldn't care less. I'm not a bandwagon fan or someone who likes them because they win all the time (I only started caring once they started losing, unfortunately). No, I'm a Duke fan by birth - my mom loves them, so my sister and I love them. They're not just some team I pick in my bracket or cheer for occasionally. They're my team.

My sister and I on the Duke campus this summer.

It's been so long since my team has played in a game of this magnitude. The last time I was this nervous for a game was probably the start of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2007. It's such an amazing feeling to know that the team you love could actually win it all, but it's also such a scary feeling to think that such an amazing ride could be over tonight, too.

I know that I'm in the minority tonight. I know that pretty much everyone on Earth outside of the Duke campus wants to see them lose to Butler. I know that most people hate my team with a passion that I still cannot totally understand. But I won't get into that now, because if I do it will just dissolve into a diatribe about rooting against an upstanding program with a high graduation rate and a class act for a coach, and I want this to be a happy post.

I know I'm rooting for the Evil Empire, the Wicked Stepmother or whatever you want to call the Blue Devils tonight. But I don't care - because they're my team. They've always been my team, since I saw Coach K in Myrtle Beach while I was still in a stroller and didn't have a clue who he was (but my parents knew and remind me all the time about my infant brush with greatness).

I've been to the campus three times, walked on the court at Cameron once, spent way too much money in the bookstore and can make my way around their arena almost better than I can make my way around the KAC at Canisius. Our family's summer pilgrimages to Duke are some of my favorite memories because, for one day, I'm surrounded by people who love my team with a passion that I usually only see in people who hate them.

Today is Dyngus Day, the best Polish holiday of the year. I hope that Mike Krzyzewski gets to celebrate it with a National Championship.

And yes, we can spell it without looking.

I'm excited about another one of my teams today, too - my first and greatest love. I got my Sabres playoff tickets today for the first home game (Section 309, row 11, seats 5 and 6), and I was literally jumping up and down when my order went through this morning. The assurance of getting to see the Sabres in a playoff game, complete with a Party in the Plaza, a new intro video, and so much electricity in the arena, is something I have missed so much.

But there will be more on the Sabres around these parts later this week. For today, I'm focused on the Blue Devils.

In Cameron Indoor Arena, there are three banners for Duke's three championship victories.

I'm hoping that a fourth one joins those ranks tonight.

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