A great story from Pete Thamel's New York Times profile of U.S. Water Polo coach Terry Schroeder: "A few years ago, Schroeder was at the national training center in Los Alamitos, Calif., and heard a teenager say, 'Have we ever been any good?' The remark stung Schroeder, who realized that a generation had grown up thinking men's water polo was irrelevant in the United States. 'That just about killed me,' he said. 'I never forgot it and I never will.' To instill American pride, Schroeder took his players, many of whom play in Europe, to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington before an overseas trip. On the steps of one of the nation's great monuments, Schroeder talked about the sacrifices made by America's founding fathers. 'I'm not sure how much it impacted them or not,' he said. 'But I had some lady standing behind the guys with her kids. She was crying and said it was really good. I figured, at least I touched someone.'"
Also, not sure if you noticed the story yesterday about a remarkable American woman, Sheila Taormina, who is competing in her fourth Olympics, and in her third different sport -- she has been a swimmer and triathlete, and now she's a modern pentathlete. Can you imagine how much of her adult life she has spent training? And then she gave the New York Times' Jere Longman this delightfully startling quote: "I love cigarettes and gambling. If I didn't do this, I'd be a smoker and a gambler."
Interesting thing about Team USA's next opponent, Argentina: They hardly ever play zone defense, and they are the only team in history that has beat an NBA-rich Team USA more than once.
Dr. Oliver Eslinger is the associate head coach at MIT, where the players are really smart. Over the last season, Eslinger tells me, the MIT team has started to put their player's IQs to good use by using all kinds of stat geek type numbers to inform the team's strategy. He tells me the insight from the numbers has actually led to some wins. And now he has used some of their numbers to analyze Team USA, and make a case that Dwyane Wade has been the most effective player so far.
UPDATE: Athletes like Chris Kaman switching countries for the Olympics has one big advantage: It gets more of the most talented players -- who otherwise would have to stay home -- into the contest.