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D.C. Sports Bog Live: Final Four, Caps, Arenas, Nats, More

Dan Steinberg
D.C. Sports Bogger
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 11:00 AM

D.C. Sports Bogger Dan Steinberg discussed the Final Four, the return of Gilbert Arenas and t your questions about his latest bog posts.

More on the tournament:

Kornheiser's Picks.

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Database.

Full coverage -- NCAA Tournament: 2009.

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Birmingham, Ala.: What's your take on the portrayal of Marissa Coleman and Kristi Tolliver crying after the loss to L'ville last night? I don't remember reading a lot about Dave Neal shedding a tear after the loss to Memphis.

washingtonpost.com: Only the Tears Would Fall (Post, March 31)

Dan Steinberg: I don't remember the Neal situation specifically, and maybe it was unfortunate that both Camille and Mike Wise focused on the tears, but if you were watching the end of the game it was impossible to ignore. Just impossible. Coleman was crying when she was on the free-throw line and then nearly fell over when she was hugging Brenda Frese on the sideline, since she was crying so hard.

And no shame in any of that. I remember the cameras focusing on one of the Memphis guys crying on the bench after the Missouri loss. And of course, the Adam Morrison Gonzaga thing....he's weeping on the court during the game, and lying prone on the court, and the cameras lapped it up.

So I don't think there was anything wrong here.

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Dan Steinberg: Whoops, forgot to say hello. Hello everyone.

Two rules of sports Internet writing: don't gloat, and don't talk about your brackets/fantasy team. Let me ignore both for the moment.

When I posted my Final Four picks two minutes or so after the brackets came out, some mocked my Michigan State pick. "Michigan State over Louisville?!?!? Have you actually watched any basketball over the past 6 weeks?" wrote one fine fellow named "Adrock67."

Whenever you want to apologize, Adrock, that'd be fine.

I got half the Final Four right. Having made public picks for three years now, I've gotten six out of the past 12 Final Four teams. Middling, at best.

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AO8 and CC47's relationship: So what is the deal, am I the only one who thinks this is a rarity, and special, a cross sports friendship between two entertaining, goofy athletes being very public? Is this happened a lot in other cities and I am just a homer or is this a result of the internet age.

Dan Steinberg: I think Cooley's blog lets us see it a lot more than we otherwise would. As I wrote a few weeks ago, Rod Langway apparently would regularly hang out with the Hogs. Also, Comcast SportsNet facilitates a lot of these relationships, bringing together guys from different teams who all have deals with the network (Jason Campbell and Ryan Zimmerman have visited each others' homes and gone out to dinner, etc). Cooley is also pals with Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom, both of whom went to Skins games this season.

As for other cities, I'm not sure, but I think both the guys you mention benefit from this cross-over marketing. And I think they realize that, however genuine their friendship might be.

In a related note, anyone from the Washington Times wanna be my friend?

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Cashburn, Va.: In regards to the upcoming NFL draft and your Washington Redskins, from the standpoint of a journalist, who do you hope the Redskins select? That is, who will be the most fun to cover?

Dan Steinberg: Well, Andre Smith would be interesting, anyhow, from the sound of things.

I don't follow the collegiate offensive linemen personality beat closely enough to offer a compelling answer. In general, I'd say I've gotten the best quotes out of defensive backs, running backs, wide receivers, and offensive linemen, probably in that order. But Haynesworth seems like he will be fun to cover, for sure.

In my experience, punters and place kickers are oftentimes the blandest quotes around, so as long as they don't use No. 13 on a punter, I think I'll be ok.

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Alexandria, Va.: Bemidji is coming to Washington, D.C. Would the previous administration raise the terror threat level to a severe red?

Dan Steinberg: Green and white, baby. The Bemidji Beavers will be confounding typists throughout the Frozen Four. I just wrote an item about a Bemidji fan who works for the Caps, and I think every time I spelled it wrong: Bmidji and Bemedji and Bemidgi and a million other variations.

I don't follow collegiate hockey closely enough to say this on my own, but I just read a Wall Street Journal item that suggested a Beavers national title might be the biggest upset in the history of collegiate sports. If that's not a reason to learn how to spell the dang name, I don't know what is.

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New York, NY: Hey Dan, any word on "Born Ready" Lance Stephenson? He's supposed to announce today, right?

Dan Steinberg: Check out Steve Yanda's update on the Terrapins Insider. It would seem the schedule has changed, and Born Ready is no longer going to be making an announcement today.

The thinking seemed to be that Kansas was close to a lock, so the thinking is now that any delay is good for the Terps.

I also don't know if Born Ready would really change Terps basketball forever. I still don't know how to judge everything that happened this year, but if Gary Williams can take an undersized but game and experienced team to the Round of 32, and if he already has some big men coming in next year plus (possibly) all his guards back, you could argue that getting a one-year star guard like this might just confuse matters. But it would be exciting, that's for sure.

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Wizards radio announcers!: You should do a story on these guys. (I don't know they're names because they never remind us during the telecast.) They've kept going night after night, and managed to keep it interesting. They're positive, keep their energy up, but are truthful.

How do they do it?

Dan Steinberg: Dave Johnson and Glenn Consor. Two of the nicest guys in that building, at least to me. Actually, everyone involved in Wizards game nights is remarkably friendly, especially considering the record. It's still just a great way to spend a working evening.

Dave and Glenn regularly make me lol, especially when Dave lapses into his self-deprecatory aside routine. D.C. United fans are huge Dave Johnson backers, as well.

I think this is a fine idea, though, asking these guys plus Buck and Phil whether the losing has worn on them. Thanks. Maybe the Wizards Girls, too? What an awful name for the dance team, by the way.

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14th & G Street, NW: As a fan of George Mason, I picked Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and UConn to make the Final Four as a tribute to the 4 teams the Patriots beat three years ago. I got three out of four right.....

Dan Steinberg: I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday (Twitter.com/dcsportsbog, sign up now for lots of extra fun!)

But yeah, I thought it was interesting that three of the teams Mason beat are headed to Detroit. Also, I'm curious who you had Wichita State beating in the first round, since the Shockers weren't technically in the bracket this year.

And as also noted, the Terps knocked off Michigan State and UNC this year, while the Hoyas handled U-Conn and Villanova. That has to count for something. (Actual value: nothing.)

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S. Rockville, Md.: Have you already adopted Bemidji State as your Frozen Four team? Way to show that journalist integrity, Steinz.

As an A-11 voter, I demand equal time for the UVM Catamounts and their DC connections - where's the interview with Mike Lonergan?

Vermont cheeses rule over those from Minnesota. Go Catamounts!

Dan Steinberg: Don't forget Tom Poti, the Caps defenseman who (I think) was on Boston U.'s last Frozen Four team.

And don't forget Miami of Ohio. I think they have some D.C. kids on their football squad (Gwynn Park, Douglass, Woodbridge, Westlake, etc)

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Gilberts Corner, Va.: Agent Steinz!

I'm guessing you're a happy happy bogger these days - what with Gilbert coming back (and apparently potentially screwing up our lottery chances - are teams allowed to trade for more ping pong balls?), emerging Caps stars channeling their inner Fonzie, the potential for a Caps-Penguins playoff series and all the Crosby luv that that would bring, the imminent return of the boyz of Spring (or at least the racing Presidents), DC Untied and a seemingly juvenated Ben Olsen, etc.

So what are you looking forward to most?

And, off topic, since Obama's daughters are about to get a puppy, shouldn't Ida get one too (if she doesn't already)?

Dan Steinberg: It's funny, I've also accidentally typed "D.C. Untied." For a team that is 0-0-2, and plays in the greatest tying sport in the world, it's an unfortunate mix-up.

As for your question, nah, the slow months are already on the horizon. Once the Caps are done (and for work reasons, here's hoping that's not for months), we're staring at the wasteland of baseball and the NBA Draft and United and little else. And nothing against any of those items, but it's just tough to maintain traffic levels when there's less stuff going on and people are on vacation.

I wouldn't worry too much about Gilbert and the lottery. The Wiz's winning percentage with him on the floor this year (0.000) is worse than with him on the bench. The Wash Times had a great article today with Antawn Jamison giving fiery quotes about why he doesn't want to tank.

Anyhow, of all these things you mention, Caps-Pens would be a clear number 1.

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SW DC: If Pittsburghers continue to rebuke you for your reporting on low-brow Crosby haters, you might placate them with a profile of their handsome town. I hate the Penguins for ruining so many promising Caps seasons, but I've visited the jewel of western Pa. and must say it is a very attractive city with unique architecture, beautiful vistas, and some great food (like Pramanti Bros.). They even have this great store selling vintage toys in case you need to restock your He-Man collection. It's a shame so many of the yinz crowd have left that lovely place for ours. They should really go back where they came from.

Dan Steinberg: I'm from Buffalo; Pittsburgh is like a nicer Buffalo. I'm completely with you on the architecture. The rivers look quite nice. And foodstuffs (beer, for example) are so cheap.

To me, the whole Crosby Sucks thing is sort of like an inside joke that Caps fans are playing with each other. Trying to figure out who can be the most clever and/or ludicrous. Two minutes for B***hing, hundreds of pacifiers, various jerseys, a rock anthem, etc. It's just goofy, it's not serious. That's how I view it, anyhow. The e-mails and comments and blogs of Pittsburghers would suggest they dont agree.

By the way, when the Steelers come to FedEx for the preseason game this summer, there might be a lot of towels. Combine crazy fans with Skins fans trying to recoup money by selling preseason tix, and I should be back in blogging heaven.

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Kodak Theatre, Calif.: Forgive me if I've missed this from you, but who do you see winning "Idol" this season? And does Megan Joy survive for another week?

Dan Steinberg: Well, she wasn't in the bottom three last week, so I don't see why not.

My favorite is Allison, maybe because I'm jealous of her hair. But if the judges keep beating this Adam Lambert drum, he might be tough to beat. I'm sorry, he makes me laugh, and not in a good way. Even last week, when he was blazing hot, or whatever Randy said, I just thought it was bizarre.

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DC: So is Russ Thaler still with Comcast or did he get the heave? Just asking because I couldn't find anything on the net about it.

Dan Steinberg: Russ Thaler is still with Comcast SportsNet. I'll post an update on this at some point.

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Washington, D.C.: Ugh, you mentioned the Wizards cheerleaders. I don't follow basketball so when I went to one of their games, I was surprised to see cheerleaders there (always thought that was limited to football.) I can't for the life of me see the point of a cheerleader. Their only purpose seems to be stripping down to next to nothing over the course of the game. I've read several articles about how these cheerleading franchises essentially abuse these women -- unrealistic weight expectations, extreme dieting that is forced upon them and the constant focus on looks over anything else. Please tell me why any sport has or needs cheerleaders? And yes, I'm a woman and every woman I know feels the same.

Dan Steinberg: Dance team, not cheerleaders. NBA franchises seem to prefer dance teams to cheerleaders.

I don't know if any of your accusations are true, and I'm positive that not every woman feels the same way, since I know some who like the "Wizards Girls." I wouldn't disagree about their primary purpose, or one of them, being wearing small amounts of clothes. They split up into two groups during the action and stand in two tunnels on the arena's north side; one of the tunnels is right next to my usual seat. You hear some of the drunkish fellows offering commentary to the women, and, well, it isn't exactly heartwarming stuff.

But some people really do think it adds something to the game experience, I suppose.

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Brahsome, NC: Better interview: Sager or Gil?

Dan Steinberg: Wow. I'm paralyzed by this question. I keep going back and forth. I guess all I can say is that Craig Sager is one-for-one with me in giving fantastic interviews, while Gil is maybe 62 for 65 or so. So by percentage, Sager, but by sheer volume of material, Gil.

Sorry, I know that's a cop-out.

And yes, the prospect of LeBron, Gilbert, Sager and Marv Albert all in the same building at the same time has me very optimistic about Thursday night.

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Barno, Md.: How's your bracket doing?

Dan Steinberg: I have several horrific brackets, one of which you might be familiar with. But most of the advice I posted immediately after the brackets were revealed was okay-ish.

* I said don't take a champion that hasn't been to a recent Final Four, recommending against Missouri, Pitt and Wake: unless 'Nova wins, that will hold up.

* I said Michigan was a first-round lock.

* I said take VCU; that game was a coin-flip, but I was wrong.

* I said the biggest Cinderella would be from a BCS conference; it was Arizona.

* I said the earliest high seed to go out would be Duke; it was actually a tie between Duke and Memphis.

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Chevy Chase, D.C.: Thoughts on DaJuan Summers going pro?

Dan Steinberg: Well, a Georgetown student e-mailed me a week or so ago and predicted that, based on Summers' recent class attendance, he was a lock to go pro. So I guess I wasn't terribly surprised in that regard.

There are lots of reasons a kid can decide this is the right thing, and without knowing a whole lot more than we know it's tough to judge. Former GW star Danilo Pinnock went pro after his junior year, got drafted and never exactly latched on in the NBA, but he's still making a living playing basketball. You'd hope guys who leave early eventually get a degree, and you'd wonder why Summers would leave after what was obviously not his finest season, but there's just too much I don't know about the situation.

I don't think there's any shame in making a living playing basketball in Europe, though.

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I've been to Bemidji: its really cold!

But yeah, Tom Poti (and Chris Bourque) played for BU. Poti was the last defenseman to win the Beanpot MVP, by the way, which is Boston is a huge deal. He was named to the NCAA championship all-tourney team in 1997, I believe.

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, I have a brief item on this later on today. Highlight: Poti wanted to bet David Steckel on the BU-Ohio State tourney game. Steckel, a Buckeye, wanted Poti to give him three goals. The bet fell through, but Poti would have won even with the minus-three.

But he's excited about the BU thing.

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Boston: I love pro sports, but I also love college basketball-- women's college basketball. Yet no matter how exciting and talented the women are, it seems newspapers and TV refuse to give their sport much coverage. Sportswriters can't claim nobody cares-- the arenas where these games are held are packed. Yet "March Madness" is always about the men's game, and what the women do is given minimal coverage. Any theories about why, and do you think it will ever change?

Dan Steinberg: I watched almost all of the Terps' tournament games, and while it's a lot different from the men's game I enjoyed watching it, but I have to disagree with this: "the arenas where these games are held are packed." Mike Wise wrote a whole column in yesterday's paper about the shame of it all, Marissa Coleman putting on such a crazy show in the regional semis in front of an empty building. The attendance was 3-something, as I recall, and every free throw showed massive expanses of empty seats. Wise said they need to hold these tourney games on home courts, and he might be right.

As for newspaper coverage, I wrote something about the issue last week, but already this month the Terps women have had two stand-alone A1 photos, one A1 story (about Kristi Toliver's career) and a whole host of A1 keys, including one today. I think they got a more than fair shake.

If you could get the average sports fan to gamble on the women's game--and I'm not being at all snarky here--this would all change. March Madness is big because of brackets, and the women's game hasn't captured that market.

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"Pittsburgh is like a nicer Buffalo": Detroit, too...

Dan Steinberg: I don't think Detroit is like a nicer anything.

Only been there once, though.

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Caps Fan: you nailed it Dan: "To me, the whole Crosby Sucks thing is sort of like an inside joke that Caps fans are playing with each other. Trying to figure out who can be the most clever and/or ludicrous. Two minutes for B---hing, hundreds of pacifiers, various jerseys, a rock anthem, etc. It's just goofy, it's not serious. That's how I view it, anyhow. The e-mails and comments and blogs of Pittsburghers would suggest they dont agree."

It really is just one giant joke. How absurdly can you express your Crosby/Pittsburgh hate? (VERY, is the correct answer) Too bad fans of the flightless fowl just don't get it. They act like all of Washington collective ran oevr their mother/grandmother/kittens/small children whenever someone comes up with some new and extremely strange way to carry on the proud tradition of provoking Pittsburgh fans. They get irritable; Washington fans just laugh some more.

Dan Steinberg: First time in my life a Caps fan has agreed with me on something! Whoo-hoo!

If you read the responses this week from Pittsburgh fans upset with Puck Daddy's Crosby video, though....well, there's definitely a disconnect. And plenty of Pittsburgh people have told me I should be ashamed of myself, I'm demeaning the WaPo brand, I should work for the Natty Enquirer, etc.

I like your word "absurd"...that's how I see it too. And obviously, if Pittsburgh fans weren't getting so angsty about it all, D.C. fans would probably have less incentive to continue.

I really think it's strangely similar to the Wizards fans-LeBron thing, right down to the "authentic" and "phony" (massively oversimplified) perceptions of the dueling stars.

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Gaithersburg, MD: I'm a guy, and I find cheerleaders, etc... a complete waste. Slightly under token sideline reporters.

Dan Steinberg: Ok, but here's something we can all agree on: halftime shows featuring very small kids playing competitive sports while breaking every rule in the book. Seeing a girl pick up a basketball and sprint all the way down the court while holding it only to throw up an airball from the free-throw line is massively entertaining.

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Dan Steinberg: Or a boy. That was intended to be gender neutral.

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Washington, D.C.: I just read that Times article on tanking, per your recommendation. All credit to Jamison, but... isn't it a little silly for him to talk like that given that... well - they are losing every game anyways. What's the difference? PS - Don't tell Jamison I said that... he seems like a sensitive guy and I don't want to hurt his feelings.

Dan Steinberg: No, I agree. He's proud as heck, anyhow. I think there's something to admire there.

Here's the thing that gets me: this team, with its miserable record, beat the Cavs. How does that happen? And don't you sense that Thursday night's game will be tightly contested throughout? If the Wiz can play like that against the Cavs, if they really really really really really really wanted to, couldn't they compete with the Pacers?

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Fairfax, Va.: The Wizards may be 52,986 games behind the Cavs for 1st place in the East, but Thursday's game will be the closest to a playoff-like atmosphere the Wizards will experience all season. You'll be there for Agent Zero's second game back and the return of the Crab Dribble, right?. Quick, someone call Soldier Boy.

Dan Steinberg: I will, though professional standards will require I leave my Crab Dribble shirt at home.

(The guys from Wizards Extreme made some Crab Dribble shirts with LeBron's head on top of a crab's body. The crab is waving his claws. I'll definitely wear that shirt to the gym.)

And don't forget LeBron's special April Fool's Day party at The Park At Fourteenth tomorrow night. I have a spy going to take pictures, hopefully.

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Arlington, Va.: Do my Nova Wildcats have a chance against UNC as long as they play Big East basketball (more physical than the ACC)?

Dan Steinberg: You know, I wasn't at all shocked when Villanova beat Duke (I expected that). I wasn't at all surprised when the Wildcats beat Pitt. If they beat UNC, though, I'll be shocked. For whatever reason (Lawson's injury?) people seemed to forget how overwhelmingly talented and dominant North Carolina was at times this year. Unlike, say, Wake, they also have the right body language. I don't think Villanova can outphysical a team as deep and talented as these Tar Heels.

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Re. Bemidji: See, this is what's wrong with college sports. A Bemidji or a George Mason can get through to the Frozen (Final) Four, and what happens. Television ratings plummet, scalper prices drop, and the event becomes boring. That's where the NBA knows what it's doing. It doesn't let itself get stuck with Sacramento-Indiana in the Finals, you know what I mean. Everyone pulls toward the right outcome, and knows how to do business. The person cheering "Bemidji" should think about the people who will lose their jobs thanks to this fluke.

Dan Steinberg: I was trying to figure out which schools would be best for ridiculous fan behavior. The experts tell me Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Notre Dame would all be swell. Vermont and Bemidji didn't make the list.

As for the NBA.....Spurs-Nets?

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Cross-Over Marketing: If crossing over included journalists, approximately how many nano-seconds would it take you to say "YES! HELL YES!" to an Easterns Motors ad invite? And who would you want to appear with?

Dan Steinberg: Do I get a luxury car? Do they have luxury mini-vans?

And is there any possible answer to this question other than "Mike Wise," assuming we're talking about fellow journalists.

By the way, a source close to the situation told me that when Wise sat down at the Maryland-Utah game in College Park last week, someone from the crowd yelled out "Hey Steinberg!" That made me way happier than it should have.

Ok, off to transcribing tape of Donald Brashear talking about his feelings about on-ice trash talk. Check back later for the results. Til next week, keep crab dribbling for the stars....

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