D.C. Sports Bog Live: College basketball, Capitals, Wizards and more

Mar 09, 2010

D.C. sports bogger Dan Steinberg took your questions about the Olympics, Wizards, Capitals, college basketball and all the area's breaking sports news.

It's not often that we've had must-watch sports TV at 1 pm in early March. Well, aside from conference tournament games. And Redskins press conferences. And Clinton Portis appearances on First Take.

Bah, forget that, either way, I'm excited for Jesus Strassy's debut, at 1 on MASN. Because of that, and my building anticipation, I'm cutting this thing off at 12:30. So if you have any pressing questions about Michael Wilbon, better get em in before then.

How much do you think sports columnists are themselves in their columns versus trying to be a bit more controversial/mean/explosive to get their point across? Do you think writing like that makes one become more argumentative?

Not sure I want to answer for others, but for myself, I think it's less a risk of trying to get a point across and more a risk of trying to get attention. If Clinton Portis talks for 20 minutes, and in the middle says Daniel Snyder is on the verge of losing his fan base, my headline will be "Portis:  Snyder on the verge of losing fans."

I think that's when players then complain about their words being taken out of context. They're not really being taken out of context, they're just being highlighted over everything else that was said.  But for me, highlighting that portion can help my item get noticed. You just have to make sure you're being fair about it.

Sort of simlilar issue with Wilbon's Ovi stuff, I think. If he says "Alex Ovechkin is now a narrow second to Sidney Crosby," no one objects and no one notices. If he says "Ovechkin can't see Crosby with a telescope," boom goes the dynamite.

But you'd have to be really, really craven to write things that you don't actually believe, I think. I never, ever want to do that.

Thanks for taking my question. Talking ACC bball, amidst the euphoria of U-Md.'s & Va. Tech''s successes so far this season, U-Va.''s woes seem even more amplified. They've lost nine (!) in a row and their best player, Landesberg, was suspended for the rest of the season and may leave the school.

Midway through the season Bennett was on the short list for ACC COY honors, now it seems like the wheels have come off. What's your take?

Well, everything you write is true, but I don't think you want to judge a first-year coach by his first-year performance. Even in terms of his relationships with players, Landesberg isn't someone he recruited, so I don't think this falling-out or whatever counts against the new regime. And the losing streak wasn't horribly unpredictable; our beat writer said this was a real possibility like two weeks ago.

The real sad part, to me, is that the debut of the new arena has been somewhat spoiled by a couple years of bad basketball. Sort of like the Nats and Nats Park. You can only be enthusiastic about new digs for so long when the product is poor.

As for your comparisons with va Tech and Maryland, widen it out: VCU, Richmond, ODU, W&M, all have been more competitive for  postseason berths.

So with Gary Williams safe for another year, who is going to be the next coach fired in the D.C. area? Friedgen?

I think Ralph gets to walk away himself, even if there's a slight push from behind in his kidney-area.

I'll guess whoever the Mystics coach is will be next-up. They change coaches every three months or so.

Steinz, While Jose Theodore is looking more and more like the playoff goalie, do we really trust Mike Green on the blue line for a long playoff run? This guy is a turnover machine and the regular season and its stats mean nothing once the playoffs start. Just like the last two years, Mike looks like a fish out of water come tournament time.

Whether you trust him or not, Bruce Boudreau does. Those two have a very interestnig and close relationship, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't share your "fish out of water" assessment.

I know everyone's hurt in the playoffs, but Green seemed to be especially hurt, to the point that he probably shouldn't even have been playing last spring. So I wouldn't use that as the definitive judgment on his "tournament time" production. Also, he had the two-week February break this year, and he has the extra motivation of being left out of the Olympics.

And look, no matter what the Caps do, they're not going to be a defensive team. They kind of doubled down on their rep with the Corvo trade. Shut down d-man? Hell with that, give us some more power-play offense.

Every time a great defensive team wins a title, you will hear millions or words about how defense wins championships, in all sports, across all ages. But didn't the Saints just win, thanks to offensive fireworks? Where were all the "offense wins championship" homages?

Saints were the highest-scoring team in the NFL; in their final two games, they beat the second-highest and sixth-highest scoring teams. None of them ranked in the top 7 in points allowed.

I know the NHL isn't the NFL, and lots of history would argue against this, but it just doesn't seem impossible to me to score your way to a Stanley Cup.

Please help me understand why Duke is a No. 1 seed in many brackets? What is their quality win?

Completely agree with you. I'm not a bracketology nerd any more, but Duke's spot seems remarkably secure across all prognostications. Yet when they went out of conference against good teams -- Wisconsin, Georgetown -- they lost. Against the Hoyas, they didn't seem competitive. Wouldn't that argue in favor of the Novas, Purdues, and West Virginias of the world?

And if you take the Purdue injury into account -- and say we don't believe this team is really as great as its record -- why can't you take Duke's recent NCAA tourney record into appearance, and say record be damned, there's no change they're one of the four scariest teams in the country?

But I really haven't followed the ins and outs of seeding this year, so there's probably a good reason.

So I am in a tizzy about the idea of the Winter Classic in D.C., but had a few thoughts on location and why it should be in Nats Park over RFK or FedEx. Here is the scheduel for all three stadiums as I know it:

First of all, New Years Day in 2011 will be on a Sunday, so would likely take out FedEx Field from the running, though the new TV out there does make it intriguing. The Eagle Bank Bowl will likely be played within days at RFK, it was on the 29th this year.

Here are the questions: How long does it take to set up the rink? What do you put the odds at for each stadium if they hold the game in D.C., much less D.C. getting the game? P.S.: I got a new title line for you while we fans are waiting for our pitching savior to come to D.C. Call it "SBerg on SBurg".

If it comes here, I'd say 99.5 percent Nats Park. 0.5 percent FedEx Field, 0.0 percent RFK. You can't possibly prettify RFK enough for something like that. Plus there's a 25 percent change it would spontaneously combust with a full house.

I don't know how long it takes to set up, but Nats Park isn't usually very busy in late December, so long as the Pope's not in town or anything.

Why wasn't Portis released along with the other "dead weight"?

Belief that a reuntion with Shanahan can lead to a resurgence? Believe that, if paired with another veteran and a shifty rookie, the Skins can finally have a modern multi-pronged backfield? Reluctance to have a completely empty backfield, along with a distrust of Rock Cartwright/Marcus Mason and worries about Ladell Betts's health? Close relationship with the owner? Combination of the above?

How about DeAngelo Hall calling all his ex-teammates "dead weight" the other day, by the way. Even if it's true, that'll be him in a couple years. Seems like a slightly tactless delivery, if nothing else.

Who will be the goalie for the Caps once the playoffs start?

I'm no palm reader, but if you've watched the last month and decided anyone but Theodore is the favorite, you're watching a different sport than I am.

Of course, you'll remember that his "playoff goalie" title lasted exactly 60 minutes last spring, so Boudreau doesn't seem squeamish about changing his mind if it isn't working. And even when fans were unhappy with Varly last night, Boudreau's post-game comments seemed fairly demure.

If Theo can come back and lead a long plaoyff charge after getting benched a year ago and having his personal tragedy over the summer, that wouldn't be a bad story.

Setting aside the need to defend the home team (especially against a Cowboy!), isn't Emitt Smith right that Snyder: 

A) ran the Redskins into the ground with his perpetual chase after shiny free agents; and

B) is more than a bit of a, well, jerk?

Here's what I'd say about that.

A) He isn't wrong that Snyder's approach seemed misguided and unsuccessful, BUT HE PLAYED FOR JERRY JONES! Hello? Has his last decade been any better?

B) Snyder has made a whole bunch of very public missteps, many of which paint him in an extremely negative light. I'm not sure how anyone but Larry Michael could deny that. But I think saying someone has a black heart or isn't compassionate elevates things to a differnet level than that. People are often more complicated than that; they can do good things and bad things and unsavory things and controversial things without lacking compassion or having a black heart. Personally, I don't think I'd want to go on the record with words like that unless I really, really knew a person.

I know this may be slightly out of your power, but I'm anxiously awaiting the Bog post about Larry Michaels stepping down. Any news on that front, or should I just be satisfied with the end of the Cerrato era?

Be satisfied with the end of the Cerrato era.

Michael's punishment for his nearly universal negative ratings is being forever known as "Larry Michaels." Maybe that's punishment enough.

The Monarchs ended up clearly being the class of the CAA this year, and I doubt even they will make much noise in the big dance, but doesn't it make a part of your cheese-loving heart sad to think that most of our other mid-major Atlantic 11 teams will be relegated to games against teams like Virginia for the rest of March? Instead of seeing Tony Shaver's stache in some far off regional, we'll get to see if William & Mary can climb into a 9th place tie in the ACC with more wins over major teams. This is why, if ever, the tourney should expand to 96.

I love this question, because the universal media consensus that 96-teams are evil is stupid. Just purely stupid. A 96-team tourney would just add to the awesome, and a decade from now, everyone would love it and will look back with pity on the doubters. W&M vs. Miami for the chance to play Ohio State? More genuine matchups between top-flight mid-majors and middling BCS teams? More weekends of basketball? More bracket possibilities? More buzzer beaters? How could this possibly be a bad thing?

As for ODU, I didn't know until last night's game how awful they are at shooting free throws. That makes me pretty leery of them as a tourney pick. On the other hand, Gerald Lee.

So do you agree that it was mom cutting Ovie's hair that lead to his two goals last night? Seriously, are you as concerned about our goalie situation as I am? I'm afraid that our offense is good, defense getting better but goal tending is the wild card for the postseason. Varly had so much time out from the injury and it was showing last night. Theo has done very well but admits that his son's death comes into his mind sometimes and affects his play. What do you think?

His admission that sometimes he's zoned-out and thought of his son was startling indeed. But I'd imagine more players occasionally drift off than you'd guess.

Honestly, this is what concerns me more: Buffalo vs. New Jersey in the 4-5 series. Henrik almost chased the Caps in the first round a year ago; do you really want to see Ryan Miller or Marty in the second round? And can you imagine the emptiness inside if the Caps don't make it further than they did last year? I almost don't want the playoffs to start; they're the toast of the league right now. Living up to that will be terrifying.

(And even worse than a second-round knockout is the prospect of losing to the Penguins in the EC Finals. There are a lot of ways that this spring could be terrible. Jeez, I need to have some more coffee.)

This would probably be better asked in a chat with Eric Prisbell, but I don't understand how the bracketologists can claim that Va. Tech is simultaneously a bubble team and yet also a 10-11 seed ... You see a lot of stuff out there saying that the Hokies are 'probably in' as long as they don't have an embarrassing loss in the ACC tournament, and that despite their SOS, they're only likely in because the other teams on the bubble are so weak.

Then in the same pundits' mock brackets, they're listed as a 10 or 11 seed. Which would mean that they're ranked for the tournament better than 20-24 other teams who are also in the tournament (seeds 11-12 through 16 X 4 regions). I don't understand the disconnect. If their position is so tenuous then why are people also projecting them to be a relatively high seed?

Definitely better for Prisbell, but I can take a stab.

To begin with, obviously the 20-24 teams is a misnomer. Sure, they're "better" than the Southern Conference champ, or than the MEAC champ, but most of those 13-16 seeds will be filled with automatic qualifiers. The Hokies are competing for one of the final five or six at-large spots, which are usually 10, 11 and 12 seeds. Possibly a 13, but usually not.

So say they're about the fourth-or-fifth worst of the at-large teams. Then say they have an awful loss in the ACC tourney, that knocks them down to the second-or-third worst of the at-large teams. Then say a couple of mid-major conference leaders get knocked off  (Gonzaga),  taking up an unexpected at-large spot. Then say one of the "first teams out" has a great conference tourney; Rhode Island going to the A10 finals for example. So even if the Hokies have a four or five team buffer right now, that could disappear if enough thigns happen. Win one game, and you no longer have that worry.

You feeling some A-11 fever in March? How far do you think the farthest team will go (and which one)?

I'll jump on bandwagons, why not?

Maryland - Elite 8

Richmond - Sweet 16

Georgetown - Second Round

Virginia Tech - Agonizing first-round KO.

I think I won't go to a single game unless someone goes to the Final Four. And I don't think Richmond counts as "someone."

I heard there was some sort of a incident after the Caps game last night involving the media. Any news on that?

Huh. I didn't hear this. Details?

Does anything short of a perfect 2 innings,6 Ks today make Jesus Strasburg eligible for Nats Fail?

No, I think only a complete shellacking or, more likely, a rainout or a MASN transmission problem count as a Nats Fail.

He is pitching for an 0-6 (?) team in Spring Training. I'm not sure how high expectations really are. And I think there are relatively limited numbers of us who are planning our entire day around this. Hope I'm wrong about that.

What is your purely armchair psychologist view on which sports teams tend to be the tightest? Hockey teams always strike me as being the most close-knit, and maybe it's because they literally fight for each other.

That's not a bad answer. I'd say college teams, though, to be honest. College players seem to feel a bond with each other that never really gets replicated in the pros. Even after only two or three years, they maintain a loyalty to their collegiate teammates that you just don't see at the next level.

And as many times as guys get traded or cut, they still say "I guess you come to realize it's just a business" or something like that, which seems to diminish the close-knit-ness.

Like, Milan Jurcina was a Cap for four years, then got sent to Columbus, then got sent back to Washington. How close-knit can he now feel with the Caps? Sure, he's thrilled to be back, but he has to remember in the back of his mind that this organization got rid of him just two months ago.

Thoughts? Did you watch? What were your favorite movies of the year? And to tie in sports, did you think the Blindside was good?

I've seen zero movies that have been released since my daughter was born three years ago this month. Literally zero. I don't think that helps my pop-culture credibility. I could never do a two-hour morning radio show, for example.

I did watch much of the Oscars, just because, but I kept having to say "who's that." Yes, even during the John Hughes bit. No, that didn't make me think of my childhood, becasue I never saw any of those movies then, either.

Stranded in Lot 8 stop. Send provisions stop. Preferably beer and cooked animal stop. Starving in Arctic mounds stop.

Anyone near East Capitol?

To continue with what you said about scoring your way to the Stanley Cup, of the four teams that have won the cup since the lockout, only one of them finished in the top 10 in goals allowed in the regular season. Last year's champs were 18th in GAA in the regular season.

Holy hell, so I was actually right? Jeez, I was just typing blindly. This is encouraging. And amazing.

So....will this prevent 4,000 articles next month on whether the Caps defense/goalie are good enough to win a Cup?

I hope you know that you missed the sports story of the year with the recent departure of Two-Boys Gumede from United training camp. Boyz and Two-Boys, on the same team! That stuff writes itself!

Can't disagree with you.

Golly,but  I have trouble keeping up with DCU's roster movements. 

Has Mr. Wilbon tracked you down and besmirched you yet?

Nope, and when I saw him at Maryland-Duke last week, he was as kind and generous and friendly as he always has been, and then I felt like a heel. No idea if he read what I wrote, and I'd guess not, but still.

Say whatever you want about Wilbon, but from the first day I started at The Post as a part-time newsaide, he treated me with respect, like an actual co-worker with an actual life. I can't say the same for every big-name Post columnist. And it doesn't matter so much to me now, but a decade ago it really made me feel good.

Can the argument be made that Scheyer and Coach K are the player and coach of the year in the ACC? In my mind, Vasquez is clearly more important to his team's success than Scheyer. Take him away and you've got serious problems. Same with Gary. He took a team that was picked 5th on to become co-champions of the ACC. Bust on Gary as much as you want about his recruiting, but he is easily one of the best in-game coaches in the nation.

I agree with you, but if you use preseason predictions as the sole measure for stuff like this, Coach K will never ever ever be the coach of the year. It's almost impossible for him to significantly exceed expectations. Not like I feel sorry for the guy, but I think the standards can't merely be overachievement, especially because by underachieving one year, you can lower your own expectations and then more easily overachieve the following year.

Of course, who the hell knows who did the best coaching job without being inside locker rooms and buses and offices and all that.

Real reason: his money is guaranteed so the Redskins would pay him if he wasn't here anyways. Why let someone else get the headache that is Portis? We're all sadists here

Oh right, I meant to include that as one of the reasons. Even Rock Cartwright mentioned that when asked why he was released and Portis wasn't. Duh.

Leaving the city to go to visit my parents in Bowie, I noticed the sign welcoming me to Prince Georges County. And then underneath, it had the slogan "A livable Community". Talk about grasping for the lowest common denominator. It got me thinking, what would be the sports equivalent? 2010 Washington Redskins "Amazingly Adequate".

Character, Committment, Connection.

Dan, a year ago the WaPo blogs were filled with comments demanding Gary Williams retire or be fired. Within a few hours, he will be named ACC Coach of the Year. My question is, where did all those Terp "fans" that demanded he be fired go? They have vanished completely off the blogs. I'm concerned about them. If you have any information about their whereabouts, please let us know. Thanks, A concerned barno

If Greivis Vasquez were a 30-something blog commenter, his name would probably be Barno.

It has been a bizarre 12 months, indeed, for Gary and his fans/detractors. I've said it before and I'll say it again; since The Post series, Maryland has been one of the best teams in the country. You're welcome, Gary, you're welcome.

I don't get it either. A lot of the bracketologists had them as a 2 seed last week. Then they lose to the Terps and blow out a horrible UNC team at home and all of a sudden all of the brackets say they are a lock for a 1 seed. Huh? It makes no sense. But Maryland, who many brackets had as a 5 seed before last week, beats Duke and a horrible UVA team away and remains a 5 seed. How does that make any sense?

Well, you're starting to see Maryland move up to a 4. And Purdue's situation has changed considerably.

I use the eye test more than anything: do I watch Duke play and think they're one of the four best teams in the country. I do not. This virtually guaranteeds they're gonna win the national championship, but I just don't buy them as one of the four best.

You did a poll a few years back to gauge his popularity, can we get another at some point? But seriously, once Sonny and Sam are gone who are the favorites to be in the booth as a replacement? To me it is probably Joey T and maybe giving a guy like D-Green a shot.

A lot of people don't like him. That's pretty clear. I'm not sure we need a poll.

You don't think Riggo is the favorite?

I think Doc should be the No. 3, whoever's the No. 2. Doc is honest, and his choices of nouns and verbs is ridiculously good. I know he isn't universally loved, but I think he perfectly combines likeability with analysis with humor.

Do you think that Larry Michaels (Or Larry Michael if you prefer) will eventually become beloved like Herzog did? I know that sounds absurd because he is a puppet, but what if the Redskins really do turn things around in the next couple of years and they get sustained success. In about 20 years, nearly all of Redskins fans will have never heard of Herzog and will associate themselves with this Mr. Michael.

The success part is the key question. I was thinking about that on my way to the post office this morning. though I suppose my destination is irrelevant. Does Frank Herzog bring back such joyful memories to so many Redskins fans if the team had been 6-10 all those years? Are the memories because of him, or because of the Super Bowls? Or is it merely that he was a great announcer, and that the Super Bowls allowed people to recognize that?

Either way, look to Charlie Slowes and Dave jageler for an example of how losing announcers can become beloved. It's not impossible.

What is your rationale for this? Football? Boudreau 's system has proved great for the regular season but has produced exactly three seven-game series where the Caps are 1-2. Green was a detriment to the team last year and it was blamed on him being overworked.

Also, it's interesting to note that the defenseman with the most points in the NHL can't make the Canadian team. I'm hoping this year the team will be able to adjust to Cup play, and the moves they made suggest they will, but score your way to a Stanley Cup is a not the way to do it

Here's where last year's Stanley Cup semifinalists ranked for regular-season goals scored: 1 (detroit), 4 (chicago), 4 (pittsburgh), 16 (carolina).

Here's where they ranked for regular-season goals allowed: 4 (chicago), 7 (carolina), 17 (pittsburgh), 18 (detroit).

So if you had to choose offensive excellence or defensive excellence....Now, do you need to play a slightly different style in the playoffs? Obviously. The Caps under Boudreau are 10-11 in the playoffs. That's not a humiliating number.

Three series just isn't a humongous sample size, and those losses have been variously blamed on goaltending, Boudreau's coaching, Ovechkin's non-clutchness, Mike Green's disappearance, etc. Two key losses, one of which came to the eventual Stanley Cup champs. Not ready to call it.

And that took me so dang long to figure out that now I have to go watch Strassy. Apologies. Look, I'm no hockey expert, but hoary old "that crap won't fly in the playoffs" arguments usually give me the willies.

Anyhow, talk to you soon.

If MASN has a transmission problem, that's an O's fail. You might remember that peter angelos owns masn, not the nats. Also, not sure how high strasburg expectations are, just b/c he's pitching for an 0-6 (in spring training) team? You must not be watching cbs or reading the nyt. I think expectations couldn't possibly be any higher...

For spring training? If he fails, people will jump off the bandwagon, because of two innings in March?

Also, I don't care who owns MASN, if the transmission blows up, people would say "typical Nats luck."

So can we expect you and Wise at herding trial this year? I know you two may have to miss an appointment at your favorite day spa but what about it!

Out of curiosity, if I go, will you stop asking me to go on chats?

Maryland needs to win friday night when they play Georgia Tech. You can't feel good with that Virginia win, don't you think one more solid win is necessary?

Necessary for what? A 5 seed? A 4 seed? Fun?

I just don't like teams that completely lay down in the conference tourney (Wake last year, for example), but Maryland's resume isn't going to downslide much even with a loss.

....until JEBUS debuts and cures the lepers. He had better strike everyone out or I will post on my blog that he is the WORST. TOP PICK. EVER. Calm down everyone...


Steinz, here we are 35 minutes into the chat and you've only taken 7 questions... This is very boz-esc. Have you already checked out to watch Strasburg put on his cleats and pick out his sunflower seed flavor of the day?

And just for you, I did the classic Wilbon move of saying a lengthy goodbye and then answering four more questions.

Cmon MASN! I'm ready! Enough with the 25-year old college hoops replays!

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Dan Steinberg
Washington post sports bogger and staff writer
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