If you're craving Maryland-Duke, ESPN offers 3 GameDay servings

ON MEDIA

February 11, 2005|By RAY FRAGER

ESPN'S COLLEGE GameDay lands at College Park tomorrow, broadcast live from the University of Maryland's Comcast Center, site of tomorrow night's game against Duke.

In the words of Tommy James (of Shondells fame), children, behave.

Expect to hear lots from the raucous Maryland student fans during the 11 a.m. show. In that hour, Terps coach Gary Williams will join the GameDay crew of host Rece Davis and analysts Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps (Rider '63) and ESPN.com's Andy Katz.

Also during that first program, ESPN features a look at the Maryland-Duke rivalry and profiles the Blue Devils' J.J. Redick, the dead-eye shooter who draws a level of vitriol usually reserved for political talk radio.

On the 8 p.m. GameDay, ESPN presents "all-access" with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his team. (You know, let's just call this stuff "controlled access." Who are we kidding?) Dick Vitale joins the crew to preview the 9 p.m. Terps-Blue Devils game (also on ESPN) in his usual low-key fashion.

At midnight, GameDay returns to wrap up the day's action in college basketball.

ESPN2's Cold Pizza gets a jump on things by sending its Cane Peterson and Zach Leibowitz to College Park for reports today between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Gary Williams is scheduled to appear, as are basketball alums Walt Williams, Laron Profit and Steve Blake, current Terp Nik Caner-Medley and women's coach Brenda Frese.

USA Network has chosen Lester Holt, a news anchor from NBC and MSNBC, as host for its coverage of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. And that's all well and good. But I'm seeing a huge opportunity missed here.

Imagine the scene. Tensions rise and the final group of canines sits in place, a judge going over each one with a visual fine-toothed comb. Then he makes the choice. Madison Square Garden erupts in cheers not heard since the Knicks made consecutive free throws. USA's cameras bear in on the winner, a bichon frise whose sweet, little face is framed by poofed-out hair the size of Randy Moss' Afro.

Finally, over the din, we hear the coda of the event, uttered by American Idol's Randy Jackson: "Yo, you did your thang, dawg!"

However, no one asked me, so we get Holt and dog expert David Frei. USA's coverage airs Monday and Tuesday nights from 8 to 11 (each broadcast is immediately repeated).

Few people who have seen the riotously funny 2000 movie Best in Show will be able to watch Westminster without conjuring up images of the characters portrayed by Christopher Guest, Michael McKean or Catherine O'Hara - anybody got a recording of O'Hara and Eugene Levy singing "Lord Love a Terrier"? - and one might think the dog crowd would still be taking umbrage at the film. Not so, Frei said.

"All of us in the dog show world thought it was hilarious," Frei said in a conference call Wednesday. "It didn't make fun of the dogs. It made fun of the people. The attention it brought to Westminster was incredible."

(Sudden thought: Even if USA didn't hire Jackson, couldn't the network at least have used Best in Show's scene-stealing Fred Willard? His announcer character channeled former Westminster host Joe Garagiola in uproarious fashion.)

Frei said an important thing to remember when watching the coverage is "these are real dogs who go home and sleep on our beds ... and sometimes even drink out of our toilets."

And though that image may take away some of the dog-show mystique, put yourself in my place. As much as I adore dogs - I can look over my shoulder at a miniature dachshund as I write this - I have to consider that this newspaper very well may end up on some dog owner's floor, with my face the target of ...

Then again, you may find that quite apt.

During its late night show tonight at 12:55 a.m., CBS (WJZ/Channel 13, WUSA/Channel 9) will present highlights from the Wednesday celebrity portion of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. ... Andy Freed, a former intern for ex-local sports yakker Stan "The Fan" Charles, has been named to the radio announcing team of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. ... By the way, Stan, come back on the air, please.

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