The Eye overlooks small details of Terps game

ON MEDIA

Commentary

The Kickoff

March 16, 2007|By RAY FRAGER

A particularly irascible colleague of mine, upon learning that I was going to offer observations about CBS' first-day coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, assured me it would be the same, old stuff - that there undoubtedly would be examples of how the network would mess it up.

I would never acknowledge this to him - and he probably won't know, because he's like family in that he doesn't read this column either - but he was right.

Let's start with a rather basic question, asked musically by the Clash so many years ago: Should I stay or should I go?

During the Maryland-Davidson game, the answer clearly would be, for the audience watching on WJZ/Channel 13, to stay - especially when there was plenty of time left in what was a close game. But viewers in Baltimore got switched away. OK, it was just a minute or two, but it was still annoying.

Then, during Georgetown-Belmont, as the game descended into a blowout, it was just as clearly time to go, to switch Channel 13 to Butler-Old Dominion or Texas A&M-Pennsylvania while they were still tight. Sure, keep the Hoyas on the Washington affiliate if you must, but give us a break.

And did we get a break with the announcers working Maryland's game? CBS doesn't announce seedings for its play-by-play/analyst combos, but Kevin Harlan and Bob Wenzel are listed sixth out of eight pairs in its media guide.

Some things I scribbled down:

I lost count of how many times Harlan reminded us that Davidson's Stephen Curry ranked among the NCAA's top 10 scorers.

Discussing how D.J. Strawberry had to play out of position at point guard last season for the Terps, Wenzel made it sound as if the move had been tied to Maryland's loss of Chris McCray to academic ineligibility. Actually, Strawberry was put at the point long before McCray left the team.

Part of a play-by-play man's responsibility is attention to important game detail. On its first possession of the second half, Maryland turned the ball over on an apparent foul. I say "apparent" because Harlan and Wenzel were busy talking about something else and didn't tell us right away the rather significant fact that Terps forward Ekene Ibekwe had picked up his fourth foul.

For most of the game, Wenzel kept talking about how quickly Davidson liked to shoot the ball. Out of the blue in the second half, Harlan said the Wildcats were "very patient" on offense.

At one point, Wenzel said the fast tempo favored Davidson. Later, he decided it favored Maryland.

About eight minutes into the second half, when the Terps' James Gist tried a jumper in the lane, Wenzel said it was his first shot of the period - except that less than a minute earlier, Gist had stolen the ball and driven for a layup.

With 1:13 left in the game, Curry made two free throws to cut Davidson's deficit to five, but the running score on the screen said Maryland was leading 77-68. Taken individually, are those scribblings pretty minor? Sure. But doesn't it indicate a certain sloppiness for what is one of the crown jewels of CBS Sports?

Mr. Irascible would just say, "I told you so."

Hearing voices

Because WBAL Radio (1090 AM) is carrying Westwood One's NCAA coverage, you have the choice of listening to a network version of Maryland's second-round game against Butler tomorrow. But what true Terps-blooded fan would bypass Johnny Holliday and Chris Knoche on WHFS (105.7 FM) or ESPN Radio 1300 (WJFK/1300 AM)? ... In the early going, three commercials are running neck-and-neck-and-neck for most annoyingly repeated: State Farm's Coach K/Coach J basketball camps, Midas' little boy with a lizard scaring little girls, and the Verizon network on a train. Early nice addition: Cingular's "dropped call" ad with a guy hung out to dry while calling back the woman he met the night before.

Welcome to Old Jersey

Speaking of commercials, have you noticed Comcast's spot touting Mid-Atlantic Sports Network's Orioles and Washington Nationals telecasts? It features an Orioles fan and a Nationals fan, with the former wearing the much-beloved "Baltimore" road jersey.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

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