Before yesterday's Maryland-California NCAA tournament game on CBS, if you had said the word vivacious, I likely would have pictured an actress such as, say, Isla Fisher (Confessions of a Shopaholic). But now, thanks to Tim Brando, that word has been carved into my memory as applying to the Terps' Greivis Vasquez, henceforth to be known as "The Vivacious Venezuelan."
CBS' cameras and announcers Brando and Mike Gminski loved Vasquez, and the junior guard gave them plenty to love. For one thing, he made Brando look brilliant.
In the second half, Brando was saying of Vasquez: "I've never seen such a player who can make a bad play, never give up and come back and make a big play." And as Brando was talking, Vasquez forced a shot, got the rebound and hit a three-pointer, releasing the ball just as Brando was finishing his statement. A bit later, as Brando was repeating his description of Vasquez, he put up an airball on a three-point attempt but then stole the ball and went in for a layup.
Some other things that struck me during the telecast:
* How many ways could the announcers find to say Terps forward Dave Neal is slow and white? Gminski: "Opposing players look at him and they don't respect him. He doesn't look like he should be out there."
In speaking of Neal's limited role in previous seasons, Brando said: "He was like a long snapper in football. He was the designated inbound passer."
* It seemed for a while the announcers couldn't decide whether Cal was just shooting poorly on three-point attempts or whether the Maryland defense - mainly a zone - was disrupting the Bears' primary offensive weapon. By the late stages of the game, Brando and Gminski settled on the latter.
* Low-angle shots during a basketball game don't usually amount to much, but that was a great replay showing, from the point guard's perspective, how Cal's Patrick Christopher broke free on a backdoor cut for an alley-oop dunk.