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American U. Questions Answered

Track team hand-print super fans. Explanation below.

Getting your soul correct in advance of today's Patriot League final, 4:45, at Bender Arena. Many congrats if you read all of this.

How was the Pat League semifinal game on Sunday?

Attendance was listed at a shade under 2,000, but it was a nice crowd in an arena whose capacity is smaller than it once was. The pep band was on Spring Break, which was a shame, but the PA system still played the official theme ("Don't Stop Believin'").

Did the fans storm the court?

Oddly, no.

Travis Lay and his headband.

So why does starting forward Travis Lay keep wearing that headband since he chopped off his locks?

Lay spent his high school years at Bullis, where Coach Mike Hibbs would instruct the player to get a haircut whenever things got out of control. Lay, who said he "would do anything for that guy," willingly complied. The hair began growing at American and reached a tipping point this season, necessitating a headband (white at home, blue on the road).

"People said I looked like I was from 'Grease' or something," Lay said. "It started getting really ridiculous."

So he and his roommate, frontcourt mate Brian Gilmore, shaved their heads before the Eagles' upset over Maryland. But the headband stayed. Why?

New super fans from the women's soccer team. Explanation below.

"Coach has a rule, if you do it at the beginning of the year you have to do it all year," Lay said.

Weird rule, I noted.

"Just one of many," Lay said with a smile.

"Well, that's an interesting interpretation," Coach Jeff Jones said, when told how Lay had described the rule. "What the rule is is that if you want to wear a headband, you're basically wearing it. We had a few guys a few years ago that came in for a late-season game and they wanted to make a statement. I said, 'No no no, if you need or want a headband, that's fine, but we're not picking and choosing our games and making statements.' It's either you need it or you don't."

So what does Jones think of the headband?

"I don't think the headband looks good at all, but it really doesn't matter to me," Jones said. "I'm sure he wasn't wearing it to impress me."

I saw how Georgetown hosted the Secretary of State, the mayor and various other celebrities on Saturday. Who were the celebrities at Bender?

No local team has been more completely embraced by the media elite. On Sunday, the crowd included Washington Post politics writer Eli Saslow, Washington Post horseracing writer John Scheinman, Washington Post Georgetown beat writer Camille Powell, Washington Post high school sports editors Dan Uthman and Micah Pollack, former Washington Post staff writer David Aldridge and executive editor Jim Brady, among others. When you add in the blogger, the game coverer and the photographer, that means about 0.5 percent of the crowd consisted of current or former WaPo employees. There is also a solid base of Politico employees at most AU games.

Does Bryce Simon ever wash his socks?

First off, it's a damn shame the junior forward won't be able to play today after injuring his knee against Army. He's a funny dude, and he's got a bit of hops.

As for his socks, "Are you wondering why they're so dirty?" he said. "Do I have to tell the whole story?"

Well, only the gross parts, please. Simon found his feet blistered easily, so he treats them with a cream before practices and games. Somehow this potion is transferred through the length of his knee-high socks, making it appear as though he waded through a mud bog before taking the court.

"Once it gets on there it won't come off," he explained. "I was hoping people couldn't notice."

"You need to go watch him do it to get an accurate description," said Nick Hendra, who's likely to take some of Simon's minutes today. "You can see the stains seep through his socks. It's disgusting. You should see his locker, he has a whole row of dirty socks."

So why use the knee-highs? Simon chose low-cut no-show socks throughout his high school career, but those are a no-go at American--another team rule--so he figured he'd go to the other extreme.

"I just figure if I pull them up all the way I won't have to worry about them sliding down to where coach can't see them," he said.

Remember those track kids who've been going shirtless and painting their chests lately? What's their deal for today?

Well, first, a report on their performance on Sunday. Another solid A. I don't know any of their names, but some had, for example, prints of painted hands on their heads.

"Why a hand print...Why do I have a hand print on my head?" asked one, when I asked him.

"Sometimes the painting gets out of hand," explained their leader. "We don't really know what happens, we kind of black out and just get into a zone. Brian right here just decided to take his hand, shove it in the bowl and just slapped it right on top of his head."

The leader outfitted one his teammates in a painted Hulk Hogan look, complete with painted Fu Man Chu and painted wife beater. A third guy was sporting "The Braveheart." Others had the "we just got crazy" look. All were very blue.

Sadly, the track team has a meet in Myrtle Beach this weekend, and will not be at today's final. They promise to paint their faces in absentia, "just so we feel a part of the spirit of Bender Arena," the leader said.

Don't worry, they've lined up their replacements. The women's soccer team. No, really.

How can I tell if this is American's year?

Well, I randomly sat next to a former AU player on my train ride back from the Big East tourney last night. That's got to count for something, right?

Hulk Hogan, Braveheart and Just Got Crazy.

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 14, 2008; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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Next: MEAC Tourney Dance Revolution


I promise you more people will read this if you have the women's soccer team picture first.

Posted by: sitruc | March 14, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Front page of USA Today above the fold today! Go Eagles!

Posted by: JinDC | March 14, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Official theme: "Don't Stop Believin'"

This "idea" seems oddly similar to Mason's "Living on a Prayer" technique a couple years ago.

Not saying, just relaying.

Posted by: Weaksauce | March 14, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I think the band was actually at the American women's basketball game. Half of our cheerleaders were there too.

And seconding that the soccer girls would probably get you more clicks... though AU is awesome and I can't understand why everyone wouldn't want to read everything possible about this team.

Posted by: KC in DC | March 14, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Who was the former Eagle you sat next to Steinz?? Do tell!

Posted by: matt b | March 14, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Wow...we could potentially have Journey AND Bon Jovi in the same Dance...Interesting....

It will be great redemption for Jeff Jones to make it with American after what happened to him at UVA

Posted by: Jared Prebish | March 14, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

actually, George Mason's theme for the year has been "Don't Stop Believing." the band introduced it into their repertoire and it is played equally as much as Prayer.


Posted by: MasonBand | March 15, 2008 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Two questions:First, was Lay referring to Grease the movie or Greece the country? I suspect he was referring to the country as he looks like a sailor on Odysseus' ship. My second question concerns Dan's responsibility as a reporter. Does he tell players like Lay that he is going to the coach with any comments made in an interview? Did Lay know you were going to go to Jones and tell him Lay said such and such? Jones' responses to the comments aren't very postive and might suggest that he's not pleased with Lay's comments. How does this impact their work together? If Mr. Steinberg tells players in advance that anything they say will be taken to the coach, their answers might be a little less candid, and therefore a little less detrimental to their relationship with the coach. Are these young players, caught up in the excitement of making history aware that their spontaneous comments are being taken to their coach for his response? Are they aware Mr. Steinberg is going to put Jones on the spot asking him about the player comments?

Posted by: Otto2 | March 15, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I would hope that neither Jeff Jones nor Travis Lay got the wrong impression from this. Both were clearly having fun when I was asking them these questions, and both were smiling. At least, that's the way it seemed to me. I'm not trying to drive any stakes between coach and player during historic season over headgear.

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