Highlighters & Headsets: The Jimmer ShowPosted by jstevrtc on January 28th, 2011
Highlighters and Headsets is an occasional look at the coverage of college basketball – from television to print (they still make paper?), blogs to bracket busters, and Gus Johnson to Gameday – written by RTC contributor Steve Moore. He welcomes your comments, column ideas and Dickie (V) jokes at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @smoore1117.
With a Mountain West matchup taking a national stage for the first time, I’m sure there were plenty of college hoops fans – and mainstream sports fans (even Simmons was watching) – searching the cable guide for CBS College Sports Wednesday night.
While unable to watch live, I did set the DVR and decided to see how this mid-major network handled its moment in the sun. By the time I pressed play, the Twitter explosion had already told me how the Jimmer show went down in Provo. But since I usually leave the on-court analysis to my RTC colleagues, the suspense wasn’t really what I was after.
Having only seen the occasional glimpse of action on CBS College Sports, I hopefully enter with no bias or prejudice. Hell, I don’t even know who’s on the call tonight. We’ll soon find out.
PREGAME: First disappointment: Realizing I don’t get CBS College Sports (CBS-C from now on) in high def. I understand they broadcast in it, and that some carriers offer it, but if you want to be a major sports network, you need to FORCE everyone to carry your HD feed (I’m looking at you, Fox Soccer Channel).
PREGAME: Personally, not a huge fan of starting the pregame show by kicking it back to coverage of the prior game (Memphis-UCF). People are tuning in for this big showdown, and could be easily turned off by a game between two non-factor teams. The random highlight of Villanova-Providence, while important, also seems forced in unnecessarily.
PREGAME: Not too much time for analysis, but out of the three studio analysts – Jon Rothstein, Alaa Abdelnaby and Wally Szczerbiak – Wally-world seems the most uncomfortable. He seems to be more boisterous than necessary, almost like he’s compensating for feeling self-conscious. Maybe he’ll be good in the future, but I don’t see it so far. He is the only one who picked BYU, for what it’s worth.
PREGAME: CBS College Sports smartly uses the iconic CBS college hoops music once they send it to Provo, but why not use the main intro graphics and song, too? I get that they want their own identity, but college hoops fans like familiarty. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
PREGAME: Nice work by play-by-play man Ted Robinson setting the atmosphere during the courtside stand-up, and also bringing us up to date on Kawhi Lenoard’s pregame IVs. As for Lappas? Well I have a feeling I won’t have much nice to say about him as the game goes on.
19:31: I’ve always liked Ted Robinson’s voice, but unfortunately whenever I hear him, I think Winter Olympics.
18:37: Someone needs to tell Lappas he doesn’t have to yell. He knows he has a microphone, right?
16:48: Robinson so far seems to have the right amount of excitement and voice inflection for the stage. Calm and measured most of the time, but shows some excitement on a few early blocked shots on both ends.
15:15: Lappas with his first “X-Factor” line, when talking about Brandon Davies. I’m guessing he’ll call someone else the X-Factor before the night’s out.
14:10: Robinson with a nice mention of the altitude, as the game has gone almost six minutes without a timeout. Plenty of announcers overstate the altitude during football games in Denver, etc., but it definitely warrants a mention in that context, especially with the way BYU likes to run.
14:10: Again, not really seeing the need to showcase three other big performers of the week coming back from commercial. We understand that CBS-C wants to prove it sees all of college basketball, but tonight is about this game and these two teams. That’s why we’re watching.
12:35: After constant jokes about FOX’s constant crowd shots during BCS football games, I never thought I’d say this. But this game needs more crowd shots. They’ve mentioned the atmosphere plenty of times, and noted that it’s the fourth-largest on-campus arena in the nation, but I don’t feel like I’m “in the building,” so to speak. Turn up the ambient microphones, and show me what the scene is like.
10:14: Finally, a nice panning crowd shot heading to break. Is this where I insert the required “white-out” joke?
9:22: Did I mention how awful it is to watch sports in standard definition? We’re spoiled.
8:55: The Jimmer (h/t Seth Davis on a great nickname) with his first edge-of-your seat moment of the night – a nasty dribble drive through the lane. Robinson does well, and seems to convey the impending Jimmer run.
7:20: CBS-C doing a very good job so far of not placating the masses and making it the Jimmer Show. Good work with pre-made graphics about other players on both teams. When Davidson got its first big ESPN showcase a few years back, it was all Steph Curry, all the time. As if we were too stupid to know that basketball wasn’t 1-on-5.
6:39: Lappas has not provided any real insight so far, but I’ll give him some credit for the “Burger King Breakdown” coming out of commercial. Nice work with the telestrator, showing how SDSU is laying back to stop the BYU break and not attacking the offensive glass.
4:39: Non-TV aside: Just as I was about to critique Jimmer for leaving his feet too often before passing, he pulls of a sick up-and-under and drains a leaning 3-pointer. I’ll stop questioning The Jimmer.
3:30: Hey Steve – when you attempt 17 free throws, it doesn’t mean you got fouled 17 times.
3:13: Jimmer with a ridiculous crossover and 3-pointer, and a nice job by Robinson to let the crowd tell us that it went in.
2:00: A few minutes ago, Robinson mentioned that he thought a Jimmer jumper was actually a 3-pointer, but CBS-C never showed a replay or went back to prove him wrong. Missed opportunity.
0:00: Jimmer misses the half-court buzzer beater. He sucks.
HALFTIME: Lots of laughter and very little analysis from the halftime crew.
HALFTIME: I’ve been mostly fast-forwarding the commercials, but I can’t let this one slide. BYU’s PR commercial offers up “#1 Stone-Cold Sober Campus” ranking as a major selling point. I’m sure those applications will come flooding in now.
HALFTIME: San Diego State counters with its own ad: a strange aging man dressed in a full-on Aztec costume. Someone get these schools a PR firm, stat.
16:55: CBS-C score ticker strangely shows the score of the game that we’re watching. But it’s the wrong score. Seems like a minor thing, but that’s weird.
16:10: To be honest, Lappas has not been as bad as I feared early on. He needs to learn not to yell, and his analysis is not exactly groundbreaking, but he clearly has basketball knowledge and thinks like a coach. If he wanted to be good at this, and asked for help, he could be solid. Sadly, I think his ego may not allow it.
14:19: Jimmer really does play out of control sometimes. I know he’s the star, but he needs to trust teammates and make decisions before leaving his feet.
13:17: Robinson and Lappas starting to get on the Jimmer train as things start to get absurd. Appropriate at this point, to be honest. People watching at home are oohing and aahing, and the announcers should convey that excitement.
12:27: What a ridiculous 3-pointer by Jimmer to get to 34 points. Finally getting some feel of the atmosphere in the building.
11:30: Steve, you sound like an idiot when you call Steve Fisher, “Fish.” We know you coached and you know him, but we don’t. Real names please.*
11:29: *But if you want to just go with “The Jimmer” I’d be OK with that.
10:25: Interesting note there that the rematch on February 26 will be on the “real” CBS. All due respect to Ted Robinson, but if we get Gus Johnson calling The Jimmer, my head might explode.
6:31: Very, very well-officiated game to this point. Letting them play, staying out of the way.
6:11: Jimmer missed a 3-pointer. Stop the presses.
5:47: Of course, as soon as I mention good officiating, the refs miss a BLATANT goaltend by White on Jimmer. The ball was not only on its way down, it had already hit glass.
4:34: Good work by Robinson pointing out the Aztecs’ Achillies’ Heel being poor foul-shooting, as White goes on to miss two huge free throws.
*Burger King is clearly grasping at straws at this point. A stuffed cheeseburger? Wow. Has anyone actually gone to Burger King since 2003?
2:15: Nice camera work as Jimmer walks it up the court, catching a wry smile from the BYU star. Robinson also lets the crowd breathe as it rises to its feet.
1:04: Just as I praise Robinson for letting the game breathe, Lappas decides to talk over a big crowd eruption as the teams walk to a timeout. Not surprisingly, he says absolutely nothing of substance.
0:21: Jimmer comes off to an enormous ovation, and Robinson talks right through it. Very disappointing, there. Big moment in the game and you let it pass.
0:00: Storming the court? Really? Wow.
[Ed. note: For use of that terminology, Mr. Moore is now on suspension. He didn't write this line for comedic effect, and doesn't know I'm adding it. -- J.S.]
POST-GAME: All in all, an acceptably average showing from CBS-C on the broadcast. Robinson was solid, as I expected, while Lappas was pretty poor – although not intolerable. The one real knock I have on the broadcast was a somewhat amateur feel to the production. I’m not sure if there weren’t enough cameras, or an inexperienced producer/director, or if it’s just the lack of HD. But it didn’t have the same professional feel as the “real” CBS broadcast. The real question may be this for CBS College Sports, which has rights to the Mountain West and Conference USA: what happens when SDSU isn’t a top-10 team, BYU moves to the WCC, and Memphis goes back to sucking (oh wait, already happened). I wouldn’t be surprised to see them pick up another league contract soon, or even follow BYU and pick up the WCC.
In the end, I’ll find CBS-C for a big game (as long as there’s a Jimmer involved), but I probably won’t add it to the lineup on a typical Wednesday night.