Adding Two More Final Four Telecasts is An Interesting Move

Posted by Chris Johnson on November 19th, 2013

Watch or listen to enough of your favorite team’s games, and it’s easy to get attached to a particular announcer, play-by-play man, or both. For better or worse, fans get comfortable hearing the same voice every time they turn on their radio or television to watch their teams play. Sometimes fans discuss what they like or don’t like about their team’s radio or television broadcasts. Being a fan of a team is – whether you like it or not – being a fan of the radio and television announcers that call that team’s games as well. You may not like what they have to say all the time, but those guys are people you sort of just learn to deal with – lest you begin pressing the mute button on your TV remote anytime you watch your team play, or neglecting games in favor of listening to music on long car rides.

Adding two separate telecasts, tailored specifically to each team, to the national product seems like a good idea (USA Today).

A lot of people actually enjoy their favorite team’s radio and TV broadcasters. I happen to find Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez entertaining and informative (As for the team they cover… that’s a different story). That’s the idea that CBS and Turner Sports had in mind, one would think, when they decided they would air three different telecasts for the two 2014 Final Four games. There will be a standard broadcast airing on TBS that will likely feature CBS’ top announcing crew of Steve Kerr, Greg Anthony, Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson. The other two broadcasts will use announcers and “camera angles” to accommodate the fan bases of the competing teams (The national championship game will still be carried solely on CBS). Who will be selected to call the TNT and TruTV telecasts is yet to be determined, according to a report from Sports Business Journal, but it should also be noted that Turner and CBS expect to air one set of advertisements at the same time across the three productions.

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Morning Five: 05.08.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 8th, 2013

morning5

  1. The biggest news of the day on Tuesday, and a subject on which we’ll have more later this afternoon, is that the NCAA Tournament’s marquee event, the Final Four, is headed to cable giant TBS beginning in 2014. CBS and Turner Sports have jointly held the broadcast rights to March Madness for three years now, and it was well-known that TBS would have the right to begin airing the Final Four next season, but the choice of Turner Sports to exercise that option shows just how valuable the company thinks the property has become. As to specifics, the two entities will split things next season, with each getting two games of the Elite Eight, Turner taking the Final Four, and CBS the national championship game. The same situation will apply in 2015, but in 2016 Turner will take the entire final weekend before rotating it back to CBS the next year and alternating each season after that (the Elite Eights will remain split). At first blush, this seismic broadcasting shift may appear to be a downgrade from network television, but as Mike DeCourcy writes, cable television is nearly as ubiquitous as the networks nowadays, and the additional revenue brought in from the partnership with Turner allowed the NCAA Tournament to avoid the nuclear option of a horrifying expansion to 96 teams.
  2. So the Final Four might be moving to a new broadcast format next year, what about some prominent players hoping to get there? A couple of rising seniors were on the move yesterday, with UNLV’s Mike Moser settling on a destination for his final collegiate season — Oregon — and Tennessee’s Trae Golden seemingly on the outs with his coaching staff as he has decided to leave Knoxville. Moser had been rumored to be considering Washington and Gonzaga, but the Portland product ultimately was swayed by the success that Dana Altman has shown with several of his transfers (most notably Arsalan Kazemi last season). Moser was a preseason All-American at UNLV last year who struggled with injuries and his role in a lineup that featured freshman wunderkind Anthony Bennett as well as a number of other talented players. The Moser transfer makes sense under the graduate exception, but Golden is a lot tougher to figure. After a successful junior season where he had made it publicly known he was pleased with the direction of the program (and why not, he was the only point guard on the team), he has decided to leave Knoxville; and if you read the tea leaves among some of his UT buddies, it may not have completely been his decision. He too will try to employ the graduate transfer option next season, but it’s at this point unknown where he is headed.
  3. From players on the move to programs, two more schools are jumping conferences in the timeless yet endless pursuit of greater glory somewhere up the food chain. Davidson‘s Stephen Curry may own the NBA Playoffs at this point, but he never owned the A-10! At least that’s the logic behind the tiny school’s jump from the SoCon (where it has been a member for the better part of 80 years) to the Atlantic 10 beginning in July 2014. The school has arguably had a move like this on its agenda for a while, because it turned down an invitation to the CAA last year, presumably expecting a bigger and better offer to come soon enough. One of the residual effects of all the football-driven conference realignment nonsense is that there has been a bit of an unanticipated pooling of talented mid-major basketball programs as a result. Along the same lines, Oakland University (remember, it’s in Michigan, not California) announced that it would be joining the Horizon League starting this summer. Even though Butler is now gone from the HL, Oakland brings a solid program to the fold led by Greg Kampe that has been to the NCAA Tournament in two of the last four seasons (2010, 2011).
  4. We missed this one yesterday, but it’s a fascinating piece published by David Steele that looks at the story behind one of this year’s 46 early entries into the NBA Draft — a guy by the name of Joshua Simmons. It’s not newsworthy in the sense that seemingly every year there are a few guys who forgo their eligibility who have no business doing so (and a few others who do so as a publicity stunt), but Simmons’ situation is really one of no other viable basketball options. It’s not that anyone he’s played for thinks he’s a bad apple or couldn’t potentially claw his way onto a professional roster someday, it’s that he simply ended up on a difficult path that led from a Division II school to a junior college to, well… nowhere. That’s why he’s on the early entries list, and that’s why he’s simply hoping for an invitation to the pre-draft camps and ultimately, the summer league. It’s certainly not a well-worn path to the NBA, but it’s the only one he has.
  5. By now we’re all sick of hearing about Andrew Wiggins, right? The precocious Canadian wing who has been compared to everyone from Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant is the top player in the Class of 2013, and every major school on his list still thinks it has a great shot at landing him. His quartet of suitors are Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State, but according to this article from the Louisville Courier-Journal, the wait should be ending soon. He expects to make his decision within the next “week or so,” which means that the message boards, blogs, and the commentariat at all four schools will be working overtime in the interim. In the meantime, he plans on moving back to Toronto, going to prom with his grade school friends, and generally trying to live the rest of his spring out as a normal teenager graduating high school would — in other words, an impossible feat for someone as closely watched as Wiggins.
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The RTC Interview Series: One on One With Charles Barkley

Posted by rtmsf on March 15th, 2012

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Hall of Fame power forward Charles Barkley has become without question one of the most entertaining analysts on sports television. TNT’s Inside the NBA has been must-watch television for over a decade now in large part because of his wit and wisdom, and Barkley’s recent foray into college basketball analysis with Turner Sports has helped pick up what had been a somewhat stuffy studio environment. For the past month, Rush the Court has been providing a weekly column  called What Would Charles Say? on Barkley’s website, and he was gracious enough to allow us to spend some time with him this week for a short Q&A. 

Charles Barkley Will Provide Analysis All March Long for the NCAA Tournament

Rush the Court: Charles, the big news early this week was the news that Fab Melo was ruled ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. I was hoping to get your take on how you feel that impacts the chances for Syracuse and Jim Boeheim to get to the Final Four and win a national championship this year?

Charles Barkley: Well, I think that they probably can’t win the championship, but they’re still deep enough to go deep into the Tournament. But I don’t think they can win it without him… but they’re still the deepest team in the Tournament, honestly, top to bottom.

RTC: So the news has come out that this relates to an academic issue for Melo, and with all the academic services that schools give these guys nowadays, how does that happen? How do you drop the ball so badly that you’re not even eligible for the Tournament?

CB: Well, to me it’s very frustrating, because if you get this deep in the season, you should already have all that stuff squared away. I mean… c’mon man. You’re really letting your team down at this point.

RTC: Certainly. Well let me ask you about last year, there was a little bit of criticism with you, Kenny [Smith], and Ernie [Johnson], as knowledgeable as you guys are about NBA stuff, coming in to the college basketball world and giving your takes with maybe not having watched games the whole season. But that ended very quickly with your take on the Big East — how it wasn’t as good as everybody thought — with nine out of the 11 teams gone by the end of the first weekend. Do you have any early takes this year on maybe a conference or teams that you’re just not buying?

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Morning Five: 10.13.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 13th, 2011

  1. Coaches with pretty impressive pedigrees cannot seem to stop talking about conference realignment these days.  Yet with as much power and influence as these guys have at their respective universities, they wield very little leverage in the big-picture chess match being played by various college chancellors, presidents, and boards of directors.  Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski provided opposing viewpoints on the matter Wednesday, with the four-time national champion coming out strongly in favor of further expansion of the ACC from 14 to 16 teams, and the three-time national champion unequivocally stating that his preference is for the Huskies to stick with the Big East.  You have to believe that if John Swofford’s league eventually makes another move, one of the first inquiries will in fact be to the folks in Storrs, but maybe by that time both Calhoun and K will be in rocking chairs somewhere.
  2. Sticking with Connecticut, remember that Michael Bradley kid — you know, the one who UConn took a scholarship from to give it to a basketball phenom who likely will be there for one year?  Yeah, that kid.  He came out on the record Wednesday stating that he has since been given a financial aid package and that he was only one of several players who stepped forward for the good of the team when it became apparent that prep phenom Andre Drummond was prepared to enroll.  Even UConn president Susan Herbst got into the act, saying that Bradley has been “taken care of.”  The company line was apparently in full effect in Storrs on this day, but there’s one thing we absolutely want to see happen here — five years down the road when Drummond is off to the NBA and Bradley has moved on to whatever great things also await him, we truly hope that he receives a registered letter from his former teammate containing a certified check for the full amount of any student loan (plus interest) he might have taken out to make this happen.  Drummond says that he and Bradley have a “great relationship” and are “really cool” with each other — well,  if so, he’ll do the right thing and eventually pay the walk-on back in spades.
  3. This is a baseball story more than a college basketball story, but we don’t care.  TBS/TNT’s Ernie Johnson has entertained us for years as the host of still the very best sports show on television, Inside the NBA.  Last year with Turner Sports’ nascent involvement with the NCAA Tournament, Johnson played host for some of the studio coverage along with his good buddies Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and an assortment of others.  He’s also a huge baseball guy, calling games for TBS as his father (whom he lost in August at the age of 87) had before him.  In a normal year, he’d be doing the MLB playoffs right now before setting off to another hilarious NBA season in the studio with The Jet and Chuck — but this isn’t a normal year.  Rather, Johnson, his wife and family have been keeping vigil with their eldest adopted son, Michael (one of four adopted children they have), who is suffering from muscular dystrophy and pneumonia in an Atlanta hospital.  It’s a tragic story, but one that really shows just how good a guy Johnson is — we encourage everyone to read it.
  4. Because of that NBA lockout thing, college basketball fans from all over the country are getting a rare opportunity to see some of their former (but not too former) stars in action on their school’s hardwood again as players seek ways to fill their time when they otherwise would have been in training camps.  Syracuse will hold a scrimmage on Friday night at the Carrier Dome featuring two teams of ‘Orange Legends,’ and they’re really not kidding with that name — tentative rosters include Carmelo Anthony, John Wallace, Hakim Warrick, Wes Johnson and Gerry McNamara — or, in other words, most of the best SU players of the last 15 years.  We’ll definitely be tuning into the ESPNU special on Friday night for a taste of this.
  5. Is it just us, or did LSU head coach Trent Johnson get a little too brazen in his dodgeball attack on a Tiger cheerleader in this video taken Tuesday at the Maravich Maniacs dodgeball tournament in Baton Rouge?  Start at the 1:00 mark — the dude does not hold back!

 

 

 

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Gus Johnson and CBS, Together No More

Posted by jstevrtc on May 5th, 2011

Richard Deitsch of SI.com has reported that play-by-play icon Gus Johnson and CBS could not come to terms on a new contract and have thus parted ways. No more Gus Johnson buzzer-beaters at NCAA Tournament time, folks.

Yeah, This Makes Total Sense.

According to Mr. Deitsch, Johnson has been in talks with Fox Sports to work college football games, given the network’s move to increase their profile in that sport. There is no mention as to whether Gus’ position calling college basketball for the Big Ten Network is affected by this. As Deitsch points out, Fox owns a nice big chunk of the BTN, and they’re also (obviously) a player in the recent deal between themselves, ESPN, and the Pac-10, a package that includes 68 college basketball games.

Johnson is by far CBS’ most popular announcer. Again…it is not close. The convnetional wisdom among college basketball fans was that the network would and should only work to increase Johnson’s presence wherever they could, especially when it comes to college basketball, and it would do anything possible to keep him. His departure has hoopheads everywhere wondering what on earth CBS could be thinking, though admittedly we haven’t heard either side of the story, and no details of the failed negotiations are mentioned in Mr. Deitsch’s article.

Nevertheless, college hoopheads are left with no Gus Johnson for March Madness. We’re certain he’ll be around, and we’re praying someone at Turner will scoop him up and find a way to get him back where he belongs by Tournament time, because March won’t be the same until he’s calling Tournament games again. If you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go transfer our old The Cure CDs to MP3 and listen to them until we’re dehydrated. Life is unfair.

 

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That’s Debatable: NCAA First Weekend

Posted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2011

As we head into the Sweet Sixteen round, let’s take a look back at some of the key questions and moments of the first two, er, three rounds…

RTC Take:  It was more interesting than it was the last nine years when it only involved two #16 seeds, but the only way to make it truly compelling is to pick teams with a little more national oomph than USC, VCU, UAB and Clemson. 

RTC Take: The fouls at the end of Butler/Pitt offset each other and the two no-calls appeared to be play-on situations in those games.  The Kalin Lucas travel probably wouldn’t have impacted the outcome anyway.  But the Texas five-second call seemed to be a fast whistle, and it essentially gave Arizona the daylight it needed to win the game. 

RTC Take:  We really liked the ability to surf between games without too much trouble, and the free online platforms worked great.  We did not like having entire afternoons on Saturday & Sunday limited to one game per window, though.  That could end up poorly in future years with blowouts. 

RTC Take:  It’s true that Barkley/Jet don’t do their homework, but the scene where Barkley razzed Pitino about Louisville losing in their first game and clowning the Big East was priceless, well worth putting up with the rest of it.  We’ve never seen someone so openly disdainful and dismissive of Pitino in his presence.  Awesome.

RTC Take:  Was Jimmer, still Jimmer.  His performance against Gonzaga was phenomenal, and although Kemba was equally awesome, we still think BYU would essentially be Air Force without Fredette in the lineup.

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Morning Five: 02.11.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 11th, 2011

  1. One of the great offshoots of the partnership of CBS with Turner Sports for the upcoming fourteen years of NCAA Tournament is that they’ve finally figured out a clean and easy way for fans to watch every game live if they want to.  No more signing up for Mega March Madness or waiting on Greg Gumbel to shoot you to a better game (after a commercial break, of course).  Now, they will have four different channels through which to put the games, and with a more realistic staggering of tip times, there will be fewer scenarios where three games are coming down to a final possession at the same time.  As Mike Aresco, CBS’ executive VP for programming said, this will allow for “wall to wall coverage from Noon to Midnight.”  How awesome is this?
  2. Is former Kentucky and Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillispie interested in the open Wyoming job?  Frankly, we don’t understand why he would have any interest at all.  Texas Tech is going to have an opening next month and the Longhorn State is his recruiting base.  And despite all the troubles he ran into in the Bluegrass State, he is a perfect fit for football-oriented schools in the footprint of the old Southwest Conference.  This potential move just doesn’t make a lot of sense to us.
  3. The 2011 McDonald’s All-Americans were announced yesterday for the March 30 game in Chicago featuring the stars of tomorrow.  The big winners:  Kentucky (4), Duke (3), Louisville (3), Syracuse (2), UNC (2) — sooooo… what else is new?
  4. Here’s a solid analysis of the Duke-UNC game from Wednesday night.  The thing that jumped out at us from this game was just how dominant UNC looked against Duke in the first half.  Sure, we all knew that the Blue Devils would come back, make the game competitive, and probably even win the game.  But we never thought that this collection of North Carolina players were capable of dominating this collection of Duke players at any time, anywhere, even for one half.
  5. Luke Winn’s Power Rankings are always fun, but the little animated graphic he came up with to illustrate the assist difference between Larry Drew II and Kendall Marshall really cracked us up for some reason.  We half-expected the scientists from the Dharma Initiative to show up and tell us why we need to keep pressing that infernal button.
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Turner Sports Pulls Off a Coup With NCAA Digital

Posted by rtmsf on September 22nd, 2010

Ten years ago we were carrying around a mobile phone that weighed about a half-pound and was the size of a baby’s arm.  The Internet was ubiquitous but you still needed a land line in most places to access it.  Remember that comical drill?  A quick burst of dialing notes followed by a cacophany of beeps and hisses on the external modem resulting in a satisfying echo effect that signified that you were, once again, online (at the blistering pace of 56k speed, mind you).  Google was a small search engine company that hadn’t really caught on yet, while iPods were something more closely aligned with the horrendous Star Wars prequels than an Apple product.  The word “blog” had not yet entered the popular lexicon, The Facebook was still four years from its genesis, and Twitter, well, let’s just say that tweeting was something left to our aviary friends.

It Doesn't Feel All That Long Ago! (photo credit: SI)

The point of this trip down memory lane is not to make everyone feel old, but rather to show that technology, more than just about any other part of our lives, changes very quickly.  We can remember Michigan State’s Mateen Cleaves cutting down the nets in Indy like it was yesterday; but the thought of using dial-up web access seems like the paleolithic era at this point.  Some of the changes are predictable, natural progressions — from land lines to wireless Internet access, for example — but others, such as the burst of social networking applications, come as a bit of a surprise.  If you can predict right now what the “killer apps” will be in 2020, then you are a lot smarter and prescient that most, and you’ll likely become a rich man as a result of it.

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Morning Five: 04.29.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on April 29th, 2010

    1. We asked the question in yesterday’s Morning Five, and today we got the answer — well, not really.  New NCAA prez Mark Emmert simply said (despite the headline of the linked article) he’d reserve comment about tournament expansion until the current 68-team proposal is approved.  That approval will likely come today, so we’ll be on the lookout for Emmert’s tabled comments on the matter, that’s for sure.
    2. You won’t be hearing anything about PTPers or dipsy-doo-dunkeroos or the Bald Dome Index on any of the Turner stations when they start covering the NCAA Tournament.  Dick Vitale has no interest in ditching his analyst’s seat in the studio at ESPN for a color commentating spot at Turner.  No matter your opinion on his announcing style, you’ve got to hand it to the guy: his enthusiasm for this game is still unmatched, he’s still adored by coaches and players, and, considering he’d be 84 the next time he could possibly do color for an NCAA Tournament game at ESPN, his loyalty to his current employer is admirable.
    3. C. J. Leslie has decided to stay at home and play for North Carolina State, disappointing reported fellow finalists Connecticut and Kentucky in doing so.  Leslie, a 6’9 and 205-pound power forward, is ranked 11th in the ESPNU-100 list of high school seniors, and happy Wolfpack supporters are beaming about the prospects of how he’ll meld with point guard prospect Ryan Harrow, ranked at 39th in the same list.  Add underrated 6’4 shooting guard Lorenzo Brown into the mix, and you’ve got an NC State squad that’s gong to be a lot of fun to watch next season.
    4. Chuck Driesell has decided to bid a fond farewell to his assistant coaching position at Maryland to become the new boss at The Citadel.  And if the last name and the Maryland ties didn’t clue you in…yes, it’s Lefty’s son.  Despite a 20-13 (15-5) record in 2008-09, the Bulldogs slipped to 17-16 and 9-9 in a tougher-than-expected Southern Conference last season.  After four years at the helm in Charleston, Ed Conroy now departs for Tulane, so it’s now on Driesell to lead The Citadel to their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid.
    5. More on this as it comes in, but Seton Hall forward and recent NBA Draft declarer Herb Pope fell ill and then actually collapsed during an afternoon workout at the school, and was rushed by squad to a local hospital.  The initial AP report (understandably) did not comment on Pope’s status or diagnosis, though one New Jersey-based site states he is indeed listed in serious condition.  We hope for the best and we’ll have more info as it’s available.
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