By Alan Pergament
One of the additional reasons I like the invention of On Demand viewing so much is that it enables me to watch so much college basketball.
If a game is on, I always figure I can catch up with "Blacklist" or "Scandal" later On Demand.
That's especially true if Syracuse is playing and driving me crazy. Not that I overrated the Orange this season. Even when Syracuse was 25-0, I told friends and family that "they are not very good."
But I added: "No one else is, either."
Since the NCAA men's tournament is in Buffalo today, it is time to tell you what I learned by listening to so much play-by-play and analysis since November. Call it my Sweet 16.
1. I'm sorry that Bruce Pearl left ESPN to take the head coaching job at Auburn. Pearl has been one of the best analysts on the network since he was fired two years ago, reportedly for lying to the NCAA. Of course, ESPN only rents former coaches for a few years until they get another job and it's nice to see that Pearl has gotten another chance. If lying was a capital offense in college athletics, ESPN's "Requiem for the Big East" pretty much proves that many college administrators would be out of a job.
2. I would expect that Seth Greenberg would be the next ESPN analyst to get a coaching job. The former Virginia Tech coach is my favorite analyst and has illustrated such a great understanding of college hoops that it is hard to understand why he isn't back in the game. It isn't like Virginia Tech has done so well since he was fired. They just fired another coach this week.
3. My favorite college basketball play-by-play man is Dan Shulman, the Toronto native who could be the most underrated sports broadcaster on television.
4. I'm glad to see that Entercom stations WGR and WWKB are carrying Westwood One broadcasts of NCAA tourney games. WGR wouldn't dare drop its afternoon hosts Mike Schopp and the Bulldog so the games go to KB on Thursday and Friday afternoons and whenever the Sabres play. All of Saturday's games and two Sunday games are on WGR. The Final Four and championship game are on WGR, too.
5. CBS should be cheered for moving Clark Kellogg away from games and putting him back in the studio. He brought enthusiasm when he replaced Billy Packer alongside Jim Nantz. But Kellogg never told me anything I didn't know.Cheers also to CBS for pairing analysts Steve Kerr and Greg Anthony alongside Jim Nantz for the Final Four. They actually talk about strategy. And cheers for bringing back Charles Barkley as a studio analyst. He may have watched less basketball than I have this season, but Barkley is always entertaining and a quick study when it comes to seeing which teams and players are good.
6. Now that the Turner channels of truTV, TNT and TBS are carrying tournament games, I suppose that means I will have to find all those channels on Time Warner Cable's new channel lineup. Syracuse's Trevor Cooney has a better chance of hitting six 3's today against Western Michigan than I do of finding tru without going through all the channels.
7. I find myself listening to talk show host Doug Gottlieb on CBS Radio 1270 more and more instead of WGR even though he has a reputation for Syracuse bashing. At least whenever he says something nice about Syracuse or defends Coach Jim Boeheim you can't say he's a homer. Speaking of Boeheim, enough please about his whining. "Requiem" proved he is much more than that image, which won't go away.
8. I didn't realize that the Big East tournament had moved from ESPN to Fox Sports until I ran into Bill Raftery doing a game alongside Gus Johnson last weekend. Then again I didn't realize Xavier was in the Big East until then, either.
9. Raftery, who is working the Buffalo games, sure has to adjust fast going from the hyperactive Johnson to the calmer Verne Lundquist on play-by-play today. That's like switching from a rock station to a classical musical station.
10. I wonder how some St. Bonaventure fans feel about former Bona Coach Jim Satalin being the radio analyst for Syracuse games. I've heard him a few times on Syracuse games carried by KB and he does a nice job, especially considering he never attended Newhouse School.
11. One of my favorite analysts on Syracuse games is ESPN's Dan Dakich, who does a great job explaining strategy and also has Raftery's sense of humor.
12. I'm glad that Dick Vitale doesn't do any NCAA games. I used to love his enthusiasm. But enough already.
13. I should have mentioned that I'm a fan of ESPN's Jay Bilas, who isn't a Duke homer. It's a shame he isn't doing any TV games.
14. Remember when Buffalo Bills didn't know who play-by-play men Spero Dedes or Andrew Catalon were when they called games this season? Both are working the tournament.
15. Catalon works with analysts Mike Gminski. He's another Dukie. He worked the ACC broadcasts that WBBZ carried this year and pretty much put me to sleep.
16. You might not remember Dedes or Catalon. But I bet you remember Allie LaForce, who is the sideline reporter for the Buffalo games. Here's what I wrote about her a couple of months ago: "Speaking of sideline reporters, am I the only one who thought that CBS’ Allie LaForce looks a lot like superstar skier Lindsey Vonn when watching Allie work analyst Dan Dierdorf’s last game? A former (surprise, surprise) Miss Teen USA, LaForce did such a good job on the sidelines that I fear for the sideline playoff future of Steve Tasker."
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