March Madness Announcing Grades (Rounds 1&2)

Monday, March 19, 2007



I know this has been said a thousand times already, but it sucks that there weren't that many upsets the first two days. Sure it proves that the NCAA Selection Committee ultimately did an adequite (LLo reference...hope two of you get it), but baby wanted some upsets. Oh well. At least all 4 of my final four teams are alive.

So enough about my brackets....you could care less right? Right.

Overall I thought the Announcing for the first two days wasn't THAT bad. Sure there was a heck of a lot of sexual innuendo, but I really only noticed those comments because I have the maturity of a five year old.

So onto the grading (after the jump). Remember this is just one man's opinion. Please feel free to leave yours in the comments.


I was debating whether to give out gold stars at first, but I think I'm going with the standard English Paper Grading.......

Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery: A-








The two of them just love basketball, and that comes through over the air. Their best attribute is that they can joke with each other, AND have it be relevant to the game. They are never so distracting that you listen to them more than pay attention to the action.

I got emails and comments saying that Raftery doesn't analyze as much as he should. I thought he toned down the noises and grunts just enough that he was exciting and informative at the same time. It was the perfect level for him.

As a PbP guy Lundquist is always overlooked. He conveyed the action perfectly, and had the moxie to stay with Raftery for every game.

Bravo to them.

Gus Johnson and Dan Bonner: B+










(Sorry Dan....you don't have many photos on the intraweb. Michelle Bonner will have to do)

They would have had an A if it wasn't for the Louisville favoritism they showed in the second round matchup versus A&M. I'm not sure where that came from, but I noticed it part of the way through the second half. Others that emailed seemed to think it was the whole game though.

From the last post: Anonymous said...Gus Johnson is the WORST--Doesn't question if the Oden's foul was intentional, doesn't even bring up that Xavier should foul before the 3-point shot attempt. He's just a screamer like Dickie V with lots of sound and fury and signifying nothing. He belongs at the high school level.

Here's the thing. While he should have mentioned it that's not really his job....Bonner should have been the one to say something. With that said he did give out a "whoa" when it happened, so at least he acknowledged it. I really didn't think the foul was THAT bad, and neither did Xavier.

Some Announcers are "Energy Guys" and some are "Numbers Guys". I personally gravitate to the Energy Guys as long as they keep their energy focused on the game at hand (unlike Vitale). The college game is supposed to be exciting, and he's just a fan in the booth. I, and I think most of you, would rather it be this way.

Ian (Eye-in) Eagle and Jim Spanarkel: B-










They really only got the minus because Spanarkel sounded too much like Bob Ryan to me. In all seriousness they surprised the heck out of me, and did a great job out West.

Ian Eagle has to be (if not is) the most underrated Play by Play guy going. Check out his work with the Nets and in the playoffs (NBA TV) after the tournament.

Kevin Harlan and Bob Wenzel: C+










Normally it's the color guy dragging the Play by Play guy down (Troy Aikman the exception), but this one goes the other way. While I like Kevin Harlan's voice and enthusiasm......he rarely gets a call right. Maybe it's because he's so used to all of the "Offensive Player Preferential Treatment" in the NBA, but I don't think he called a foul correctly in the 4 day span.

Wenzel is rough around the edges and moved from Craig Bolerjack to Harlan this year. Some of you thought he was a little gregarious during the VCU game, but I thought it was warranted.

Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas: C-










I debated this one for awhile because I didn't really catch that many of their games (2 compared to 3 and 4 from the other pairs). I guess it boils down to whether you care for Dick Enberg or not. I of course....don't. I think he's past his prime, and awfully boring when he's calling games.

With that said....Bilas carried him through the first two rounds. He's just funny enough to make light of situations when light is needed, and he is by far and away the best "Numbers Guy". His X's and O's are above and beyond the best in the business.

Bilas could only carry Dick so far though (yes that was intentional), and I think he got dragged under by the UNC-Michigan State game. So much so that they were both drooling over UNC with the game on the line. Yeah, we all know they're a great team, but when they possibly COULD lose.....let's talk about the game.

Tim Brando and Mike Gminski: D+/C-











Chalk this up to the fact that they probably got the most boring set of games, but nothing they did stood out to me. I've been watching Gminski for years on local ACC games and I don't think he's said one thing insightful.....Ever.

Jim Nantz and Billy Packer: D+









I just can't like Jim Nantz anymore. Don't know what it is. At one point he was one of my favorites, and then he all of sudden became spineless and gets led around the broadcast by whoever his Color guy is. Maybe it's because he's a company guy, but for once I'd just like him to tell Simms or Packer to shut the hell up and let him call the game.

Billy Packer....what else can I say? I think the part that infuriated me the most was this moment in the UNLV-GT Game. It's been close the whole way, and the Rebs are up two and at the line with a chance to ice the game with two Free Throws.

They hit the first. Packer then says, "That makes the lead 2. Oh wait...that makes it a two possession game."

No and No! I'm glad you finally decided to correct yourself, but can you add??? Come on Billy.

Jim Brown and Len Elmore: F+










Chalk this up with some of the other predictions that I was completely wrong about (kind of like my ND and GW picks). Elmore was pretty good with Gus Johnson last year, but this time around he almost put me to sleep every time he opened his mouth.

Jimbo is a great Studio Host, and I never actually found out if he was sick or not. The odd part was that I saw him do a regular season Georgetown game for CBS before the tourney, and he was actually pretty good.

I was so disappointed with them during the Vandy-Washington State Double OT Game that I almost changed the channel. The fact that they get two more games kills me. Especially with Oregon/UNLV possibly being the game of the tourney.
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So there you have them. I know some of you will disagree, but you have that right. Get a debate going in the comments and I'll see you there.

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 2:12 PM

16 Comments:

Definitely agree with the Ian Eagle comments. I enjoy his work, even dating back to last year's tournament. As for Nantz, he just strikes me as the local TV news anchor who is taken by surprise when something dirty or unexpected happens on a live report. Kind of a laughing, smarmy mess.

It seems that one person gave me a grade of F- for my comments in the Nova/Kentucky live blog, and I couldn't be prouder.

Mar 19, 2007, 5:11:00 PM  

Bilas is turning into too much of a Dickie V for me. Except his rants make even less sense. At least Dickie's you've been hearing for 30 years and can understand parts.

McFad said...
Mar 19, 2007, 5:14:00 PM  

I agree with several people about their critiques on Gus Johnson. I am a HUGE Louisville fan and even I was sick and tired of hearing him slurp on and on about Edgar Sosa. The kid had a great game but Gus' man crush was blatanly obvious. Solid work all around, AA.

quiet cardinal said...
Mar 19, 2007, 5:22:00 PM  

Thanks for posting that QC....didn't he nickname him "Tigre" at one point?

Mar 19, 2007, 5:26:00 PM  

RUTS- That is too funny. It's the internet....who cares right?

Mar 19, 2007, 5:26:00 PM  

I agree for the most part, except that I do like Dick Enberg still and thought that him and Bilas were solid for the most part (as you mentioned, the UNC/MSU game was a little much)... Enberg is like Keith Jackson for me near the end of his career... they're old, they make mistakes, but I still like listening to him. I suspect that Enberg could be 90 years old, not knowing what he's announcing, and I'd still enjoy him. Just a personal preference there.

twins15 said...
Mar 19, 2007, 5:57:00 PM  

AA -- Actually, I'm hoping a prospective employer Googles him. Otherwise, I think it's hysterical.

Mar 19, 2007, 6:07:00 PM  

I never understood the Raftery love - I hate him more than any other analyst in the business. I think his catchphrases are horrible and I never understood what there was to like about him. That being said, I hate when Lundquist gets dragged away from Packer to this clown for the tournament because he loses a step. It's a shame too, because I think Verne should be the 'voice' of the Final Four, not the company yesman Nantz. I think everything else was spot on, especially your comments about Eagle. He is no doubt the most underrated PBP'er in the business, has been for years, and yet he's stuck working the #6 game for the NFL and the #7 crew for the tournament. Either him or Gus should be doing regionals, not James "I'll stumble over every other word" Brown. Try and find highlights of the WVU/Wake Forest double OT game two years ago, Eagle was tremendous during it. I wish someone would recognize his talents and not just stick him at the bottom of the depth chart.

Anonymous said...
Mar 19, 2007, 6:45:00 PM  

Hey anonymous, ligthen up dude, Raftery is entertaining. Again, maybe not someone who should be announcing ANYTHING other than college hoops, but he's a perfect fit for March Madness like Gus Johnson. It just works.

The Sports Hernia said...
Mar 19, 2007, 8:44:00 PM  

Actually its a look Lundquist during my usual search at blogsearch.sg that landed me here.

Anonymous said...
Mar 19, 2007, 8:46:00 PM  

In my opinion

Enberg/Bilas: C+

Bilas drags the grade down because he sucks up to tyler hansbrough too much. Enberg says to many big words.

Johnson/Bonner: B-

Bonner adds nothing. Gus Johnson needs Valium.

Brown/Elmore: C

Look at the sweet sixteen pairing to see what i think about brown. Elmore is just boring.

Nantz/Packer: D

Nantz never gets excited. When i go to college several years from now, i will major in math so i can tell billy packer what 2+1 equals.

Harlan/Wenzel: D-

Harlan seems to get excited at the wrong time and say nothing when there's a game winning shot. Wenzel is unbearable, he adds nothing to the game.

Eagle/Spanarkel: F

Eagle ruins the grade with his constant story telling. Spanarkel just babbles on and on.

Brando/Gminski: F-

Brando just has a terrible voice for pbp. Gminski is just stupid.

Finally,

Lundquist/Raftery: A

Lundquist is a legend. Calls the preseason games for the Seattle Seahawks on local tv here in the Seattle Area. Raftery is good but "THE LITTLE KISS" comment gets annoying at times, we don't need to know how great a ladies man he was(n't).

On the previous thread, Who was the 1st person from the blogging mecca on the WaPo Live show? I don't live in THAT washington.

Travis said...
Mar 19, 2007, 9:10:00 PM  

I want to know why you deducted the Johnson/Bonner crew's grade for showing some Louisville favoritism when you completely overlook the huge favoritism Lundquist and Raftery (who I'm big fans of) showed towards Florida.

Chris said...
Mar 19, 2007, 10:46:00 PM  

Chris- Here's the thing. If you're talking about game one and it's a four point game with 2 plus minutes to go, and you bring it up constantly...that's bad. If the other game is up to a 16 point lead and you're down to the same amount of time.....that's another.

They have to have something to talk about. And accessing a player's NBA ability and the team's chances in the next round are okay in my mind.

Mar 19, 2007, 11:05:00 PM  

Problem is, too many announcers try to make themselves more important than the game.

This may not entirely be the announcers fault but the networks they are employed by.

ESPN is notrious for showing fans, talking about "storylines" and other junk that really over-shadows the game(s) themselves. (i.e. evident from AFL debut with Mike and Mike)

My quick hits, noteables anyway:

Jim Nantz is losing his touch. So far, he's brought his golf announcing energy to the NCAA Tournament.

I want to high-five the CBS intern that keeps messing with Billy Packer's notecards. The fact that BP keeps reading the wrong material is just beyond funny.

Jay Bilas is like every other ESPN hack--biased.

Gus Johnson is great, but unfortunately his cheering and energy is too much for CBS to risk with the "older" audiences.

Len Elmore got dragged down by his PXP guy, James Brown. I love JB because he is just a fantastic man, and (as a broadcaster myself) strive to be like him when hosting a studio show. However, he doesn't translate well in the booth--however, his CBS contract included him doing PXP for hoops.

Verne is just wearing down--still like hearing his voice--but he just cannot seem to keep up with fast-action games.

Harlan is the most unprepared announcer on television, well, CBS anyway. Wenzel was surprisingly good and knowledgable at times.

Raft has not been over-the-top like usual...and by OTT I mean--really energetic. Love the kiss and jumbled words--but he's been calm so far.

I agree with AA's mention of few upsets and really unexciting games. Not much, really, for anybody to get excited about.

Rod said...
Mar 20, 2007, 2:09:00 AM  

i just don't understand the love for raferty. i think he's a glorified cartoon character. at best i would give him and lundquist a C because raftery drags down on of the best: lundquist.

enberg, short of al michaels, is the gold standard. bilas tries to act like raftery doing color and i have no idea why. why must one grunt like they are horribly constipated in the last phrase of a sentence?

gus johnson isn't bad, but he is a screamer if not unprofessional. an announcer is at least supposed to feign objectivity, you know, professionalism? late in the game when xavier scored, johnson was screaming! why? can't the play of the game speak for itself? why must johnson fake excitment?

on an ensuing possesion, the buckeyes score and johnson reacts to the bucket as if he's telling someone their pet lab just got hit by a car. UNPROFESSIONAL! C

gminski adds nothing to the game; never has. tim brando on the other hand was very good. he had probably the best line i heard all weekend about holy cross ralph willard and his hair color going from jet black to total gray in a span of a few months.

"unlike his mentor rick pitino, ralph willard is no longer belongs to the 'just for men' club." great line!

Anonymous said...
Mar 20, 2007, 8:57:00 AM  

Excellent assessment. I'm a fan of James Brown's studio work, but as a PBP guy he was terrible. And to think that he got the assignment for the next round with Gus Johnson left out? Thumbs down to CBS on that.

I think Jim Nantz is better than most, but trying to carry Billy Packer to a decent broadcast must be a difficult chore for him.

Lou P. said...
Mar 20, 2007, 10:01:00 AM  

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