Saturday, March 1, 2008

Announcers And How They Can Make Or Break A Game

Georgetown knocked off Marquette 70-68 in OT today in what was one of the most exciting games I've watched this year. It had everything you could ask for. High stakes - Georgetown remained atop the Big East standings with the win, while Marquette dropped to two games behind UConn and Notre Dame for the all-important fourth spot and the first round bye in the Big East Tournament. A great Georgetown comeback from 11 points down. Great defense and some incredible plays offensively. Outstanding energy, effort and determination from both sides. Thrilling finishes to both regulation and overtime. A great crowd that was loud and into the game from the tip.

But what made this game stand out in my mind was the masterful job Gus Johnson did as the play-by-play announcer. To be honest, I don't think Johnson or his partner today, Clark Kellogg, know all that much about college basketball. I watched the game by myself this afternoon, but the job done by this crew really made me feel like I was watching it with a bunch of people that truly love the game as much as I do. Whenever the suspense and excitement would build, these two conveyed those same sentiments perfectly. Everytime something happened that made me say "What a freakin' play" or "How did he hit that shot?", I got the sense from these two that they were saying the same thing. When a game has as much energy and excitement as this one did, watching it becomes so much more entertaining and enjoyable when it feels like the announcers don't have the attitude that I'm better than you, that I am too good to get excited for a great play, but rather seem like they are just as much a fan of the sport as the viewer. And it is not just Gus Johnson that can announce a game like that - Bill Raftery does a great job as well, and despite all the 'dipsy-doo's' and 'diaper dandies', Dick Vitale does the same thing.

In my mind, collegiate sports, specifically in basketball and football, you need an announcer that can energize the television audience. As opposed to the NBA, each and every game played at this level has so much passion - not just from the players, but from the fans at the games. Where else, except maybe European soccer, do you see fans on their feet for the entire game screaming their heads off? Where else do you see players giving as much effort as they do on a college basketball court? Where else do you see a regular season loss, which usually doesn't carry all that much weight, have such a devastating effect, and a win give such a euphoric feeling? When a fan base, a viewing audience, and all of the players have such enthusiam for the game being played, why shouldn't the broadcasters?

I'm sick of guys like Jim Nantz, or Brent Musberger, or the devil Billy Packer, whose time has obviously passed them by. They suck the air out of big moments in games. Look at these two examples, both go ahead shots late in the game in equally important games from last year's NCAA tournament, and tell me which announcer you think does a better job.

Gus Johnson and Dan Bonner doing Ron Lewis' three to send the game into OT in the second round.

Billy Packer and Jim Nantz on Jeff Green's game-winning jumper against Vanderbilt in the Sweet 16.

"We're going to overtime in Lexington. HAHAAA. College Basketball. CBS. THIS is March Madness." Says it all right there.

No comments: