SBD/January 21, 2011/Media

TNT NBA Analysts To Get Some College Work In Before NCAA Tourney Coverage

Miller (l), Albert will get some college work before NCAA tourney broadcasts
Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy Thursday said the TNT NBA broadcasters who will call games during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will get some college work in ahead of the event. Marv Albert, Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller are participating in the tourney, and Levy said, "We are going to have the talent that's doing play-by-play and color get some runs in. We'll work with our CBS partners to make sure that happens." Several TNT and NBA TV studio hosts and analysts also will contribute to coverage of the tournament, but Levy said he is not worried about their familiarity with the college game. "The studio guys are a lot different than the play-by-play and color guys," he said. "The studio guys follow college basketball all season long, so it's not like I'm concerned about that." Meanwhile, Levy said the decision to pair Kerr with CBS' Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg for the Final Four and national championship game was not about ensuring a Turner presence on the broadcasts. "It really wasn't about getting one Turner guy and one CBS guy," he said. "It was like, 'Who are the best matchups that will have the best telecasts? Who's worked together? Who feels comfortable together?' And where we think the synergy will be." Levy said it came down to finding the best fit in selecting Kerr over other analysts. "We just thought that Steve Kerr would add a lot to the broadcast and to that team," he said. "We think there's going to be a lot of synergy there. We thought he'd be a good addition" (Erik Swanson, THE DAILY).

KERR EXCITED: Kerr said Turner Sports Senior VP & Exec Producer Jeff Behnke talked to him "several months back" and asked how he would "feel about doing college games." Kerr: "I told him I'd love [it]. He surprised me. I figured I'd do some games. I didn't think I'd be doing the Final Four." Kerr noted he has "done three college games for Fox in the last six weeks or so in anticipation of doing the tournament," and he is "following the college game more closely." Kerr re-joined TNT in October after three years as President of Basketball Operations & GM for the Suns. Kerr: "The last three years with the Phoenix Suns, I was attending college games all over the place scouting. I feel I've got a pretty good handle on players and the game itself. ... The rules are obviously a little different. But in terms of the broadcast, it's basketball. As a color guy, you're still really talking about what you're seeing unfold in front of you and what you anticipate happening. That part comes pretty naturally. The work comes at the collegiate level in the preparation and in knowing the players because there are so many teams out there." Kerr also discussed working with Nantz and Kellogg for the first time, saying, "It's always different with a new crew. You adjust and you adapt. The biggest thing for me is just fitting in, trying to add what I can to the telecast without stepping on their toes because those guys do an incredible job" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/20). Kerr said that he "expects to work with Nantz and Kellogg during one of CBS' conference tournament games to prepare for the new assignment" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/21).

WILD CARD: CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus Thursday said that TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley "will be a key part" of the coverage. McManus: "Charles is excited about it. He's obviously a student of the game. He loves the game of college basketball. Our goal was to take the best of CBS and blend in the best of Turner. I think we've done that." FANHOUSE.com's Milton Kent wrote Barkley's penchant for "free-flowing thought and filter-less expression may prove to be as entertaining to watch and listen for as the games, as well as challenging for producers and executives" (FANHOUSE.com, 1/20). Meanwhile, USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes the TNT additions to the tournament broadcasts "inevitably led to subtractions." Announcer Dick Enberg "wasn't expected to return," and analyst Jay Bilas "won't continue moonlighting on NCAA games." McManus said of Bilas, "His deal with ESPN precluded him from joining our coverage" (USA TODAY, 1/21).
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