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Volume 24 No. 235
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ESPN's Holly Rowe Set To Call First Pro Game With WNBA Opener

Rowe on May 20 will work alongside analysts Rebecca Lobo and LaChina Robinson
Photo: ESPN IMAGES

ESPN's Holly Rowe has "never called a WNBA game," but that will change on May 20 when she "gets the play-by-play assignment" for ESPN2's season opener, according to Richard Deitsch of THE ATHLETIC. It is a "big game too -- a rematch of last year’s WNBA Finals" Lynx-Sparks. Rowe will "work alongside analysts Rebecca Lobo and LaChina Robinson." ESPN "found itself with a play-by-play opening because Ryan Ruocco, the network’s lead WNBA voice, has a scheduling conflict on May 20." Knowing the net had to fill the spot, Rowe in March contacted ESPN Coordinating Producer for WNBA Rodney Vaughn to "tell him that she was interested." Rowe does have "women's college basketball play-by-play experience, but this will be the first pro game in any sport that she called" (THEATHLETIC.com, 5/16).

TOGETHER AGAIN: In Philadelphia, Rob Tornoe noted ESPN's Kevin Negandhi and Sage Steele began hosting the 6:00pm edition of "SportsCenter" this week, and their relationship "goes back to their days covering" the Buccaneers and Univ. of Florida at network affiliates in Florida in the late '90s and early '00s. Negandhi said, “It’s been a crazy, upside-down year. To be part of all this is pretty amazing, and I consider myself very lucky.” Negandhi said of hosting a later edition of "SportsCenter" rather than a morning show, "The difference is you’re going to get a lot more context on how a particular shot was made, or why this defense was out there." He noted he "filled in at least two to three times a week for the last six to eight weeks while they were figuring out what they were doing with that slot, and we had plenty of highlights to talk about." Negandhi: "Our viewers are extremely bright. They want to see highlights and video, but they also want to see why this happened, and we get the chance to explain that, whether it’s through stats brought to us by our research team or (data firm) Second Spectrum, which lets us go deeper." He said of working with Steele, "I go back with Sage for 20 years. ... It’ll be like, 'All right, this is like we never missed a beat'" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/15).

THAT'S A STRETCH: In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes there "simply has to be a better way to treat the audience" for ESPN's one-hour NBA Draft Lottery show, which aired on Tuesday. It is "hardly surprising ESPN would try to stretch a few minutes of actual information into an hour of television." Rosenthal wrote of ESPN, "The sixth round of the NFL draft was 'Hamilton' compared with what it staged Tuesday." While TBS "took a lot of flak for squandering the inherent drama of unveiling the bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March," ESPN's NBA Draft Lottery show, with "less information and half the time, proved it could have been worse" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/17).