Local HD viewers of ESPN2’s telecast of the OU-James Madison NCAA women’s tournament game Sunday afternoon missed most of the second half action as ESPN2 bounced around to several other games, including a big portion of the Purdue-Kansas State game, which also aired on ESPNU. After carrying much of the first half of the OU game, ESPN2 picked up only the last portion after the Sooners’ 19-point lead dwindled to six points before they prevailed 86-72.
ESPN spokesperson Rachel Margolis said standard definition viewers were able to watch the entire game under the network’s guidelines of protecting the home markets of the teams. However, Meadows said ESPN2 does not have the technology to do that with the HD broadcasts, resulting in the limited air time for the Sooners.
Margolis said the network ran a bottom line on the HD broadcast, notifying viewers to switch to the SD channel if they wanted to see the entire broadcast. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that line.
HD viewers will face the same problem Tuesday night when the Sooners face Miami, Fla., in the second round with several other games also taking place. At least, this time I will be prepared to go to the SD channel and not miss any of the action.
Courtney Paris had barely walked off the court Sunday night following the Sooners’ 61-59 loss to Louisville in the Women’s Final Four when an ESPN reporter asked her the $64,000 question — did she intended to fulfill her it pledge to repay her OU athletic scholarship since the Sooners didn’t win the national championship? Courtney replied she didn’t have $64,000 at the moment, but planned to do so. Moments after such a painful loss, this didn’t seem a good time to hit her up with the $64,000 question.
It fit ESPN’s tone for the night of beating up on Paris, the first four-time All-American in women’s basketball who had broke several NCAA scoring and rebounding records. On several occasions, commentator Doris Burke criticized her for being out of shape, noting she appeared winded and had difficulty getting up and down the court. She said if the Sooners were to win, the winner of the Connecticut-Stanford game would be wise to get her in a transition game. Burke has a right to her opinion, but constantly harping on it is another story. Paris, obviously is not in as good of shape as twin sister, Ashley, but she has played that way for years with — and with much success.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, appeared on the ESPN pregame show to talk about his sister Carlee, a reserve for the Sooners. Ben said, “My hands are sweating more now than they were in the Super Bowl.”
ESPN’s telecast said an Oklahoma City record for a women’s basketball game with a 19.4 rating. The previous high was a 19.3 for the Oklahoma-Duke game on March 29, 2002.
CBS’ “The Road to the Final Four” pregame show, 3 p.m. Saturday, will include a report commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Indiana State/ Michigan State 1979 NCAA championship game. Players from both teams reflect on the 1979 season and the “Game that changed the Game,” and their lives over the last 30 years. The piece features interviews with Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird reminiscing about their memories and the lasting impact of the 1979 NCAA championship. The feature is narrated by CBS Sports’ Dick Enberg who was the play-by-play announcer for the game.
Michigan State, coached by Jud Heathcote, won the national title with a 75-64 victory in the final game over an unbeaten Indiana State team, coached by Bill Hodges. Magic was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Other feature stories on the pregame show include North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough, Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds, Connecticut guard A.J. Price and Michigan State’s homecoming as the Spartans play in the Final Four at Ford Field in Detroit.
Don’t forget Russell Westbrook
Last week, TNT analyst Chris Webber discussed his pick for Rookies of the Year between the Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo and Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose: “In my mind, I think you should do exactly what the NBA did the year (1994-95) that Grant Hill and Jason Kidd won (co-Rookies of the Year). If Derrick Rose doesn’t make it to the playoffs then he and O.J. Mayo are both out of the playoffs. Derrick Rose has much better players around him (on the Bulls) and Mayo is trying to change the mentality in Memphis. I would give them co-Rookies of the Year because both of their teams aren’t that great.”
TNT analyst Charles Barkley chimed in that Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook also should be in conversation for rookie of the year: (Derrick) Rose is going to win it, because we expect him to win it, he’s the No. 1 pick. Let me tell you something, Russell Westbrook has a very bright future.”
CBS has assigned its top team of Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg to the Memphis Regional to broadcast the South Regional games on Friday night: OU-Syracuse game at 6:27 p.m. and North Carolina-Gonzaga at about 9 p.m. It shows the network believes it’s the best set of games in the Sweet 16. North Carolina was ranked No. 1 entering the tournament and OU has the national player of the year in Blake Griffin.
The good contingent of Kansas fans in Oklahoma should get to see most of the Jayhawks game against Michigan State, following the conclusion of the OU game. Of course, they can get on the Internet and watch all the game at March Madness on Demand at NCAA.com.
Ratings for the first two rounds are up 6 percent from 2008, averaging a 5.4 in metered markets.
The other broadcast pairings:
West Regional, Glendale, Ariz., 6:07 p.m. Thursday, Connecticut vs. Purdue, about 8:30 p.m., Memphis vs. Missouri. Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas.
East Regional, Boston, 6:27 p.m. Thursday, Pittsburgh vs. Xavier, about 9 p.m. Duke vs. Villanova. Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery.
Midwest Regional, Indianapolis, 6:07 p.m., Louisville vs. Arizona, about 8:30 p.m., Kansas vs. Michigan State. Gus Johnson and Len Elmore.
Although Billy Packer has retired from CBS, he is still providing analysis on the NCAA tournament. Teaming with Bob Knight, his “Billy Packer’s Survive and Advance” airs at midnight Sunday on FSOK. A repeats airs at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Barkley’s hit list
Charles Barkley reveals his golf “hit list” on this week’s episode of “The Haney Project,” 8 p.m. Monday on Golf Channel. Philadelphia sports talk host, Howard Eskin, who is on the “Top 7,” has vowed to run around the golf course in his underwear if Barkley ever beats him.
The Top 7 are the people who have ticked Barkley off and wants to beat on the golf course:
1. Michael Jordan
2. Tiger Woods
3, Dave the Bartender, CHOPS Restaurant & Bar in Philadelphia.
4. Howard Eskin, sports radio personality for WIP-AM in Philadelphia.
5. Roy Green, former NFL wide receiver.
6. Seth Joyner, former NFL linebacker.
7. Jim Murphy, director of golf at Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
CBSSports.com, in partnership with the NCAA, is introducing a high-definition quality video player for its NCAA March Madness on Demand video streaming of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Both the standard video player and the high-definition quality option will be offered free of charge. For the first time, live video and audio streaming will available on iPhone and iPod touch.
CBS officials are expecting continued viewership growth for the service, which has proven to be a hit with office workers. In 2008, NCAA March Madness on Demand reached 4.8 million unique visitors, a 164 percent increase over 2007.
The service (ncaa.com/mmod) already is providing highlights of past NCAA tournaments.
Capel on DirecTV special
OU coach Jeff Capel will join coaches Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Bruce Pearl and Lorenzo Romar on DirecTV’s “Bracket Breakdown,” special, which will debut at 8 p.m. Monday on DirecTV channel 101. … Billy Packer and Bob Knight are teaming up to provide analysis of the NCAA men’s tournament on the five-part series “Billy Packer’s Survive and Advance,” which will air at midnight Sundays on Fox Sports Oklahoma. … Westwood One will continue as the exclusive radio partner for NFL under a new two-year agreement … Clark Kellogg has joined Jim Nantz on CBS’ No. 1 NCAA tournament broadcast team. Other pairings: Dick Enberg, Carter Blackburn and Jay Bilas; Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery; Gus Johnson and Len Elmore; Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner; Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel; Craig Bolerjack and Bob Wenzel; Tim Brando and Mike Gminski.