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ESPN Adds Ten To Bolster College Hoops Coverage

Jason Barrett

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ESPN networks extensive 2015-16 men’s basketball season coverage is complimented with the addition of six new analysts and four new play-by-play commentators. The new crew join an established line-up of the nation’s leading experts covering approximately 1,200 exclusive games across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, SEC Network and Longhorn Network.

SEC Network

  • Glen “Big Baby” Davis – a Baton Rouge, La. native, “Big Baby” Davis brings a wealth of college and NBA knowledge to SEC Network as a studio analyst. Davis was a McDonald’s All-American that led LSU to its first NCAA Final Four in appearance in 20 years in 2006. He was voted SEC Player of the Year (2006) and went on to play in the NBA for the last eight years, winning an NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008.
  • Andrew DeClercq – a former Florida standout, NBA player and coach, DeClercq joins SEC Network as a game and studio analyst. As a player at Florida, DeClercq was pivotal in the Gator’s first NCAA Final Four appearance (1994) and was drafted by the NBA in 1995. Since retiring in 2005, DeClercq’s focus shifted back to Florida, coaching high school basketball for nationally ranked Montverde Academy and later Foundation Academy.
  • John Pelphrey – a member of the Kentucky basketball Hall of Fame, Pelphrey played and coached basketball in the SEC before joining SEC Network as a game analyst. As a player (1988-1992) Pelphrey is a member of an elite group, coined by Coach Rick Pitino as “the Unforgettables”. He went on to coach at several colleges, including Florida under Coach Billy Donovan – leading the Gators to a National Championship game and four straight NCAA Tournament appearances – and head coach at Arkansas (2007-11).
  • In addition, it was announced earlier that the SEC Network has hired longtime Georgia women’s basketball coach Andy Landers and Tennessee Lady Vols standout Candace Parker as analysts.

ESPNU

  • Antwan Jamison – “North Carolina Mr. Basketball,” Jamison will contribute to ESPNU for the first time this season. Jamison was awarded both the Naismith and Wooden Awards while playing college basketball at UNC and is one of only seven UNC players to have their jersey retired. In addition to All-American and ACC player of the Year awards, he was the fourth overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft. Jamison’s NBA career spanned three decades and included NBA All-Rookie Team, two-time NBA All-Star, NBA Sixth Man of the Year award and playing for the USA National team. Jamison currently contributes to Lakers studio coverage in Los Angeles, and will work select ESPNU games and studio in addition to that role.
  • Jason Capel – also a UNC standout, Capel speaks from a former player and a former coach’s experience. He played basketball at Chapel Hill from 1998 to 2002 and went on to be the Appalachian State Head Coach (2010-2014). Capel also contributes as an analyst for Raycom. His first ESPNU assignment was the UNC at Kentucky alumni game.
  • Chris Spatola – the fifth all-time leading scorer at the United Station Military Academy, Spatola was a four-year starter at West Point (1999-2000) before serving in the Army for five years. After completing his service, he went to work for Duke basketball coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski and was a member of the coaching staff for four ACC tournament title wins and a National Championship.
  • New to ESPN, Ted Emrich, Alex Faust, Kevin Fitzgerald and Jenn Hildreth bring a depth of play-by-play experience to the ESPNU booth. Hildreth will also contribute to SEC Network games.

The season gets underway across networks on Friday, Nov. 13 with an SEC Network doubleheader showcasing Albany at No. 1 Kentucky at 7 p.m., followed by Eastern Washington at Mississippi State at 9 p.m. and an ESPNU doubleheader – an early-round game of the 2K Classic featuring Siena at No. 5 Duke at 7 p.m., followed by McNeese State at LSU.  Game assignments will be announced in the coming week.

Sports TV News

Pedro Martinez: ‘Never Imagined’ TV Career

“And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.”

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As the Major League Baseball season comes to a close and preparations for the playoffs begin, MLB Network and TNT analyst Pedro Martinez joined The Press Box podcast to discuss his time as a television analyst.

When asked what he liked about working in television, Martinez didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“I think it’s a platform and the opportunity I have to bring to the audience what I know, what I think, what I understand and broadcasting gives me the opportunity to continue to have that communication with the people, the young athletes and fans. At the same time, I’m able to continue to learn and transmit some of the things that I would love to show everybody by playing but my body doesn’t allow me, but my mind does.

“This is a great way to bring the right information to the people, but I take advantage of the platform to communicate with my fanbase, the player’s fanbase, and the voice behind the players and the situations that come up, I can actually teach the audience some of the things that I understand from my point of view.”

A media career was never in the cards for Martinez. At least that’s what he thought during his playing career.

“I swear to god, it’s the only thing I never imagined. I never thought I would like being in front of a camera,” Martinez said. “And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.

“You learn so much just by having access to information, having access to so many other different things. A lot of people would be surprised how much you can dig into and I think for everybody else, if they knew the kind of information we have access to, they’d be intrigued to come do what we do.”

He then said one of the things he would have never picked up on was how many pitchers tip their pitches, but due to all of the information, video, and relationships broadcasters have make that information readily available. He added his work in television has enabled more relationships with baseball players from his home country, the Dominican Republic.

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith and Malika Andrews Get Heated Over Ime Udoka Coverage

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Malika Andrews

On Friday’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith continued his stance regarding the public leaking of information surrounding Celtics’ Head Coach Ime Udoka relationship with a team staffer. He also went further by sharing his dismay that Udoka was seemingly the only person punished for the violation of company policy.

“Only he is in violation of the company policy?” Smith asked. “The woman who elected to have a consensual relationship with him is not in violation?” 

Before the end of the show, ESPN NBA Today host Malika Andrews called in the program and wanted to address Smith’s comments.

“Stephen A., with all do respect, this is not about pointing the finger. Stop,” Andrews said. “The fact that we are sitting here debating whether somebody else should have been suspended or not, we are not here, Stephen A., to further blame women.”

Smith would replay saying that his intention was not blame anyone outside of the Celtics coach.

“First of all, let me be very clear, I don’t appreciate where you’re going with that, I’m not blaming anybody but Ime Udoka,” Smith stated. “The fact of the matter is, he deserves to be fired if they were going to fire him. If you’re not going to fire him, then don’t fire him. My issue is all of this being publicized.”

Andrews tried to jump back in for further commentary but Smith stopped that and noted he didn’t appreciate being interrupted on “my show”.

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

Andrews did thank Smith for clarifying his stance at the end of the segment. ESPN has removed access to the video from its YouTube channel by making it private.

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Rich Eisen on Tom Brady Joining FOX: ‘I Gotta See It to Believe It’

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow.”

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Is 2023 the year we see Tom Brady in the broadcast booth for FOX? Rich Eisen isn’t so sure.

“I still gotta see it to believe it, I’ll be honest with you, man. I know it’s a great chunk of change and it’s a lot of money. I don’t know,” the NFL Network icon said on the most recent edition of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast.

Tom Brady has taken his foot off the gas in 2022 in a more public way than fans are used to. He voluntarily missed eleven days of training camp and has announced that he will not be available to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesdays during the season.

Eisen says if Brady is looking for a less demanding career, broadcasting isn’t the best option.

“It is a lot of work. And I’m not saying Brady’s not up for it, but if he’s been grinding for 23, 24 years, it’s still a grind in its own way.”

FOX signed Brady to a ten-year deal reportedly worth $375 million to start after he retires. He will be in the network’s top broadcast booth and also serve as an ambassador for the network’s coverage of the NFL.

Eisen says there is a much better model for Brady’s media career in his old rival Peyton Manning.

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow,” Eisen said. “Peyton Manning could be making that much money in the booth himself, right? Instead, he’s got his own production company and he’s doing the games, but not all of them, only 10 of them. And he’s doing them from his basement and he’s got the rights to the games!”

He added that Tom Brady “write his own ticket like that” if he chose to do something similar to what Manning has done with Omaha Productions.

Brady has not had much to say about his deal with FOX since the news became public. In June, he told Dan Patrick that he knows his first season in the booth will come with a lot of growing pains.

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