26 March 2012

How CBS/Turner can improve their coverage of March Madness

As we head into the 2012 Final Four, we note this is the second year that CBS and Turner have worked together to cover the NCAA Tournament. While I view that the combination has been a success, most notably showing games on four networks so that fans can watch every game, here is what I think can be done to improve the coverage.

I'm strictly listing changes that can be done within the CBS/Turner consortium.

1. Swap Clark Kellogg and Greg Anthony's roles.
I've never been a big fan of Kellogg's analytical work in the booth, which I think is on the shallow side and he relies on some of his odd phrases, most notably "spurtability." I do think, however, that he was much better in a studio role so therefore I think he and Anthony should switch roles, making Anthony lead analyst. I've always been a big fan of Anthony's work and I think he would be a much better lead analyst, along with Steve Kerr for the First and Final Four, than Kellogg.

2. Make the New York studio Greg Gumbel, Kellogg and Seth Davis with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley in Atlanta.
The Inside the NBA guys are the best studio guys in the business but Smith and Barkley have been an odd fit with Gumbel and Anthony (and Davis for First and Final Four) but they both come alive with EJ hosting. Therefore, make EJ, Smith and Barkley the Atlanta crew and thus make the Inside March Madness show fantastic and keep Gumbel, Kellogg and Davis the main studio crew in New York, as they have been covering the sport all season long, particularly Davis who seemingly gets shunted to Atlanta. You can keep Barkley and Smith with in the studio for the First Four and Final Four but they really do not have the chemistry down with Gumbel as they do with EJ.

3. Dump Reggie Miller.
Miller is just a terrible analyst overall. He sucks on TNT's NBA coverage and he is even worse on NCAA Tournament action. I understand that Turner wants to have their stars on coverage of March Madness but Miller is just plain bad in the booth overall. Just dump him entirely, don't even put him in the studio, and just have Kevin Harlan and Len Elmore work together, which I think can be a solid team once they work on the chemistry with Miller gone.

4. Dump Bob Wenzel, replace with Mike Fratello.
Wenzel is probably the worst analyst of the crop right now on the tournament coverage. His analysis, pedestrian at best, is punctuating by odd bits of screaming and a poor attempt at a Bill Raftery impression. Replace him with "the Czar" Mike Fratello, who is working part-time now with TNT but is still one of the best basketball analysts in the business. Have him work what Wenzel worked with CBS and work with Spero Dedes for second and third round action.

5. Move up the 3rd round games on Sunday night.
The last game of the first weekend was at 9:40 on Sunday night. That's ridiculous. I have no problems with having games on at night that Sunday, which CBS never did back when they covered the tourney solo, but having a game that late, and that will end around midnight, is not a good idea as fans are burnt out by that time and it is a school night. Have the first Turner game at 3:30 or so and keep the rest of the schedule the same, with the exception of the late game which will go away.

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