Lost a bit in this weekend’s college basketball storylines were the first impressions of Turner announcers merged with CBS talent. This was essentially a dry run at what you’ll be seeing in the NCAA Tournament with Steve Kerr joining Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg for the Final Four (he’s partnered with Marv Albert and Craig Sager for earlier rounds) and Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith in studio along with CBS veterans Seth Davis, Greg Gumbel, and Greg Anthony.
At first glance it seems that the meshing of talent is still in a feeling out process. Barkley and Smith were confident and made their ascertaions on the released brackets but seemed to stay at a basic level when discussing the teams in the tournament. Davis and Anthony, who cover NCAA hoops for CBS all season long, would typically drill down deeper in their analysis by providing names of players, going over matchup styles, and citing games earlier in the season.
With Gumbel sitting in the middle of the two sets of announcers, there seemed to be a bit more argumentative banter as Barkley and Smith’s broad analyis often clashed with Davis and Anthony. Most of the Twitter reaction seemed to find fault in Barkley and Smith who cover the NBA for Turner and are only now being fully counted on for their college basketball analysis.
Most thought that the show was business as usual and others look forward to the idea of Barkley and Davis becoming more combative as they begin to let it rip as the tournament gets underway. My take is that the casual basketball fan will enjoy the additions of Barkley and Smith to the studio while the NCAA enthusiast/purist will be proactive in evaluating if the Turner duo have properly researched and scouted the teams. Even the best analysts have been hit or miss as prognosticators, but I think Barkley and Smith are under some pressure to deliver a good track record of predictions to build some level of credibility with the hardcore college basketball affecianados.
Meanwhile there seems to be a bit of intrigue with regards to the game coverage and the addition of Steve Kerr to the lead team of Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg. Kerr joined Nantz and Kellogg on Saturday for the Big Ten Tournament. For some reason, Kerr wasn’t scheduled to broadcast Sunday according to CBS’ press release. Kerr’s addition seemed to cause some friction or at least awkwardness as CBS’s “A” team of announcers seemed to have some growing pains going from a two-man to a three-man team. Twitter seemed to be split on if Kerr was a good addition or not.
What’s really interesting is the other news that came out this weekend regarding Kerr and Kellogg as it was announced that Kerr would be replacing Kellogg as the color commentator in the video game NBA 2K12. Dan Levine writes:
“As a first impression, it seems like a good decision by the 2K team. Kellogg doesn’t work NBA games, so his inclusion hasn’t made a ton of sense in recent years. Also, Kerr has always been solid on the air and it will be interesting to see how he differs from his past role in the NBA Live series.”
This news leaked out on Saturday, the same day Kerr spent his first day working along with Kellogg, the guy he would be replacing in a very prominent video game. If Kellogg was at all a bit apprehensive about the move to a three-man booth, you would have to imagine losing another high profile/high paying gig to “the new guy” would probably make for an awkward work enviornment on their first day working together. To Clark’s credit, he’s being a team player in the media with regards to Kerr’s addition. It’s unclear why Kerr didn’t work Sunday’s Big Ten Championship game, but watching them on Saturday and seeing the 2K12 news does make you wonder how their on-air chemistry will work with Tuesday’s First Four games and the Final Four.