Turner Sports and CBS have unveiled the announcing lineups for this year’s Final Four Team Stream telecasts (don’t call them Teamcasts this year, gotta have that corporate Bleacher Report synergy). The Team Streams will be on TNT and truTV for the national semifinals while the traditional national telecast will be found on TBS.
Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, and Grant Hill will have the call on TBS with Tracy Wolfson on the sidelines. Here’s the Team Stream roster, straight from Turner Sports and CBS…
“Duke Team Stream” on TNT at 6 p.m.
Tom Werme, play-by-play – Werme is a 20-year broadcasting veteran who has hosted the ACC Blitz and has provided commentary for the ACC Network, ACC Digital Network and Raycom Sports, among others.
Alaa Abdelnaby, analyst – Abdelnaby is a former Duke standout that played for the Blue Devils from 1996-2000 and was All-ACC third team during his senior year. He is currently a CBS Sports Network studio analyst and commentator for Westwood One.
Chris Spatola, reporter – Spatola is a former director of basketball operations at Duke and current CBS Sports Network commentator. He is also the son-in-law of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“Michigan State Team Stream” on truTV at 6 p.m.
Brian Anderson, play-by-play – Anderson is a veteran and versatile Turner Sports commentator who has done play-by-play for leading properties such as the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, NBA on TNT and MLB Postseason on TBS, among others. He has also previously called games for the Big Ten Network.
Mateen Cleaves, analyst – A former Michigan State legend, Cleaves led the Spartans to an NCAA Championship in 2000 and was names the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Cleaves is the only three-time All-American is school history and was named Big Ten Player of the Year twice. Currently a studio analyst for CBS Sports Network, Cleaves’ Michigan State jersey was retired in 2007.
Shireen Saski, reporter – a Michigan State alum, Saski is currently a CBS Sports Network reporter and has previously worked for the Big Ten Network. The veteran broadcaster has also been the recipient of three Michigan Emmy Awards, then working for Fox Sports Detroit.
“Kentucky Team Stream” on TNT (following first game)
Dave Baker, play-by-play – Baker is a long-time sports broadcaster at WKYT in Lexington and television play-by-play commentator for UK/IMG’s University of Kentucky basketball coverage. He has spent more than two decades being involved with broadcasting events surrounding the Southeastern Conference.
Rex Chapman, analyst – A former Kentucky star, Chapman was a two-time All-SEC player who helped lead the team to an SEC Championship and run to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 during his sophomore year. Chapman amassed more than 1,000 points in only two years at Kentucky, which was followed by a 12-year NBA career.
Michael Eaves, reporter – a Kentucky alum, Eaves has previously covered University of Kentucky basketball extensively as a sports anchor, reporter and producer at WKYT in Lexington. He is currently an anchor and reporter for Al Jazeera America.
“Wisconsin Team Stream” on truTV (following first game)
Wayne Larrivee, play-by-play – Larrivee is the radio play-by-play voice of the Green Bay Packers on the Packers Radio Network and has called college basketball for the Big Ten Network. He has also provided play-by-play for Westwood One during the NCAA Tournament.
Mike Kelley, analyst – A former Wisconsin standout, Kelley helped guide the team to the Final Four in 2000 and, during his collegiate career, he helped lead the team to its best four-season win total in school history. Kelley was inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.
Phil Dawson, reporter – Dawson is host of the Badger Radio Network, as well as a talk show host in Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
There are some notable returnees from last year including UK analyst Chapaman and the Wisconsin team of Larrivee and Kelley. I think in switching around between the different feeds last year, that Badgers group was probably the closest Turner/CBS got to what they were looking for out of the Teamcast – broadcasters not just coming in to cheerlead, but to tell the story of the game from one team’s perspective. That’s no surprise, Larrivee has done great work for the Bears, Packers, and Big Ten for years.
Probably the most notable addition is the Michigan State team of Brian Anderson and Mateen Cleaves. Anderson has called the tournament down the middle as a national play by play man to this point. The transition shouldn’t be that difficult considering he calls nationally televised games and Brewers games in MLB.
In just the second year of the concept, it’ll be worth watching for how the Team Streams evolve. My guess is that like last year we’ll again see a variety of approaches and that there won’t be a uniform way in which the games are presented. How could that not be the case, really, considering that all these broadcasters are being brought in from different parts of the country. You’ve got national announcers working team-specific telecasts on one hand while Coach K’s son-in-law is on the Duke channel.
My hope is that fans will begin to adjust to the idea and know what they’re getting on the three channels, so we don’t have to go through Charles Barkley calling America a bunch of idiots again.