Women's Studio Coverage ESPN Screengrab: ESPN

One of the biggest takeaways from ESPN’s coverage of the women’s tournament has been the studio work of Andraya Carter, Chiney Ogwumike and Elle Duncan. It’s been an ongoing discussion point in the subsequent commentary from those in sports media, including us at Awful Announcing and Stephen A. Smith, who said Monday that Carter and Ogwumike were “absolutely sensational.”

ESPN’s Final Four and championship coverage got a boost with the addition of analysts Aliyah Boston and Carolyn Peck. Going from three to five voices to offer fresh perspectives didn’t diminish the network’s already stellar lineup. In fact, even Southern California’s women’s basketball coach, Lindsay Gottlieb, praised ESPN’s programming leading up to Sunday’s championship game, where South Carolina topped Iowa 87-75.

“Before this game, it needs to be acknowledged how this ESPN crew matched the excellence of the on-court performances and set a new standard,” Gottlieb wrote. “Totally honored to spend some time with them. Truly transcendent group of kicka** women.”

Gottlieb’s praise for ESPN’s coverage is particularly noteworthy. Yes, she was on the studio show live from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio, for the Final Four, so perhaps spending intimate time with the cast and crew could sway her opinion, but as a coach in the sport, her perspective carries weight. And her comments highlight how impressed she was with the entire team, not just the new additions. By referring to the studio analysts as a “transcendent group,” it suggests she believes this crew has elevated women’s basketball broadcasting to a new level.

One unique aspect of women’s basketball broadcasting is the presence of current WNBA players like Ogwumike and Boston as commentators. However, coaches rarely make the jump to the booth in their prime. Carolyn Peck, a former Purdue, and Florida head coach spent nine years as an analyst with ESPN before returning to coach as an assistant at her alma mater, Vanderbilt. While an active coach’s perspective might be missing on the studio show, and Gottlieb provided that in a pinch during the Final Four coverage, coaches like her acknowledging the quality of ESPN’s coverage is a positive sign.

Ultimately, recognizing the commentators who elevate the women’s game is crucial for its continued growth.

[Lindsay Gottlieb on X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.