Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Calling It

The 2018 NCAA men's basketball tournament reached its end last night. Congratulations to Villanova, who was very impressive while winning the championship, and to Donte DiVincenzo, who had one of the greatest title game performances you will ever see.

TigerBlog was rooting for a good game in the final. What he got was an overwhelming exclamation point from Villanova, who won its third NCAA championship - in  two of the last three years and back in 1985. The first two championships rank among the best title games of all time; the one last night was just all Nova.

TB spent the second half of the season rooting for Purdue. In the end, one Boilermaker won big - Vincent Edwards, who was on the Big Ten team that won the 3x3 tournament.

The Ivy League team did well, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to the Big West. Princeton's Amir Bell was one of the four members of the Ivy team - along with Penn's Caleb Woods and Darnell Foreman and Dartmouth's Myles Wright of Dartmouth. The teams were made up only of players who had reached the end of their eligibility, and by winning its pool and advancing to the quarterfinals, Bell and his teammates presumably had a nice experience in San Antonio and definitely won a little money.

Oh, and speaking of Purdue, former Dartmouth standout Evan Boudreaux is transferring there. TigerBlog is curious about how much his Purdue allegiance will carry over to next year. Having a former Ivy Leaguer probably helps.

As for the 2018 tournament, it'll be remembered for two things: Sister Jean and UMBC's win over Virginia, the first time a 16 seed defeated a one seed. DiVincenzo's performance will be third, behind those two.

In fact, TB is pretty sure that within two or three years, very few people will remember that it was Villanova over Michigan.

Then there is the women's side. As Final Fours go, you can't really have had a much better one than Notre Dame women's basketball player Arike Ogunbawale did.

First she hit a buzzer-beater to beat UConn 91-89 in overtime Friday night in the semifinal. Then she hit another one, a three-pointer this time from the deep corner, to beat Mississippi State 51-48.

Two Final Four games. Two buzzer-beaters. Not bad, right?

Speaking of not bad, here's the Westwood One radio call of the shot that won the championship.

Did you listen to it? If you did, was the voice familiar?

It should be, because it belongs to John Sadak, who at various times earlier in his career was the play-by-play voice of Princeton women's basketball and men's basketball. He was really good then. He's even better now.

TigerBlog did his fair share of games with Sadak when he did men's basketball for the Tigers. It was clear then that he had a lot of talent.

TigerBlog also remembers Tom McCarthy's play-by-play debut. It was back when he did a Trenton High-Atlantic City boys' basketball game, a long time ago. TigerBlog has done a lot of games with McCarthy too.

TigerBlog has tried to count the number of play-by-play guys he's worked with at Princeton. It's at least 12, including, if he may speak alliteratively,  current colleague Cody Chruschiel, who is also very good behind the mic.

For those 12, TB spent more time working with McCarthy and Sadak than any other two. There were a lot of long car rides in the middle of a lot of nights covering Princeton for both of them; TB doesn't even have to ask them to know that they look back on their days as the voice of the Tigers with great fondness. And that it helped them get where they are today. 

Since those days they've both made it really big in the broadcasting world, and TB is happy for them. Tom does Major League Baseball (the Phillies), the NFL and the NCAA men's tournament. Sadak does a ton of college football and basketball, as well as the NFL.

They both spent a lot of their lives doing Minor League Baseball games, which is an all-in, low-pay proposition. It's also a way to really get good at broadcasting and establish that you're serious. In fact, McCarthy's son Patrick is going down that path now, last year with the Reading Phillies and this year with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.

In fact, Patrick is also doing Princeton men's basketball and a lot of events at St. Joe's. It's what you have to do if you want to work your way up in the business.

TigerBlog's own broadcasting experiences go back to Penn student radio, where he worked with among others Scott Graham, who did the Phillies before Tom McCarthy and who now does a lot of work with NFL Films. Through the years TB has done a lot of football, basketball and lacrosse at Princeton. He can't even begin to imagine how many hours he's spent broadcasting Tiger games.

He likes broadcasting. The advice he got a long time ago was to make believe he was talking to one person.

He's also glad he's gotten to do Princeton games with so many really good announcers. And that some of them have gone on to do so well post-Princeton.

They're easier to root for than any team in one of their games. 

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