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CBS Doing Well Handling the Madness

March 16, 2001|LARRY STEWART

There were some anxious moments. But it all worked out--for UCLA, USC and CBS.

The first day of the NCAA tournament was a good one for the network.

One positive was the new translucent graphic in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that provides constant updates of other games. And CBS seems to have finally figured out when and when not to switch games. L.A. viewers got to see all of UCLA's harder-than-expected victory over Hofstra and also got to see plenty of good finishes, including Missouri's buzzer beater.

Jon Sundvold, the commentator on the Bruin game, was excellent--smooth and informative. Sundvold, a former Missouri star who was a first-round draft choice of the Seattle SuperSonics in 1983, is a financial advisor in Columbia, Mo. He started out doing Missouri games on radio in 1992 and has worked Big 12 games for ESPN since 1994.

His play-by-play partner, Kevin Harlan, was OK but came up with too many cliches, such as: "UCLA has grabbed this team by the throat and squeezed."

After the UCLA game, it was good to hear James Worthy, who was working the Maryland-George Mason thriller.

Next up was Stanford-North Carolina Greensboro, with Dick Enberg and Bill Walton. Not much they could do to save this game.

Not much Gus Johnson and Dan Bonner could do about the USC blowout either. The only anxious moment was in the second half when Oklahoma State went on a 13-0 run to get within 14.

The Lakers also won a big game Thursday night. How big? Well, Chick Hearn called a jump ball involving Robert Horry near the end of overtime "the most important jump ball in the history of the Lakers." And Chick never exaggerates.


One commentator CBS would love to have is Rick Majerus.

He showed off his basketball knowledge this week while in Los Angeles. Over lunch, he went through the entire NCAA tournament bracket, breaking down every game.

"Pretty good, huh?" he said. "There are only two teams I didn't know anything about--Hampton and Northwestern State."

He knows about Hampton now, and so does everybody else.

Is broadcasting in Majerus' future?

"CBS has told me they have a job waiting for me," he said.

"If I could script my life, I'd coach a school like Utah until I was 60, then a smaller California school like St. Mary's from 60-65, then work in television from 65-75. Yeah, that's what I'd like to do if it was all up to me."

Majerus, 52, Utah's coach, took off most of the season from coaching, first because of his own health problems and then to care for his 74-year-old mother, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer.


Brian Bosworth, UPN's XFL commentator, is the kind of shill that XFL founder Vince McMahon claims he doesn't want. "Hyperbole turns people off," McMahon said in an interview Wednesday. "They know when you're not telling the truth."

Bob Golic is more middle of the road. Golic, besides doing a nightly show for the Fox Radio network, works the XFL telecasts on The National Network (TNN), which will televise the Xtreme's home game against the undefeated Orlando Rage on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Golic, about the XFL's woes, said, "Part of the problem was, right off the bat, the XFL people were bad-mouthing the NFL when they should have been saying, 'We're not as good as the NFL, we're not trying to be. We're just another league.' The NFL bashing made hard-core football people wince.

"But on the other hand, why are so many writers so adamant, so vehemently against it? They're almost acting like the XFL had hurt someone."


Interesting how things work out sometimes. The Orlando Magic's Tracy McGrady got a two-game suspension for fighting, meaning he'll be available for Sunday's game against the Lakers, which is on NBC.

After McGrady's fight with the Sacramento Kings' Bobby Jackson, Peter Vecsey, who works for NBC and TBS, said, "I just got a call from NBC. We're just hoping it's not a three-game suspension because Orlando is playing the Lakers on Sunday."

NBC had put out press material touting McGrady as drawing card for Sunday's game.

Something that didn't work out as well for NBC was Tiger Woods shooting a 71 at Bay Hill on Thursday. NBC is covering the tournament this weekend and needs Woods in contention.


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