Berry Tramel

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Big 12 basketball: TV windows not wide enough

by Berry Tramel Modified: January 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm •  Published: January 27, 2014
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ESPN has a tough time fitting college basketball games into two-hour windows. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
ESPN has a tough time fitting college basketball games into two-hour windows. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

ESPN scheduled a college basketball sextupleheader Saturday. No, that’s not some kind of scandalous word. I don’t even know if it’s any kind of word. I might have made it up. But on ESPN2 Saturday, six straight games were scheduled:

11 a.m.: Virginia Commonwealth/LaSalle

1 p.m.: OSU/West Virginia

3 p.m.: Western Kentucky/Louisiana-Lafayette

5 p.m.: Pittsburgh-Maryland

7 p.m.: Alabama-LSU

9 p.m.: Brigham Young-Gonzaga.

Lots of good basketball. With no chance of any game but the first being televised completely on ESPN2.

I was gone for much of Saturday, so I taped the OSU-West Virginia game. When I flipped it on, VCU-LaSalle were still playing. There was 1:42 left in the game. At  1:02 p.m., ESPN announced that OSU-WVU would start in three minutes — and be shown on ESPNNews. Which is OK for most people watching at home, but if you were taping the game, good luck.

So when OSU-West Virginia tipped off at 3:06 p.m., the VCU-LaSalle clock had dipped to 50.2 seconds left. Alas, it was a tight game, so you knew there would be more timeouts, some fouls, some lengthening of the game.

At 1:08 p.m., ESPN2 showed us a live look-in on the OSU-WVU game, with the Mountaineers up 2-0 with 18:45 left in the first half in Stillwater. At 1:10 p.m., VCU-LaSalle ended — in terms of regulation time. The teams were tied 73-73. Which meant overtime. West Virginia led OSU 4-2 with 17:09 left in the first half at Stillwater.

Before overtime began in the VCU-LaSalle, we got another live look-in on OSU-WVU. Then it was back to Philadelphia for overtime. A permanent scoreboard sat in the upper right corner of the TV screen, keeping us abreast of OSU-WVU.

At 1:21 p.m., we got a studio update on OSU-WVU — the Mountaineers led 14-8 with 11:56 left in the first half. Then it was back to LaSalle-VCU. At 1:29 p.m., overtime ended in Philadelphia. The first overtime. The teams still were tied. In Stillwater, West Virginia led OSU 16-13 with 10:32 left in the first half.

ESPN2 shifted to another live look-in from Stillwater. West Virginia led 17-13. We saw nine seconds of game action. Then it was back to VCU-LaSalle.

Finally, in the second overtime, Virginia Commonwealth broke open the game and the second overtime would be enough to find a victor. At 1:47 p.m., the game ended. West Virginia led OSU 30-26 with 4:53 left in the first half. We got a short recap on the game, then ESPN2 shifted to studio update — score and highlights from the Syracuse-Miami game. Finally, at 1:48 p.m., with 4:38 left in the first half, OSU-West Virginia arrived on the screen for good.

Double overtimes happen. ESPN’s ability to shift games to another channel is cool. But there remains a simple solution. ESPN — and any other network that stacks games — has to stop this silly notion that ballgames can be crammed into two-hour windows.

The Big 12 Saturday package — shown in Oklahoma City on KOCB-34 — starts games two hours 15 minutes apart, which helps tremendously. ESPN ought to give 2:30 windows. 11, 1:30, 4, 6:30, 9 and, well, you get the picture.

By the time I saw OSU-West Virginia, Marcus Smart already had encountered trouble that would lead to further trouble and a self-admitted meltdown. Markel Brown’s rash of dunks, luckily, came after the game was joined by ESPN2.

But the idea that basketball games can fitted into two-hour windows, that’s just silly. It’s a plan designed to fail.

Monday night, Duke plays Pittsburgh with a 6 p.m. tipoff on ESPN. Bedlam is scheduled to immediately follow, at 8 p.m. If you’re taping the game, better tape ESPNNews, too.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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