Nerlens Noel turned 19 years old in April. To our knowledge, ESPN’s cameras were not present at his birthday party. But ESPN has chronicled many milestone moments in the former University of Kentucky basketball star’s development.
In April 2012, ESPN aired his head-turning commitment to the Wildcats; in October, ESPN captured his first collegiate practices; in February 2013, the 6-foot, 10-inch shot blocker suffered a season-ending injury in a game airing on ESPN’s platforms. The next significant step in Noel’s career happens tonight on ESPN when the NBA conducts the 2013 Draft Lottery (coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on KIA NBA Countdown) before Game 2 of the San Antonio Spurs-Memphis Grizzlies Western Conference Finals duel. continue reading…
X Games analyst Kevin Robinson. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
BARCELONA, Spain — Kevin Robinson, a 22-year veteran BMX rider, pulls double duty at the X Games. Since 2011, he’s also been an on-air analyst for ESPN.
Injuries have sidelined Robinson, 41, but he is keen on competing at X Games Munich and X Games Los Angeles later this summer. Robinson tells Front Row how he remains a top-flight rider while honing his craft as an analyst for X Games Barcelona, which air across ESPN platforms through tomorrow.
ESPN’s Andy Katz is the Swiss Army knife of reporters. He contributes daily to ESPN.com, has his own college basketball show on ESPNU and co-hosts a podcast with analyst Seth Greenberg that also airs on ESPN Radio. Katz is hardly one to let his skill-set sit around collecting rust, so while college basketball takes a seat on the bench, he continues reporting from the NBA Draft beat.
ESPNU’s coverage of the NBA Draft Combine begins today at 10 a.m. ET. The exclusive live telecast will include interviews as well as an inside look at how the expected top draft picks fair in several skills challenges. Front Row sat down with the newly re-signed Katz to discuss this year’s Combine:
The Superpipe at night, part of the final destination for ESPN employees as they arrived at X Games in Tignes, France. (Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)
For the second stop on X Games’ 2013 global expansion – a six-event schedule that began in Aspen this past January and will conclude in Los Angeles in August – ESPN colleagues working the event find themselves in the southeast corner of France for X Games Tignes.
While they discover the mountainside scenery to be absolutely breathtaking, the intrepid souls also learn that jet lag can be a very real thing! A few of our co-workers kept travel logs for our internal website, In the Know (ITK). Here, Front Row is proud to share a sampling of those diaries that help represent the incredible dedication and devotion it takes to be part of the X team. continue reading…
ESPN’s Andy Katz with President Barack Obama. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Who says you never get a second chance to make a first impression? A year ago, ESPN features unit manager Denny Wolfe was scheduled to be a producer for President Barack Obama’s now-annual bracket completion exercise with ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz. But a 2012 Selection Sunday hockey game left Wolfe with a concussion and strict orders from his wife and his coordinating producer not to travel. continue reading…
ESPN’s Andy Katz on the set of “Katz Korner.” (ESPN)
On Sunday, the nation will find out which men’s basketball teams will be moving on into the NCAA Division I tournament.
On Monday, ESPN’s Andy Katz will attempt to talk to all 68 thrilled — and exhausted — head coaches. It is the fifth year Katz is tackling the unique undertaking and this year he will be joined by Adrian Branch for some analysis and discussion.
Lining up 68 interviews would be a logistical headache for any show even if they had weeks of prep time.
For Katz and the team at ESPNU’s Charlotte, N.C. studios, a mere 19 hours exists to schedule interviews between when the NCAA selection announcements are made and the airing of Tournament Countdown: Katz Korner (Monday, 1-6 p.m. ET, ESPNU).
Front Row caught up with Katz between Championship Week games — he’s been in New York at the Big East Tournament and heads to Indianapolis Sunday for an interview with Selection Committee chair, Mike Bobinski — to find out how this year’s Katz Korner special was shaping up:
Katz Korner NCAA Tournament special By the Numbers:
• How many people work on the show? 25 (includes tech crew)
• Average time per interview: 3 minutes
• Phone calls made in the 24 hours leading up to show: 100-plus
• Resulting dead cellphones: TBD
• Bathroom breaks Andy is allowed: 1 if he is lucky
• How many interviews are set before Sunday? About 45
• Average number of coaches on hold at any given time? 2
• How many pages long is the show rundown? 36
• Misdialed numbers on Monday 12
• Talent Booker used to help secure interviews: 1, Lisa Stokes
What’s the goal of the show?
We can’t get too deep in three minutes so our goal is to hear from every one of the coaches to help fans fill out their brackets. Maybe you’re listening to a coach and there’s something he says that will give you pause in picking them or maybe it gives you confidence. We’re trying to give everyone a guide to help in their brackets.
Walk us through what happens in the 19 hours leading into the show?
It’s chaotic because I’m flying into Charlotte from Indianapolis, where I’ll be for our selection show. We tape some interviews prior to the show, but more than anything it’s prepping the order and getting everything in the right place before we start the show.
How much are you able to plan ahead of time, versus day of requests?
We try to have as many lined up before hand as possible.
I have various rules over the years, and sometimes these change and get modified. There are certain aspects that make it legal and illegal. I actually get people now tweeting me asking if it’s legal or illegal leading up to the end of the game. Here are some of “Seth’s Storming Rules”:
• Certain schools can’t rush the court – Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas. They just can’t rush the court. Naismith would not approve of fans from the birth place of basketball rushing the court.
• If you beat a Top 5 team and the arena is sold out – you can rush the court. If it’s not sold out, you can’t rush the court because people don’t care enough.
• If you chant, “Overrated,” you can’t rush the court. If you think they are overrated, then they must not be worthy of rushing the court.
• If you make a half-court shot to win the game, that is a legal rush the court.
• Fans can’t rush the court if you are the ranked team and you beat an unranked team – totally against the rules of rushing the court.
• College GameDay or national TV there – that is always a positive.
• Then you can rate the storming of the court… Virginia was a very slow developing storm. Butler and Miami were very good storming. I was impressed with Minnesota fans’ effort, they had to climb up on to the court to storm it, so it added a degree of difficulty.
On three consecutive nights this week in college basketball, an unranked opponent has toppled a Top 5 team. For two of the games, ESPN had the telecast — last night’s No. 3 Duke’s loss at Virginia and Tuesday’s No. 1 Indiana’s loss at Minnesota.
In each, a high camera shot displayed, as Andy Katz describes in the Katz Korner video above, a “surge of humanity” swarming the court as fans fled their seats and congregated at mid-court to salute their conquering heroes.
But it was the Cavaliers’ court storming that set off a national debate as Blue Devil coach Mike Krzyzewski –whose team has been “stormed” four times since Jan. 12 — expressed concern for his players’ safety.
Somewhat overlooked in the discussion, however, is how the storm’s surge affects the game’s broadcast team. Front Row reached out to ESPN play-by-play man Dave O’Brien and sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards to get firsthand accounts of weathering the storm. O’Brien, who says he’s been part of seven or eight rushes, was on the call for Maryland’s Feb. 16 upset over Duke and again last night in Charolottesville. Edwards said she’s been part of five stormings this season alone, including three of Duke’s (Jan. 12 at NC State, Jan. 23 at Miami and Maryland).
Preparing for the storm:
J.E.: You’re anxiously awaiting the :00′s on the clock, and then it’s a mad stampede.
D.O.: There is an anxiety that builds in the final minutes of the game.
J.E.: I usually hover at the edge of the court, hopefully have a couple of cops nearby, and bolt in the direction of the winning head coach as soon as I see :00′s.
D.O.: Our producer, Scott Matthews, lines up security to be at our backs at the broadcast station. For the Maryland upset of Duke, we felt the fans getting into a position, almost linebacker position, near the end of the game. Our table was still jostled and Jeannine was in the middle of it on-court.
ESPN’s Andy Katz on the set of “Katz Korner.” (ESPN)
Click HERE to listen or visit iTunes to download the podcast and be sure to SUBSCRIBE to the Front & Center podcast. Also, make sure to check out the ESPN Radio app, available for the iPad.
The madness of March doesn’t really seem all that mad once you hear Senior ESPN.com Writer Andy Katz’s season-long college basketball schedule. From his daily writing for the site to his sideline reporting at games to his in-studio work, Katz goes pretty much non-stop from Midnight Madness (October) through One Shining Moment (April).
This year, Katz’s plate has overflowed with a brand new podcast (co-hosted by analyst Seth Greenberg), hosting duties for ESPNU’s The Experts (Tuesdays, 1 p.m. ET with re-air at 2:30 p.m., ESPNU) and his new show, Katz Korner (Tuesdays, 4:30 p.m., ESPNU).
In the Front & Center podcast above, Katz covers a range of topics from his goals for Katz Korner to his affection for Outside the Lines and his thoughts on whether college basketball needs “fixing,” as some have suggested.
How has Twitter changed the way you do your job?
Twitter has added another layer. I originally went kicking and screaming to Twitter, because I have always been a firm believer that we work for the company that pays us. Twitter doesn’t pay our salary, benefits or anything else. That’s why I didn’t believe news should be broken on Twitter without a link to your site or it appearing in some form on your network.
I still believe the full story should be on your employer’s site and I always check with the news desk first to make sure it’s OK to Tweet [breaking news]. I still believe that’s the way we need to operate. I’d rather be careful and have the news vetted with our news editing staff than go rogue just to be first. I will say that Twitter has also allowed me to engage with fans more so than at any point in my career.
How do you plan to use Twitter in your new show on ESPNU, Katz Korner?continue reading…