Just a day after news comes out that Dick Vitale will be broadcasting his first Final Four for ESPN International, more good news comes down the pipeline for ESPN’s excitable color analyst: he’ll be working a game with none other than Magic Johnson.
On February 19th at 7:00 p.m., Vitale and Mike Tirico will be teaming up with Magic to call No. 1 Indiana’s visit to No. 12 Michigan State.
I think this ought to be entertaining to listen to. It may not be the most informative broadcast — Vitale isn’t exactly known for his ability to break down x’s-and-o’s — but I’ve enjoyed Magic on the limited NBA broadcasts that I’ve seen and listening to him banter with Dickie V about their times in Michigan should produce a few chuckles. Hopefully they’ll pull out a few anecdotes.
Honestly, I just feel sorry for Tirico. It may be the first time in his career he’s paid to call a game where he never gets a word out.
Anyway, here are the statements from Johnson and Vitale in ESPN’s press release:
“From the time I was a high school basketball player in Michigan I was captivated by Coach Vitale’s spirit and passion,” said Johnson. “I’ve been fortunate to have developed a wonderful relationship with him – one which is bonded by our common love of basketball. I have the utmost admiration and respect for Dickie V as a person, a basketball genius and a commentator and I can’t wait to call this game with him and Mike Tirico.”
“I remember him as a kid so well. He was a basketball junkie, playing the game for hour after hour on the playgrounds,” Vitale said. “He became ‘Magic’ from his work ethic. I have always said if there was one player I wish I could’ve coached in my life it would be Earvin Magic Johnson. I am thrilled to be able to work with him and Mike Tirico. Although, I might have to remind him a few times that Indiana will be playing as well.”
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.