March 17, 2016
By: Ken Fang
From: Awful Announcing
It’s one of the most grueling schedules for an announcer, calling four first round NCAA Tournament games in one day, then a short turnaround with two games just two days later. The preparation begins on Selection Sunday as soon as the announcer is assigned to a certain region.
For CBS’ Ian Eagle, this year it’s Providence, RI and he knew he had Arizona, Baylor, Buffalo, Duke, Miami, North Carolina-Wilmington and Yale going into Thursday. Until Tuesday night, he didn’t know if he would be calling Wichita State or Vanderbilt vs. Arizona, but that was resolved when the Shockers took care of the Commodores at the First Four.
Eagle has done this before as he’s on his 19th tournament dating back to 1998. Working this year with Len Elmore and Chris Webber, this is not Eagle’s first rodeo in calling four first round games, but when he began in 1998 at the then-Arco Arena in Sacramento, it certainly was an eye-opening experience. “I had no clue on how I was to approach it,” Eagle laughed. “I just really looked at it as cramming for a test and I can acknowledge that there were times in college where I had to cram for a test.”
At that point in his career, Eagle had only done one college basketball game for CBS (Arkansas-Vanderbilt) as a fill-in while the network’s regular announcers were in Japan for the network’s coverage of the Nagano Olympics and it was his first college game he had called since graduating college in 1990. So this was all brand new for him.
“This was really before all of the information was online and you were just going off of what the schools provided you and what CBS provided you,” Eagle said. “It was a large book of research material that they handed out at the (network’s pre-tournament) seminar and that was like the Bible. I’m not sure what I would have done without it.”
Now, with a plethora of information online and videos of teams available within a mouse click and a finger swipe away, things are easier to research, but it also helps to see a team going into the tournament. For Eagle, some years have been better than others as the CBS schedule of games allowed him to see certain teams during the regular season. What about for 2016?
“This year, I went two out of eight, Duke and Miami during the regular season for CBS,” Eagle said. “I’ve had better years where I have seen four or five or six, and I’ve had worse years where I’ve gone 0 for 8.”
Eagle said it’s important to find a routine as with eight teams, “it’s an avalanche of information and you’ve got to go with the system that works for you. Everybody has a different process on how they do it. Ultimately, it’s doing preparation based on how quickly you can digest the information and then spit it out at a moment’s notice during your four games in one day.”