Friday, April 3, 2015

Another weekend, another role for Anderson

Brian Anderson
What difference does a week make?

College basketball viewers get to find out Saturday, when Brian Anderson handles play-by-play duties at the Final Four -- at least part of the Final Four.

It was just a week ago when Anderson drew deserved accolades and praise while working the NCAA Tournament as a fill-in for Marv Albert. Despite drawing the assignment on short notice, Anderson produced a top-notch performance.

Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch provided details about all that went into Anderson's assignment.

This week, Anderson's back in a similar and strikingly different role. He'll the the play-by-play man for the Michigan State "team stream" that airs on truTV from the Final Four.

His assignment, along with color commentator Mateen Cleaves and reporter Shireen Saski, will be to focus on Michigan State exclusively during the game. According to the "Team Stream Presented by Bleacher Report" model, the team-specific broadcasters are there to provide "local flavor including comprehensive team and player storylines."

Last year's initial rollout of team-specific broadcasts -- then called "teamcast" because there was no presenting sponsor -- was a success on almost all levels. With the main broadcast on one channel and two other feeds of the same game on two other channels, the Final Four games were seemingly everywhere. That meant some additional revenue, and it also came with generally positive response from critics and fans.

There was some confusion because some viewers mistakenly confused a team-specific broadcast with the lead broadcast on CBS, but that was minor.

This year, the confusion could be heightened a bit because CBS has no role with the national semifinals Saturday night. TBS will carry the games with broadcasters Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery and Grant Hill. Michigan State-Duke tips off at 6:09 p.m. and Wisconsin-Kentucky at 8:49 p.m.

At the same time, TNT has broadcasters focused on Duke and Kentucky while truTV gets on-air teams focused on Michigan State and Wisconsin. (It's kind of a BTN affiliate for the night.)

One of the best things about last year's team-specific broadcasts was that they were different. Not overly in cheerleader mode -- though they had their moments -- they just gave another side or sense. For fans of team involved in the game, it was probably a welcome option. For those of us without a rooting interest, it was just interesting to watch how colors, nicknames and tone were treated during the game.

For Anderson, that's where it becomes interesting. A week after a stellar, national-level job, he's asked to be similarly stellar but, in fairness, a bit biased. He's supposed to be the Michigan State voice Saturday night, just as Tom Werme will be the Duke guy, Dave Baker the Kentucky guy and Wayne Larivee the Wisconsin guy.

It's just a different challenge, and it'll be interesting to see how he handles it.