I know of very few people who have the will and restraint to modulate and calibrate their call perfectly. Don’t overdo it or don’t underdo it. Jim Nantz was one of a kind.
The pulsating final minute of CBS/Turner’s coverage of the draining Duke-North Carolina game triggered thoughts of the very best finest. Vin Scully, Al Michaels, Bob Costas and a few other silky lined voices like a clusters of cherries. Sweet and tasty.
After weekends filled with upsets, dramatic sequences and breakout players, the top two finals seeds are finally filled. North Carolina and Kansas will finally face each other to determine the title game opponents.
Two teams are headed home, Duke was one. They’ll be no Mike Krzyzewski on the winning stage, a theatrical and emotional opportunity that would have been welcomed in New Orleans with a cold bottle of beer and a trumpet. Too bad that Al Hirt has passed. Okay, it wasn’t the ending for which Coach K had hoped, yet he can flaunt his glowing records galore and the tons of pride; a military man who taught so many how to live. Like John Wooden, his players are like his kids. Krzyzewski missed leaving with a flourish but his dozens of all-stars will look up to him forever.
Nantz lived by the rules and so did the other fellows on the rest of his CBS team. Jim proved that voices don’t have to shout or shrill under captivating game conditions. Maintain your vocal control and speak in measured intervals. Jim’s final minute or so was a lesson for budding broadcasters. He recognized that the bold text on the TV screen talks enough and doesn’t have to battle a maddening crowd. When there’s little to be said at a determining point in a game, let the fans see it and without audible disruption. At this critical point, Bill jumped on the mic to tell the audience that the Duke rebounding foul results in a one and one for UNC on the other end.
by Philip Tepper
Kansas vs. Villanova
Raftery right from the get-go made a great call during the jump ball, exclaiming his excitement for the day, giving the audience a start with his trademark vocal belt of the club’s planned defense. The big storyline entering the day’s first matchup was the loss of Villanova’s Justin Moore who provided a good amount of scoring and quarterbacking the Wildcats.
This was apparent after Villanova fell behind early, down 10-0. Grant Hill provided intriguing analysis about the needs to play strong transition defense against the Jayhawks. This was timely after three early turnovers. Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji then caught fire from downtown.
Nantz did a great job throughout the broadcast emphasizing the importance of each possession. His vocal cadence, excitement and balancing of delivery were cogent, in presenting the stakes of the matchup, even with a one-sided matchup. They always maintained their equanimity.
Raftery and Hill once again proved their chemistry with Nantz, and through the depth of their analysis they were on the money. Even moments when they over-talked one another, it did not sully the symmetry of the broadcast; rather it felt more like a three way organic conversation.
Enthusiasm never wavered, despite consistent double-digit leads. Nantz was often fed by the crowd’s energy that was thriving during the tournament. Kansas took care of business in the end, where they will play for the national championship on Monday night.
Duke vs. North Carolina
This matchup provided nothing but narratives before tipoff, as the neighborhood rivals played for the first time during the NCAA post season. Leave it to the crew to point out that Carolina and Duke did face off once in an NIT game in the 1970s.
Add the fact that this is Coach K’s final dance, and that fans already have enough reason to tune in. Even without mentioning both teams’ talent, Bill Raftery sprinkled in his patented humor. His compliments of both teams’ big men in Mark Williams and Armando Bacot were prevalent in both periods, along with giving high praise to Duke’s Paolo Banchero for his strength and toughness.
We got spoiled. Unlike the first game, this matchup flowed smoothly back and forth. The importance of every shot was talked about in loftier terms than the previous one which was essentially a blowout. Grant Hill added personality of his own, and has done more in recent years. He jumps on opportunities during the replays of impressive plays by either team.
Raftery even sprinkled in some unique lines telling Paolo Banchero to leave the chandeliers at home after a monster jam. Despite a strong effort throughout the game, Coach K was not given his storybook finish, falling to the Tar Heels 81-77.
With this win, North Carolina will play Kansas in the National Championship, where they will have the chance to tie the 1985 eighth -seeded Villanova Wildcats for the lowest seed to win the NCAA Men’s Tournament. Coach Krzyzewski’s retirement didn’t finish as predicted. It might have broke his heart but it didn’t blemish his career, not an iota. Many will argue that he and John Wooden are the two that earn those honors.
Monday night two unexpected schools battle, Kansas and North Carolina. A fellow who sat at the game yesterday and was captured by camera tons of times during the telecast will be there again Monday night. That’s Roy Williams. He coached both UNC an KU to championships. He has to be a little more careful about who he’ll root for.
According to the NCAA, Duke-UNC was the most-watched men’s Final Four semifinal game since 2017; delivering an average of 16.3. million viewers that tuned in
After the 1990 NCAA Tournament, Brent Musburger was fired by CBS. In 1991, Jim Nantz took the reins. He’s been there since.
by David J. Halberstam