NCAA Tournament

Ian Eagle does his first Final Four after Jim Nantz gives up hoops; Raftery, Hill and Wolfson join

America’s pioneering basketball announcer, Marty Glickman, gave the game an identity and a melodic adaptation for radio. He was the first voice who influenced generations for budding play-by-play announcers, and was the first broadcaster enshrined in Basketball’s Hall of Fame.

In 1950, it was permitted to play in both the NIT and NCAA. City College of New York beat Bradley in both tourneys, leaving with both championships. For that matter, the NIT created a great stir, promoting basketball nationwide. A year later the NCAA tiptoed its way in, with a tourney of its own.

How the world has changed. This year, St. John’s among other named schools didn’t accept the NIT’s invitation.

Marty Glickman called the broadcasts and captioned marvelous pictures. I spoke with several voices later like Chick Hearn, Jack Buck, Al McCoy, Bill King, Bill Campbell, Jim Gordon and so many others he influenced. Marty himself told me that he listened to Foster Hewitt on NHL radio and picked up basketball parallels from him. The 40s and 50s were much lighter on television of course and so said he had to draw colorful pictures on radio. He was a wonderful mentor to Marv Albert.

At the start of the war, Glickman did college games in military garb. He had a magical touch, one that was smooth, rhythmic  and inspiring. Johnny Most worked under his tutelage in New York on Knicks broadcasts, before Marty recommended him to the Celtics. Marty told me that “Johnny would always want a cigarette and coffee.”

In 1951, Marty partnered with Hilliard Gates, on the NBA’s first All-Star Game. “I thought I would do the game alone but the Mutual producer told me that I’d share the play-by-play with Gates. It turned out that Hilliard was among Indiana’s best sports voice ever, during the 50s and 60s. Indy’s Don Fischer was hired in 1973 to do IU Football and Basketball. He’s still there today and joyously so. He hasn’t lost a beat yet. It’s over half a century. Mark Boyle has been with the Pacers since 1988 and maintains his dulcet and soft spoken broadcast.

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The NCAA Tournament Finals first hit network TV in 1968 on NBC. The NBC and Curt Gowdy gave the tournament a brilliant flourish. The marriage died though in 1982 when it was outbid by CBS. Gary Bender then staggered as its play-by-player, replaced by Brent Musburger.

Top four CBS teams

Ian Eagle/Bill Raftery and Grant Hill/Tracy Wolfson

Brian Anderson/Jim Jackson/Allie LaForce

Kevin Harlan/Dan Bonner and Stan Van Gundy/Andy Katz

Andrew Catalon/Steve Lappas/Evan Washburn

Announcers and Talent this weekend outside of play-by-play

Studio Hosts: Ernie Johnson Jr. (New York), Adam Lefkoe (Atlanta), Adam Zucker (New York), Jamie Erdahl (In-game updates)

Studio Analysts: Clark Kellogg, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Wally Szczerbiak (New York), Seth Davis, Jay Wright, Candace Parker (Atlanta)

Broadcast teams who worked the first weekend games

Brad Nessler/Brendan Haywood/Dana Jacobson

Spero Dedes/Jim Spanarkel/Jon Rothstein

Lisa Byington/Steve Smith and Robbie Hummel/Lauren Shehadi

Tom McCarthy/Debbie Antonelli and Avery Johnson/AJ Ross

This Weekend 

Eagle does play-by-play; Raftery and Hill share analysis roles; and Wolfson garners assets from players on the field.

13 Years ago (2011) the crews were:

Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg/Tracy Wolfson

Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craig Sager

Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery/Lesley Visser

Gus Johnson/Len Elmore/Marty Snider

Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner/Sam Ryan

Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel/David Aldridge

Tim Brando/Mike Gminski/Lewis Johnson

Spero Dedes/Bob Wenzel/Jaime Maggio

(The underlined are no longer associated with CBS.)

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David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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