This weekend was a rough one for men's basketball teams in the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). On Friday night, Rider (1-0, 0-0 MAAC) upset then 19th ranked Mississippi State (0-1, 0-0 SEC) 88-74, knocking them out of the Top 25. The nest day, defending Ivy League Champ Cornell (1-0, 0-0 Ivy League) upended Alabama (0-1, 0-0 SEC) 71-67. Added in this mix was Auburn scoring 11 unanswered points to escape Niagara (0-1, 0-0 MAAC) 69-65 on Friday night.
Imagine now you are the radio play-by-play announcer for one of these SEC teams that all were playing at home? How do you prepare for a game against teams you know very little, if anything about?
"It is very difficult," said Rod Bramblett, the voice of the Auburn Tigers in an interview Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. "Without a lot of information, we have to go to the opposing team's website to get what information we can. One of the things made this game against Niagara difficult is that we did not get the pre-game notes from them until Friday afternoon."
had to prepare for 3 game broadcasts in 4 days this week. 2009/The Cayuga Group, LLC
Added to the difficulty gathering information, Bramblett's intense schedule over the past week and into this week put a premium on the time he had for game pre-game preparation.
"The toughest time is the few weeks of the year when football and basketball overlap," said Bramblett. "This week is a killer. Not only did I have to prep for the Niagara game last night, I had to prep for today's football game against Georgia, and tomorrow we get on a plane for a basketball game at Missouri State."
And how many times did he invoke Niagara legend Calvin Murphy's name during the Friday night broadcast?
"None," he chuckled. "I did not need to because of how close the game was."
Not knowing much about the Niagara team that came in, what was him impression?
"I was extremely impressed," said Bramblett. "They are a very, very good team that obviously has excellent coaching. It is clear that their players know how to play as a team and have meshed well. Their defense was great."
Echoing this sentiment was Chuck Gallina, Auburn's Director of Media Relations.
"They are an excellent team, and were were very lucky to pull it out," said Gallina. "It would not have been an upset if they had won, they are that good a team."
Would his opinion have differed if his grandfather had not been a Niagara graduate?
"Not at all," Gallina said. "They will be a team that will be hard to beat this year."
So despite limited preparation time and material, sports media pros like Bramblett and Gallina now know a lot more about that Yankee team that came South this weekend. And so probably do their counterparts at Mississippi State and Alabama.
If not, they better start getting ready if the mid-majors and smaller schools keep pulling off wins like this.