Fans of the (1) Florida Gators looking for a more unique, team-specific broadcast of their Final Four game against the (7) Connecticut Huskies on Saturday are in luck as Turner on Tuesday officially announced the final details of its 2014 NCAA Tournament “Teamcasts,” which will air simultaneously on TNT and truTV, respectively, as the main broadcast of each game airs live on TBS.
While veteran play-by-play man Jim Nantz will be joined by color analysts Greg Anthony and Steve Kerr, as well as courtside reporter Tracy Wolfson, on the national TBS broadcast, the Florida Teamcast will air on TNT featuring David Steele as the gamecaller, Mark Wise on color and James Bates courtside.
Steele, a former UF football play-by-play voice, is currently the television lead for the Orlando Magic, while Wise and Bates both have closer ties to the Gators from their extensive work with Sun Sports and the Gator Radio Network.
— David Steele (@steelemagic) April 1, 2014
The primary feed of the game action will mostly remain the same, but the broadcast will be tailored to Florida with camera angles, replays, graphics, in-game statistics and analysis all coming from a Gators point of view.
TNT will also air Florida-centric Final Four pre-game, halftime and post-game shows.
OnlyGators.com spoke Tuesday afternoon with Bates, who is currently employed by FOX Sports and excited that the network is allowing him him to participate in this unique broadcast despite the fact that it is airing on a competitive channel.
“Fortunately, they were kind enough to let me go do this,” Bates said.
“I hadn’t even heard of these Teamcasts when I got the call Sunday night. They laid out the opportunity and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. Of course, I was like, ‘Absolutely.’
“As much as I was looking forward to going fishing with my son this weekend – they don’t have school on Friday – we’ve had our fair share of fun here over spring break. I had to let him down.”
Bates said he has not been informed about many of the specific regarding the broadcast because he will be on assignment Wednesday in Columbia, SC covering South Carolina’s Pro Day, which features defensive end Jadaveon Clowney.
He will travel to Arlington on Thursday to begin preparations for the Final Four broadcast alongside Steele and Wise.
“It’s one of those deals where it’s such an honor, such a treat to watch these guys play in the Final Four,” he said. “I’m such a big Billy Donovan fan and this team seems like such a good group of guys. I’m thrilled to be able to just go out there and be a part of the action.”
The Gators and Huskies tip-off at 6:09 p.m. on Saturday.
Though Bates has spent the year covering college football, he has kept a close eye on Florida basketball and is confident that the Gators have what it takes to go all the way.
“I’ve watched the team quite a bit this season,” he said. “It’s not like the Joakim [Noah] and Al [Horford] Gators, really, even though they’re dominating. They seem to be getting it done in their own way. It’s a group of guys that are their own guys, a group that you can definitely see Billy [Donovan] had a hand in molding who they are.
“The one thing that sticks out to me from Florida this year is the play where Patric Young went horizontal to the floor to lay out and get that rebound against Tennessee. That to me was one of the best plays – I don’t know if there are many plays in football, basketball, baseball that can rival that play right there. That right there says a lot about him, a lot about the team, a lot about Billy and a lot about the Gators. You know a coach stands out among others when you have guys that are willing to sacrifice their bodies like Young was that day.”
— James Bates (@jb8sy) April 1, 2014