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Listening to Kamla & Fraschilla...Ugh!

Tonight, I watched the replay of the Team USA versus Russia basketball “friendly” on ESPN. I am working on a blog about Team USA and the “Road to Redemption”, but watching the game was so frustrating because of the announcers. Rick Kamla and Fran Fraschilla were driving me to distraction. I had seen some bloggers criticizing these guys, but I had not really noticed anything in the previous few games. Maybe it was a hangover from Macau or the travel to Shanghai, but something was up last night. Kamla tries to be a hip, which I normally do not mind, but tonight he provided Fraschilla with no direction, and made glaring mistakes calling the action. Fraschilla was redundant, boring, and tentative. Be critical. Give some analysis. Don't be soft on Team USA!

Here are some glaring examples of mistakes that went uncorrected during the broadcast. Fraschilla called Michael Redd “JR Redd”. Nothing from Kamla. Fraschilla said that the head coach of Bucknell University is Pat Flannery when the new head coach is actually former Williams College head coach Dave Paulsen. Nothing from Kamla. Kamla joined the fray midway through the 2nd quarter. Both guys totally missed a play in the second quarter when Kobe hustled down the court and saved the ball between his legs. The ball bounced off the opponent and was clearly the USA ball—a great hustle play by Kobe. A distracted Kamla, the play-by-play guy, totally blew the call of the play, then he missed the inbounds play. He finally admitted his mistake and said “my bad”, but the action was going back to the other end of the court. Very frustrating. The commentators are almost as frustrating as the constant watching of replays, while live game action is happening off screen.

Fraschilla is smart with great technical knowledge of the game which he usually brings to the broadcast. Tonight, he just keeps saying the same things over and over with no analysis. When he did bring analysis and a critical eye, he waffled and apologized as he made the criticism. Crazy. Fraschilla has been harping on how much money these guys are making as players and coaches in Europe, but he has not mentioned that the Euro League, even at the top level, is not as tough a league as the NBA. There is a reason that Russia's point guard, J.R. Holden, is not in the NBA, and that is that J.R. Holden is not good enough for the NBA. In the 4th quarter, when Dwight Howard bricked a free throw, Fraschilla commented that “I do not want to coach anyone or anything, but someone needs to tell Dwight Howard to move his guide hand to the side of the basketball.” Great point, but why not just make the comment and not waffle? Kamla followed up with nothing. At another point, Fraschilla said that he used to have his teams play 1-3-1 out of timeouts, even though they never practiced 1-3-1. That makes no sense. Fraschilla seems like the kind of coach that practices every part of the game in minute detail. He probably was trying to say that he would spring surprises on other teams, but no way would he do that without practicing the coverages of the 1-3-1 defense. Kamla could have asked a follow up question to clarify and help Fraschilla sound smarter. Did he? No. One point that did resonate was when Fraschilla theorized that “Coach K is not going to out X and O any other coaches in this tournament.” This is an important factor in whether Team USA wins the Gold Medal, but the analysis just died in Kamla’s silence. Plus, no one wants to admit there are serious flaws right now with Team USA.

This exchange was typical of tonight’s broadcast. With about nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, Kamla asked Fraschilla for an analysis of where Team USA stood. You could tell Frischilla wanted to rip Team USA and say they were not ready to compete against the best teams in the world, but instead he fumbled around the question. Fraschilla said that Team USA has “ten days really or actually a week before they open up with China.” I wanted some analysis, but clearly everyone involved is worried about offending anyone on Team USA. Why be afraid? Because in today’s soft, access driven media, criticism gets you fired. Instead, you get a broadcast that is redundant, uninteresting, and not very informative. Kamla, made me feel just like he acted--uninterested in the game or anything that Fraschilla had to say.


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