ESPN Family Of Networks Covering Entire Men’s 2014 NIT

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The 77th annual National Invitation Tournament (NIT) tips off tonight and the ESPN family of networks will have exclusive coverage of the entire tournament.

Every game of the annual NIT will be carried across the ESPN family of networks and online on ESPN3 via WatchESPN.  Round One tips off tonight at 7pm with games on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU.  The Mountaineers of West Virginia will take on the Georgetown Hoyas on ESPN, while the Florida State Seminoles will face Florida Gulf Coast on ESPN2.  The third of the 7pm games sees Robert Morris on the road against St. John’s on ESPNU.  St. John’s is making a record 30th appearance in this year’s NIT and is one of six teams in this year’s tournament that also made an appearance in the 2013 NIT.  The other five teams on that list are: Florida State, Indiana State, Louisiana Tech, Robert Morris, and Southern Miss.

Illinois and Boston University lead off coverage of Day Two at 7pm on ESPN2 with Iona and Louisiana Tech following at 7:30pm on ESPN3 at 7:30pm ET.  Florida Gulf Coast reached the NCAA Tournament’s “Sweet Sixteen” round in 2013.  This year marks the first time that the school will play in the NIT.  It is one of three schools that will make its first ever appearance in the NIT this year.  The other two schools making their first appearance in the NIT this year are High Point and Utah Valley.

Round Two of the NIT is March 20th – 24th.  Quarterfinals are scheduled for March 25th – 26th.  Semifinals are April 1st and the NIT Championship follows April 3rd.

The complete NIT First Round coverage schedule is listed below.

2014 NIT First Round Schedule:

Date Time (ET) Game Network
Tue, March 18 7 p.m. NIT First Round: West Virginia at Georgetown
Mike Patrick & Dan Dakich
ESPN
7 p.m. NIT First Round: Florida Gulf Coast at Florida State
Mark Jones & Darrin Horn
ESPN2
7 p.m. NIT First Round: Robert Morris at St. John’s
Dave Pasch & Tim Welsh
ESPNU
8:15 p.m. NIT First Round: High Point at Minnesota
Clay Matvick & Mark Wise
ESPN3
8:15 p.m. NIT First Round: Belmont at Green Bay
Jim Barbar & Sean Harrington
ESPN3
9 p.m. NIT First Round: Indiana State at Arkansas
Brad Nessler & Jimmy Dykes
ESPN
9 p.m. NIT First Round: Davidson at Missouri
Bob Wischusen & Malcolm Huckaby
ESPN2
9 p.m. NIT First Round: Georgia State at Clemson
Tom Hart & Bob Valvano
ESPNU
11 p.m. NIT First Round: Utah at St. Mary’s
Dave Flemming & Sean Farnham
ESPN2
Wed, March 19 7 p.m. NIT First Round: Illinois at Boston University
Sean McDonough & Tim Welsh
ESPN2
7:30 p.m. NIT First Round: Iona at Louisiana Tech
Brett Dolan & Daymeon Fishback
ESPN3
8 p.m. NIT First Round: Vermont at Georgia
Joe Davis & Dino Gaudio
ESPNU
8:30 p.m. NIT First Round: Toledo at Southern Miss
Roy Philpott & Joe Dean
ESPN3
9 p.m. NIT First Round: UC Irvine at SMU
John Saunders & Fran Fraschilla
ESPN2
10 p.m. NIT First Round: LSU at San Francisco
Roxy Bernstein & Bill Walton
ESPNU
10:30 p.m. NIT First Round: Utah Valley at California
Trey Bender & Jon Crispin
ESPN3

 

More information on the ESPN family of networks’ coverage of the NIT is available online at http://www.facebook.com/ESPNCollegeBasketball and http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Networks Win Five Sports Emmys

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN proved once again Tuesday night why it is “The Sports Leader.”  The ESPN family of networks took home five Sports Emmy Awards Tuesday night at the 34th annual Sports Emmy Awards.  The annual awards program is put on by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.  Among its awards were top honors for journalism, technical and creative excellence and marketing.

ESPN2’s E:60 took home the award for Journalism for its feature, “Beitar Jerusalem.”  The feature focused on the Beitar Jerusalem Soccer team and its infamous fan base.  Audiences saw firsthand the behavior of the team’s overly devoted fans and its sometimes overtly racist tendencies.  ESPN reporter Jeremy Schaap and a filming crew went to Israel to film the feature.  The award for this feature was the fifth Sports Emmy in four years for E:60.

ESPN’s Outside The Lines brought home Sports Emmy for its feature, “Breaking The Silence.”  This feature focuses on the story of Monika Korra. Korra, a native of Norway, was a member of SMU’s cross country team.  While a member of the team, she was raped by three men.  But through her personal strength, she went on to help find the men and convict her assailants.  She now speaks publicly about such acts of violence.  “Breaking The Silence” won the Sports Emmy for Short Format Camerawork.  It Outside The Lines host Bob Ley worked with ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi for the feature.  The award is the fifteenth Sports Emmy for the show.

Full features weren’t the only things for which ESPN received awards.  It also brought home a Sports Emmy for its “It’s not crazy, it’s sports” promotional campaign.  The campaign brought home the award for Best Promo-Institutional.  One of the more memorable spots in the campaign told the story of a man named Michael Jordan who lived in Chicago.  The man in question was not the famed basketball legend.  Audiences can check out the promo at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxBBN3ZnYeU

ESPN’s recent upstart network, ESPN 3D brought home its own award yesterday.  It defended its 2012 award in the Technical Team Remote category, winning this year for its coverage of the Winter X Games.  ESPN 3D is the only all-sports 3D network on television today.

In the category of New Approaches – Short Form, ESPN’s Sports Science won its third Sports Emmy in as many years.

Yesterday’s wins bring the total number of Sports Emmys for the ESPN family of networks to one hundred and fifty three in its twenty-six years of eligibility. 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN’s 30 for 30 blu-ray reissue is the best box set of the year

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN is known as the worldwide leader in sports.  There’s a good reason for that.  The release of the network’s “ESPN Films Volume 1” box set last year is an excellent example of what makes ESPN truly the worldwide leader in sports.  Now with the recent release of the “30 for 30” Limited Edition Collector’s Set on blu-ray, ESPN has proven its reputation even more than ever.  This collection includes all thirty films from the original DVD and blu-ray sets released in 2011, and adds in a nice piece of memorabilia to sweeten the deal.  All together, they make up what is easily the best box set of the year.

ESPN’s “30 for 30” Limited Edition Collector’s set on blu-ray boasts all thirty films from the originally released sets.  Choosing just one film from the set as the best is impossible.  Each viewer will have his or her favorite film from the six disc set.  There are, however, at least a few films that that stand out to this individual as standing out as some of the set’s best.  One of those films jumps into the world of baseball, in “The House of Steinbrenner.”  “The House of Steinbrenner” follows the final days of the old Yankee stadium and the early days of the new stadium.  Along the ride, audiences are given a history on the man who brought the Yankees and their historic stadium to prominence.  The stories shared by players and fans alike of the old Yankee Stadium show a true love of the structure.  It was more a living, breathing museum than just a stadium.  It was a place where cultures crossed and everybody lived in harmony.  That’s because they were all one.  They were all Yankee proud.  The reactions to its final days make the mixed reactions to the new Yankee Stadium that much harder hitting.  The mixed views on Steinbrenner are just as interesting.  One former Yankee player worded it best in saying that in regards to Steinbrenner, “you loved him and hated him in the same breath.”  Interviews with players, fans, journalists, and even Steinbrenner himself give an unexpected view of “The Boss.”  The interviews shared in “The House of Steinbrenner” show a man who understood business and who also understood the fans.  They show that perhaps Steinbrenner’s only true flaw was that he cared too much about his team.

The George Steinbrenner presented in this film was a very shrewd business man.  He was also a devoted fan among fellow fans.  He wanted the team to win.  He wanted it for the fans and for himself.  That inability to ever fully balance business and fandom was ultimately why he was such a polarizing figure.  Despite his bad reputation among countless legions, just as many were and are still devoted to him today.  Love him or hate him, George Steinbrenner has forged not only his legacy, but that of the Yankees, too.  He will never be forgotten for that.  That’s especially the case now, with this incredible film.

George Steinbrenner was polarizing, to say the least.  But he’s not the only figure of such stature featured in the new “30 for 30” blu-ray re-issue.  Another of the interesting figures featured in the set from an entirely different world.  His name is Tim Richmond.  In the film, “Tim Richmond:  To the Limit”, director Rory Karpf follows the life of NASCAR legend Tim Richmond. Richmondwas obviously polarizing.  He was polarizing in that he was the immediate antithesis of NASCAR’s old guard.  He was the rock star of the racing world at that time.  He had an innate ability to drive the wheels off of any race car, both in open wheel or stock car.  He proved that he could have been the future of NASCAR.  Sadly, after being diagnosed with AIDS, his meteoric rise was cut short.  Fans are reminded in this film of the stigma attached to AIDS because of the lack of knowledge surrounding it at that time.  It shows just how far the world has come since then.  Unluckily for him, the world didn’t have that knowledge that people have today.  As a result, viewers learn that he was forced to cover up the illness, in hopes that he’d be able to return to racing one day.  That obviously didn’t happen.

In the time since the passing of Tim Richmond, the reputations of both NASCAR and AIDS victims has greatly changed.  There is no denying that Tim Richmond played at least some role in that change.  And it’s thanks to this film that his role in both the AIDS and NASCAR community will always be remembered.

The films included in the new “30 for 30” blu-ray re-issue focus on many famous figures in sports.  But they also focus on who teams.  And just like George Steinbrenner and Tim Richmond were polarizing figures, so was the SMU football team a polarizing unit.  It was thanks to the Mustangs’ infamous 1987 “death penalty” that the NCAA established the reforms that govern college sports today.  In “Pony Express”, director Thaddeus D. Matula takes viewers into the scandal that rocked the sports world as a whole.  It killed not one, but two of the university’s football seasons in a row.  The film does note that the second dead season was self-imposed by the university.  And it all started thanks to one player.  One might think that by the film’s end, the story’s over.  That’s anything but the truth.  Video footage from ESPN, along with voice snippets, show that even today, universities have either not paid attention to the SMU scandal or have forgotten it.

It is interesting to note that one individual interviewed in this film states that the NCAA would likely never use the “death penalty” again on another team.  But considering that recent number of scandals that have rocked universities across the country, maybe the NCAA should reconsider using it.  After all, it was once said that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. 

The documentaries featured in this blu-ray re-issue are just a drop in the bucket of what makes it a great set for any sports fan.  Combined with the remaining films in the set, and the bonus ESPN hat, this new “30 for 30” blu-ray re-issue has easily made itself the best box set of the year.  It can be ordered online now at http://ESPNshop.com.  

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.