ESPN Brings Big-Game Treatment as UConn Women’s Basketball Guns for 100th Consecutive Win
Network deploys 17 cameras, 24 channels of replay, and onsite SportsCenter set at Storrs
The only thing sports loves more than milestones is round numbers. On Monday night, the UConn Women’s Basketball program can achieve a truly rare and elite milestone in sports history: 100 consecutive wins.
ESPN has lined up an impressive production offering to cover Monday night’s game live (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2) as a part of Big Monday, including 17 cameras, 24 channels of EVS replay, and an onsite set.
Pat Lowry, coordinating producer for women’s basketball at ESPN, acknowledges that, short of a Final Four, it doesn’t get much bigger than this for someone in her shoes. During a walkthrough at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, CT, last week to prep for this broadcast, the network vet made sure her crew understood that.
“How often in our careers have we been able to witness and tell the story of an event of this magnitude,” she recalls saying to those assembled. “It doesn’t happen that often. We have to feel thankful for the opportunity to tell this story.”
As UConn faces South Carolina — which, it should be noted, is a formidable opponent — ESPN is bolstering its camera complement with an RF Steadicam and extra Marshall cameras at the tunnels to grab behind-the-scenes views of the teams entering and exiting the locker rooms.
“On women’s games, the Marshall cameras are a big difference-maker for us,” says producer Jim Zirolli, noting that ESPN typically drops Marshall cameras on the backboards and stanchions for extra unmanned camera angles. “It gives us a nice lock-off in the key. We’re hoping to use them to grab more access behind the scenes. That’s what fans want. They want to go where they can’t see.”
ESPN will also have an onsite studio set in the arena concourse, with the Big Monday studio team of Maria Taylor, Andy Landers, and Rebecca Lobo providing pre/postgame and halftime coverage. The 11 p.m. SportsCenter on ESPN will even feature a live hit from the court with Steve Levy, Doris Burke, Lawson, and others, regardless of the outcome of the game.
Game Creek Video’s Spirit A and B units will be onsite, and at the front bench will be Zirolli producing, with director Mike Schwab and technical director Bipan Vij.
On the programming side, ESPN is providing robust, cross-platform coverage throughout the day in anticipation of the potentially historic night. SportsCenter’s Dianna Russini is giving live hits from Storrs to various ESPN programs throughout the day; SEC Network’s The Paul Finebaum Show has live interviews throughout the afternoon; SportsCenter anchor Kevin Neghandi shot a sit-down interview with UConn head coach Geno Auriemma; and reporter Jen Lada visited several Storrs Elementary Schools as they hosted special events to celebrate the UConn women’s program.
ESPN is also airing a series of archived games and features on ESPNU and ESPN Classic throughout the day.