Basketball fans, pull up a chair it's tourney time, time and again

Phil Jackman

March 01, 1991|By Phil Jackman

The TV Repairman:

Regarding college hoops this weekend and all of next weekTurn on the telly. If teams aren't racing up and down the floor, driving, dunking and dishing off no matter what the hour, call the repairman. Your set is not working. ESPN alone is sending along 33 games, 23 of them conference championship games. Best of these figures to be the Mid-Continent showdown from Green Bay next Tuesday.

* Bulletin (three bells)! Channel 2 finally is recognizing the NBA this weekend, accepting the NBC feed of the Trail Blazers-Celtics game Sunday at 12:30. Hey, it's only March.

* They say what goes around comes around, and that's certainly the case with the "Superstars" show. A couple of decades ago Olympic skating champion Dick Button showed up on ABC's doorstep with the concept and it was an instant go. After the show ran its course there, NBC picked it up for a lengthy run. Beginning tomorrow and running four straight Saturdays, ABC has the action again with Dan Dierdorf hogging the mike.

* Demon fight promoter Don Elbaum reminds that next Monday night's Vincent Pettway-Eddie Van Kirk fight isn't on the tube anywhere, "so to catch this fistic masterpiece folks will have to come to the Baltimore Arena."

* Why, during ABC telecasts of college hoops, does Dick Vitale direct most of his comments to his play-by-play partner? It's certain Keith Jackson isn't particularly interested in any of the utterances of Hyperman.

* A rare network fight occurs tomorrow on ABC (4:30 p.m.) when Riddick Bowe takes on Tyrell Biggs. Included on "Wide World of Sports" will be the net's answer to the old Wagon Train series: "The Susan Butcher Story," the queen of mush going for her fifth Iditarod (sled dog race) title over 1,160 miles of scenic Alaska. Anything beyond 11 days is considered overtime.

* After losing its shirt for three years and coming nowhere near delivering the audience it promised the NHL, SportsChannel America is offering the Stanley Cup playoffs to cable operators on a one-time-only basis. Expectations of adding 4 million households to its present 12 million are a pipe dream.

* CBS is probably making a mistake tying Billy Packer to a studio chair during the early rounds of NCAA hoops. The Eye's most visible analyst is comfortable when the subject is Xs and Os, but he's an annoying shill for the NCAA, never recognizing any wrongdoing in a sport beset with constant problems.

* The most disturbing aspect of the NFL's plunge into pay-per-view come 1992 is there's strong indication it will be marketed in season-ticket fashion covering four games. An indication of the inevitability of PPV can be seen from the fact that the Minnesota Twins have farmed out 34 baseball games to the service this season.

* Speaking of PPV, Tim Witherspoon takes on Carl "The Truth" Williams and Bobby Czyz tests Robert Daniels on a card in Atlantic City next Friday, and the heavyweights were on the horn yesterday trying to drum up interest. About a half-hour of listen produced nothing worth repeating. Still on boxing, NBC has completely given up doing fights and has been zapping employees left and right, yet rushes out and doles out $200,000 for the Heisman Trophy show.

* Gem of the week from Jim Valvano on ESPN: The team that

shows the most civilians on the bench during a timeout usually wins. Duke had 14 the other night, Clemson only four, so the Blue Devils won easily, validating V's theorem.

* One of ESPN's baseball honchos says, "This year, we want to emphasize the news" (in lieu of expensive features). This begs the question, what did it emphasize last year, the rules? Dreary Dave Marash is gone from "Baseball Tonight" (good) and Norm Hitzges won't be hyperventilating in the booth (also good).

* Showtime has a show "Blind Rage! Tyson vs. Ruddock" at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow and it's designed to drum up some business and interest for the bout March 18 . . . HBO is working on an interesting-sounding documentary entitled "When It Was A Game," rare footage covering baseball in the 1935-1955 era . . . SportsChannel America, as part of its 300-hour commitment to soccer leading up to the 1994 World Cup, kicks off a series of 12 games involving the U.S. National Team March 9.

* Latest indication that the "F" in NFL stands for fiduciary: The new president, Neil Austrian, was CEO of Showtime and The Movie Channel and his last job was with a banking investment firm. Football-wise, he played at Swarthmore, which may or may not count.

* Here's a worthy experiment: When the Rangers and Islanders resume ice hostilities next week, to beat the built-in bias of home announcers, the cable outfits carrying the game are going to switch announcing teams. What they are going to find out is fans actually crave homers in the booth.

* From 1-3 p.m. tomorrow is a good time to wash the dog or clean the stuff out of the gutters. That's when Notre Dame (10-16) takes on Louisville (8-15), another of Billy Packer's dream matchups for CBS.

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