Behind The Scenes

ESPN’s ‘Robo’ team of Rowe and Lobo continues journey on WNBA trail

ESPN’s WNBA commentators Rebecca Lobo (left) and Holly Rowe. (Credit: Courtesy of Holly Rowe)

Over the past few weeks, the duo of Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe (I like to refer to them as “Robo”) has logged more miles than can be counted — hitting WNBA cities Los Angeles, Seattle and Minneapolis, while Rowe also added Lincoln, Neb., for a thrilling college football game and heads to Ohio State for a game this weekend.

They also try to steal a night or two at home with their families in between games.

This week they continue their journeys when the WNBA Conference Finals tipoff Thursday. Heading to the west, the No. 2 seed Los Angeles Sparks travels to defending champion and top-seeded Minnesota Lynx (8 p.m., ESPN2).

ABC and ESPN networks are the exclusive homes for all WNBA Conference Finals and Finals games.

Front Row found a few minutes of “Robo’s” freed time for this interview:

Explain the rigors of traveling and calling so many games in a short timeframe?

Lobo: I actually enjoy calling a lot of games in a short timeframe. The difficulty can lie in the travel and the corresponding lack of sleep. It can be hard to call a night game in Los Angeles, get on a redeye, sleep for three hours, land in Minnesota and immediately go to arena for practice.

Rowe: The downside of travel — five beds in six nights. I may make the packing Hall of Fame as I only have one carry-on bag so I have to choose my outfits wisely. I am physically tired but mentally energized with great games, storylines and exceptional athletes to watch. I do my football prep early in the week, and on occasion Rebecca draws up plays on my Starbucks napkin to help me understand certain basketball plays.

How often does the unexpected happen during your travels?

Lobo: On one of my trips to LA (Sept. 27), I landed just before midnight and was groggy from the long flight. As I walked to get a cab at LAX, I heard a person shout, “Rebecca Lobo.” Thinking it was someone I knew, I turned around and a guy with a camera said, “My name is (insert name) from TMZ, can you answer a few questions.” I declined, as the last thing I wanted to do was get caught on camera looking the way I did.

How do you keep everything straight?

Lobo: By playoff time, I have already watched and called many WNBA games so I know the teams and matchups. I prep by watching additional tape and reading lots of clips. Keeping things straight at home can be a different challenge with four small kids. Before I go on the road, I make sure the pantry is full of food, the laundry is clean and the kids’ schedules are on the calendar. Of course, there is nothing I can do from the road when my three-year old scrapes his knee and wants me to kiss it better or when my 23-month old wants mommy to rock her to sleep. Those are the heart-wrenching moments.

Rowe: I am a huge women’s basketball fan so it is hectic but I make the sacrifice because I am passionate about and committed to the sport. My awesome son, McKylin, holds down the fort at home, and thank goodness he can drive and grocery shop on his own because that helps being away.

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