NCAAB

School pride on full display for ESPN anchors and analysts

EDITOR’S NOTE: With today’s start of the NCAA Tournament, fans and alumni from all across the world become hyper-focused on baskets and brackets. ESPN anchors and analysts are no different. One of the many aspects that makes these next few days and weeks so exciting is the prospect of lesser-known, less-heralded schools having their “shining moments.” We sampled reactions and prophecies from a handful of proud alums who are cherishing their alma mater’s place on the big stage.

Brooke Weisbrod (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
Brooke Weisbrod (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

Brooke Weisbrod
Alma Mater: Coastal Carolina (2001)

What was your involvement with the basketball team when you were in school?
I played for the women’s team from 1997-2001, and we went to as many men’s games as we could, and they would come to our games too. We supported each other and hung out off the court; they were good guys. Since I graduated, I’ve kept an eye on all of our teams. I bleed teal what can I say? When we qualified I was freaking out. Seriously. It’s been so long, since 1993!!!

Where will you watch the Chanticleers’ game and how far do you have them going?
I’ll be in Lexington, Ky. covering the women’s NCAA Tournament, but I already told my play-by-play partner, Marc Kestecher, we need to scout out a good place to watch it, hopefully with sound. . . and I’ll have some Coastal gear on for sure.

Brooke Weisbrod (C) during her sophomore year. (Photo courtesy of Brooke Weisbrod)
Brooke Weisbrod (C) during her sophomore year. (Photo courtesy of Brooke Weisbrod)
Wendi Nix (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
Wendi Nix (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

Wendi Nix
Alma Mater: Wofford College (1996)

What does it mean to have your school in the tourney?
I’m thrilled for Wofford. . . Dancing for the third time in five years. For a school with just over 1400 students and strong academic standards, competing at the Division 1 level is not easy. While Wofford has a strong reputation in the Southeast, it’s familiarity is limited in other geographic regions and the men’s basketball program continues to help put this little school from the South on the map!

Where will you watch the Terriers’ game?
I host NFL Insiders today or I would certainly make the trip. I hope to get home to New York City in time to watch with a number of other alumni. The four years I spent at Wofford were among the most fun and formative of my life and it’s a lot of fun to watch the Terriers on the big stage!

Bram Weinstein (Rich Arden / ESPN Images)
Bram Weinstein (Rich Arden / ESPN Images)

Bram Weinstein
Alma Mater: American University (1995)

What does it mean to have your school in the tourney?
Everything. The reaction I get when I tell people I went to American University is often very positive. Colleagues assume it is a good school (which it is) but they don’t know anything about it. What being in the tournament means is exposure. I saw this happen with George Mason when they made their run 10 years ago – young scholars started taking notice of what that school had to offer. And now that American is on this stage, I’m hoping people will realize what my school has to offer – a diverse educated community located in a prime region of Washington, D.C.

How far do you have them going in your bracket?
Last time AU was in the dance, they played Villanova in Philadelphia. And now it happened again. The Eagles drew Wisconsin in Milwaukee! Seriously, it’s hard enough for us to get in, now we have to play people in their home state on their HOME floor. But the Patriot League championship is not played at a neutral site either and the Eagles put on a defensive masterpiece to beat Boston University on their court so I haven’t lost hope. That said, I’m not on speaking terms with the selection committee right now.

Tom Luginbill (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
Tom Luginbill (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

Tom Luginbill
Alma Mater: Eastern Kentucky (1995)

What does it mean to have your school in the tourney?
It’s a source of pride because EKU has always been a football power with a legendary coach; so to have improvement and competitiveness in other areas of athletics is positive for the university.

What was your involvement with the basketball team when you were in school?
Very little for a couple of reasons. I was a transfer that only played my senior season for the Colonels and the basketball program was struggling. Of course we as athletes interacted through day-to-day schedules being student-athletes, whether it was training table or the training room. At the time I was involved in the program, EKU was the most successful FCS program of all time in football so that is where most of the public, university and city attention was being placed. Roy Kidd had built a dynamo. Now, there are multiple sports to be proud of.

Luginbill on EKU game program cover (Photo courtesy of Tom Luginbill)
Luginbill on EKU game program covers (Photo courtesy of Tom Luginbill)
Rene Ingoglia  (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
Rene Ingoglia
(Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

Rene Ingoglia
Alma Mater: UMASS (1995)

What does it mean to have your school in the tourney?
It’s definitely a sense of pride to have your school make the tourney especially if your school isn’t a traditional power. It’s been 16 years for UMASS so it’s been a rough hiatus since their great runs in the mid 90’s. I was a huge fan when I was there and as a football player I remember Coach Cal (former Minuteman Coach John Calipari) coming and talking to our team at practice. I can proudly say I attended both the last game ever at the Curry Hicks Cage and the first game ever at the Mullins Center – great times.

Photo courtesy of Rene Ingoglia
(Photo courtesy of Rene Ingoglia)

 

Where will you watch the Minutemen’s game and how far do you have them going?
I’m not only a football broadcaster for ESPN but I’m a robbery detective with the Orlando Police Department. I happen to be on-call this week so I will have to watch the game in our office. I usually like to watch the games alone so no one hears me scream at the TV but they are used to me yelling at OPD so they won’t think anything of it. If you don’t pull for your school to win at least a few games then what fun is it? I’m picking at least one upset and for them to make it to the sweet 16. . . beating Duke. . . gotta believe.

Joe Lunardi (XX)
Joe Lunardi (Rich Arden/ESPN)

Joe Lunardi
Alma Mater: St. Joseph’s (1982)

What does it mean to have your school in the tourney?
First, it’s a tremendous achievement for the players. Realistically, at least half the field is “spoken for” before the season even starts. So you’re looking at about 30-35 spots for over 300 remaining schools. It’s very, very special to be in that group. I was the men’s basketball beat writer for the student newspaper throughout college, so my exposure to, and love of, the NCAA tournament occurred at a pretty young age.

Where and how will you watch St. Joseph’s game and how far do you have the Hawks going?
I’ll be broadcasting the games on radio for the Saint Joseph’s Sports Network and WIP-AM in Philadelphia. If nothing else, this forces me to behave! As an alleged member of the media, I make no such picks (wink, wink. . . ).

Bill Hofheimer, Dan Quinn, Rachel Siegal, Derek Volner and Kristie Chong contributed to this post.

Back to top button
Close