First Final Four call for Dan Shulman part of whirlwind weekend

(Photo left) For ESPN International’s telecasts of the NCAA Men’s Final Four on Saturday, analyst Dick Vitale (l) will join Dan Shulman for the UConn-Florida National Semifinal Game 1; (Photo right) Shulman and analyst Jay Bilas (r) will call the Kentucky-Wisconsin National Semifinal Game 2. (ESPN Images)

ESPN commentator Dan Shulman’s men’s college basketball season started with a lot of travel and an international twist – and it will end in the same way. Shulman, ESPN’s men’s college basketball and Major League Baseball announcer, will work his first ever NCAA Final Four this weekend for ESPN International after starting the season with an ESPN telecast from South Korea (the Armed Forces Classic from the US Army Garrison Humphreys).

Shulman will mix in his usual Sunday Night Baseball assignment between the NCAA National Semifinal games on Saturday and the Championship on Monday. He’ll be traveling from the site of the Final Four in Arlington, Texas on Sunday to Los Angeles for the Dodgers matchup against the San Francisco Giants (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET) – putting him on the call for four games in three days from two states.


Shulman spoke with Front Row about working the Final Four, multiple games from multiple sites, a two-man booth versus three-man booth and more:

You get to sit courtside for many of the best men’s college basketball games every year, what does it mean to you to call the Final Four on ESPN International?
It means a lot to me. Anytime you get to call a championship, it’s a thrill and an honor. I can’t wait to be courtside and feel the excitement.

Dan Shulman’s weekend travel

Arrive in Texas, attend the four practices

NCAA Semifinals Games 1 and 2 on ESPN International

Very early flight to LA
Straight to production meeting
1 p.m. PT, go to Dodger Stadium
5 p.m. PT, Giants-Dodgers on ESPN2

Early morning flight back to Texas
NCAA Championship Game on ESPN International

Early flight home

With these games being distributed to an international audience, what will change in your preparation and the way you will call them?
I think I have to assume that the average viewer may not be quite as locked in on NCAA Basketball as our normal audience. So I will probably give a little bit more background and biographical information. But I don’t think it will be that much different.

Have you worked four games in three days from two sites before?
On several occasions, when I was doing NCAA and NBA at the same time, I did four games in four days in four cities. So this really isn’t that unusual. What I learned is you need to get your preparation done as far in advance as you can, and you need to get your sleep when you can – at the hotel, on the plane, whenever.

Sunday Night Baseball has been a three-person booth since you’ve joined but you will start out the season as a two-person crew [with analyst John Kruk]. How will you change your approach to calling the games?
It’s not really that different. I worked in a two-man booth for years on Mondays and Wednesdays before we went to three-man booths a few years back. I probably wind up putting a few more facts and figures into the telecast, but it’s really not that different. I’m also a believer in letting the sounds and pictures take over sometimes too, so laying out and letting that happen is something I’m comfortable with as well.

What event is on your bucket list to work?
Now that I am lucky enough to do the World Series [for ESPN Audio], and am getting to do the Final Four, I don’t know if I still have much on my bucket list. Perhaps going to an Olympics again one day (I worked in Lillehammer, Norway in 1994 for Canadian TV).

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