Entering third straight WNBA All-Star assignment, ESPN’s trio appreciates chemistry

SportsCenter visits Saratoga, WNBA All-Star Game

The five-week SportsCenter on the Road Summer Series concludes Saturday, July 25 with a three-hour, two-location show.

The 9 a.m.–noon program on ESPN will originate from the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on the first Saturday of a 40-day meet generally regarded as the best stretch of thoroughbred racing in the country, and from the WNBA All-Star Game at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Matt Barrie will anchor from the WNBA event and Sara Walsh will be at Saratoga.

In addition to segments with guests and reports related to the two events, the program also will include regular SportsCenter news, highlights and analysis.

Saturday, Ryan Ruocco, Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe will call their third straight WNBA All-Star game together (ABC, 3:30 p.m.ET). The 2015 edition will feature some of the biggest stars in the league including Maya Moore, Elena Delle Donne and Shoni Schimmel. Ruocco and Rowe chatted with Front Row about working together and their thoughts on the midseason showcase.

How has it been working together over the last three seasons?
RR: I absolutely love working with Rebecca and Holly. It’s one of my favorite activities in life, never mind work. They’re both terrific at what they do and so much fun. The great part about an All-Star Game is it lends itself to a fun atmosphere, which plays right into our wheelhouse. Holly really bounces all over the place in All-Star Games, bringing the fans truly unique access, and Rebecca and I love teeing her up for those opportunities.
HR: We have so much fun together it hardly feels like working. Rebecca and Ryan are so supportive and include me in the broadcast so much. It is a joy to work with them!

What are your thoughts on last year’s game, which was the first overtime All-Star Game in WNBA history?
RR: Last year’s All-Star Game was a blast. I still often talk about how much fun it was with producer Michael Molinari who did an awesome job with it. We saw a couple of insane comebacks late in that game and a totally engaged crowd.
HR: Last year’s game was the best All-Star anything I have watched or worked. It was so competitive and Shoni Shimmel was hitting crazy shot after crazy shot! My lasting memory though is how hard Tamika Catchings played and how much she pushed her team to win.

Of the two All-Star Games you’ve worked, which MVP’s performance made the biggest impression on you –Schimmel (2014), who will be starting for the East, or Candace Parker (2013)?
RR: Shoni Schimmel electrified the crowd last year. She has such a strong following and they were out in full force. She brings all of the best parts of an All-Star Game. Entertaining skill. Real ability. The ability to improvise. And a desire to win. All on display. Her performance has to be the best in my opinion.
HR: Although I love Candace and she was incredible that game, Shoni is so small, and just dominated the court. Her confidence in herself is so amazing to watch. She made shots you just can’t believe.

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