Behind The Scenes

SportsCenter’s Russini “celebrated” Saturday’s “National Awkward Moments Day” live on TV

Lisa Kerney and Dianna Russini on SportsCenter set. (Courtesy Dianna Russini)
Lisa Kerney and Dianna Russini on the SportsCenter set. (Courtesy Dianna Russini)

SportsCenter anchor Dianna Russini had an on-air moment that coincided nicely with Saturday’s “National Awkward Moments Day.”

It was 9:15 a.m. ET and Russini was doing a live shot from UConn’s Gampel Pavilion when viewers saw a man looking at his phone walk aimlessly right behind her. The man, a member of a documentary crew following the UConn women’s basketball team, quickly realized he had wandered onto live TV and ducked, creating his own awkward moment as he slinked out of camera range.

Fittingly, just before Russini’s appearance, anchors Jay Crawford and Michael Eaves had discussed March 18 being “National Awkward Moments Day,” and Russini’s moment quickly became a social media favorite. Matt Barrie, who was preparing to anchor the 10 a.m. SportsCenter, watched it unfold:

“I think he was just lost in his phone and he didn’t realize that we were live at that moment because I’d been standing there for quite a bit of time,” Russini said. “The guy got such a hard time from his crew. Members of his team ended up following me on social media and then they were re-tweeting it and laughing about it. He felt awful about it. It got a little run on Twitter and Instagram.”

But Russini’s day of fun wasn’t done yet. After reporting pre and post-game from UConn between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., she went to ESPN at 4 p.m. to co-anchor three hours of SportsCenter that night with Lisa Kerney. It was a very busy day and right before the show began, she found a minute on the set to eat some pizza from the ESPN Café.

But social media is never far away – college basketball analyst Sean Farnham swooped in:

“He took a picture and I’m like ‘Are you kidding me?’ but Sean understood my need for food since he’s so busy too,” Russini said with a laugh. “That was the only chance I had to eat and if I don’t eat before a three-hour show, I can be really cranky. I didn’t want to make the night miserable for my friend Lisa.”

After getting in her car at 6 a.m. Saturday to drive to UConn, she returned to her car at midnight after finishing SportsCenter. “I slept like a baby,” she said.

Her busy week continued Sunday with more SportsCenter hosting. And today, Russini was back at UConn for live reports this morning as the Huskies prepared to meet Syracuse tonight in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament (6:35 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

“It’s March Madness for SportsCenter anchors,” she said. “But I would not change a thing.”

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