Like picking brackets, assigning March Madness announcers is a crapshoot. Last week, Turner Sports' Brian Anderson was sent to Greenville, South Carolina, to call first- and second-round games. It turned out the smallest host city had one of the most exciting games of the NCAA tournament's first weekend. Anderson, Chris Webber and Lewis Johnson got to call South Carolina's ear-ringing (quite literally) upset of Duke.
Next, he will work the West Regional, which features Gonzaga, West Virginia, Xavier and Arizona, and starts Thursday on TBS. While en route to San Jose, Anderson phoned in to ThePostGame Podcast to talk about the environment in Greenville, his admiration for Webber, texting other announcers about the Northwestern-Gonzaga goaltending play and one surprising rule he believes the NCAA may change.
Turner Sports' Brian Anderson talks South Carolina's ringing presence in Greenville (1:19), why Duke fans were outnumbered (3:30), Chris Webber becoming a rising star in broadcast while dealing with heckling(6:35), Anderson's outlook on the West Region (11:38) and how the NCAA adjusts after the Northwestern-Gonzaga goaltending play (14:25).
Anderson on calling South Carolina's 88-81 upset of Duke in Greenville:
ThePostGame: Are your ears still ringing from those South Carolina fans?
BRIAN ANDERSON: They did ring. They legitimately rang for four or five hours. I had a hard time getting to sleep that night because it was so loud in there. It felt like one of those classic Big Ten matchups in West Lafayette or the way Northwestern has been recently in Welsh-Ryan Arena. It's been really loud there. And you don't usually get that in the NCAA tournament. You get the neutral crowd. It was a great opportunity to be in Greenville. I'm glad they made some decisions politically to allow them to be a viable option for the NCAA and the first tournament window since 2002 there was a roaring success.
TPG: I feel like I should let people know I did let you know before that I am a Northwestern graduate and comparing a Duke loss to Welsh-Ryan Arena was not just random right now.
ANDERSON: That was not random. But it felt the same.
TPG: How loud were those UNC fans?
ANDERSON: We talked about that on the air. Chris Webber and I took off our headsets. We have these great headsets. They're noise-cancelling, so you're in a bubble there. I said, what do you think? Of all the fans that are here, how many North Carolina Tar Heel fans? We came up with a number of 20 percent. There was a pocket of North Carolina fans and their Carolina blue that stayed.
You had this rare, ironic company. You had North Carolina and South Carolina fans, which aren't exactly the greatest of friends either. They were all joined arm-and-arm rooting for South Carolina in that game and rooting against Duke. It was very interesting to see. We had some great images, our director Matt Lipp had some great shots going into commercial of South Carolina's success with North Carolina fans jumping around in the seats.
TPG: I'm not a Carolina transportation expert, but a lot of people were talking about because it was in Greenville, it was like a home game for South Carolina. Durham isn't that far. Google Maps tells me it's a three-and-a-half-hour drive. Duke fans, were they just waiting to make the trip to New York or was there really not that much of a Duke presence in Greenville?
ANDERSON: No, I think there was a Duke presence. I just don't think it was the overwhelming presence it would have been had the games been in Greensboro and had those teams been there, obviously. You never know if they would have gone that way, but that site was originally supposed to be Greensboro, and House Bill No. 2 and the bathroom situation there has pulled a lot of championships. The NCAA has pulled seven different championships. That's why it was in South Carolina. I'm not sure if people had tickets. I just think South Carolina fans gobbled up those tickets so fast once the Gamecocks got in that bracket that there were just not as many tickets available as there would be for a three and a half hour drive. Duke fans are certainly used to moving on and I'm sure there are a lot of Duke fans who said, I'll catch them in the next round and that's legitimate. If you're a Duke fan and you've been to as many Sweet Sixteens as they have, you would wait for that because you would not be expected or nor would you even want to see an early weekend matchup.
— Brian Anderson (@BAndersonPxP) March 20, 2017
On broadcasting partner Chris Webber:
TPG: In Greenville, you were with Chris Webber and Lewis Johnson. I was telling you before I think, maybe I'm raving too much, but I think Chris has evolved into really a top former player-commentator.
ANDERSON: Yeah, I love it. I spent a lot of time in Major League Baseball and my biggest concern with Major League Baseball is the superstar players are not gravitating toward commentating in Major League Baseball, outside of Alex Rodriguez who looks like he's taking that bit. Chris puts a lot of time in it. I've worked with him in the NBA before. I love him. He's a great character guy, great team guy. He's perfect with our group. He comes in with creative ideas. He wants to pass along basketball stuff for all of us, so we can even build packages and what not. He brings a lot to the table. He's a great teammate. He looks after people. Once he's in the bubble, you don't get that superstar thing. I think he has to keep a little of that around him. Traveling with him and working with him in a setting, you really get to experience how difficult it can be for a guy like Chris Webber. He gets a lot of love and a lot of praise and a lot of pictures and photos, but you also hear a lot of meanness from the crowd too. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the phrase, "Timeout!" yelled at him during these few days in Greenville, especially from Duke fans and North Carolina fans. There was a lot of that. You get a lot of, "Fab Five!" It's a tough existence for him I would say, but he puts a lot of effort into being a great broadcaster and he's better every year and I love him. He's a star, for sure. I tell my Turner folks, he's an A-lister for me. He's a future ace on the mic, and probably is right now actually.
TPG: I was listening to you guys in the first North Carolina game and he was praising Roy Williams. And I'm thinking North Carolina fans are watching this and the only thing they can think about with Chris Webber is the timeout game. We can belabor the jokes, but it was Chris Webber going into Carolina country for Duke and North Carolina, the two teams who beat the Fab Five. Has even talked to you directly about the situation?
ANDERSON: No, other than to say, because I asked him, "Man, it's tough being you, isn't it?" He goes, "Yeah, but it's all good, they're just passionate fans." He has a great attitude about it. He compartmentalizes those moments. And I think for me, watching him function and operate, and obviously he didn't allow that to define him at all and went on to have a Hall of Fame career. He's a nominee, and my expectation is he will get in when we get to the Final Four. He will be a Basketball Hall of Famer. So no, he doesn't bring it up. It's like everything else in his career. I remember, I was a sideline reporter with the San Antonio Spurs, and he wasn't the easiest guy to deal with or get access to, and I told him that. And he said, "Man, I had to keep a little bit of protection and keep some distance because it's the way I just needed to function to perform." I respect that. I got no problems with that. He wasn't the greatest guy to deal with when he was a player, but I haven't found that to be a case at all. In fact, he's probably one of the better teammates that I've worked with in the broadcast arena. He reaches out, he's very conscientious about everybody, takes pictures with everybody on the crew if they want. He's five-star for me, man. I'm a huge fan.
Ran into a old friend Roy Williams.. he's still smiling and winning @northcarolinatarheels pic.twitter.com/MLDmSGM17k
— Chris Webber (@realchriswebber) March 16, 2017
On potential NCAA rules changes:
TPG: I have to ask about Northwestern because I was there in Salt Lake City. You saw them throughout the Big Ten season. Did you follow the Gonzaga game at all?
ANDERSON: I watched the last five minutes live. We had production meetings and practices to cover, so I just watched that entire game yesterday.
TPG: Which would mean you just turned it on right around the time of the goaltending?
ANDERSON: Exactly. I saw the goaltending live, which in our circle, became a group text message on protocol, how to call, what would we say, what needed to happen. My belief, and everyone I've talked to -- I know you're not asking me about this but I'll tell you anyway -- this is the year where they talk about rules, and I think goaltending is going to be one that goes into the reviewable rules from the coaches' committee. I think this is gonna happen. It'll probably be like the NBA because that moment I think changed the flow of that game because even though there were five minutes left in that game and a lot could have transpired, I just thought the momentum, and Collins certainly deserved the tech. Think about this, if you can have a goaltending review, you've got to call that a goaltending first like in the NBA to go to review it. That rule doesn't exist in the college game now. If we change the rule, now I think official would be more willing to call goaltending, knowing it stops play, knowing you can go to review. That's my experience in the NBA, so you actually see that called a lot more when you're really not sure. You just see it called with the idea that I'll give myself an out to go look at it.
TPG: Is that a texting thread with Turner or other announcers?
ANDERSON: My announcers and there's a few other analysts on there -- I think Dan Bonner, C-Webb and I, Steve Smith. [I said,] "Here's my interpretation of the rule and here's why you can't." The NBA guys, they want to know why you can't go to review that. They know there's no rule in college basketball. We've all been briefed, but they were more asking philosophically, like, "why wouldn't they have this in play yet?" I'm giving my responses on why I think, but I think it's gonna change.
TPG: Are there other potential rules changes that you've noticed in broadcast that has to happen soon?
ANDERSON: I do. I think the only one that has a legitimate chance and has some legs, which is surprising to me, but I keep hearing it, is they'll keep the 20-minute halves and they are considering dumping the fouls after the ten-minute, so it would basically work like quarters, so you wouldn't be in the bonus. You would wipe the fouls clean, wipe the bonus clean. That is one that three months ago, I would have said no chance, but as I'm going around college basketball right now, I'm hearing that come up in a lot of different areas, unsolicited. I feel like that's at least going to have a strong chance to be discussed and past.
TPG: Yeah, that's being tested in the NIT right now.