Wednesday, July 14, 2010
NU Playing at Historic Locals (But what about TV?)
Okay, so it wasn’t all bad news while I was gone. NU did announce they’ll play this December 20th-21st in a Tournament at Madison Square Garden. On the heels of football taking over Wrigley Field a month earlier, you have to say that NU athletic director Jim Phillips is doing a good job of putting NU’s teams on a national stage.
Of course, to truly be seen on a national stage you have to be seen on TV. That’s why the move on NU’s Wrigley Field contest to ESPNU had a number of fans irate. Yes, a 2:30 start time is probably better they said, but who they wanted to know who would watch a game on ESPNU. Well, NU responded that ESPNU is in more than 70 million households, which seems like a lot (I guess). The real key, though, is probably for NU to play well enough to warrant pregame attention. If a game is a big game and it’s somewhere on TV fans will find it. Is Wrigley Field by itself a big enough deal for fans to find the game on their sets? Maybe for at least a look, but if NU and/or Illinois has a good season going then fans will work harder to catch a glimpse of the game and not just to see Wrigley with football lines. At least being on one ESPN network ensures highlights, though. Even with a novelty game, if it weren’t on TV it wouldn’t draw the program attention.
Now, how does this related to the basketball at MSG. Well, MSG is probably right up there with Wrigley is one of the world’s most famous venues, however, non-conference basketball gets played there all the time. While it might be cool for us as NU fans to see the ‘Cats in the garden for the 1st time in nearly 10 years, I’m not counting on average people wanting see the game just for that reason. So my point is this, it’s great that NU is going to play in New York, but it isn’t really that great unless those games show up on television. I sincerely hope that the ESPN family of networks will be willing to show at least the NU-St. Johns contest if for no other reason than former ESNP personality Steve Lavin. NU doesn’t traditionally get a ton of ESPN games, but perhaps this year with the return of Kevin Coble and John Shurna’s proven ability to score people in Bristol will realize the ‘Cats are probably going to be decent and worth showing more than two or three times the whole year.