UI 72, Dartmouth 65: Notebook
CHAMPAIGN — Those of you hoping to see more games on television, you’ll get your wish the remainder of the season. Tuesday’s game against Dartmouth was the last game of the season that was available online only.
It was carried by the Big Ten Digital Network, and the broadcast was produced and announced by Illinois students. It’s a part of the Big Ten’s Student U initiative, designed to give aspiring broadcasters on-the-job experience.
Matt Maniscalco handled the play-by-play duties, Taylor Rooks was the sideline reporter and Brett Lerner was the analyst.
“I think it’s awesome. It’s like an on-campus internship. It’s really cool to do these games. It’s a unique experience,” Lerner said. “The fact that the Big Ten lets us do this, there aren’t many schools in the country where you can get this opportunity.
“It’s all student-run, so that’s pretty cool. Our producers are just as hard on us as a professional producer would be. Our supervisors give us professional feedback as well.”
Lerner, a freshman from Buffalo Grove, has called basketball and volleyball games during his time on campus.
“I played volleyball in high school (Lincolnshire Stevenson), so I’m kind of the go-to volleyball guy,” he said.
The Big Ten had the UI students produce online broadcasts last weekend during the NCAA volleyball tournament at Huff Hall.
“They’ve had a great run, and it was awesome they had the tournament here. It’s been really cool to follow them. I try not to be too much of a fan during the broadcast. It’s still fun to follow them, especially with them being so successful,” Lerner said.
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At noon Wednesday, the NCAA will announce the host sites for 82 of the next 89 postseason championships to be played from 2014 to ’18. Illinois is in the running to host postseason events in tennis, gymnastics and volleyball.
Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas is hopeful the UI campus will be among those selected.
“It’s great when you can get that kind of national exposure and show off your facilities, the campus and the community,” he said. “If you’re fortunate enough to play in those postseason events, playing at home should serve as a homefield advantage.”
Illinois hosted the NCAA volleyball first- and second-round matches last week at Huff Hall and will host regionals this week at State Farm Center.
Last spring, the UI hosted the NCAA men’s and women’s tennis championships and received rave reviews for its handling of the event.
“The feedback has been positive, and locally they support these things very well. Our people show up on the road, so you know they’re going to show up at home,” Thomas said. “I think it’s a great thing to do. You’re not always the successful bidder, but if you’re in the pipeline enough those opportunities are going to come your way, and you’ve got to take advantage of them when you do.”