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ESPN 2015 NCAA Women’s Final Four Fact Sheet – April 5 & 7

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20th year of exclusive coverage; 13th year covering all 63 games

ESPN Images: http://bit.ly/1xwyr5p; Analyst Predictions: Link

NCAA Women’s Final Four from Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay, Fla.
National Semifinals on ESPN / WatchESPN – Sunday, April 5:
No. 1 seed South Carolina vs. No. 1 seed Notre Dame at 6:30 p.m. ET; No. 1 seed Maryland vs. No. 1 seed UConn at 8:30 p.m.
National Championship on ESPN / WatchESPN – Tuesday, April 7: Semifinal Game winners at 8:30 p.m.

Production

  • Features, vignettes and segments on each Final Four team
    • UConn: An on-court demonstration with ESPN analysts Rebecca Lobo and Kara Lawson and UConn’s Kiah Stokes and Moriah Jefferson, respectively; What UConn learned from its one loss at Stanford; and Breanna Stewart feature dunking
    • Maryland: Laurin Mincy, the only senior on the team; Lexi Brown, daughter of former NBA player and coach Dee Brown; revisiting the Tyler Thomas feature; and a peek into the Terps’ team pranks
    • Notre Dame: Playing for school and team pride; How head coach Muffet McGraw crouches the entire game; Jewell Loyd, ND’s leader and guard; and a look at the team’s pregame checklist
    • South Carolina: Building of the program to national prominence; What it’s like to play for Hall of Fame coach Dawn Staley; and the team impersonations of Staley
  • A feature on the use of confetti and its evolution as part of postgame celebrations
  • Creative elements featuring “Fire and Gold” by Disney recording artist Bea Miller with original footage of each team to be used throughout the weekend
  • Pregame locker room access, in-game head coach and halftime player interviews, as well as on-set studio interviews with special guests
  • Potential Guests: Jimmy Dykes, former ESPN analyst and current Arkansas coach, talks about his SEC opponent South Carolina and Tara VanDerveer, who lead Stanford to the only win verses UConn this season
  • Continuing to showcase stars players during game telecasts with ESPN’s “Need to Know” highlighting top players throughout the tournament
  • Five of the 10 players from the recently named 2014-15 U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Women’s All-America Team will be participating in the Final Four: Kalena Mosqueda-Lewis, Jefferson and Stewart of UConn; Loyd of Notre Dame and Tiffany Mitchell of South Carolina
  • Interact on twitter via @espnW, @ESPN_WomenHoop and #NCAAWFF for the final weekend.

ESPN Technology

  • Technologies used during the Final Four telecasts
    • A newly ESPN-developed tablet telestrator that will be used courtside by game analyst Doris Burke
    • Brenda VanLengen, ESPN play-by-play announcer and analyst, returns to operate the ART System (telestrator device) for the fourth consecutive year; it is also used on ESPN’s Monday Night Football and NBA telecasts
    • NAC High-Motion camera that utilizes three-chip technology to produce greater light sensitivity and flicker reduction and can be used to record exceptional slow motion replays
    • Three Avid Media Composer suites in the media compound to support pre-production pieces
  • 21 game cameras, with the ability to have 24 different positions, plus four cameras focused on the in-arena set

ESPN Final Four Commentators

  • In-arena studio set located in section 120 featuring host Kevin Negandhi with Lawson and Lobo
  • Dave O’Brien returns as the play-by-play announcer, and is joined by Burke and reporter Holly Rowe
  • Reporter Bob Holtzman provides updates for SportsCenter live from Tampa Bay

Studio Team
Kevin Negandhi (Third-year host): Negandhi joined ESPN in September 2006 as an anchor for ESPNEWS and currently works the 9 a.m. edition of SportsCenter with Hannah Storm. He is in his third year as a women’s basketball studio host. Negandhi got his start covering women’s basketball while attending college at Temple, where he was a 1997 graduate.

Kara Lawson (10-year analyst): Lawson is in her 12th year as an analyst for ESPN. She works men’s and women’s college basketball games and also as a studio analyst for both sports. Lawson led University of Tennessee to three straight Final Fours and was a two-time All-American. She won a gold medal with the 2008 U.S. Women’s Basketball Olympic Team in Beijing and will be entering her 13th season with the WNBA, currently playing with the Washington Mystics. She won a league title in 2005 with the Sacramento Monarchs.

Rebecca Lobo (Second-year studio analyst; Eighth overall): Lobo joined ESPN in 2004 as a women’s college basketball and WNBA analyst. She won an NCAA Championship in 1995 with the University of Connecticut where she was a National Player of the Year and an All-American. In addition, Lobo won a gold medal with the 1996 U.S. Women’s Basketball Olympic Team during the Atlanta Olympics and played in the WNBA for seven seasons.

Game Commentators
Doris Burke (10-year game analyst; 13th overall): Burke began covering basketball for ESPN in 1991. She currently is an analyst on men’s and women’s college and NBA games, a sideline reporter for select telecasts and appears on the Wednesday editions of Kia NBA Countdown. Burke was a basketball player at Providence College and was named a NCAA 2012 Silver Anniversary Award recipient.

Dave O’Brien (Sixth-year play-by-play): O’Brien joined ESPN in 2002 as a play-by-play announcer and currently works MLB Monday Night Baseball and college basketball telecasts. In 2010, O’Brien added the Women’s Final Four to his announcing responsibilities, and he previously worked NBA telecasts. He is also the radio play-by-play announcer for the Boston Red Sox. A Boston native, O’Brien attended Syracuse University.

Holly Rowe (10-year reporter): Rowe began working ESPN telecasts in 1995, and joined on a regular-basis in 1998. She primarily covers college football, men’s and women’s basketball and softball as a reporter, as well as the NBA and WNBA. Rowe has also provided play-by-play commentary for women’s college basketball, softball and volleyball. She is a graduate of the University of Utah.

SportsCenter Reporter
Bob Holtzman (10-year reporter): Holtzman joined ESPN in 2000 as a reporter, primarily handling stories featured in the network’s award-winning news and information franchise – SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown, Outside the Lines, Baseball Tonight, NBA shows and others. Holtzman graduated from the University of Kansas.

SportsCenter will present in-depth coverage of the NCAA Women’s Final Four with on-site set presence from Negandhi, Lawson and Lobo; SportsCenter reports from Holtzman and the airing of NCAA Women’s Final Four specific features.

ESPN International networks, plus the digital player, will offer the national semifinals on ESPN2 Australia, ESPN Brazil HD, ESPN Caribbean, ESPN Latin North, ESPN Tres North, ESPN Tres South and ESPN UK. The title game will be live on ESPN2 Australia, Latin North, Caribbean, Brazil HD and ESPN UK, while delayed on Tres North and Tres South.

ESPNFrontRow.com will provide a behind-the-scene photo gallery, school pride at ESPN, a look at four workers that have been a part of all 20 years of ESPN’s coverage of the women’s tournament and more during the Women’s Final Four.

espnW @ The Championship|espnW.com will continue to highlight stories surrounding the Final Four with certain aspects integrated into the game telecasts.

  • In-depth and on-site coverage, including features and video analysis from Charlie Creme, Kate Fagan, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel
  • espnW’s Tourney Snapshots (photos from game sites) featured throughout the telecasts.
  • Facebook Q&A with ESPN women’s basketball commentators
  • #WSmackTalk: Alums from each team competing try to one-up each other on Twitter with the best #WSmackTalk
  • #FromWhereISit campaign pays tribute to the women who insisted on growing roots into the sofa during large sporting events, giving a peek into fans’ personal watch parties by submitting photos with the top ones posted on espnW.com
  • espnW reporters and commentators will join Carolyn Peck and LaChina Robinson on the W @ The Championship video set breaking down the games, coaches and players, as well as video of the sites and scenes around Tampa Bay, including fan interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
  • Video interviews with WNBA players and coaches, including Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings, as well as local Tampa athletes and celebrity fans of the Final Four teams
  • Exclusive announcement Monday of the Nancy Lieberman Award winner, including an interview with the top point guard in the nation and the legendary Nancy Lieberman herself

ESPN Digital
WatchESPN is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 or Xbox One to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider

  • ‘ESPN3 Surround’ – an alternative viewing experience with different camera angles and natural audio sound from inside Amalie Arena returns for the semifinals and final, as well as ESPN3 coverage of the trophy presentation on Tuesday
  • ESPN3 will have coverage of the Women’s Final Four pre-game (day before) and postgame (immediately following all three games) press conferences

 ESPN.com’s Women’s Tournament Challenge
Several statistics highlight ESPN.com’s Women’s Tournament Challenge and the teams that advanced to the Final Four

  • 6 percent of Women’s Tournament Challenge brackets got all the teams correct, picking all four No. 1 seeds
  • Another 36.5 percent of brackets selected three of four teams in the Women’s Final Four
  • President Obama’s bracket currently sits in the 38.2 percentile. He picked three of the Final Four teams’ correct, missing only Maryland. He only had five of the Elite Eight teams correct
  • Percent of brackets picking the national champion:
    • UConn: 60.2 percent; Notre Dame: 11.4 percent; South Carolina: 8.0 percent and Maryland: 4.9 percent
  • Percent of brackets picking each team to reach the national title game:
    • UConn: 77.8 percent; Notre Dame: 45.1 percent; South Carolina 28.8 percent and Maryland: 8.1 percent

Women’s Final Four Specials
NCAA Women’s Final Four Special Presented by Capital One
: The 30-minute Women’s Final Four preview show will be hosted by Negandhi with analysts Lawson and Lobo from Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, will precede the National Semifinals Sunday, April 5, at 6 p.m. on ESPN and WatchESPN.

College Basketball Live: Women’s National Championship Special: The 90-minute special, hosted by Matt Schick with analysts Steffi Sorensen and Brooke Weisbrod, on Tuesday, April 7, at 5:30 p.m. on ESPNU and WatchESPN will highlight and preview the Women’s National Championship title game.

NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capital One: ESPN and WatchESPN will tip off the National Championship game coverage with an hour-long preview special, also hosted by Negandhi, Lawson and Lobo, from Amalie Arena on Tuesday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m.

espnW Presents: The Geno Auriemma Project: Method to the Madness: The final episode of espnW’s three-part series will air on Friday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2. Fresh off back-to-back national titles in 2013 and 2014, Auriemma can join the legendary John Wooden with a record-tying 10th National Championship. The cameras will be there every step of the way, with unprecedented access, as UConn attempts to make history.

NCAA Division I Women’s Final Four Schedule (subject to change)

Sun, Apr 5 6 p.m. NCAA Women’s Final Four Special Presented by Capital One (Tampa Bay, Fla.)
Kevin Negandhi, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo
ESPN / WatchESPN
  6:30 p.m. National Semifinal Game 1 (Tampa Bay, Fla.)
Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke, Holly Rowe
ESPN / WatchESPN
  9 p.m. National Semifinal Game 2 (Tampa Bay, Fla.) ESPN / WatchESPN
Tue, Apr 7 5:30 p.m. College Basketball Live: NCAA Women’s Championship Special
Matt Schick, Brooke Weisbrod & Steffi Sorensen
ESPNU / WatchESPN
  7:30 p.m. NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capital One (Tampa Bay, Fla.)
Kevin Negandhi, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo
ESPN / WatchESPN
  8:30 p.m. National Final (Tampa Bay, Fla.)
Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke, Holly Rowe
ESPN / WatchESPN
Fri, Apr 10 7:30 p.m. espnW Presents: The Geno Auriemma Project: Method to the Madness ESPN2 / WatchESPN

 

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