2014 NBA Playoffs to Tip Off on ABC & ESPN Saturday

NBA-on-ESPN-logoBreen, Van Gundy, Salters to Call Games in L.A. & Miami within 24 Hours;  ESPN & Pitbull Team Up for NBA Playoffs Broadcast Open

The 2014 NBA Playoffs will tip off on ESPN’s family of networks beginning this weekend with five Game 1 telecasts. Mike Breen, analyst Jeff Van Gundy and reporter Lisa Salters will call two Game 1’s on ABC in 24 hours, beginning with the Golden State Warriors at the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET The crew will then fly across country to Miami for Sunday’s 3:30 p.m. broadcast of the defending NBA Champion Heat and the Charlotte Bobcats. Both games will also be available on ESPN Radio and via the WatchABC app.

On Saturday, ESPN will televise a Game 1 tripleheader, beginning at 12:30 p.m. when the Brooklyn Nets visit the Toronto Raptors. ESPN’s coverage will return with a prime-time doubleheader, starting with the Atlanta Hawks visiting the Indiana Pacers at 7 p.m., followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder hosting the Memphis Grizzlies at 9:30 p.m. For more details, please see the table below.

NBA Countdown – ABC’s and ESPN’s pre-game show – will preview both of ABC’s games this weekend, starting at 3 p.m. both days. Countdown will document the entire NBA Playoffs led by host Sage Steele and analysts Bill Simmons, Jalen Rose and Doug Collins.

ESPN & Pitbull Team Up for NBA Playoffs Broadcast Open

Latin Grammy Award-winner Pitbull will star in ESPN’s new NBA Playoffs broadcast open, which will debut on Saturday, April 19 during ABC’s and ESPN’s playoff coverage. Pitbull will be joined by several NBA superstars including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Chris Paul, Joakim Noah and Stephen Curry. The open is set to Pitbull’s chart-topping single “Timber,” with customized lyrics that capture the spirit and storylines of the NBA Playoffs.

 

Early schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Commentators Network(s)
Sat, Apr. 19 12:30 p.m. Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors Gm.1 Dave Pasch, Jon Barry,

Chris Broussard

ESPN, WatchESPN
  3 p.m. NBA Countdown Sage Steele, Bill Simmons, Jalen Rose, Doug Collins ABC, WatchABC
  3:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers Gm. 1 Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Lisa Salters ABC, ESPN Radio, WatchABC, ESPN3
  7 p.m. Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers Gm. 1 Mark Jones, Doris Burke, Israel Gutierrez ESPN, WatchESPN
  9:30 p.m. Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder Gm. 1 Mike Tirico, Hubie Brown, Heather Cox ESPN, WatchESPN
Sun, Apr. 20 3 p.m. NBA Countdown Sage Steele, Bill Simmons, Jalen Rose, Doug Collins ABC, WatchABC
  3:30 p.m. Charlotte Bobcats at Miami Heat Gm. 1 Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Lisa Salters ABC, ESPN Radio, WatchABC, ESPN3
Fri, Apr. 25 7 p.m. Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets Gm. 3 TBD ESPN2, WatchESPN
  8 p.m. Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards Gm. 3 TBD ESPN, WatchESPN
  10:30 p.m. Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers Gm. 3 TBD ESPN, WatchESPN
Sat, Apr. 26 7 p.m. Miami Heat at Charlotte Bobcats Gm. 3 TBD ESPN, WatchESPN
  9:30 p.m. Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies Gm. 4 TBD ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN Radio
Sun, Apr. 27 12:30 p.m. NBA Countdown Sage Steele, Bill Simmons, Jalen Rose, Doug Collins ABC, WatchABC, ESPN
  1 p.m. Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards Gm. 4 TBD ABC, WatchABC, ESPN3
  3:30 p.m. Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors Gm. 4 TBD ABC, WatchABC, ESPN Radio, ESPN3
Fri, May 2 TBD Miami Heat at Charlotte Bobcats Gm. 6 (if necessary) TBD ESPN/ESPN2, WatchESPN
TBD Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets Gm. 6 (if necessary) TBD ESPN/ESPN2, WatchESPN
TBD San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Gm. 6 (if necessary) TBD ESPN/ESPN2, WatchESPN
TBD Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers Gm. 6 (if necessary) TBD ESPN/ESPN2, WatchESPN
Sun, May 4 1 p.m. TBD ABC, WatchABC
3:30 p.m. TBD ABC, WatchABC, ESPN3

The NBA Playoffs will exclusively start and finish on ESPN’s family of networks, culminating with ABC’s exclusive presentation of The Finals on ABC, starting June 5.

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Time and Network for ESPN’s 2014 Season-Opening Neutral Site College Football Schedule

espn-cfbESPN has finalized its telecast schedule for five neutral site college football matchups that will open the 2014 season. The lineup will showcase five teams ranked in an early ESPN.com preseason top 25 poll for 2014 on Saturday, Aug. 30: an ABC doubleheader involving No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Alabama, No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 LSU on ESPN, and No. 24 Central Florida from Dublin, Ireland on ESPN2. Additional games will be announced in the coming months. Highlights:

  • ESPN and ABC will combine to televise both Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game matchups from Atlanta beginning with Boise State vs. Ole Miss on Thursday, Aug. 28, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. The second game in three days will pit West Virginia vs. No. 2 Alabama on Saturday, Aug. 30, at 3:30 p.m. on ABC and ESPN2. Both games will mark the first meeting between the teams. West Virginia will play in its first Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game while Alabama will make its fourth appearance, winning their previous three.
  • The weekly Saturday Night Football series on ABC will open the season with defending National Champion No. 1 Florida State against Oklahoma State in the Cowboys Classic from Arlington, Texas at 8 p.m. on August 30.  It will mark the fifth meeting between the schools and the first since the 1985 Gator Bowl.
  • ESPN will showcase a Big Ten vs. SEC contest pitting No. 14 Wisconsin against No. 13 LSU in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff from Houston on Saturday, Aug. 30, at 9 p.m. LSU won the only two previous games against Wisconsin (1971 and 1972).
  • ESPN2 will televise Penn State vs. No. 24 Central Florida in the Croke Park Classic from Dublin, Ireland on Saturday, Aug. 30, at 8:30 a.m.

ESPN’s industry-leading game and studio coverage will begin with the first televised game (Sam Houston State at Eastern Washington in the new FCS Kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 23, at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) and conclude with the new College Football Playoff Championship Game from Arlington, Texas (Monday, Jan. 12 on ESPN).

2014 Neutral Site Schedule (as of April 16)

Date Time (ET) Game Network
Thu, Aug 28 8 p.m. Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: Boise State vs. Ole Miss ESPN
Sat, Aug 30 8:30 a.m. 2014 Croke Park Classic: Penn State vs. No. 24 Central Florida * ESPN2
  3:30 p.m. Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: West Virginia vs. No. 2 Alabama ABC and ESPN2
  8 p.m. Cowboys Classic: No. 1 Florida State vs. Oklahoma State ABC
  9 p.m. AdvoCare Texas Kickoff: No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 LSU ESPN

* Previously announced

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Drake Announced as Host of The 2014 ESPYS

espn_espy_logoLive Telecast of Awards on July 16from Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles

Grammy Award-winning, platinum-selling recording artist and multi-faceted performer Drake announced today via Twitter that he will host The 2014 ESPYS on Wednesday, July 16, at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. The Awards will be televised live starting at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. The ESPYS raise more than $1 million annually for The V Foundation, the charity founded by the late basketball coach Jim Valvano to promote cancer research.
Drake will be joined by top athletes and entertainers to celebrate the year’s best moments in sports. Beyond Drake’s numerous and notable accomplishments in the creative space, he is also the Global Ambassador on the executive committee for his hometown’s Toronto Raptors.
 
“Drake is an unbelievably talented entertainer who truly has a passion for sports.  We are thrilled to have him to host this year’s show,” said Connor Schell, vice president, ESPN Films and Original Entertainment, who oversees the ESPYS.
“This is an incredible opportunity for me to combine two of my biggest passions—sports and performing,” said Drake.
Adds Maura Mandt, executive producer, “Drake’s charisma, energy and fearlessness come across whether he’s performing music, acting or doing comedy.  We are all in for an unforgettable program.”
 
Drake is currently riding high on the success of his international “Would You Like a Tour” in support of his third studio album, Nothing Was the Same. Drake holds the record for the most number one hits on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart. In January 2014, Drake pulled double duty as host and musical guest on NBC’s Saturday Night Live in one of the highest rated episodes of the season. Drake has become a true visionary and artist with his music and lifestyle brand, October’s Very Own.
 
The ESPYS
The ESPYS gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The 2014 ESPYS will recognize both sport-specific achievements, such as “Best MLB Player” and “Best WNBA Player,” and best-in-sport winners, such as “Best Team” or “Best Female Athlete” that pit nominees from different sports against each other.  The ESPYS honor ESPN’s commitment to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a partnership launched with the late Jim Valvano at the inaugural ESPYS in 1993.
For additional ESPYS news and information, please follow our official ESPYS Twitter handle: @ESPYS.
 
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Primetime 2014 WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm Live on ESPN2 April 14

WNBA-Coin-LogoDraft to be held at Mohegan Sun Arena – home of the Connecticut Sun

The top female college basketball prospects will assemble at Mohegan Sun Arena, home of the Connecticut Sun, for the 2014 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm on Monday, April 14. Airing in primetime for the second-straight year, coverage and analysis of the first round will begin at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2, followed by the second and third rounds on ESPNU from 9-10:30 p.m. The entire Draft – three rounds of 12 picks each – can also be seen on WatchESPN. WNBA Draft anchor Kevin Negandhi will be joined by analysts Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck, and reporter Holly Rowe.

Content will also be offered across ESPN platforms, including SportsCenter and espnW.com.

Top prospects invited to the WNBA Draft are guards Chelsea Gray (Duke), Bria Hartley (Connecticut), Kayla McBride (Notre Dame), Shoni Schimmel (Louisville), Meighan Simmons (Tennessee) and Odyssey Sims (Baylor); forwards Natalie Achonwa (Notre Dame), Natasha Howard (Florida State), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford) and Alyssa Thomas (Maryland); and centers Stefanie Dolson (Connecticut) and Markeisha Gatling (NC State).

The Connecticut Sun holds the top pick in the draft for the second time in franchise history after garnering the top selection in this year’s WNBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm, which aired on  SportsCenter in December.  Rounding out this year’s top five picks are the Tulsa Shock (second), San Antonio Stars (third), New York Liberty (fourth) and Indiana Fever (fifth).

Production Features & Storylines

·         Connecticut Sun, Tulsa Shock and San Antonio Silver Stars representatives onsite

·         Live shots and reaction from friends and family in the arena

·         Virtual graphics within the telecast

·         ‘ESPN3 Podium Cam’ allows viewers to see each pick live through the third round with sound from podium microphone

·         In addition to post-selection interviews with Rowe, the telecast includes individual sit-down chats with Ogwumike, Dolson, Schimmel and other top players

·         All-access with top prospects throughout the day

·         Interview with WNBA President Laurel Richie

·         Discussion of new player collective bargaining agreement (CBA), as well as Magic Johnson’s Sparks ownership and what it means to the league

·         College head coaches in attendance at the draft

espnW

·         Exclusive post-pick interviews with top draftees by ESPN analyst LaChina Robinson

·         Mock Draft: espnW experts give first-round predictions

·         Video: Kate Fagan and Mechelle Voepel preview the Draft

·         DraftCast: Live chat, pick-by-pick analysis of each selection and video player of WatchESPN Draft feed

·         Photo gallery and player blogs

·         Team-by-team Draft grades

WatchESPN is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the award-winning WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon FireTV. It is available in 67.5 million households nationwide to fans of an affiliated video provider, including AT&T U-verse® TV, Bright House Networks, Cablevision’s Optimum TV, Charter, Comcast Xfinity TV, Cox, DISH, Google Fiber, Midcontinent Communications, NRTC, Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS TV.

The WNBA and ESPN have been affiliated for 18 years, dating back to the league’s inaugural season in 1997, and extended the relationship in March 2013 to six years through the 2022 season. ESPN2 will debut its schedule of WNBA games on Saturday, May 17 showcasing Chicago at New York at 8 p.m. The schedule also includes the Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star 2014, with ESPN showcasing the best women’s basketball players in the world from Phoenix on Saturday, July 19, at 3:30 p.m.

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2014 Monday Night Football Preseason Schedule

ESPN_MNF_2011Jacksonville Jaguars at Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns at Washington Redskins

ESPN will televise two NFL preseason games as part of its 2014 Monday Night Football schedule. Play-by-play commentator Mike Tirico and analyst Jon Gruden will call the games with reporter Lisa Salters in anticipation of ESPN’s MNF regular-season opener on Monday, Sept. 8. Both MNF preseason games will begin at 8 p.m. ET and will be preceded by a one-hour Monday Night Countdown pregame show.

ESPN’s preseason kicks off Thursday, Aug. 14, when the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Chicago to face quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears at Soldier Field.

The ESPN crew then heads to Landover, Md., where quarterback Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins host the Cleveland Browns on Monday, Aug. 18, at FedExField. This matchup will also be a battle of first-year head coaches with Washington’s Jay Gruden, Jon Gruden’s brother, and Cleveland’s Mike Pettine both hired in early 2014.

ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s 24-hour Spanish-language domestic sports network, will once again offer a Spanish-language production of MNF preseason and regular-season games in 2014. All games will also be available on tablets and computers via WatchESPN.

The 2014 ESPN MNF regular-season schedule is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football 2014 NFL Preseason Schedule:

Date Time (ET) Game
Thursday, Aug. 14 8 p.m. Jacksonville Jaguars at Chicago Bears
Monday, Aug. 18 8 p.m. Cleveland Browns at Washington Redskins

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Tony Reali Signs New Multi-Year Extension with ESPN

espn-logoTony Reali Signs New Multi-Year Extension with ESPN
Around the Horn host adds ABC Good Morning America contributor role
Tony Reali, the longtime host of Around the Horn and contributor on Pardon the Interruption, has signed a new multi-year extension with ESPN. Per his new agreement, Reali will move from Washington, D.C. to New York later this year where he will begin hosting ATH from a Times Square studio. Reali will also join ABC’s Good Morning America as a social media contributor.
“I am thrilled to be hosting Around the Horn on ESPN for four more years. To move the show to New York and become a member of the GMA family is a dream,” said Reali.
“Tony brings great energy, passion and creativity to his work, and he’s a big reason for Around the Horn’s success the past 10 years,” added John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, production. “We’re pleased he will continue as host of this signature ESPN show and have the chance to do even more as a contributor to ABC on GMA.”
Reali was hired as the full-time host of Around the Horn in February 2004. On the popular weekday afternoon show, he engages a national panel of four journalists in lively discussion and debate of the day’s leading sports stories. Since October 2001, Reali has also handled the omissions and errors portion of PTI, among other segments, alongside Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.
As a contributor to GMA, Reali will engage with fans, monitor social media activity and highlight trending topics for the top-rated morning show. The program recently unveiled “Social Square,” a groundbreaking new digital studio engaging viewers on a daily basis with the broadcast and social conversation.
The move to New York will be a homecoming for Reali, who was born in Staten Island, N.Y. and is a native of Morganville, N.J. He received his degree from Fordham University before joining ESPN in 2000 as a writer and researcher for the quiz show, Two Minute Drill.
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ESPN3 to Carry Indian Premier League Cricket in the US

Espn-3logoIncludes IPL Semifinals and Seven ‘Game of the Week’ Matches, Comprehensive Highlights Rights Package for ESPNcricinfo

ESPN has reached a content exchange agreement with Willow TV for exclusive live digital coverage of Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket on ESPN3 in the US.  The deal – which granted Willow TV telecast rights to the India vs. New Zealand series – will give fans in the US access to select matches throughout the 2014 season.  Additionally, the agreement includes digital video highlights rights in the US on ESPNcricinfo platforms.

“ESPN3 continues to establish itself as a leading destination for live coverage of major cricket events in the US, and we plan to build our momentum at the conclusion of the ICC World Twenty20 Championship with the start of the IPL’s seventh season,” said Jason Bernstein, senior director of programming and acquisitions, ESPN.  “The IPL features some of the best cricketers – and some of the most passionate fans – in the world, and we look forward to delivering these events nationally to a US audience.”

ESPN3 will carry both IPL semifinal matches and seven “Game of the Week” matches.  Additionally, the deal includes unlimited highlights rights to those nine matches plus select highlights rights to all other IPL matches.

The seventh season of the IPL begins on Wednesday, April 16 and concludes with the final on Sunday, June 1.  In-depth pre- and post-coverage following the IPL throughout the season will be available via ESPNcricinfo online and on mobile platforms.

About ESPN3

ESPN3 is ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, a destination that delivers thousands of exclusive sports events annually.  It is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and streamed on televisions through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.  The network is currently available to more than 92 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider.  The network is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers, smartphones and tablets connected to on-campus educational and on-base military broadband and Wi-Fi networks.

ESPN.com to Present Aaron’s 715: Live in 2014 to Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Hank Aaron’s Record-breaking Home Run

ESPN-MLB

ESPN.com is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run with a special reenactment titled Aaron’s 715: Live in 2014. ESPN.com will cover the events leading up to – and through – Aaron’s historic achievement in real time, as if it were happening live.

ESPN.com will utilize a live-event application to aggregate photos, videos and reports, beginning at 7:15 p.m. ET. The coverage will continue past 9:07 p.m., the time that Aaron hit number 715 on his record-breaking night. ESPN MLB Insider Jayson Stark will serve as the “on site” reporter, providing news reports, stats and player reaction throughout the evening. Additionally, ESPN senior writer Howard Bryant will host a live chat during the event on ESPN.com’s MLB section.

ESPN viewers and Major League Baseball fans can join the conversation on Twitter, using hashtag #Aaron715. Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record on April 8, 1974 in a game between his Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Ga.

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ESPN Pioneer Chuck Pagano to Retire; LaBerge Named Successor

espn-logoTechnology Chief Key Driver of ESPN’s Technological Innovation from Beginning
Charles E. “Chuck” Pagano, who joined ESPN prior to its September 7, 1979, debut and whose vision and passion has driven ESPN’s innovative use of technology for 35 years, will retire from the company in February 2015.  Aaron LaBerge, who rejoined ESPN in 2013 as senior vice president, technology and product development, has been named Pagano’s successor and will assume the day-to-day management of the team June 1, 2014, reporting to Pagano and ESPN President John Skipper. Pagano will remain in an advisory role in order to effect a smooth transition.
Pagano, ESPN’s executive vice president, technology since 2005, was given the added title of ESPN’s first chief technology officer in 2011 with added duties including advising other divisions across The Walt Disney Company on technological developments. Under his leadership and guidance, ESPN has built industry leading facilities at its headquarters in Bristol, Conn, its Los Angeles production center and around the world. This May, ESPN will launch Digital Center 2 in Bristol, a 195,000-square-foot facility featuring numerous technical firsts. Over the years, Pagano’s contributions have made ESPN the leader in marrying cutting-edge technology to unparalleled content across a variety of media platforms.
“Quite simply, Chuck Pagano personifies ESPN – its entrepreneurial spirit, its creative passion and its focus on the people who make it all happen – and we would not be what we are today without him,” Skipper said.  “I am personally grateful for his contributions and insights, and I join all ESPNers in offering an enthusiastic thank you for all he has meant to our company.”
LaBerge’s ESPN roots go to the very early days of ESPN.com and ESPN’s initial Internet product development efforts.  He is in his second tour of duty with ESPN, having left for a time to launch and operate his own consumer software and digital product development company.
“In Aaron, we have an executive well versed in ESPN’s culture and history, and who is also relentlessly focused on what’s next,” said Skipper. “He is a visionary technologist whose experience at ESPN and also in founding and successfully running his own company gives us a huge advantage as we contemplate how the future will evolve.”
Pagano’s career at ESPN spans more than three decades, having joined as a technical director in August 1979, a few weeks before the network launched in 1.4 million homes. At ESPN and throughout the industry, Pagano is known as a collaborative partner, an early adopter of new ideas and techniques, and a leader who always recognized that technology starts with people.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky to be at a place where from Day One, people have been emboldened to break barriers and seek new ideas,” said Pagano. “I’ve been surrounded by incredibly talented and dedicated people. I learned long ago that the best leaders let others do their best work, as long as they have the appropriate culture and motivation to innovate. Yet, for all the amazing advancements I’ve seen – from two-inch tape to HD – what I remain most proud of is simply our birth. The odds were against this rag-tag group of people crazy enough to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week, but we had a goal and we reached it. We envisioned what others scoffed at – an all-sports network. Everything we are today started with that.”
Among his many accomplishments, Pagano’s influence was critical to the company’s decision to launch an HD service in 2003, well before there was industry consensus on the preferred format.  ESPN’s first Digital Center, under construction at the time, was re-tooled by Pagano and his team, and at launch was the most sophisticated building of its kind in the world.  ESPN’s second Digital Center will open in late May. LaBerge has been working closely with Pagano as a key architect of that facility.
Before joining ESPN, Pagano worked for WFSB-TV, the CBS affiliate in Hartford, Conn., as a technician from 1977-1979. The native of Waterbury, Conn., (half-) jokingly says he joined ESPN to cut his commute in half.
An avid astronomer, Pagano has received many honors for his visionary and creative approach to both technology and his approach to management, including being the recipient of the 2012 Vanguard Award for Science & Technology presented by the NCTA and induction into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in December 2012. Most recently, Pagano was honored by SMPTE with the David Sarnoff Medal, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the development of new techniques or equipment that have contributed to the improvement of the engineering phases of television technology, including large-venue presentations. He was also inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in December 2013, and has won two Emmy Awards for technical achievement.
Pagano remains active in giving back to the community.  Pagano currently serves on the Board of Regents at the University of Hartford, his alma mater, as well as on the Board of Advisers for the College of Engineering, Technology and Architecture. He also serves on the Tunxis Foundation Board for Tunxis Community College in Farmington, Conn., and is Chairman of the Connecticut Technology Council.  He is President of the Board of Directors of The Holy Land, a grass-roots community effort to restore a sanctuary in his hometown of Waterbury, Conn.
 
Pagano received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1984 and a master of science degree in organizational psychology in 2007, both from the University of Hartford.
Aaron LaBerge
LaBerge first worked at ESPN for a decade, 1997 – 2007, originally as a software engineer, through Disney’s acquisition of Starwave Ventures, the company that produced ESPN’s early Internet initiatives. In his current role, LaBerge is responsible for oversight and strategic leadership for technology and product development for digital media and mobile platforms, and on-air production software. His teams include the production data group supporting all ESPN media, technology integration across multiple media platforms, and ESPN’s technology research and development team.
In 2007, LaBerge pursued a new path as co-founder of Fanzter Inc., and served as CEO of the venture-funded consumer software and digital product development company. In this capacity, he directed the development and launch of a variety of consumer-focused Internet and mobile products.
“Chuck Pagano is one of the smartest, most curious and most loved people I know,” LaBerge said. “While it is impossible to fill his shoes, I’m excited to advance the legacy of innovation that Chuck has fostered for more than 35 years. ESPN is one of the greatest American companies ever created and I am humbled to accept the challenge to lead the technology team as we shape the next wave of products and services.”
 
He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of South Carolina.
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ESPN Analysts Offer Thoughts on 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four Matchups

espn-logoDoris Burke, Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo – top analysts on ESPN’s season-long women’s basketball coverage – offered insight and analysis on the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four matchups.

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Presented by Capital One has reached its final weekend – the Women’s Final Four in Nashville, Tenn., on Sunday, April 6, and Tuesday, April 8. ESPN and WatchESPN will offer full studio and game coverage throughout the weekend, starting with the National Semifinals on Sunday: No.1 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Maryland at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by No. 1 seed Connecticut vs. No. 2 Stanford at 8:30 p.m. The National Championship game will air Tuesday at 8:30 p.m., with the NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capital One beginning at 7 p.m.

 

Burke

Keys to Semifinal Game 1

“Brenda Frese’s recruitment to and emphasis on winning the rebounding battle is impressive. She is a passionate, energetic coach who has at her disposal one of the nation’s best players in Alyssa Thomas. The All-American is a powerful left-handed driver who is amongst the most versatile in the country.  With the dynamic freshman point guard Lexi Brown and the depth Maryland brings to the table, the Terps can wear opponents down in transition and on the glass.

Muffet McGraw has led the Fighting Irish to their fourth straight Final Four and into the strata of a consistent national championship threat – a rare feat in the sport. Jewell Loyd is as dynamic an athlete and as talented and dangerous as a basketball player can be. The Irish need Kayla McBride to be as efficient as she is dangerous and must find a way to make up for the leadership, toughness and productivity of injured Natalie Achonwa.”

 

Keys to Semifinal Game 2

“Stanford has always run quality offense and disciplined, well-thought out scouting of defenses. Chiney Ogwumike must be accounted for in transition, the half court and certainly on the offensive glass. Mikaela Ruef operates well in tandem with Ogwumike, and Amber Orrange must impose her will as a threat on offense.

Connecticut requires an opponent to play a near perfect defensive game. The Huskies have proved through the first two weekends, and in fact all season, that they can win without shooting it to the best of their abilities. What allows this to occur, is they are consistently one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Huskies are excellent at taking away your strength and making you beat them in another way. Breanna Stewart is the most dangerous chess piece on the board, and when Geno Auriemma has that, it typically leads to a national title.”

Lawson

Top Players to Watch

“Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas and Notre Dame’s Jewell Lloyd are the standout players in this first matchup.”

Thoughts on No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Maryland

“This is an intriguing matchup because of all talk of Natalie Achonwa and the lack of her presence for Notre Dame on the court this weekend. The loss of her is so fresh, no one is sure how the Irish will respond and how quickly they can make up for the loss of everything she brings. The regular-season meeting was a tale of two halves. Maryland had no answer for Lloyd, and not many teams in country do. She had 31 in that game and 30 against Baylor in the Elite Eight. This is a good matchup for Lloyd individually and she is playing her best basketball right now. The second half of the game, Notre Dame didn’t have an answer for Thomas. She was overwhelming with her power and rebounding, and Achonwa had trouble guarding her.

I don’t feel the tale of two halves will be as dramatic in this game, but those two matchups are issues for both sides. Rebounding is a big issue for Notre Dame with the loss of Achonwa and the size of Maryland, but the Irish have the advantage with Kayla McBride and Lloyd.”

Lobo

Top Players to Watch

“Chiney Ogwumike is the star for Stanford, and you won’t want to miss her final weekend as a collegiate athlete. Breanna Stewart is the matchup nightmare for UConn opponents.”

 

Thoughts on the No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 2 Stanford matchup

“Connecticut and Stanford are much different teams than the ones we saw match up back in November. Stanford has settled on a rotation that includes Lili Thompson, a nice slasher and 3-point shooter, who complements Amber Orrange in the backcourt and Bonnie Samuelson, a sharpshooter from three. Ogwumike continues to put up monster numbers even with constant double and triple teams.

UConn has been dominant all season with Stefanie Dolson as the constant inside. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, always a fantastic 3-point shooter, has emerged as a complete player in the tournament. Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson remain steady and Stewart shows flashes of brilliance in each game. If UConn is clicking on all cylinders, they won’t be beaten.”

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