Proctor's juggling show relies on multiple acts
The phrase March Madness has become something of a cliche, and we all know to avoid cliches like the plague, to use them only once in a blue moon. Then again, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
But Mel Proctor is involved in his own kind of March Madness.
Proctor is Home Team Sports' voice of the Orioles and Washington Bullets, Turner Broadcasting's voice of amateur boxing and one of CBS' voices of the NCAA basketball tournament. This is the time of year when all of his voices practically speak at once. That's not to imply he's talking out of both sides of his mouth.
"I've got three balls up in the air," Proctor said, also managing to balance the phone at the same time. (Too bad there's no more "Ed Sullivan Show.")
Proctor was speaking from Florida earlier this week, preparing to call an Orioles exhibition game, then head for Syracuse, N.Y., where he and Dan Bonner are working the first round of the NCAA East Regional today.
"It's difficult because you have eight teams to worry about instead of two," Proctor said. "The first year you do it, it's somewhat intimidating."
Proctor is working his third NCAA tournament for CBS, so he's not intimidated ("Proctor, through the paint, straight to the hoop . . ."), but said, "There's going to be a lot of work in this particular case."
Proctor said he had seen some of the teams playing at his regional site, but others he was unfamiliar with. Coppin State, for example, he had read about, but never observed.
"Most of the preparation takes place after you get [to the site]," Proctor said, adding that he planned to spend most of yesterday attending the teams' practices.
Something else Proctor must prepare for -- and this can't be too difficult -- is the transition from calling Bullets games that mean little to NCAA games that mean everything.
"The atmosphere is fabulous," he said. "Thousands of fans accompany the teams to these sites.
"This field is more wide open than it has been in years. Unlike past years, when you had Duke and UNLV, there's not really a dominant team."
And even when there's a dominant team, it doesn't hurt for an announcer to have those other voices. Last year, for example, a power outage at a regional site turned a tournament game into a three-hour marathon. For Proctor, though, it was just like a rain delay.
And he probably didn't drop one of those balls, either.
You can learn a lot by listening to NCAA tournament telecasts. For example, here's some of what I learned yesterday:
* It's important to score right before the end of the half. A couple of the analysts made this point. This gives your team a big lift heading into halftime. Otherwise, who knows, some of the guys might not make it to the locker room.
* A team needs senior leadership to win. Which raises the question: Has George Burns used up his eligibility?
* Coaches won't ever say whom they would prefer to meet in the next round. But the Book of Sportscasting, Packer 4:9, reads, "And thus shalt thou act: Thy tie shalt be straight, thy hair spray shalt be natural and thy coach shalt be asked whom he wants to play next."
* Things don't seem to be going so well in the careers of Shelley Long and Treat Williams. Did you see all the awful promos for their new CBS sitcom, "Good Advice"? Looks as if they could use some senior leadership.
While on the subject
By the way, will somebody conducting a post-game interview please ask a question?
"Coach, your banana walnut bagel defense with the bialy half-court trap sparked your club in the second half."
"Coach, Leopold Bloom really came through down the stretch."
"Coach, your team's study of the Marbury vs. Madison decision really paid off when you were down five with two minutes to go."
And if anyone does ask anything resembling a question, it's usually something like this: "Coach, how about that George 'Skywalker' Lucas? He can really direct an offense, can't he?"
The best quote on the first day of the NCAA tournament came from Kansas coach Roy Williams. Asked that mandatory question about his preference for a next-round opponent, Williams replied: "We're going to go in the locker room and hug for a little while and enjoy this one."
Telling the tooth
And then there was what CBS analyst Clark Kellogg had to say when Kansas' Rex Walters low-bridged an opponent: "He gave him a little lower-body root canal."
Things my boss wants to know
Do the Evansville Purple Aces wear tank tops under their uniform jerseys? . . . How come, during TV timeouts, my TV stays on? . . . If Charlie Ward is the quarterback of Florida State's basketball team, is he the point guard of the Seminoles' football team?