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Ch. 2 makes best call in historic UB, Bona basketball coverage

Since it was the first time in almost a half century since two Western New York teams qualified for the NCAA men's basketball tournament, I watched all three local newscasts at 11 p.m. to see how they covered this historic event.

WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) led its newscast with video of the excitement where the University at Buffalo and St. Bonaventure got the news that the teams received two of the 68 tournament bids.

The last time two teams made the tournament was in 1970, when Bona and Niagara made the tournament field of 24 teams back then.

Bona plays UCLA Tuesday night in a play-in game and UB plays Arizona Thursday night.

Channel 2's decision to lead the newscast seemed like the right call on a relatively slow news night. However, I can see some news directors questioning leading with a sports story that doesn't involve the Buffalo Bills or Buffalo Sabres.

Sports anchor Stu Boyar followed up in the sports portion of the newscast by replaying video of the reaction of UB players and adding "you can't watch this often enough."

Boyar added a nice touch, showing video of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim acknowledging how much a victory over UB helped his team get into the tournament in a play-in game against Arizona State.

UB ready to face potential No. 1 draft pick in NCAA Tournament

WIVB-TV (Channel 4) led its newscast with weather, followed by a story about potholes which pretty much screamed "this is a slow news day."

It waited for 17 minutes before anchor Marissa Perlman mentioned the two teams making the tournament, which seemed bizarre since Sunday wasn't a heavy news day and the sports report was going to immediately follow.

The placement of the story was even more bizarre because Channel 4 is a CBS affiliate and its network carries the broadcast network portion of the tournament.

In the sports segment near the end of the newscast, Nick Filipowski, Shannon Shepherd and Josh Reed weighed in on the big news and had interviews with players on both teams. I would have expected to see at least one of member of Channel 4's team to be on near the top of the newscast.

WKBW-TV (Channel 7) led its newscast with a weather report from Don Paul before sports anchor reporter Jenna Callari dealt with half of the big basketball story.

Bizarrely, she mentioned that UB made the tournament near the top of the newscast without a word about St. Bonaventure.

Callari did mention Bona in the later sports segment, with a line that suggested the station may have gotten some heat from Olean for how it started the newscast.

"No, Bonnie fans we didn't forget about you," said Callari.

However, Channel 7 apparently did forget to go down to Olean since it didn't have any footage of the excitement there.

To its credit, Channel 7 was the only station to cover state high school basketball and hockey title games played Sunday.

However, Channel 2 was the clear winner in how it covered the basketball history made Sunday.

Before the tournament field was announced Sunday, CBS did a terrific feature on the Hurley brothers – Rhode Island Coach Danny Hurley and Bobby Hurley, the former UB coach now at Arizona State.

They mentioned they talked to each other about six days a week. After the feature ended, a CBS analyst noted that Bobby might need Danny's team to beat Davidson in its conference tournament so Arizona State wouldn't miss out on the tournament as a bubble team.

As everyone at St. Bona knows, Davidson won by a point and stole a bid, putting the Bonnies and Arizona State in jeopardy. They both qualified in play-in games.

After Arizona State's bid was announced, Danny Hurley was so excited that his Rhode Island players were amused. Danny's relief went viral.

You couldn't help but think it was partly brotherly love and partly relief his team didn't cost Bobby a bid.

Bona's game Tuesday will be carried by truTV, with Spero Dedes, Steve Smith, Len Elmore and Rosalyn Gold-Onwude on the call.

If Bona wins, it will play Florida in the late truTv game Thursday night with the same announcing crew.

It isn't doing area fans any favors.

Much of the potential Bona game would be played at the same time as UB's game against Arizona that will be called by Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Lisa Byington.

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