Three-pointers with John Rooke (2/26/08)

dave@friarblog —  February 26th, 2009 2:59 PM
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“Three-pointers” is a quick-hit interview with notable people in FRIARTOWN on the current state of the Friars.

John Rooke, aka the “Voice of the Friars”, was kind enough to take part via email.

John Rooke is an award-winning broadcaster, currently serving in several broadcast capacities, including 20 years as the play-by-play voice for Providence College basketball; Big East Conference football and basketball play-by-play for ESPNU, ESPN Regional Television and the ISP Sports Network; stadium voice for the New England Patriots and New England Revolution; host for Inside the Big East on ESPNU and several regional sports networks and local TV stations; and talk host for the ESPN Radio Network and WEEI Radio in Boston.

You can find out what John is up to on

The Friars’ special night on Tuesday was only missing one thing — play-by-play announcer John Rooke.  In addition to being PC’s radio man, John does about a dozen games per year on ESPN Regional TV.  On Tuesday night, they asked him to do the ESPN2 broadcast of the Boston College-Florida State game — and basically, if ESPN asks for your help, you do NOT turn them down.   This only happens maybe once or twice a year (conflicting games with the Friars), and Nelligan Sports and PC always gives him permission because, well, John rules.

1. FriarblogYou were doing the TV coverage for the Boston College – Florida State game on ESPN2 at 9 o’clock — did you get a chance to catch any of the Friars game as it was going on, or were you preparing for your game?  How and when did you find out about the final score?

John Rooke: It turns out, of course…that I was met up at BC with looks of “what the hell are you doing here?” by most everyone I know!  Even some of the TV personnel asked about it – and they were great about keeping me up to date on the scores.  So was Dick Kelley at BC, their SID.  Had his Blackberry out updating the score for me every few minutes…everyone kept saying “do you think they’ll keep the lead?”  Fox’s Jeff Goodman was there – and he seemed to be pleasantly surprised by the news.  And when it got to the final few minutes, we were in our full pre-game mode – I did the game with Tom Brennan and Andy Katz, who kept saying “wow” alot – pre-recording things for half time and going over our opening segment.  It was VERY hard to concentrate on the job!  I’ve worked several games with those guys before, and they were both pulling for me and the Friars.  It was over, right as we were getting ready to go on the air – we were joined in progress as the event prior to ours went a couple of minutes long…and as soon as we got through the opening and the starting lineups, we got a call from Charlotte (ESPNU’s headquarters) to go ahead and talk about the big upset.  Especially since they knew I was calling the game…even though we were doing an ACC game!  Immediately, Tom and Andy threw me under the bus!  But it was all in good fun, and the Friars got a ton of great publicity…probably alot more publicity this way than if I had done the PC game, as it turns out.

My son Austin DVR’d the game, so I watched it in its entirety Wednesday afternoon.  Thrilling, and a bit surreal at the same time!

2. Friarblog: How different is it doing games for TV and ESPN as opposed to the radio?

John Rooke:  I’ve been doing TV since 1981, and my preparation for television is the same as it is for radio.  The only difference – I have to put on a stinkin’ tie.  Hate that.  And wear makeup.  We were on HD Tuesday night, so good thing I didn’t have any blemishes!  You try to put energy and preparation into the broadcast, but obviously, let the pictures do most of your talking.  TV is an analysts’ venue…set up and support your partner, drive the show (or drive the bus, as I usually say)…radio is where good pbp announcers should excel, since you have to create the picture for your listeners.

3. Friarblog: Since you’ve been covering the Friars, where do you think this victory ranks among regular season games?

John Rooke: No doubt in my mind – the Pitt game ranks right up there in the top couple of games over my 20 seasons…with Duke, Arizona in ‘97…Georgetown (BE title) in ‘94…Eric Murdock’s 45 @ Arizona, and 48 (still the BE single game scoring record) against Pitt.  This game could eventually top them all…but it really depends on what this team does from here.  If this game ends up being a springboard to something else (like BE or NCAA success), then it could go down as one of the great games PERIOD in PC history.  But I don’t think you can fairly judge it, until we know the eventual outcome of this season.  Fans like to say that the loss at the Dunk to Pitt in ‘04 sent us into a sprial that eventually cost Tim Welsh his job.  Maybe.  But I don’t believe one game can really do that.  That game in ‘04 was merely symbolic.  So for now, that’s all this game is – symbolic of a moment when these seniors finally put it together, and perhaps symbolic of a new era that belongs to Keno Davis and his staff.

I’m thrilled for those kids, who got to enjoy their moment in the sun.  The scene of Kale being swarmed by the court rush made me a bit teary-eyed…and happy for him and the rest of the seniors.  Now – what do they do with this from here?  Can they build on it?  Hope so.

And 1: Friarblog: Did you talk to Joe Hassett at all that night?  Is he going to let you back at the table for the Rutgers game?

John Rooke: Haven’t spoken to Joe yet…I’m sure he’ll throw me under the bus too…but my phone was choked with so many texts and voice mails, it shut down after the game!


Thank you John for adding more great stories to a great night in Friartown!

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