ESPN Columbia Realigns Shows and Expands FM Coverage
COLUMBIA, SC, September 9, 2016(original release)
Alpha Media, Columbia announces the addition of ESPN Radio to a new FM signal on 94.9FM. The move now brings ESPN Radio to the FM band in addition to the current signal on 1230AM WOIC. This move will significantly increase the coverage of the station throughout Richland and Lexington counties. Simultaneously, Alpha Media announces that SEC expert analyst, Paul Finebaum will join the lineup.
Alpha Media Executive VP of Programming, Scott Mahalick commented on the announcement, “The addition of 94.9 FM to WOIC AM gives us the opportunity to serve the FM audience in Columbia with the premium sports brand in America. In addition, we are thrilled to add the king of the SEC, Paul Finebaum, to ESPN 94.9. These moves help strengthen our commitment to sports radio in the Capitol City.”
“ESPN is the #1 brand in sports for a reason, and we are thrilled to be able to bring their resources, expertise, and energy to greater numbers of sports fans all over the city of Columbia,” remarked Mike Hartel, Alpha Media SVP/Market Manager.
Hartel went on to say that ESPN Radio would continue it's local programming with "The Zone and Sports Hotline", featuring Duane Everett, Stacey Hough, Ernest Robinson and Bobby Gist for the late drive time segments of 7:00-9:00.
ESPN Rdio with feature its' Saturday morning footbal show :College Football Country hosted by Demetri Ravanos from 10:00AM to Noon throughout the college football season.
Along with the 94.9FM expansion, the ESPN Radio broadcast can be followed on the ESPN Columbia App available on iTunes and Android stores, as well as online at www.espncolumbia.com or www.espnthezone.com
Crazy NCAA Opening Round Weekend
The College Basketball season has progressed to March Madness, and the opening round lived up to its' billing. The number 1 overall top seed Villanova lost in the second round to #8 Wisconsin, which alone destroyed 91% of the 16 million brackets posted to start the tournament. #7 Michigan continued their season turn-around with a second round win against #2 Louisville, that alone would have destroyed 74% of the the posted national brackets. #12 Middle Tennessee State was a winner against #5 Minnesota, a win that was not as surprising to 42% of the Brackets that thought the mid-major program was definitely an upset caliber team. #6 Creighton and Maryland, were first round victims to 11 seeds Rhode Island and Xavier respectively. Another 94% bracket shocker was #2 Duke going down 88-81, after holding South Carolina to 23 first half points, then watch the Gamecocks scorch the Blue Devils for 65 points in the final stanza.
#2 Kentucky squeaked by #10 Wichita State by 3 after trailing late, #1 UNC had to come from behind late in the second half to win against #8 Arkansas and #1 Gonzaga needed a blatant missed goal tend, a technical on the #8 Northwestern coach, Chris Collins, to get past Northwestern by 6, after the game was a one point game with just over a minute to play when controversy slipped in.
The Sweet 16 now offers only 18 brackets with the current college programs still playing, out of the 16 million plus national brackets posted for ESPN Tournament Challenge.
With 3 #1's, 2 #2's, 3 #3's, 4 #4's, 2 #7's, 1 #8 and 1 #11, the Sweet 16 offers a chance for 2 sizzling number fours, 2 tough number sevens, a hot #8 and a surprising 11 to take March Madness right on end to the Elite Eight!
As we anticipate the greatest Cinderella story available in college sports, who can climb from the shadows to the tune of "One Shinning Moment"
Gamecocks Return To NCAA's With Toughness
Just under 48 hours after the 7th seed South Carolina blew Marguette out of the NCAA Tournament, fans were still celebrating a 43 year win drought during March Madness, Coach Frank Martin was preparing his team for their second round game against ACC power, the Duke Blue Devils. Coach Mike Krzyzewski was preparing his team for a anticipated physical defensive battle with their border opponent. A couple hours later, Coach Krzyzewski stated that his team had not met a more physical team all year, in the describing the 88-81 loss to the Gamecocks in the second round of the NCAA's, sending Duke home and South Carolina to New York for the Sweet 16.
Reeling late in the season with 6 losses in their final 9 games, many fans an analysts were thinking the SEC defensive leader and one of the best defenses in all of college basketball was running out of gas and already lacking the offensive punch necessary to be a good NCAA participant. Well no one spoke with Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice, P.J. Dozier, Chris Silva and the remaining Gamecock team, about their offensive intentions and their remaining defensive commitment. South Carolina scored 93 points in their 20 point victory against Marguette, and 88 points in the second round against Duke, 65 of those points in the second half. The most ever by a team against a Coach K team. South Carolina held two of the nations best 3-point shooting teams to under 40% on the games and generated 30 turnovers on two normally efficient basketball programs.
South Carolina's late season losses to Vanderbilt, Alabama, Arkansas and Florida, may have been more beneficial than winning the ACC. As the ACC has only one representative in the Sweet 16, the SEC has 3, Vanderbilt and Arkansas were just one possession or made show away from moving on as well. Battle tested, with physical but maybe unattractive conference games for the season may have exposed the strength of the SEC, and the toughness of a Frank Martin coached basketball team. All season, Coach Martin has been taking the blame for all shortfalls, and giving tremendous credit to his senior leadership on this team. This weekend the philosophy, the team maturity, and performance commitment all came together in producing what Martin told Gamecock Nation he would restore to the Basketball program.
A name synonymous with tough basketball, a true grit pioneer of South Carolina basketball, had to be smiling on the program as he watch his initials (FM), restore basketball excitement to Columbia, South Carolina. Known affectionately as "Coach", Frank McGuire would have agreed that this weekend's accomplishment was special with his first major local star, Alex English, watching over this milestone. A first ever trip to the field of Sweet 16 for the Men's program. Achieved with a solid balance of defensive toughness, unselfish ball movement and shots being made.
Staley Developing A Band of Heroes
On its way to the Sweet 16 after winning the SEC Championship for the 4th consecutive
SEC title and another #1 Seeding for the Womens NCAA's Dawn Staley finds her team dealing with the injury ghost, and now having to establish a somewhat new identity for this team every 3-4 weeks.
The result another Sweet 16 appearance and another chance to win a National Championship. Only this year Coach Staley will need to share the highlight reel throughout the roster. With the loss of the "daily double-double", Alaina Coates, the once feared Women Gamecocks, find themselves being challenged by all opponents to prove that there is more to this nationally ranked team than the twin towers of Coates and 2 time SEC Player of the Year A'ja Wilson. Staley chose to start a freshman Tyasha Harris, moving Bianca Cuevas-Moore to shooting guard primarily, while Allisha Gray is often challenged to score early, it becomes the second half scoring of Kaela Davis, and the timely long range shooting of Cuevas-Moore, that has made the difference in recent wins. In the absence of Coates in the post, the increased minutes are now shared by Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Doniyah Cliney, and by committee they have delivered the necessary post effort to take pressure off Wilson from opposing teams' double and triple coverage in the post.
Early injuries to Wilson then later Coates, prepared the expanded use of the youthful but talented bench. Wilson is capable of working towards double-double performances slowly, while setting the tone for the Harrigan and Cliney, and with Harris' ball protection and penetration skills, Cuevas-Moore has increased her range to help stretch the floor, Davis has proven to be dangerous from long range as well as penetrating and getting to the foul line, where she has been scoring at an 80% clip.
In South Carolina's 50 point win, Alisha Gray was a beast on the glass with 12 rebounds and cruised to a 22 point performance to get her rhythm. Staley played 10 players of which all scored and played a minimum of 11 minutes. Cuevas-Moore is versatile but appears very comfortable in the scoring role from the perimeter, picking a choosing her penetration spots to great precision late in the season. Kaela Davis has become the second half enforcer, evident in her 20 point performance against a very physical and pesky ASU team that came to Columbia to advance. But Davis picked up where Wilson left off and the Women Gamecocks would not be denied. While this is Player of the Year, A'ja Wilson's, team the success of this team will come with the multiple performance heroes Staley has created through injury adversity, but the team has increased it's weapons with the season ending loss of Coates, a player many thought the Gamecocks needed to successfully advance to the Final Four. With this replacement by committee, and the increased scoring and perimeter defense witnessed through the SEC Tourney and the first 2 rounds of the NCAA's gives Gamecock Nation legitimate hope for the final 2 rounds.
Double Trouble in the Bad Lands
This past weekend, a lot of excitement was generated around the country, but the stimulus of the excitement originated in the south, specifically South Carolina. In New York, #7 Seed South Carolina Men's, affectionately known as the Gamecocks, we dismantling Baylor and frustrating their conference rival Florida to advance to the Final Four for the first time in school history. Along the way South Carolina knocked off #2 Duke to start the shock wave in the second round of the NCAA tournament, to place their defense on display, then to send notice that the office has been underrated or at least going into the tournament, underappreciated.
On the same weekend, #1 seed South Carolina Women were holding their own in Stockton California, while trouncing, an upset minded and highly inspired, #12 seed Quinnipiac, who had advanced with an impressive upset of #4 Seed Miami. That 100-58 win separated the Cinderella from the tournament convincingly. The Women Gamecocks, then went on to take control of the Elite Eight game against Florida State, a #3 Seed, then holding off a late comeback, the character trait of the talented Lady Seminoles. The Gamecock Women then punched their return ticket to the Final Four, to set up a potential of a rematch with the NCAA Women's Game standard, undefeated and overall #1 UConn, who has cruised through the tournament. To get their they will have to travel through a #2 Stanford team coming off their upset of #1 Seed Notre Dame.
But before you get too concerned about the championship game, each team from the University of South Carolina, will represent the school, in Dallas, TX for the women and Phoenix, AZ for the men. The teams will travel to the historical western bad lands look to add some notches to the munition of accomplishments this year. They will do it splitting the loyal fan base with thousands heading to Phoenix and Dallas to support the teams in their quest for a National Title. The slogan often heard by the players and fans, "why not us?"
The State of South Carolina has already seen two National Championships generated from South Carolina housed institutions (Clemson - Football and Coastal Carolina - Baseball) within the last year. Now the Gamecocks have two chances to meet that accomplishment, as the only school with both men and women in the final for. Baylor, Oregon, FSU and UCLA all had legitimate chances to duplicate the feat but all fell short between the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.
While they will enter the bad lands with winning on their minds, they will not go in gun slinging but trying to sustain the intense defensive advantages they have unleashed on their opponents of the previous 4 tournament games. Each of the Gamecock programs has outplayed their opponents on both ends of the floor, but have shown to be superior in the defensive category over their victims. It all will start with the Women meeting #2 Stanford Lady Cardinals Friday, and the Men looking to derail the one loss #1 Seed Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday. At stake a potential championship game on Sunday and Monday respectfully for these Gamecock representatives. These match ups promise to be the modern day versions of "gunfight at the OK corral."
At the firm hand of leadership of Frank Martin and Dawn Staley, neither program is allowed to think past the next game, and each has gone about their business with limited celebration and prompt return to focus, that has both teams playing possibly their best basketball of the season. Looking not to just settle for the Regional Championship Hardware, but looking to play their best 2 games of the season, "one game at a time". A formula that normally results in unexpected winning results and that "One Shinning Moment", a National Championship.
Game Times: Women 7:30 PM est on ESPN2 - Men 6:09 PM est on CBS