A chat with former WRGB Sports Director and current ESPN personality Doug Sherman

@Connor Hall
Doug Sherman calling an NCAA Basketball game. Photo provided by ESPN.

If you have followed sports in the Capital Region for even a split second of the past 20 years, you are sure to have heard this name: Doug Sherman. After working at WRGB-CBS6 for 21 years, Doug now spends his time at the WorldWide Leader in Sports, ESPN, broadcasting college basketball games. I reached out to Doug for a Q&A, asking questions that range from the Final Four to his personal career path. Take a look:

Oregon/UNC. Two top players in the nation in Dillon Brooks and Justin Jackson battle on Saturday night in Phoenix for a spot in the National Championship game. What does each team need to do to come out with a win? Who do you have winning?

Dillon Brooks is an elite shot maker, who if given the chance can provide the Ducks a Jenkins-esque type of victory. However I don’t think it’ll come to that. I’ve got Justin Jackson and the Tar Heels winning their national semifinal by eight.

North Carolina isn’t a typical “one-and-done” program where players leave after one year for the NBA. They have actually found consistency with having veterans on the team. Could this be the main reason why Coach Williams has the Tar Heels contending every year?

I believe UNC’s recruiting patterns are certainly among the reasons for its success. Take, for example, incoming recruit Andrew Platek of Guilderland. He is not viewed as somebody who’ll jump quickly to the NBA. Instead, Platek was recruited as a likely four-year player who’ll knock down shots and help spread the floor for his Tar Heels teammates who are McDonald’s All Americans. It’s good to have a blend of stars and role players, as well as balance among your classes.

What matchup are you looking forward to the most in this game?

Without Chris Boucher, Oregon will definitely be up against it trying to match UNC’s size up front, as well as the Tar Heels’ proficiency on the offensive glass.

On the other side, two teams that lack Final Four experience will face off. South Carolina hopped on the Cinderella train, beating Duke, Baylor, and Florida to advance to their first Final Four ever. Frank Martin has these boys playing their best basketball at the right time, but they will be matching up against the 36-1 Gonzaga Bulldogs. Is this the year that the Zags make their first final’s appearance, or does the South Carolina upset train keep on chugging along?

I expect the Gamecocks’ Cinderella Story to come to an end on Saturday. The vast majority of outliers who reach the Final Four in recent years (George Mason, Wichita State, VCU, Syracuse last year) bow out in the national semifinal. I see Gonzaga handling South Carolina by double digits.

What do you think of Przemek Karnowski’s game? Can his frame help him be very successful at the next level?

It’ll be interesting to see how well Przemek Karnowski’s still set translates to the NBA, which is less and less about back-to-the basket bigs and more about face-the-basket playmakers. With that said, his size and ability to pass the basketball make him an intriguing prospect. I could easily see Karnowski enjoying a long NBA career as a serviceable big man — even if he shaves off that fabulous chin pillow.

 

With that being said, who do you have winning in the National Championship game and why?

I’ll take UNC to beat Gonzaga in a tight championship game. Remember, if not for an epic buzzer beater a year ago, the Tar Heels would be seeking back-to-back titles. I think they get done in 2017 what they couldn’t quite do in 2016. Both Nigel Williams-Goss and the Zags’ frontline are formidable, but the Tar Heels’ depth, and the transcendent skills of Jackson should give UNC the crown.

How is your bracket looking this year? To be honest, mines pretty ugly….

My bracket had UCLA, Oregon, Arizona and Villanova reaching the Final Four, with the Wildcats cutting down the nets. I was blessed to call nine of the AP Top 15 teams this season, including ‘Nova multiple times. I felt throughout that Jay Wright’s team was the best again this year. Shows you what I know. My bracket is also a mess.

What is best and biggest story of college basketball this year?

The revival of UCLA basketball has been my favorite story, led by my favorite player Lonzo Ball. I had the pleasure of calling three of their games this season, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing up close his amazing talent. Selfishly, it’s too bad that both Ball and T.J. Leaf are one-and-dones. Keep your eye on their returning classmate, Ike Onibogu, who himself might also turn into an All American.

Do you believe that college athletes should be payed?

I believe college athletes in revenue producing sports should receive financial compensation. The revenues derived from NCAA men’s basketball and football are obscene, with Universities, Conferences, and television partners making ridiculous amounts of money. The athletes should also receive a fair piece of that pie.

Can you elaborate on how influential your time at CBS 6-WRGB was in helping you reach ESPN?

Prior to my 21 year tenure at WRGB, I had limited television experience. I spent my first few years out of college focusing mostly on radio. At the time I was hired by WRGB, I also had a job offer from a radio station in New York City. It was a crossroads in my career with a big choice to make. I’m thrilled with how it has all worked out.

Did you ever think you would end up in broadcasting?

I can’t say I’ve ever had a specific stated career path or ultimate goal in mind. With that said, ESPN is clearly the ultimate sports television destination and I am glad to be a part of the Worldwide Leader.

What do you miss most about being at CBS6?

Among the many highlights I enjoyed at WRGB was closely tracking all of the Capital Region athletes as they made their way from high school to college, and the fortunate few who went on to professional careers. Even though I no longer report their stories, I still check a lot of box scores to keep tabs on their journeys.

You have been calling sports games for so long, what about college basketball keeps you coming back year after year?

Having grown up in the Syracuse suburbs in the late 70’s and early 80’s, following Jim Boeheim’s program was as essential as the air we breath. It’s ingrained. Orange basketball and College Basketball have always been of great interest to me. I don’t imagine that will ever change.

What is one thing that you wish somebody would have told you before you entered into the journalism/broadcasting career?

One thing I wish I’d been told at a young age is how competitive the sports media industry is. Scores of people would love to work in the business that I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy for thirty years.

Do you have any advice for aspiring sports journalists on how to be successful?

My pieces of advice to young people: don’t squander opportunities (internships, hands-on experience through school, etc.); be prepared; and most importantly… be yourself!!

Thanks for your time, Doug!

Connor, thank you for your time and for your interest. And have fun watching the Final Four this weekend. I know I will!

 

-Connor Hall (@ByConnorHall)

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