Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wake-Up Call: Peacocks in 6 a.m. Game

Note to college basketball fans in the Jersey City, N.J., area: Make sure those alarm clocks work!

The Saint Peter's men's team will be part of ESPN's 24 hours of College Basketball Tip-off Marathon on Tuesday, November 17. The Peacocks will host Monmouth.

Game time? 6 a.m.

That's right, six o'clock in the morning.

And MAAC coaches thought it was tough to put a day-of-game prep schedule together for the 9 a.m. conference tournament games.

Saint Peter's is one of three MAAC teams participating in the second annual tip-off marathon event with all games televised by ESPN.

Niagara will host Drexel in an 8 a.m. contest that day (the Purple Eagles will still be hitting the snooze button while the Peacocks are having breakfast).

And, Siena will host Northeastern at Albany, N.Y.'s, Times Union Center at noon.

In all, ESPN will televise 12 games over the 24 hours of college hoops saturation with games scheduled every two hours and beginning with a midnight contest. The full schedule can be found below.

But, the games involving Saint Peter's and Niagara have moved into new territory for the world-wide sports leader. Those games, the 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. telecasts, mark the first time ESPN will televise live college basketball in those time slots, after having shown more than 8,200 live games over the past 30 years.

The Peacocks' participation is definitely a big deal. Saint Peter's is a program on the rise in the conference, and opportunities like this only help.

Initially, this blogger concluded that this would be the first nationally televised regular-season appearance for the program on the primary outlet for ESPN's family of outlets. But, officials at the school reminded me that the Yanitelli Center was the host for a 1979-80 season meeting with Holy Cross (whose star was Ronnie Perry Jr.) that was televised by ESPN in that network's first year of operation. Back then, of course, cable TV was in its infancy and the number of homes that actually had access to ESPN was miniscule in comparison to today's.

Saint Peter's pulled off an upset in that contest. ESPN, a fledling operation at the time, had its share of problems that day. Those at the game remember that the network's remote truck broke down enroute and had to eventually be towed to the contest and was placed on the steps outside the Yanitelli Center in order to televise the game.

The Peacocks have made other national broadcasts, appearing on ESPN2 when it advanced to the MAAC tournament's championship game a few years back, and in a regular-season conference match-up with Loyola, also on ESPN2, during Keydren Clark's senior season.

"We are excited to be playing on ESPN in front of a national audience ..." said Saint Peter's coach John Dunne, in a press release issued by his school. "Playing this game is very big for our program as it gives Saint Peter's a chance to play in front of a worldwide audience and gives our team a big challenge early in the season."

Adds Saint Peter's director of athletics Patric Elliott (also from a press release): "Playing this game in this time slot gives us the unique opportunity to bring the Saint Peter's College community together to tip-off the basketball season and showcase the tradition of the college and our men's basketball program on a global level."

In other words, expect there to be considerable promotion and some special events related to that particular game.

How about starting with free coffee for all attendees?

Here's the schedule of "marathon" games to be televised by ESPN on Nov. 17:

Midnight: Cal State Fullerton at UCLA

2 a.m.: San Diego State at St. Mary's.

4 a.m.: Northern Colorado at Hawaii (and remember ... with the time difference it will be 10 p.m. in paradise)

6 a.m.: Monmouth at Saint Peter's

8 a.m.: Drexel at Niagara

10 a.m.: Clemson at Liberty

noon: Northeastern at Siena

2 p.m.: Arkansas Little-Rock at Tulsa

4 p.m.: Temple at Georgetown

6 p.m.: A game from the preseason NIT at Duke and a to-be-determined opponent.

8 p.m.: Gonzaga at Michigan State

10 p.m.: Memphis vs. Kansas in the Hall of Fame Showcase in St. Louis

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