Home Court Advantage

Fourteen of the 24 members of the crew which produced The Basketball Tournament telecasts for the ESPN family of networks were OCC alumni and/or faculty members. Most of them are pictured (above) at center court in the SRC Arena before the start of the tournament.

Onondaga Community College didn’t have a team competing in The Basketball Tournament, but thanks to a team of OCC Alumni and Faculty, all of the games were broadcast on the ESPN family of networks. When the $2 million dollar winner-take-all competition was held in OCC’s SRC Arena on the last weekend of July, 14 of the 24 television production crew members were affiliated with the College. “It was great national exposure for the campus and our Electronic Media Communications (EMC) program,” said class of 1983 and faculty member Tony Vadala. “We had graduates from 1971 to 2019 working together during the tournament.”

Dan Roach, ’79 operated a camera during the The Basketball Tournament.

The on-court headliner in the tournament was “Boeheim’s Army,” a team comprised mostly of former Syracuse University basketball players. Several team members play professionally abroad and enjoyed the opportunity to return to Central New York and reunite with former teammates. “It’s unique to have the basketball players coming back to their city where they went to college and a group of people returning to their alma mater to televise that very event,” said Mark Ballard, an OCC faculty member who works as a director on broadcasts across the region.

One of the crew members who returned home was Dan Roach (Liverpool HS), a 1979 graduate of OCC who operated a camera throughout the tournament. Roach still lives in Central New York but travels most often when he works for the Golf Channel and ESPN. “We all appreciate that we came from OCC and had the same learning experience. OCC was always about being hands-on which is how we learned the business so well. It wasn’t theory based, it was hands-on.”

Tommy Valentine, ’19 worked as a statistician during The Basketball Tournament.

Tommy Valentine was the youngest crew member to excel in OCC’s hands-on EMC program. The Chittenango High School graduate earned his OCC degree in May of this year. He was also named the top student in the EMC major. Valentine developed his skills quickly at OCC. “The first time you walked into the TV studio it was daunting. You had all of these lights and buttons and everything going on. They brought us right in, got us familiar with everything and our comfort with the equipment grew exponentially as we went on in the first semester. Before long it was, ‘okay I know how to do everything because we’ve gotten this practice right out of the gate.’ They let us make mistakes and learn what we needed to learn.”

Throughout Valentine’s two years on campus he took every opportunity to work on sports broadcasts. He was a behind-the-scenes regular at Syracuse University Football and Basketball games. He also worked at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown the weekend before the TBT Tournament. He always found himself on live broadcasts with OCC faculty members which added to their credibility in the classroom. “To be able to listen to my professors in class and watch them execute it, to practice what they’re teaching, I knew if I followed their advice I could get to where they are. I knew what they were teaching was legitimate.”

Next month Valentine will transfer to St. Bonaventure University and major in Broadcast Journalism. He’s looking forward to new opportunities there, and to crossing paths with former Lazers while working at future sporting events. “OCC alumni are the best in the business. Every production I’ve worked on has included OCC alumni. The fact I get to be part of that prestigious culture means a lot to me. Professor Tony Vadala always says, ‘coast to coast, border to border, the OCC alumni are all over the country.’ To be part of that family means a lot to me.”

In the days leading up to the TBT Tournament, Valentine was a guest on a special iPhone edition of our podcast, “Higher Ed News You Can Use from Onondaga Community College.” You can listen to the podcast here.

Here Comes The Army!

Boeheim’s Army is marching up the hill! The team comprised mostly of former Syracuse University basketball players begins play this Friday in the air conditioned SRC Arena and Events Center. Onondaga Community College is one of eight regional sites across the country in the $2 million dollar winner-take-all The Basketball Tournament. All games played on the OCC campus will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks. Below is a schedule of the games:

Friday, July 26 – Round 1

  • Game 1                 1pm                       (3) Brotherly Love vs (6) Jimmy V                                     ESPN3
  • Game 2                 3pm                       (2) Armored Athlete vs (7) Team Draddy (Manhattan)     ESPN3
  • Game 3                 5pm                       (4) Team Fancy vs (5) Gael Nation (Iona)                          ESPN3
  • Game 4                 7pm                       (1) Boeheim’s Army (Syracuse) vs (8) We Are D3             ESPN2

Saturday, July 27 – Round 2

  • Game 5                 12pm                     Game 3 winner vs Game 4 winner                                   ESPN
  • Game 6                 2pm                       Game 1 winner vs Game 2 winner                                   ESPN3

Sunday, July 28

  • Game 7                 2pm                       Game 5 winner vs Game 6 winner                                   ESPN

Tickets can be purchased at The Basketball Tournament website.

“Syracuse is a basketball city and we are honored to host the TBT Tournament this weekend,” said OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill. “The SRC Arena is one of the region’s premier facilities for intercollegiate and scholastic athletic competitions, graduation ceremonies, and countless community-focused events. We are so excited to have teams and fans in our air-conditioned arena to watch hotly contested basketball, a hallmark of the TBT Tournament.”

Boeheim’s Army Coming To OCC

The team of former Syracuse University basketball players known as Boeheim’s Army will be playing at Onondaga Community College this summer. The SRC Arena and Events Center has been selected as one of eight regional sites nationwide for The Basketball Tournament (TBT). The annual summer tournament awards a $2 million dollar, winner-take-all prize to the champion. Boeheim’s Army will play its first three games in the SRC Arena July 26, 27 and 28. Tickets will be available through the TBT website.

“Syracuse is a basketball city and we are honored to be chosen as a host site for the TBT Tournament,” said OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill. “The SRC Arena has established itself as one of the region’s premier facilities for intercollegiate and scholastic athletic competitions, graduation ceremonies, trade shows and countless community-focused events. We look forward to welcoming teams and fans into our air conditioned arena to watch hotly contested basketball which has become a hallmark of the TBT Tournament.”

“TBT has been a wonderful experience for our fans and former players. It’s something I look forward to every year and support 100 percent,” said Syracuse University Head Coach Jim Boeheim. “Bringing the regionals here will be tremendous for all… our community, players and fans! It will be great to see all our loyal fans coming out to support our guys!”

Joining OCC and the SRC Arena as regional sites are the cities of Columbus, Greensboro, Lexington, Memphis, Richmond, Salt Lake City and Wichita. Each regional winner will advance to Championship Weekend in Chicago August 1-4.  The TBT Tournament features 64 teams competing in a single-elimination 5-on-5 tournament. Last year more than 60 players with NBA experience played in TBT including multiple former lottery pics, NBA Champions and All-Stars. The 2019 TBT Tournament will be televised by ESPN.