Under a glare of skepticism regarding arena lighting, ESPN2's coverage of Monday night's St. Mary's - Gonzaga game began as scheduled at 11:00 PM EST.
Play By Play announcer Terry Gannon immediately called McKeon Pavilion dark, resulting in a "really unique setting."
The tip was delayed because of lights, but not the arena's. One of the shot clocks was so dark, it looked like it wasn't working at all.
But that made sense because it wasn't.
The delay wouldn't have been very lengthy, but arena personnel aren't very well versed in over and under. Uncoiling an AC cable took longer than it should have.
Now back to those arena lights.
It was obvious earlier in the day that the sheets of opal gel didn't quite do the job on their own. So when ESPN met with campus officials to discuss the problem, the only solution available to reduce the intensity and glare was to physically remove some bulbs from fixtures.
In order for a cherry picker to reach all the lights that needed removal, the wooden stands had to be pushed back and folded against each wall. That meant that the cameras had to be taken apart and brought down. And if that wasn't enough, the announce table had to go too.
We don't know where the blame lies, but forget about the glare on the court for a minute. This place had no chance from the start.
Removing the same number of bulbs from each side of the court decreased the light level, but didn't improve how players looked. Why? The near side of the arena didn't have the same number of fixtures as the far side. Something like a 25% difference.
You go figure that out. We've given up.
The net result was that the court was hit with much more light from the near side than the far.
The ESPN2 production team felt compelled to at least mention the unusual conditions. With this view shooting back toward the near side, Gannon all but said, "Don't adjust your sets at home."
But the pictures spoke in terms far stronger than what Gannon chose.
We were actually rather taken with the images of shooters from the line, and felt we had somehow seen this look before.
It took a while, but it finally came to us:
So the lighting wasn't unacceptably awful then. It was an homage to a classic work of photography.
Pity anyone who saw it differently.
Monday's final tally:
- St. Mary's officials and Musco probably have some things to work out.
- McKeon Pavilion did not burn to the ground. Campus personnel were assigned to look at the lights all night just in case.
- The St. Mary's theater department did not get the assist. But at least they now have to beg for funds to replenish their stock of opal gel.
- And Keith Buttelman, the V-1, left Moraga, CA no more insane than when he arrived.