NEW YORK -- ESPN is turning to a familiar face to women's basketball fans for its top college broadcast team.
Ryan Ruocco is joining Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe for the lead announcing team this season. Ruocco has worked with Lobo and Rowe on the network's WNBA coverage for the past eight years.
“It means a lot," Ruocco said of announcing college women's basketball now as the lead play-by-play voice. "One thing I’ve really come to appreciate, calling the WNBA in the lead role I have, is the value of calling championships and the importance of that, the responsibility of that and the excitement.
“Being able to call games and have your voice attached to those ultimate crowning moments it’s amazing. It’s something that I’ve really come to love in regards to the WNBA. I'm pumped to do it with the Final Four and title game on the women’s side of things.”
Ruocco, who turned 34 this week, replaces Adam Amin, who left ESPN in May to work at Fox.
Having worked with Lobo and Rowe for so many years in the WNBA gives Ruocco a huge comfort level heading into the upcoming college season, which has the potential to be filled with logistical challenges because of the coronavirus.
“We just love working together, we are incredibly close friends. I think Holly and Rebecca are amazing at what they do and they care so much,” he said. “It matters so much to them to continue to promote this sport and to tell these women’s stories. They are incredible at their jobs.”
ESPN isn't 100% sure which of its thousands of games it will broadcast from college campuses and which it will do remotely because of COVID-19.
“Our approach is first and foremost everyone’s health and safety,” said ESPN Vice President of Production Mike Shiffman. “That will be a determining factor with all of this. We’re prepared to do it multiple ways. It could be from the studio, come be from folks homes as you’ve seen in college football and baseball, or in arenas.
“We’ll start with the health and safety of our people and prepare for any of the three locations. One thing about the entire group is we are resourceful.”
Ruocco and Lobo have experience doing remote broadcasts together as they spent all summer calling WNBA games, including the playoffs, on ESPN's campus. Rowe was in the WNBA bubble providing insight from there.
“One thing we’ll be certain of is our team has really, really good chemistry. That will translate well from the last six or seven years from doing WNBA together,” Lobo said.
Besides broadcasting women's basketball, Ruocco also has called NBA games for ESPN as well as being one of the voices for the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Yankees. He said that fortunately the schedules of all the different entities work well that he won't have many conflicts.
“We have this feeling at end of the WNBA season, oh man we’ll not be hanging for six months," Ruocco said. “One of the first things Rebecca said was she was happy knowing that we don’t have that offseason away from each other. We’ll be back doing it in a few weeks. For three people who are really close friends and admire each person’s work and love working together that’s the most exciting thing to me."
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25.
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