Negandhi, Lawson and Lobo have excellent chemistry on set
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Kevin Negandhi, Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo have built an incredible rapport in a short time.
They have been working the women's NCAA Tournament together for three years for ESPN and do a fantastic job playing off each other.
''They make my job easy dishing out assists,'' Negandhi said of his co-workers. ''I feel like I'm the great point guard of the studio.''
That drew laughter from Lawson and Lobo. The trio sat down with The Associated Press for an interview before the Final Four began in Indianapolis.
''Within the first weekend of the first year, I knew the chemistry was there,'' Negandhi said. ''We didn't have to think about trying to do anything. When you're not thinking, that's when you're going to have your best stuff.''
The first weekend of the tournament is one of the most challenging in the business. With 32 games over 48 hours, it makes for long days. Potentially they could have to do 16 different halftime shows in a day if games don't break right. It would be even tougher if they didn't all get along so well.
''We're there for 15 and 16 hours. We better like each other,'' he said. ''If not, I'm going to hit dead ends in conversations.''
The witty banter that viewers see on-air is even more prevalent when the cameras stop rolling.
''Some of the best stuff happens when we're off camera,'' Lobo said. ''Kara would say something and we're like `you got to use that on air.'''
Or sometimes she'd even do something. After watching Baylor coach Kim Mulkey throw her jacket early in the regional final loss to Oregon State, Lawson knew it would be a fun thing to mimic on air. So sure enough, the former Tennessee point guard tossed her jacket during a segment.
''It's just about having fun,'' Lobo said.
The group was viewing games on the Friday night of the regional semifinals which turned into the biggest night of upsets in the tournament. Down went top seeds South Carolina and Notre Dame as well as Kentucky and Ohio State.
Negandhi quickly yelled over to the researcher asking the odds that Washington, Syracuse, Tennessee and Stanford had to advance this far. The infinitesimal chance quickly became a segment on the show in between the games that night.
It isn't just teams that drew the attention of the three. Washington center Chantel Osahor and her 3-point set shot had Lobo mesmerized. That night, she yelled over to the producer and director to get highlights for the show. Lobo then spoke glowingly of Osahor and her wrist flip.
About the only ''disagreements'' that they have come when discussing guards and posts. Clearly Lawson sides with the guards and Lobo the bigs. Although even that has been changing.
''There have been more than a handful of occasions this year when Rebecca talks about the guards and Kara talks about the post players,'' Negandhi said.
Lawson, who is finishing up her 11th season on the show, said it's just easier to talk about who you know.
''You see the game through your position and that's what most of us do,'' said Lawson. ''I would much rather play with a great post rather than another great guard.''
Fortunately for the viewers, they get to see a great post and guard work together on set along with Negandhi.