Interview with ESPN and ASN Lead National College Basketball Analyst Mark Adams

Interview with ESPN and ASN Lead National College Basketball Analyst Mark Adams

Wichita State is set for a border state showdown this Saturday against Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. It will be Mark Adams’ first call of the season for a Shocker broadcast, and Mark was kind enough to sit down with and let us pick his brain for a bit.

Mark Adams has 17 years experience as a basketball coach, coaching from 1979-1996. Since 1999, Mark has been a broadcaster with ESPN and is also the Lead National College Basketball Analyst on American Sports Network. Mark now works in excess of 35 games per season. Mr. Adams is a successful businessman as well, with experience in sales and training, working for Dayton Technologies for 6 years. He tours the country as a motivational speaker. You can learn more about Mark at his website, and can interact with him on Facebook and Twitter.

EVERY game is the Final Four to me. – Mark Adams When preparing for a telecast, do you have a routine or process you follow? Is it similar to when you prepared for a game as a coach?

Mark Adams: Yes, I have a disciplined set process and goal for every game and while it is similar to a scouting report it is not identical. When I was coaching I spent an inordinate amount of time studying video. I wanted to be over prepared if there is such a thing. I took pride in my personal and my teams preparation. In that way I do the same thing now as a broadcaster but I watch more live broadcasts as there are so many televised games.

In preparation, I have a set format that I use for every game. Due to my years of studying basketball, the X’s and O’s come easy to me as I see the game defensively. I think that is an advantage because an analyst is the guy who explains and dissects the WHY something happens. Play by play guys describe the what but my job is to explain the WHY. My background in coaching as a defensive technician and strategist is a huge advantage. Whenever a team scores or not usually there is a defensive reason WHY. I also believe that my attention to detail helps me in this profession. I tend to notice little things that maybe the average fan might miss because I have studied so much video over the years that I can now pretty much do it in real time and evaluate quickly most in-game circumstances.

Mark & Sister Jean of Loyola Chicago

Courtesy Mark Adams

In my research, I really dig for differentiated information. I will give you an example as just last night I had Ohio State. In my research, I noticed that they had six different players who already had achieved a double/double. I then started to find out if any other team had six guys with double/doubles on the same team. Turns out that Ohio State was the only team in the country with that dynamic. My goal is to inform the local fans of one thing they did not know about their team through my research. I look for stat anomalies that are unusual and catch my eye. I’ve done a lot of that with Wichita State over the years. Who do you think identified and started tracking their “Play Angry Points”, road record, Fred’s assault on the A/TO ratio record, Gregg’s record at same time of career vs Coach K, Evan’s loose ball abilities. Whenever you hear me say this team or this player is the only one in the country that does this or that, it is from my own research in most cases or I contact Mike Kern at the MVC and ask for his help. He is an awesome friend and understands me and how I go about my business. I also have a former assistant named Scott Carson who is also a great help. We talk daily during the season and generate a lot of ideas as he knows exactly how I think. I’m a weird bird in some ways and not everyone could work with me. I can be a little demanding when it comes to my own preparation and development of value added information. These guys put up with me and I am grateful.

Lastly, I also have a set routine with coaches and questions that I ask. I review each player and ask the coach to provide me with one or two things that pop in their minds when I say the players name. Beyond my own research and study, this gives me an insider’s view of that particular player. I review late game situations with the coach so that if we get into certain situations I can intelligently predict what may happen in advance.

Through preparation, research, study and good questions I feel like I am always extremely well prepared. I do this for EVERY game. EVERY game is the Final Four to me.

SH: You made the prognostication that Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet were NBA players prior to the NBA draft. How has it been to watch them go undrafted to battling for and making the roster on the Knicks and Raptors?

MA: I take a lot of pride in that prediction and said it while they were both collegiate players but mostly off the air. I try to avoid speaking on air about guys as NBA prospects before they exhaust their eligibility out of respect for the coaches, players and fans of the college game. Why do we feel the need to project guys into the NBA before they leave the college game? I feel is disrespectful. I remember telling Mitch Holtus at Arch Madness during Ron’s freshman season that he was a pro someday. I was also the first and only guy to recognize Fred as an NBA player. A lot of people shook their head and laughed at me. They did not see what I saw. To make the NBA you have to be a freak in some ways. Fred is a freakishly great leader, has a freakish work ethic and singular focus to win. He is extremely physically strong and sees the game differently than maybe any player I have ever seen. Ron is freakishly well rounded both as a player and person. He can dribble, pass, shoot, defend and like Fred really understands the nuances of the game. Ron is also very self-aware and reads people well. He is a giving person and an energy giver both on and off the court.

Mark Adams with Shockers at MVC Awards

Courtesy Mark Adams

That was the game we used the picture of Fred on the horse. – Mark Adams

I had the privilege of calling the NBA Summer League last summer. It was obvious that Fred was different than other prospects and NBA guys saw what I saw. I am happy for both of them. They both are really fine young men and we have stayed in touch. I count them both as friends and I hope in some small way I have helped them both. They certainly helped me as a broadcaster with their time and access whenever I needed them and it was often.

Quick story, we were at Indiana State and I needed both to be interviewed before the game. We planned to do it just before they hit the floor at 20 minutes prior to game time. We had technical problems. Both waited patiently for a few minutes as their teammates were warming up and finally I had to let them go. So I waited along the baseline just before the team came out just before tip-off. Both saw me and came right over to help me do my job. We did our short interview and the game started. That was way above and beyond the call of duty and Coach Marshall never said a word. I was most grateful as it made for a great open. That was the game we used the picture of Fred on the horse. Classic!

SH: There are many new faces to the Shocker roster, do any standout to you as players with that drive and desire that has been a staple of the Wichita State program under Gregg Marshall?

MA: Gregg has built a program not just a team. That unbridled desire to win is a prerequisite to even be invited to be a Shocker. My answer may surprise you but remember I have not yet seen this new addition in person so I will wait to see for myself but Zach Bush and John Robert Simon are two guys who embody that drive and desire to do whatever it takes to win as a TEAM. I’ve watch both over the years practice hard and sit the bench with nothing but a positive attitude and solid work ethic.

SH: Shocker country is full of Kansas City Chiefs fans, so we’re familiar with your broadcasting partner Mitch Holtus. Do you have a funny story about you and Mitch’s time in Wichita over the years?

Mark Adams & Mitch Holtus

Courtesy Mark Adams

MA: Mitch is like a brother to me. I love him. In some ways we are bad for each other because we have so much fun together. We laugh so hard at times we cry. With Mitch, it’s not necessarily one story or circumstance it’s more of a stupid stream of consciousness that we continually pile on to each other. One night we are driving from Missouri State though East Bumpkin someplace in the middle of nowhere during an ice and snow storm on our way to Northern Iowa. It’s like 5 below zero at midnight and we are not close to anything. We stop at some one horse town for gas. Next day on the broadcast I reference this town on the air as being in Iowa. Mitch hesitates and as only Mitch can do, he looks at me and says, “Mark, we were actually in Missouri.” I blew water out my nose! We laughed so hard on the air we missed over a minute of action.

I have one other story to share to show you what our friendship means to me. As you know, after my Dad died I started wearing a green tie to honor him as he was named Patrick and was born on St Patrick’s Day. Mitch arranged to have all the guys wear green ties at Arch Madness that year to support me and honor my dad. Mitch typically wears a green tie with me on broadcasts.

Mitch lost his Mom this year. I have a surprise for him on our next broadcast.

SH: Wichita State has one of the best records in college basketball over the last five seasons. What do you think is the biggest factor for that success?


I’d like to thank Mark for taking the time from his extremely busy schedule to answer these questions. You can hear Mark calling the Shockers for the first time this Saturday at 3:00 PM on ESPN2.

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