Kevin Kugler has called some big plays in his broadcasting career – none bigger, perhaps, than Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beating three that beat North Carolina and gave Villanova its first national title in 31 years.
“You think when Marcus Paige hits the shot (to tie the game) that that’s the shot,” the Westwood One play-by-play voice said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “You think as a broadcaster or as a basketball fan, ‘Well there was the big play. That was the big one. Now they’ll come down, they’ll hoist up some sort of prayer and North Carolina is going to cause them a little problem to slow up their progress up the court.’ And that’s the first thing: They didn’t slow up their progress up the court, so they had plenty of time to get that play set and get Kris Jenkins the shot.”
Of course, it’s one thing to get Jenkins the shot; it’s another thing for Jenkins to actually hit it.
“It’s one of those plays that moves fast and slow at the same time,” Kugler said. “It’s going up the court and the pace is clicking, and then all of a sudden you see Kris Jenkins. It was very reminiscent, at least from where the shot was, of my first Final Four that I got to call for Westwood One (in 2008), when Mario Chalmers hit a three-pointer on the right wing to send the game to overtime. It’s one of those plays that, when you think back on it, you think, ‘Man, did that really happen?’ It’s the kind of call that you always hope you get the chance to call, and then you really hope that you don’t screw it up. . . . It’s fun. It’s the kind of (play) that you go into every game hoping you get the chance to call. Rarely do you get a chance to call a game like that, so it was pretty special to be able to be court-side for it.”
From Jenkins’ buzzer-beater, to Jordan Spieth’s Masters collapse, to Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary fling, there have been a lot of surprising sports moments this year. For Kugler, though, Spieth’s collapse on Sunday was the most surprising.
“He’s not really had that kind of a moment,” Kugler said, referring to Spieth’s quadruple bogey on No. 12. “He was playing uneven golf for the last couple of days of that tournament, but he still had a five-shot lead with nine holes to go. To me, that’s a bigger surprise. Look, Kris Jenkins hitting a three to win a game isn’t surprising. Aaron Rodgers doing anything in football doesn’t surprise me anymore. He’s done so much in his career already. But to me, what Jordan Spieth wasn’t able to do – close out that tournament – I was more surprised by that than I was anything else.”