Many Wichita State fans were in for a pleasant surprise the past few days when they tuned in to watch The Basketball Tournament games at Koch Arena on television and heard long-time “Voice of the Shockers” Mike Kennedy calling the games alongside ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla.
Kennedy has called a handful of athletic events on television, mostly volleyball, but it was the first time calling a basketball game on television in three decades. It was also the ESPN debut for the WSU play-by-play radio announcer,who has called men’s basketball, baseball and volleyball games for the past 43 years.
“Somebody asked me if this was on my bucket list and I don’t really think I have a bucket list,” Kennedy said. “I would love to go to another Final Four or College World Series with the Shockers, but I’ll tell you what, when they gave me that ESPN shirt and I put it on, it was a thrill. It felt like a big deal.”
When Wichita was awarded a TBT regional, Kennedy was the first choice for TBT founder Jon Mugar to be the play-by-play announcer for the games.
After calling every game of their careers and forming those bonds, Kennedy was already excited to see the reunion of former Shockers at Koch Arena. The chance to call their games one more time was an easy thing to say yes to back in May.
“Honestly, I wasn’t really that familiar with this tournament, but I knew the Aftershocks were going to happen,” Kennedy said. “(Mugar) asked if I wanted to do the games in Wichita and I said, ‘Sure.’ I would be there anyway, so I thought, ‘Why not?’”
That was before he knew he would be working with Fraschilla, one of ESPN’s top college basketball analysts and someone Kennedy has admired over the years.
The two had some history before with Fraschilla coming to Wichita during the Shockers’ 2011 NIT run, then the two meeting earlier this year when WSU made its run to the NIT semifinals in New York City.
Being able to spend time together this week — on and off air — in Wichita has been a highlight for Kennedy, who says he’s a hoops junkie just like Fraschilla.
“I have a ton of respect for him and I’ve always enjoyed his work,” Kennedy said. “I don’t think I even realized just how good of a guy he is until I got this chance to work with him. He is extremely knowledgeable, but not a know-it-all. There’s no ego involved and it’s been super to work with him and just talk basketball.”
Fraschilla said he’s enjoyed working with Kennedy just as much.
“It’s a treat because he knows so much about the history of the program and the city,” Fraschilla said. “We’ve had a great time reminiscing about the great Shocker history this week. I’m a basketball junkie and a basketball history buff, so when I get the chance to work with guys like Mike it’s fun because they have a perspective of the game that transcends what’s going on this week.
“I’ve been here for four days and I can see how well-respected Mike is around the city. He’s the voice of Shocker basketball and brings Shocker basketball into people’s living rooms or their car.”