Cory Alexander: Lord of Babble-On

Seems like every time I pose the question, “Is it just me, or. . . ‘’ I’m interrupted with an immediate and emphatic “Yeah, it’s just you.’’

Obviously those who know me know me all too well.

Undaunted, I’ll nevertheless pose the following question.

Is it just me, or does Cory Alexander drive you to distraction and beyond every time you listen to him analyze an ACC basketball game?

He’s not Bill Walton bad, mind you. At least he usually knows what planet he’s on, and even occasionally who’s playing. But Alexander’s constant recounting of “The Life and Times of Cory Alexander,’’ leads me to wonder how ESPN, by employing Alexander, could show less regard for the game that is actually being played or for those who actually care what happens.

Who cares how Alexander, during his playing days at Virginia, supposedly engaged in these epic battles with Randolph Childress of Wake Forest?

Who cares that Alexander feels he that, even today, he could destroy anybody in the gym in a game of H-O-R-S-E?

Who cares why Alexander grew a beard, or how long it got?

Who cares that Alexander has to win every round of tit-for-tat he invariably instigates with every play-by-play guy he works with?

Who cares who Alexander coached in AAU, and all he did to prepare that player for college ball?

To all the above question, I give an immediate and emphatic response.

Not me.

To hear Alexander recount his supposedly halycon days at Virginia (1991-95), one might get the impression he was the Wahoo’s answer to Michael Jordan. His constant bragging drove me to the record books to refresh my memory of just how good Alexander was in college.

Alexander was an All-ACC player, though the distinction comes with a caveat. He made second-team one season, his sophomore season. And even that distinction comes with a caveat. He barely made second-team, as the player with the 10th-most votes cast that season by the ACC Sportswriters Association.

And it was a distant 10th. Bob Sura received the eighth-most votes, with 220. Doug Edwards received the ninth-most votes, with 207. Alexander, for his part, received 148, only 29 more than Thomas Hill, the leading vote-getter on third team.

And Alexander, for the record, did make first-team All-Tournament that season when the Wahoos beat Wake in the first round and lost to North Carolina in the semis.

But to hear Cory Alexander tell it, you’d think he was surely one of the leading scorers in Virginia basketball history. At least Top 10, right?

Think again. Through last season, Alexander ranked 27th in career points scored at Virginia with 1,286. Mel Kennedy scored more (1,415). So did Elton Brown (1,356) and Norman Nolan (1,321).

Alexander, for the record, does rank No. 10 with 401 career assists, though the statistic wasn’t recorded at Virginia until the 1969-70 season. So truth is, we don’t really know where Alexander ranks, other than that it wasn’t the Top 10.

And as for that dead-eye shooting touch from anywhere in the gym, Alexander ranks 16th in career-3-pointers, even though the NCAA didn’t adopt the 3-pointer until the 1986-87 season.

Listen, Cory Alexander was a good player. Any player who plays 85 games in the ACC and scores more than a thousand points is a good player. And Alexander was also good enough to forge an eight-season career in the NBA. He was, for the most part, a journeyman, though he did start 19 games and average 14 points for a 1997-98 Denver Nuggets.

So again, granted, Cory Alexander was a good player.

And the few times I was around him before retiring as an active sportswriter in 2017, I got the impression he was a pretty good guy – loose, friendly, willing to give-and-take in the usual pre-game-gather-around-the-drink-machine banter. Folks seemed to like him.

So I have nothing personal against Cory Alexander, a good player in college who was fun to be around before a game.

My problem is that he’s not what he presents himself to be, and never has been. The truth, in this case, is definitely not in the advertising.

Best I can tell, it all started with Howard Cosell – or maybe Heywood Hale Broun – when commentators felt like they had to make the occasion more about themselves than the game they were analyzing. They needed a persona, or maybe even a shtick to help brand themselves and further their careers.

We all suffered through the verbal exclamation marks from Dick Vitale, but I’ve always defended Vitale for three reasons. I got to know him well enough to know he’s a warm, caring individual, he has helped me on several occasions, and he really, really knows the game of basketball and the people who coach and play it.

Nowadays we’ve got Walton telling us how he danced with the Grateful Dead at the Pyramids and all that. Maybe the Cory Alexanders of the broadcasting world see that as the way to go, to make it all about them. The direction has worked well enough for Alexander to get seemingly every big ACC game ESPN carries.

And with each passing year, there seem to be more analysts going that route. I call them the Lords of Babble-on because all they do is babble on and on and on while what could be a hell of a game is unfolding before us all.

Give me a good-old Dan Bonner, who shows enough respect for the game to actually tell me what’s happening.

Give me Dave Odom, who I thought was getting better and better every game he worked.

For that matter give me Billy Packer, who has an ego every bit as big as that of Cory Alexander but was smart enough to do what he was ostensibly hired to do.

Cory Alexander was hired by ESPN to tell us what is going on in a basketball game.

Instead, he’s become the Lord of Lords of Babble-On.

Am I the only one suffering through his babble?

Didn’t think so.

7 thoughts on “Cory Alexander: Lord of Babble-On

  1. Dan you are wrong on Bonner — and all of ’em. They are horrible. Horrible. Babble and more drivel — good grief! Please please ACC leader someone — tell those guys to at least announce the game. Who is on the floor, who fouled, who rebounded and so on. ———— I care not for who you think will be a good pro or which team of the past was better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen, Dan. Cory Alexander is by far the worst announcer for ACC games. Not even close. I also agree Dan Bonner is the best. He gives the viewer who, what, when, where, and how.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alexander is bad, and Walton is inexplicably head spinning bad. Regarding Dick Vitale, he may be hard to listen to calling a game, but he is an outstanding motivational speaker, and reputed to be a very fine and deeply generous man. That said, Dan Bonner is a keeper.

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  4. I agree with you 100% Dan. Actually, I’ve been very disappointed with most of the ACCN announcers this year. I’d much rather listen to Stan and the Dinger even though the radio broadcast is several seconds ahead of our TV.

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  5. Spot on, Dan! I disagree about Dickie V, however. He may not talk about himself as much as others do but his routine has not aged well for me. Give me Verne and Raftery any day.

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  6. It’s not just you & it’s not just Cory Alexander, We have never seen so many terrible announcers & color men to the point it’s almost no tv sound time, gone are the Woody Durham, Gene Overby tv announcers that kept up with the play. It’s gotten that way in football too, gone are the days of announcers telling the game story, it’s now all about them.

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  7. Dan, the guy I really miss calling ACC games is Mike Patrick. He retired a few years ago, but to me, he was outstanding! He was paired with a lot of different color commentators…and he always seemed to work well with whoever his partner might be. I guess the fact he called so many games when the Deacs were actually an ACC force in basketball may be one reason I like him. His call with Clark Kellogg of the 1995 ACC Tournament Championship game…a thrilling Wake Forest win over UNC in overtime…stands out in my mind. Those guys were all about that great game and what was happening on the court at that moment. Alexander definitely strays from that path. In fairness to him, so many recent Deacon games have been so terrible, his unrelated game comments are kind of a distraction from the carnage we’ve all witnessed this last decade. You have to try to entertain your audience somehow…and I’m not saying he’s particularly good at it. I will say reminding us of his battles with Randolph Childress does harken back to a bygone era when Wake was actually near the top of the ACC food chain…and was for many years…which is why what we’ve seen in the last decade is so difficult to swallow.
    I’m more concerned frankly with the product of Wake Forest basketball than I am about what any color commentator has to say. When the Deacs give us something to talk about on the court during consistently competitive games, the less likely we’re going to hear the babble-on banter.

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