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Aces broadcasters look to ingratiate WNBA team to community

Updated June 7, 2018 - 5:11 pm

Chris Withers strolled through the Mandalay Bay Events Center in a T-shirt, speckled pair of shorts and sandals and sandals Thursday afternoon.

Evidently, he’s already comfortable with the Aces.

He wants the rest of the Las Vegas Valley to be comfortable with them, too.

Withers works in conjunction with Rush Media and MGM Resorts International to produce the Aces’ TV broadcast, which launched June 1 on AT&T SportsNet.

The remaining home games also will air live locally, and the broadcast maestro is excited about the opportunity to unveil the team to the community.

“I think it says a lot for them, and I think it says a lot for their organization, they wanted all their home games on television,” said Withers, who had produced broadcasts for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Twins before coming to Las Vegas.

“It’s a brand new team, a brand new organization. It’s a lot of people who haven’t worked in sports television before … It’s literally been starting from ground zero.”

Withers began working with the MGM in January and spent the past five months assembling a team of talent and engineers equipped to optimize the viewing experience at the time of the launch.

Veteran Pac-12 announcer Anne Marie Anderson calls the games, and Rushia Brown, the Aces’ manager of player programs and franchise development, does color commentary.

As the primary voices of the team, the two are aiming to introduce the Aces and the WNBA to Las Vegas while capturing the essence of their humanity.

“Speaking with Chris … he wants to be able to give personality to the players beyond the game,” said Brown, who played seven seasons in the WNBA. “I can help with telling those stories and giving them that personality off the court.”

Boston Celtics sideline reporter Amanda Pflugard is in the same role for the Aces and makes her debut Friday when the team hosts the Atlanta Dream at noon at the Events Center. She said the opportunity to bring more exposure to the WNBA was a reason for taking the job.

“Just the exposure we’re already seeing at Mandalay Bay … I can already kind of see the fan base,” she said. “People are wanting sports here in Vegas. It’s been a need. I feel like the Aces are filling that void.”

Withers was thrilled with the debut and expects the telecast to improve. He said he’s focused on building trust with the players and coaches so his team can expand its production repertoire.

“We’re kind of figuring it out as it goes,” Withers said. “We’ve got amazing cooperation with the team. We’ve got amazing cooperation with the players. From where we were on June 1 to where we will be Aug. 18 as far as presenting … I’m excited about what we can do.”

More Aces: Follow all of our Aces coverage online at reviewjournal.com/aces and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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