Lou Horvath has seen it all.
During his two decades as the public address announcer and the voice of the Bobcats in The Convo, Horvath has become well-versed in how to handle minor technical malfunctions and can turn on a dime to adapt to broken equipment.
But it gets difficult when Horvath has to become the equipment.
Early in the second half during Ohio’s 78-61 win against Miami on Tuesday, Miami’s basket was lowered during a 30-second timeout. The shot clock had broken after Lunden McDay hit a 2-point jumper. It wasn’t just malfunctioning, the clock refused to turn back on.
To Horvath, a busted shot clock was a rarity, but he’s been around long enough to understand the problem. He chalks up most technical problems to the aging equipment and wiring that snakes around the hardwood. But the announcer knew it was a bigger problem than old wiring. Due to COVID restrictions, Horvath moved from his usual spot at midcourt to down near Miami’s basket, and had a clear view of what the crew was dealing with.
“Oh, I could see it right here,“ Horvath said, pointing up at the shot clock. “Normally, in a regular season, I'd be right in the middle, but I’m down here on an island.”
The original 30-second timeout was extended to give the crew more time to work. Then it was extended again. Soon, 10 minutes had gone by and no progress had been made. The crew resigned to leave the clock broken until they could fix it after the game.
How does The Convo run a game without a shot clock? Lou Horvath, that’s how. After the crew left, the officials walked over to Horvath’s desk and asked him to keep track of shot time in place of the electronic clocks.
“It’s rare, it’s very rare,“ Horvath said. “We've had troubles with [shot clocks] maybe once a year, but never to the point where it has to come to the public address announcer to keep the time.”
Horvath remembers only one other game where he’s had to both announce a game and keep track of the shot clock, but the date is fuzzy. It’s been a decade, minimum. After milling it over, he believes it’s closer to 15 years ago anything like this has happened in The Convo.
Of course, Horvath agreed to. It would be a balancing act of watching two things at once. Now, he was in charge of not only watching the action to keep track of scores and assists, but also watching a clock. A tall order, but Horvath handled it with the expertise he’s regarded for.
“Like I said, it's a rare occurrence,“ Horvath said. “The responsibility has to be taken, and the teams need to know, because they can't just look up and see how much time is left on the clock.”
Through the remainder of the game, the few spectators in The Convo could hear Horvath booming over the mic. He thinks he only missed one call, when a Miami player received a shot clock violation.
“I called 10 seconds, but then the kid made the shot at five. So I went ‘five!’ and went off, over to someone else and I went ‘uh oh.’“
Horvath has been in The Convo for two decades. He’s seen plenty of equipment problems, but every now and then he’ll be the machine Ohio needs.