Sunday, March 16, 2008

Broadcast wrap-up: South vs. Central (Round 3)

I spent a long day at Target Center to scope out the place, tape a post-season show with Kevin Anderson and Tony Geer and land interviews with the back-to-back class 4A state champions: St. Paul Central.

The show went well. I stumbled here and there, but it was minimal. I haven't looked at the tape, but going in, I figured I wouldn't be perfect having never done a talk show before. Mixing it with the post-game interviews will be interesting because we stated on air that the 3A and 4A games hadn't taken place yet. I am starting to feel more comfortable being the on-air talent though. I guess two years of that pressure will calm you if you can handle it.

I don't need to say much about Central-South: Round 3. Tony Geer, who was with me for games 1 and 2, said no team would win all three games. He reiterated this after the Twin Cities game. Having studied the game for 20 years, Tony saw something other experts may have missed. The title game demonstrated who was the better coach; Willie Taylor was calm even when his team was down by nine midway through the 2nd. Ahmil Jihad was more high-strung, and their styles reflected on their respective teams. Taylor mixed things up and South could not respond, which didn't surprise me. Central kept Hill to 9 points, the only time this season Hill scored below 10 (her previous season low was 15).

With the restrictions given by channel 45's exclusive coverage, I couldn't shoot any game video. I wished I could have been more productive, but given the situation, I feel that we did as much as we could. At the start of the season, I would have NEVER thought I'd be at Target Center. I met a lot of new faces, including Lea B. Olsen, one of 45's commentators. I was fascinated by how easy it was to obtain a press pass. I had a lot of fun and would gladly do it again. This will be something I never forget.

Next TV Game: All-Star Series sponsored by Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association, a branch of the Minnesota State High School League.
April 20th at Schoenecker Arena, University of St. Thomas

Friday, March 14, 2008

Broadcast preview: Central vs. South (round 3)

The rubber match for the Central-South series. Yes, South won both games, but it won't matter to them if they don't beat Central a third time. We saw DeLaSalle go 3-0 against Minnehaha Academy, so anything is possible.

You might be wondering why I'm posting a broadcast preview blog since channel 45 has the rights to televise. I'm going to tape a post-game show at Target Center Saturday and get post-game interviews of the 4A final to intersperse with the show. It's the first time I've covered a state tournament and the first time I will have stepped inside Target Center in eight years (the Wolves were still good back then). I'm excited and nervous; I never thought doing play-by-play for a couple years would lead me to the state tournament.

Kiara Buford had nine turnovers, but made up for it at the free throw line as she put up 24. Theairra Taylor caught fire today, even going a perfect 10-10 from the line. Not bad for a 65% free throw shooter. I hope the folks at Marquette teach Georgie Jones how to use her legs, she's a player you can actually afford to put on the line. Ugh. Central played their A-game in their two wins. I wouldn't be surprised if they try to double team Tayler Hill again. Hill cracked a bit in game 2 when Central doubled her up. Central must convert their short range shots and repeat their free throw performance at the Eastview game to win.

Speaking of Hill, what hasn't she been honored for yet? South suffered from two slow starts, although Hill made sure they didn't finish that way. Of her 49 points in the tournament games, 33 have come in the 2nd half. Taquoia Hammick put up a dozen against Chaska, making her case as one of the most improved players this year. Hammick didn't take advantage of easy looks last year. With a deep bench, you can't rely on them getting on foul trouble. ANYONE on the first or second string can be a play maker.

Both teams will continue their aggressive pursuit of one another; they hit hard and fast. Should be fun. Most experts picked South to win it all, but some don't think they can win three times against Central.


1. Tayler Hill hasn't scored less than 15 points all season. Don't expect her to bow out now. She scored 58 points in games 1 and 2.

2. Jones put up a double-double in 13 of her last 14 games, but had trouble against South in game 2. Jones shot just 33% from the floor.

3. Kiara Buford shot 9 of 14 free throws in games 1 and 2, just over 60%. Buford is an 83% free throw shooter. She did lead all Central players in total points in their two games with South.

4. Tyisha Smith had 14 steals in games 1 and 2, just under Central's TEAM total of 16. Shows you the difference Angel Robinson made for Central last year.

5. Central will be playing for their fourth state championship in school history, South has yet to win their 1st.

By the way, Centennial is still ranked above Central by The Cougars are #2 and the Minutemen are #3. Was Centennial that good?

Look for the wrap-up show on YouTube and SPNN channel 15 in the coming days.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Heerrrrrrrrrre's Miss Basketball!

Well, not quite yet. But they did release the finalists for the 2008 Miss Basketball award:

Courtney Boylan - Chaska
Kiara Buford - St. Paul Central
Briana Mastey - Becker
Kamille Wahlin - Crookston
Brittnye McSparron - Eastview

Here's some more info.

McSparron averages 20+ pts. per game, led the tough Lake League in scoring while Eastview made their way to the state tournament.

Wahlin has no stats posted on Maxpreps, but her team finished 28-1, including a win over last year's AAA champ Becker.

Speaking of Becker, Mastey led the Mississippi Eight conference in scoring and finished 2nd in rebounding. The future Gopher was a key factor in securing last year's title over DeLaSalle. Ironically, she finished in the same positions in both scoring and rebounds in the Mississippi Eight. Mastey was the only Becker player to average above double digits in scoring the last two years.

Buford is Central's pure shooter and will help the Gophers in an area they need help with. She did make her mark at Central though. Her individual stats aren't eye-popping with Central's balanced attack (16.7 pts per game), but don't overlook this woman. She's shooting 83% from the free throw line this season, an 11% improvement from last year. If her free throws don't get you, her long-range shot will. Had little problem taking a leadership role this season.

Boylan is bound for Michigan and also comes from the Lake conference. She's second in the Lake for scoring (20 pts per game) and helped Chaska rally to beat Kennedy in their section final.


I'm not an expert with this, but the winners are very accomplished, two of the last three breaking some statistical record (Angel Robinson for all-time steals, Katie Ohm for all-time points). You won't see that this season, but they're all well-qualified.

Stats alone don't tell the story, but if Mastey didn't play for Becker, they wouldn't have won last year or even have a chance at state this year (the same could be said for McSparron and Boylan). Central likely would have won the title last year without Buford and would still be talented this year had she not been there. Mastey may have an edge for these reasons.

Barring some unseen tragedy, next year's selection won't be too hard.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spoken like an elder stateswoman

That's how John Millea of the Star Tribune summed up his most recent interview with Tayler Hill, who was named their 2008 player of the year (surprise surprise).

I've been wondering if Tayler is growing sick of seeing her picture flash on the Jumbotron for the CGI starting lineups I use. Keystone Productions televised five South games and she was highlighted in all of them. Yeah, she's that good.

If she is getting annoyed, she only has to put up with me one more year :-p. I never get to hear comments about my job performance or overall production quality from the players themselves, but I'll save that for the end of the season.

Click here to read the story

Willie Taylor always liked being the boss

St. Paul Central head coach Willie Taylor says that and more in a chat with the Pioneer Press' Bob Sansevere. But don't take my word for it, check it out.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Don't spit them out

Here are the class AAAA seeds for the state tournament:

1. Minneapolis South
2. Eastview
3. St. Paul Central
4. Osseo
5. Chaska
6. St. Cloud Tech
7. St. Francis
8. Owatonna

At least all their games will be played at Target Center, so they won't be bounced around from one arena to another, although I think they should have them play at Williams Arena at least once. I know, I'm a Gopher. A friend of mine who went to state a few years ago said Williams is a scarier place to play than Target Center because of the raised floor.

South will no doubt be the heavy favorite. They resemble last year's Central team in a lot of ways: South's roster is filled with versatile players that can shoot, drive and play defense. Their bench is deep and can contribute right away. South executes the full-court press well and have a go-to player in Tayler Hill to top it all off. Osseo is ranked in the top 10, but South has gone toe-to-toe with the best and probably will march unscathed to the final.

Central had a scare against White Bear Lake before coasting against Woodbury. Given their weaker section, their 2nd game against South was that more important for the tournament. St. Cloud Tech had a low strength of schedule as Kevin Anderson points out. Central does have an advantage over everyone else by playing against Long Beach Poly, who are ranked among the top schools in the nation. Where was that game? Target Center. Central won't have to adjust like everyone else. If Central beats St. Cloud Tech, they'll likely have Eastview waiting for them. Central can earn the chance to win back-to-back titles, but they need to play their A-game throughout.

Recent history doesn't bode well for South if they play Central a third time. Osseo beat Centennial on their third try and Michigan State did the same to Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament. On that note, there could be a similar situation in class AAA with DeLaSalle and Minnehaha Academy. DeLaSalle won both times, but only by a combined nine points.

There will be more uncertainty compared to last year, and that will only make the tournament more fun.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

St. Paul sectional results (and thoughts)

For those who thought Centennial and Hopkins would be going to the big dance, it's not happening. Centennial is a bridesmaid once again after being upset by Osseo. I guess that is what happens when you don't play a lot of tough teams and face a team three times in one season. Hopkins was defeated by South tonight.

Central will also return to state with a 60-30 win over Woodbury tonight. Kiara Buford and Megan Howard are now the first two Central players to go to state during their entire high school career.

Like last year, Central will be the only St. Paul team in the tournament as Johnson got knocked out by Minnehaha Academy 80-69. Minnehaha had a nine-point lead at the half.

The St. Paul City Conference pretty much echoed last year's performance where it was Central and "everybody else." The difference was the strength of other conference teams. Johnson fared much stronger and will have a lot to build on for next season, complemented by what will be a weaker Central team next year. Humboldt needs someone over 6'0" to make them a threat. Highland Park has to find a way to hang with the stronger teams while continuing to beat the weaker ones.

St. Paul does have potential for surprise showings next season. However, I'll remind everyone that high school basketball games are just games and shouldn't be taken as life-or-death situations.

There's still a long way to go before everyone in section AAAA will be seeded, but the Centennial loss will shake things up a bit.

Programs available for DVD purchase

Autism Part 1 DVD cover

Autism: The Wall That Knows No Limits - Award-winning documentary series providing insights on autism rarely seen in contemporary media. Produced by someone on the spectrum, this series is a wealth of information for anyone seeking to learn about autism.
$15 for one episode, $50 for the complete series (4 episodes)

What Are You DVD cover

What Are You? A Dialogue on Mixed Race - Originally a school assignment, this one-hour documentary explores a population that existed for many years but didn't get much focus until recently. This program examines how a small but growing segment of the population could shift racial and cultural identity. Screened at the 2009 Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and will be screened at the inaugural Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at DePaul University. $15

Vices to Verses promo

From Vices to Verses: Featuring Voices Merging - From Vices to Verses: A New Era of Hip Hop and Action is a biannual conference held at the University of Minnesota. The goal is to promote the culture and history of hip-hop, which is often lost in the corporate mainstream representation. In this program, you'll see how the Voices Merging student group absorbed what they witnessed and how their experience will transform them as a group and as individuals. DVD copies come with 14 minutes of bonus footage not seen online or on TV. $15

Machine 2010 highlight promo

Minnesota Machine: 2010 - Geared for Greatness - Join the professional women's football team in their historic 2nd season. Despite several injuries that depleted the roster, the Machine finished 2010 with a 6-3 record and their first division title in franchise history, edging the Iowa Thunder in the Midwest Division of the American Conference. This highlight reel includes clips from the 2010 season and their interview on the cable television show Rollin' and Tumblin' - $15


Silhouettes by RZI Couture - The inaugural breast cancer benefit fashion premiere took place in St. Paul and was met with a fabulous response. All the models were breast cancer survivors or relatives of someone affected by breast cancer and all the clothing was designed by Rosalyn Smaller, owner of RZI Couture and currently fighting breast cancer herself. The TV version features testimonials from the models and co-host Miss Georgia of KMOJ. $10 of every purchase will be donated to RZI Couture to help the breast cancer fight! $15