Monday, June 16, 2008

Broadcast wrap-up: Inner City All-Star Classic

I've covered the event for a few years and began dressing it up like I do for the high school basketball games a few years ago to make it look more like a professional broadcast. I was on graphics this time, and this year's Inner City All-Star Classic was one of the few times I was happy not to be announcing. I had a cold that caused a sinus headache and fever over the weekend, so I vanished from existence the last couple days. I was fine enough to soldier on, but sinus headaches are a drag. Despite my health, I was able to interview Angel Robinson and Tamara Moore at Friday's practice, both of which are on my YouTube page.

I enjoy working the All-Star Classic, but now that the event has reached its 15th year, I think they should look at some things to make the game more interesting. Team alignment would be a big help; I'm not a fan of them randomly placing players on one team or another. There is a potential for mismatches, but more bothersome is the fact that the current team selection doesn't give the players much to play for except the MVP trophy. Based on my observations, the games resemble a scenario of finding a bunch of players and letting them play for 40 minutes. I always thought a geographic split would make things a little more interesting, not to mention bragging rights would be put on the line (anyone remember the preinterleague days of Major League Baseball?). The team names are fine, but how about an East Metro-West Metro type matchup?

The background music is a little annoying. I appreciate the idea of trying to create a street ball feel, but in an indoor facility, it's often loud enough to make communication difficult. I don't know how the players handle it, but one of our announcers this year wasn't pleased with it. One suggestion would be to save the music for the skills contests at halftime and maybe mic the DJ for some in-game commentary if they're worried about dead silence.

Again, these are suggestions. I like the All-Star Classic because it gives a lot of players who missed the cut for the Coaches Association All-Star game a chance to play in one. I think that reason alone should help its sustainability.

In any case, the class of 2008 made their final bow in high school. We'll see how they do in college.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My first pet peeve

I'm posting a new blog for two reasons. The first is to tell you that the second All-Star game (AA vs. AAA) will be finished and submitted to my co-worker for a draft review by Monday. I will then begin work on the AAU games.

Second, to keep you folks interested for a while, I thought I'd chime in with my biggest pet peeve in the sport of basketball. I've mentioned this to a few people, but I still don't understand why post players or centers don't work on their free throw shooting at high school. Georgie Jones, Central's premiere center for the last two years, shot a mere 53% from the free throw line in 2007-08 yet led the team in free throw attempts. Bridget Schuneman of Centennial converted just 33% of her free throws and was tied for 2nd on the team with Emily Becken in 2007-08. Cretin-Derham Hall's Kendra Harris made only 55 attempts in 2007-08 and sank 29 for a free throw percentage of 53%.

Perhaps other top teams don't post their players' free throw percentage on Maxpreps out of concern that a secret or two may leak. Good coaching can fix that problem, but I digress.

Post players likely (or should) understand that they will get a lot of trips to the free throw line as a byproduct of their position. Time and again we have seen the difference free throws can make in a single game, from the battles between Central and South this season, especially in the state championship, to the NCAA men's championship game where Memphis gave just enough of a window for Kansas to steal the national title. In critical situations where post players are relied upon for an inside look, it's not very comforting to the coach or fans that their chance of making a free throw is as good as a flip of a coin.

There are a few who have a better grip on their free throw shooting and it often shows. Ashley Ellis-Milan of the Gophers was 68% from the line in her senior year at Central and continues to shoot around 70% as a Gopher. As a result, she averaged more points per game than Korrine Campbell last year (the only other post who started at some point during the season), 9.9 ppg to 6.4 ppg respectively. Over at Cretin, Sarah Hendricks made 69% of her free throws last year and finished ahead of Harris in points per game. Central's Megan Howard improved her free throw shooting from 49% to 68% between 2006-07 and 2007-08 while also seeing an increase in scoring. Jenna Smith, the Kennedy graduate turned Fighting Illini, was second in the Big Ten in free throw shooting last year with a 78% conversion rate.

With any team, there are always other factors that can affect a player's performance. One of the biggest are the departing players, returning players and newcomers. Many other elements can also complicate why one thing happened one year and another happened the following year. Regardless of how big a team's to-do list is, FREE THROWS DO MATTER AND SHOULD BE EMPHASIZED. Free throws should not be tossed aside to focus on scoring short-range shots or putting up blocks; individual statistics mean nothing to the player that owns them if there is little to show for it.

Of course, free throws should matter to everyone on the team, not just post players.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I can now call myself an award-winning producer

I'm taking a little break from basketball blogging to let you know something I only found out today.

My 2007 documentary, "Autism: The Wall That Knows No Limits," won an award for Documentary: Public Awareness, non-professional division in the 2008 Alliance for Community Media Hometown Video Awards.

If you scroll down midway through the awards list, you'll see my name appear. I listed Minneapolis as I was living at the U when I filed the entry.

You can watch the program that won below.

It won't matter too much in a year from now, which means I'll continue to make new programming in the year to come.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Broadcast wrap-up: Battle of the Hardwood AAU tournament

Next time I do one of these, I'm ditching my sport coat and going with a polo. I understand my co-worker's reasoning to continue looking professional, but with an 80* high today (not bad for outdoor weather), it was close to a sauna in the Woodbury gym. My body matters too, lol.

Tracy Buford clicked very well. She's a quick learner in the art of broadcasting, although a little surprised when I got very excited at the end of the 17U championship. We got into some bar talk, but mixed it throughout the commentary. I know the players like to win AAU tournaments and improve for next high school season (or college for the older teams), but they also looked like they were having a little fun out there. I wanted to reflect that.

Regarding the games, North Tartan used a big run early in the 1st half against the Lady Suns to get up front and stay there, winning their game soundly 71-59. North Tartan's Sari Noga of Parkers Prairie had complete control over the defense of the Suns, lighting up from behind the arc and scoring some inside buckets too. She could make a name for herself before her high school career is over.

Paul Hill's NC Heat won a thriller over the Metro Stars 19U team 51-49. The Metro Stars used a man-to-man and forced a lot of missed shots in the 1st half, appeared to have control of NC Heat's zone defense, but buckled when the Heat switched to a half-court press late in the 2nd half. Having Tayler Hill and Megan Nipe as teammates doesn't help matters for opponents; Nipe did well in the 1st half while her good friend Hill did the same in the 2nd. NC Heat was down by 8 with 1:47 to go. Hill responded with 6 points on two three-point plays in 29 seconds to make it a one-possession game. She added a three-pointer and two more free throws in the final seconds while Courtney Boylan of the Metro Stars missed a critical free throw. With the game tied at 49 with 26 seconds to go, Hill held the ball and held back pressure for the final shot, where Katy Leick scored the winning basket at the buzzer. The Metro Stars may have been a little too relaxed and may not have anticipated NC Heat staying in there despite trailing by three possessions late, but it was a great primer for both teams for the summer and their return to school.

One surprise was the lack of time between games. Warm-ups are only five minutes, but I didn't expect halftime to be three minutes. I don't make the rules, but that puts a lot of pressure on a broadcast crew to make changes quickly and get back in there. The players are probably accustomed to it, but it's amazing how quickly the games go. I may try to attend some pool play games next time or obtain rosters of perennial contenders for better preparation and coordinate a better area for the broadcasters. Where we were was out of the spectators' way, but it was a little tiring to be standing for two games to clear the guardrail. However, I figured there would be some obstacles as this is a much different process than a high school game. I could also use a statistician for these as there isn't enough time to get scores and other stats. I'm better at picking up scoring runs now, but that would help dissect the game even further. I have much to learn about AAU.

On the positive side, I think this was the first time I completely winged an open and got through it without any mistakes in the middle, a sign that I'm maturing and developing as an announcer/reporter. Granted, this wasn't my first basketball game, but having general practice does help. As my co-worker Heinz says, you can't do this once and expect to be perfect.

Time to make my sign for ESPN's broadcast of the Twins-Yankees game tomorrow; it falls on my birthday. Even with all my work, I'm psyched about this. I rarely get to have this much fun on my birthdays, but that's another story.

A vs. AAAA All-Star game to be broadcast this week, I'm shooting to have AA vs. AAA done by the end of this week.

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