Saturday, November 29, 2008

Broadcast wrap-up: Central vs. Centennial, scheduling changes

Scheduling change:

We will not be airing the South-Hopkins game and possibly the Hopkins-Roosevelt game. This may also affect our plan to televise the Dick's Sporting Goods Holiday Tournament. My co-workers aren't pleased with this news. As a result, I will try to nail down the Lakeville North-South game at Becker next Saturday as a makeup. I will keep you posted.

On the game, I never felt more comfortable on a season premiere. I think the AAU, soccer and football games between season helped. I need to make sure I get names right, but that's an easy obstacle to clear compared how I was two years ago. Centennial won 68-56 with help from poor shooting on Central's end. Centennial has some ball control to work on, but it looks like their inside game is well-established. Bridget Schuneman led all players with 23 points.

However, it's still early. Central didn't appear to be outplayed. However, they need to work on finishing offensive rebounds and turning them into points. They won't last long otherwise.

At least this gives me time to start editing the Central-Centennial game. Look for it online.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Broadcast preview: Pat Paterson Tournament

A new season is almost upon us.

As expected, we will be broadcasting the Central vs. Centennial game set to tip off at 3:00 p.m., followed by the South vs. Hopkins game at 7:00 p.m. I can't say when the games will be ready to air, but the Central-Centennial game will be the first game I edit.

It's a little early for my quick hits, they will return for the Central vs. Cretin-Derham Hall game. However, I can tell you about one big change you'll see for Keystone Productions broadcasts. This will be our first year broadcasting games in widescreen format. With YouTube and everyone else offering widescreen broadcasts, it's only appropriate that we stay in the 21st century. What this means is more space on screen, so you can see more action.

For tomorrow's games, there will be one thing you will hear from coaches and myself: It's early. Championships aren't won in November. That's not to say the games will be good; Centennial was the team that ended Central's 34-game winning streak a year ago at this tournament, but what you'll see now will be very different than what you'll see in March.

I will call the first game solo, Brandon Jones will make his debut for the South-Hopkins game.

Wrap-up to come tomorrow night.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Making her move"

I decided to write my profile assignment in my magazine writing class on Theairra Taylor, who committed to Iowa this November. This is the final, graded version. As before, the deck is in the larger Times font.

Several colleges are eyeing two-time state champion Theairra Taylor. This No
vember, she will make her biggest move in her basketball career.

On a recent visit to the Univers
ity of Pittsburgh, 17-year-old Theairra Taylor was enjoying her time out east, expecting to have some small talk with the athletic staff. Instead, she felt pressured to commit to the school's basketball team immediately.

"I was at the dinner table almost shaking. I couldn't really speak," she says. "It was really difficult to leave that night. I don't really like that uncomfortable feeling."

The St. Paul Central standout hasn't faced another Pittsburgh-like scenario since, but her experience underscores a complex process that is now the norm for many high school players.

Taylor's 5-feet-10-inch body, three-point range and agility helped her land scholarship offers as a
sophomore. Now a senior, Taylor will choose a college in November to play women's basketball. In the running are Big Ten schools Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, along with Big East schools Marquette and Pittsburgh.

Before Taylor could visit any of those schools, she had to submit her ACT score and high school transcript. After that, her college visits were filled with administrative meetings and team outings designed to build chemistry with her potential teammates.

Willie Taylor, Central's head coach, has watched nine players continue playing basketball careers at NCAA Division One schools during his coaching career. Theairra, who is not related to the coach, will be his 10th. He'll be the first to say that he still learns new things when he gets calls from colleges looking to recruit his players.

"Theairra is the first kid that I coached who waited this long," he says. "It's a pain in the neck. Every school feels like they got to call me every day. You run out of things to talk about. But I'm willing to do whatever she needs to do to help her select the best school."

At the same time, colleges are doing whatever they can to convince Taylor their school is the best.
When Taylor visited Minnesota Sept. 12, she was escorted to the Metrodome to watch Minnesota's football team in pregame exercises and was given a tour of the new football stadium. She even put on the hard hat, safety vest and goggles construction workers use while working.

When she wasn't touring schools, Taylor and her parents say the family was taken to restaurants where the cheapest selections were around $20. On one of their hotel stays, Taylor saw Diana Taurasi and her Phoenix Mercury teammates.

Taylor enjoyed the atmosphere and meeting new people, but the physical wear and time commitment eventually caught up.

"After a while, it kind of got tiring. I was starting to miss school, starting to not have weekends. I missed a few football games," she says.

The recruiting efforts weren't limited to school visits either.

"They had times where they can come visit your school," Taylor says, "I missed half of my math class, which happens to me my toughest subject, and my teacher wasn't so lenient at first."

Taylor is learning that time management will be an even bigger focus when she starts taking college courses. Her friends who play at Division One schools told her workout routines that took place once in a while in high school are now a daily part of the schedule.

"I told Theairra, being a student athlete, they expect a lot of you," says her mother Michelle Taylor. "Their days start at eight and they're back in their homes at eight and this repeats every day. That's not something you're used to in high school."

Michelle Taylor persistently dreams of her daughter finally committing to a college only to wake up and realize that hasn't happened yet.

"Everyone keeps telling us that you'll know, you'll have this feeling. But when you go and have a good experience, it just makes your decision even harder," she says. "Theairra said to me 'You know why you don't know? It's because I don't know.'"

The investment schools put into Taylor won't make the final decision any easier. Willie Taylor says every college Taylor is considering put in a lot of money to set up visits with her.

"She'll have to tell four schools no. It's scary to see how they're going to react to that no," he says.

Taylor could be feeling anxious right now with everything she has encountered in the last couple months. Instead, like everything else that comes into her life, she's relaxed about everything.

"I keep telling each coach there's not anything you need to do because it's basically just a decision I'll have to make upon myself," she says.

Taylor is looking for three things that will influence her school selection.

"The graduation rate of the team, if I feel like I fit into the scheme of the program, (and) the team itself. If I feel like I can't fit in, it's going to be a struggle," she says.

So what will happen when Taylor finally makes her choice to end this ongoing plot?

"I want to talk to her before she calls the school and get one last look, and then I'm going to be happy for her," Willie Taylor says. "Then we're going to celebrate."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2008-09 TV schedule

I've connected with several coaches and conferred with a few analysts to develop the 2008-09 high school girls basketball TV schedule. My schedule lightens up next semester with one less class, so my afternoons and evenings will be generally free.

All games will be uploaded to YouTube, although the delay between the game date and broadcast date will vary as I will be editing all these games. As I mentioned earlier, I will be following NBC's Sunday Night Football "Flex pick" model, so all games are subject to change. I'll provide updates if they do. Reasons may include current status of the teams playing (there isn't a lot of parity within many conferences in our coverage area), and funding (if we get a sponsored game versus a non-sponsored one. This stuff isn't free to produce). I also included reasons for the games I selected below.

If you or an organization you work for would like to sponsor any of these games, send an e-mail to and I will connect you with my co-worker, who takes care of sponsorships. I linked a recent game I televised to give you an idea of how I would acknowledge your contributions.

Sponsorship recognition

Saturday, Nov. 29th
Pat Paterson Tournament - Hamline University
The first tournament may produce a potential Central/Centennial match followed by South/Hopkins as they begin their journey for a state title. Central's never won three in a row, by the way. The teams that won their brackets last year were knocked out in the section finals, so an early win may not be a good omen.

Tuesday, Dec. 16th
Cretin-Derham Hall vs. St. Paul Central - Central High School, 7:00 p.m.
This is usually Central's barometer game; what they use here may be a model for the rest of the season.

Friday, Dec. 19th
Hopkins vs. Minneapolis Roosevelt - Roosevelt High School, 7:00 p.m.
I'm on winter break here, which frees my schedule up. This could be Shakila Boler's first game back from an MCL/ACL injury she suffered this summer and the first opportunity to see Roosevelt at full strength.

Wednesday, Dec. 31st
Dick's Sporting Goods Holiday Classic, Championship Game - Lindbergh Center, Hopkins, 6:00 p.m.
Decision may depend on the final two teams, but the bracket features four of last year's class AAAA state tournament participants (Central, Eastview, Osseo, South) and host Hopkins. The most anticipated tournament in the non-conference portion of the schedule.

Saturday, Jan. 10th
Jordan vs. Minneapolis South - South High School, 1:00 p.m.
Jordan makes their first of two Minneapolis visits, bringing returning stars Brittany Chambers and Leah Dietel to face you know who.

Tuesday, Jan. 13th
Johnson vs. St. Paul Central - Central High School, 7:00 p.m.
This may be Johnson's best chance to pull off an upset against the St. Paul City Conference favorite. Central is still ranked, but considerably weaker in the proven talent department.

Monday, Feb. 2nd
Jordan vs. Minneapolis Roosevelt - Roosevelt High School, 7:00 p.m.
Chambers and Dietel vs. Boler and Maguirre. Jordan's second visit to Minneapolis. Roosevelt plans to debut their alternate uniforms at this game, but more importantly, it could be a preview of the class AA, section four final. Jordan beat Roosevelt to qualify for last year's state tournament.

Friday, Feb. 6th
(Doubleheader) St. Paul Academy vs. Mounds Park Academy - Lansing Sports Center, Mounds Park Academy, 6:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Two Tri-Metro rivals in a girls/boys doubleheader. The S.P.A. girls team features the O'Brien sisters and Niambi Mitchell, while the boys rivalry is usually close. If this doesn't work out, the date below would be a makeup.

Saturday, Feb. 14th or Tuesday, Feb. 17th
Minnehaha Academy vs. DeLaSalle, 6:00 p.m. OR Minneapolis Roosevelt vs. Minneapolis South, 7:00 p.m.
Either a snapshot of the Tri-Metro's premiere teams before the state tournament, where DeLaSalle beat Minnehaha Academy in last year's AAA semifinal, or a potential battle between Roosevelt and South for the Minneapolis City Conference title and right to the Twin Cities game

Saturday, Feb. 28th
Twin Cities Championship - Minneapolis site
The last tune-up opportunity before playoffs begin

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