Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sponsorship information

Followers of this blog may know that I've moved from Keystone Productions to Ty Video Productions. The changes of switching companies include an increased emphasis on sponsorships to help support our broadcasts.

Sponsorship packages start at just $25 and your business would be featured on Metro Cable Network, where our games will be broadcast this season. MCN broadcasts to 1.5 million cable viewers in the Twin Cities area. Of course, the MCN telecasts are on top of our broadcasts online. Whether you sponsor just one game or the entire season, our broadcasts won't be possible without your help!

If you or someone you know is part of a business that would like to be a part of these games, please contact Jeremy Connolly at 651-955-6505 or by e-mail at tyvideoproductions@gmail.com. Learn more by visiting the Ty Video Productions website.
You can also contact Ty Video Productions to order DVD copies of our games!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mark your calendars!

We're less than two weeks away from the start of high school basketball coverage with Ty Video Productions. 15 games are scheduled for telecast this season on Metro Cable Network from late November through early March. Look for all our games online and on TV starting in December. Match-ups are listed below with pregame summary.

Saturday, November 28th (girls)
Pat Paterson Thanksgiving Tournament @ Hamline University
Bracket A Championship - Rosemount/St. Paul Central vs. Highland Park/Centennial, 10:45 a.m.
Bracket B Championship - White Bear Lake/Minneapolis North vs. Lakeville North/Osseo, 2:15 p.m.

Last year's AAAA runner-up will be one of the stronger teams to start the season, followed by a deep Lakeville North team led by Wisconsin recruit Cassie Rochel, provided those two win their respective first-round games. South Dakota State recruit Megan Waytashek and junior Kahla Becken are key returning players for Centennial. Central will be in rebuilding mode this year, but they do have head coach Willie Taylor, who carries a 262-51 overall record in his head coaching career with the Minutemen.

Saturday, December 5th (girls)
Breakdown Tip-Off Classic @ Hopkins, Lindbergh Center
DeLaSalle vs. St. Paul Central, 11:45 a.m.
followed by
Bloomington Kennedy vs. Minnehaha Academy, 3:45 p.m.
Lakeville North vs. Minneapolis Roosevelt, 5:30 p.m.

The second game will depend on the results of the Pat Paterson tournament. Faith Johnson Patterson moves to the island along with some of her players that got her a 2nd place finish with Minneapolis North in the class AAA state tournament last season. No doubt they will be a contender, looking to erase years of big-game futility under former head coach Brian Frye.

Saturday, December 12th (boys)
Buffalo vs. St. Cloud Apollo @ St. Cloud State, 7:00 p.m.
Our first boys game of the season. Both teams finished in the top 10 in class AAA last season. This may not be the only these two teams fight in 2009-10.

Thursday, December 17th (boys)
Monticello vs. Elk River @ Elk River, 7:00 p.m.
Another top 10 team in AAA last season (Monticello) against a school that plays well with the Magic.

Friday, January 8th (boys)
St. Paul Johnson vs. St. Paul Central @ Central, 7:00 p.m.
Top two teams in the St. Paul City Conference last season play the first of two games. Johnson usually fields teams in the AAA boys state tournament and Central is no slouch either.

Tuesday, January 12th (boys)
Minneapolis North vs. Minneapolis Washburn @ Washburn, 7:00 p.m.
We head to the west side of the river to cover yet another top 10 team last season in AAA (Washburn) facing a school with a rich history behind its back.

Tuesday, January 19th (girls)
Eden Prairie vs. Chaska @ Chaska, 7:15 p.m.
DeLaSalle vs. Minnehaha Academy @ Minnehaha, 5:45 p.m.

This girls date will also depend on the Pat Paterson tournament and how the teams fair in the early leg of the season. Eden Prairie reached the AAAA semifinals last season before falling to Centennial.

Tuesday, January 26th (girls)
Robbinsdale Armstrong vs. Minneapolis South @ South, 7:00 p.m.
The 2009 AAAA state champions in girls basketball will have to defend against a team upset by Minneapolis Southwest in last year's section playoffs. South is the preseason favorite to win the Minneapolis City Conference, but expect a wide open race for some time. This will be Armstrong's final year in the Classic Lake before that conference is dissolved.

Friday, February 5th (girls)
Lakeville North vs. Chaska @ Chaska, 7:15 p.m.
Two solid Lake Conference programs for girls basketball. The Panthers were ranked 4th in class AAAA in 2009 while the Hawks were #5. The matchup between Rochel and Tisch will be key.

Friday, February 12th (girls)
Osseo vs. Centennial @ Centennial, 7:00 p.m.
We move to the Northwest Suburban Conference for this girls game. Osseo has played stubborn against Centennial before, delivering the biggest upset in 2008 by knocking the Cougars out in the section final and giving them two competitive games last year under new head coach Joey Waters.

Saturday, February 20th (boys)
DeLaSalle vs. Cretin-Derham Hall @ Cretin, 5:00 p.m.
Both teams were unranked last season, but the Raiders import several top football players who also show court skills. DeLaSalle produces high-level talent as well.

Saturday, February 27th (girls)
Twin Cities girls championship @ St. Paul, 1:30 p.m.
I wish I could tell you who will play against each other here, but parity will be much higher to start the season as both conferences lost a lot of talent to graduation. Minneapolis and St. Paul will be weaker, as will most of the state. Whoever plays here will likely be the result of good coaching versus pure talent.

Saturday, March 6th (boys)
Twin Cities boys championship, 1:30 p.m. (site TBD)
The talent on the boys side hasn't dropped, and fans will get a good game with the boys conference winners.

Sponsorship information will be posted tomorrow.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Sports Brain returns...and so will the hoops.

About six months ago, I wasn't sure if I would continue covering basketball as my old producer and I parted ways and I lacked support to go forward. This was also the reasoning behind my lack of participation on this site. After covering two football games in October and holding a few chats with my new producer at Ty Video Productions, that concern is no more. I'll be returning to televise the 2009-2010 basketball season.

There will be two big changes this season. Given the whirlwind taking place on the girls side for 2009-2010, we'll be expanding to the boys side for the first time this season. We won't be abandoning coverage of girls basketball altogether, we're just leveling the playing field in terms of coverage.

Change #2 is where the games will be broadcast. We'll still broadcast on SPNN for cable viewers in the St. Paul area, but we'll be expanding in that area too. My producer worked a deal to broadcast games on the Metro Cable Network (channel 6), whose range includes the entire Twin Cities metro area. You don't need to be in St. Paul or wait for the online broadcast to watch your favorite teams in action if you live somewhere else in the metro region.

A TV schedule will be posted when it's finalized. Expect us to televise some major events, but it's the single games that will be more challenging to pencil in.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Broadcast preview: 3rd annual Urban Bowl

I'm on crew again to televise the 3rd annual Urban Bowl at Griffin Stadium (Central's field) Saturday for SPNN. If you're new, it's an all-star football game meant to recognize the best players in the Minneapolis and St. Paul City Conference. Given the weak performance of both conferences among current teams in the last few years, this is probably the best exposure returning players are going to get all season. However, this one has a little more meaning than its spiritual sister, the Inner City All-Star Classic, because Minneapolis players will play against St. Paul players instead of a random jumble. The game is still an exhibition and nothing more than a structured pick-up game, but there are some bragging rights at stake.

The game should look a little more slick than last time as I have rosters and players to watch with me to use for graphics, along with some promotional images. The only real concern I have is the game starting later than its scheduled 3:15 kickoff. Last year, the game started 30 minutes late with no warning, which I thought was disrespectful. However, once you start televising games, it doesn't take too long for the beneficiaries to understand the process behind making a broadcast successful. I'm the graphics designer this time around, so you'll have to wait a little longer for my play-by-play.

The game itself will be tape-delayed, so you'll have to visit http://www.spnn.org to find out when the game is airing. Unfortunately, if you don't live in St. Paul, you won't be able to watch the game.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Broadcast wrap-up: Inner City All-Star Classic

My performance left more to be desired as a sleepless night reared its ugly head and affected my focus. I could have spent some more time doing prep work for the event as far as the CG graphics, but at least I unveiled a new feature that I'll use for ensemble games. Tayler Hill and Royce White got the MVP trophies for what it's worth, although the scorekeeping and officiating was pretty loose. It's always a laid-back game. I already discussed what I think would help improve the event. Overall, I thought I could have turned in a better performance for the network, but I'm sure they'll enjoy the production values I offer for the event.

Things will go back to normal for a while, although I don't have any projects coming up for about a month that come with a paycheck attached. I suppose it's hard to pitch yourself when you're new to the game. I will be making my hockey debut later this month (I know, somewhat of a disconnect, but it's good to get that first one out of the way in time for the big games). Hopefully I'll find something to kill time soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Broadcast preview: Inner City All-Star Classic

A little late, although I've been busy working on pregame videos for the event. Arlington will likely get a little warm tomorrow without air conditiong in the building, which usually makes for a bad sign as far as the crowd goes; seeing them wave flyers around isn't exactly the best way to market the game. I do miss not having the event at Concordia's Gangelhoff Center, which I thought was a better venue than Arlington. Just my two cents; I'm not familiar with what goes on to set up the event. The only problem I had was finding stats on the players for introductions; some coaches don't do very well posting stats. I bring up a suggestion from Kevin Anderson last year that they should offer the spot for people looking to volunteer; there are many bright, young mathematicians out there and would make the players' bios less empty (favorite food doesn't cut it when you're on the verge of adulthood, unless you're marketing the game to 10-year-olds).

Three players who participated in this year's All-Star series will be in the girls game: Kara Elofson of Hopkins, Brittany Zins of Kennedy, and Brianna Edwards of Minneapolis North. In all fairness, there should have been six. Katya Leick was scheduled to play but had other commitments and won't be at the event (Leick was in the all-star series), Theairra Taylor would have been a lock had she not suffered her ACL injury, and Tayler Hill would have been a lock for the all-star series but used up her eligibility with two national all-star games. One of the stranger years, but this will be the final high school game Tayler Hill plays. Three players from the legendary Hopkins boys team will also dress for the game.

There is some history this year. This is the first time that both the Mr. and Miss Minnesota Basketball award winners will play in the same event. Given the level of basketball talent in the last few years, this statistic was inevitable, but still worth highlighting. I'll probably include something tomorrow to use for my in-game graphics.

Time to do a little research on past players who took part in the event (there's often a lot of dead time). I'm going to a grad party after the game, so a postgame report won't come until at least Monday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sparks-Lynx recap

I'm happy that Tamara Moore doesn't like to see her "shadows" sit around, she had me dive in with some post-game interviews tonight, although I did it with another colleague I met at the game. The Lynx defeated the Sparks 87-76 as four Lynx players scored double-digits, getting some help from the Sparks when Lisa Leslie fouled out with 52 seconds left in the third quarter.

I co-interviewed Leslie along with Sparks players Betty Lennox and Vanessa Hayden, who was with the Lynx last season. On the Lynx's end, I talked to Nicky Anosike and Candace Wiggins. Throughout the post-game interviews, I never felt uncomfortable, which I attribute to interviewing several Gophers players and personnel in the last few years and doing more sideline interviews overall last season. That said, I definitely took a cautious approach to tonight's game as I became familiar with the process. I feel relaxed enough about reporting a game when I'm assigned to cover one and with a little fine-tuning, it should bolster my resumé as I start to move up the ladder.

Don't have much time to rest though. I begin several days of work for the upcoming Inner City All-Star Classic, which will include pregame interviews and player introductions. Nothing I haven't done before, but interviews are always a challenge. I'll provide a pregame report on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My first Lynx game and my new home

As far as updates go, I will no longer be working with Keystone Productions. An incident early in the spring combined with creative differences makes working with that organization no longer feasible. I'll be broadcasting high school hockey games with Ty Productions next winter and am working to move my basketball coverage under the Ty banner. I'll be calling a game later this month as a "test run" to see how everything will work out and I may do the same with basketball to see how my new co-worker fairs. So far, I like what I see from my new colleague and I definitely know ways to ramp up the quality of his broadcasts. What this likely means is I'll be reducing the number of basketball games I televise to accommodate hockey, but I won't leave altogether. There are quite a few basketball names in the community who don't want to see me leave, and if I want to advance my announcing career, that's probably a good idea.

In other news, I'll be shadowing former WNBA player Tamara Moore for tomorrow's Sparks-Lynx game as she reports for Community Hoops, where I'll do some freelance reporting later this summer. The Lynx come in at 2-0 with wins over Chicago and Indiana while Los Angeles is 1-1 after splitting a home-and-home series with Detroit. The Sparks picked up Tina Thompson from the dispersal draft after the Comets folded, and her presence reduces the impact of Candace Parker's absence as she recovers from giving birth last month. The Lynx's strength is still their one-two punch of Seimone Augustus and Candace Wiggins, but the interesting storyline will be the development of UConn alum Renee Montgomery as the season progresses. Still early, but this should serve as a barometer game for the young Lynx and the veteran Sparks. Post-game report to come tomorrow night.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Broadcast wrap-up: Alumni Basketball Classic

While AAAA won the all-star series without the class' top players and AA taking home third place, the Alumni Basketball Classic in St. Paul proved to have the climax of a Timberwolves game; non-existent. Then again, so was the Miss Basketball ceremony as Tayler Hill got what everyone and their dog saw coming since spring of last year. She certainly had the stats to back her up, and Ohio State will likely welcome her explosive play. If anything, the other nominees may have lost out in this for no other reason than having to graduate the same year as Hill. By no means are they untalented, but they didn't have to reach state tournaments (and win in some cases) by themselves. They were just simply overshadowed, but they'll get their chance to make a name too as they join their respective colleges.

As far as the alumni classic, the quality of play is virtually non-existent. You can tell most of the high school alumni who participate have aged considerably as they get tired pretty fast. Mechanic Arts and friends beat Central 63-51 for what it's worth. The most dramatic moment didn't come from the game, it came from the crew. The director fell ill at the end of the game and had to step out. He had another shoot to work on later that night and I didn't hear anything about his condition. Our producer offered to have him checked out, but he refused. You'll notice a throwback graphics design if you watch the broadcast on SPNN channel 19. Find out when the game will be on by visiting http://www.spnn.org.

For now, the next sporting event I would be involved with in the near future is the Inner City All-Star Classic in the summer, another exhibition event that carries little significance as far as the game is concerned, but will be the last chance to see most Minneapolis/St. Paul players in action before they head to college. The odds for AAU are still not in my favor and other spring sports are virtually impossible to televise, so I may not see play-by-play action again until next basketball season. Something may spring up, but given my luck, I doubt it. I'll post again when the next sporting event I'm called up for comes.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Broadcast preview: Alumni Basketball Classic XVIII

I'm hired to broadcast the 18th annual Alumni Basketball Classic on SPNN, where high school alumni meet once a year from different schools to play each other in a friendly. The level of play is OK; the older competitors don't have the stamina they once held in high school, but what I do enjoy about the broadcast is the chance to do old-school graphics. Since I started doing this a few years ago, I always have at least one game where I use throwback graphics. Because of the change in the event in recent years, I switched from an '80s motif to a '90s motif this year. In fact, I'm using the template and style NBC used for their sporting events for the 1992-93 season.

However, this means I won't be able to televise Saturday's finals for the girls basketball All-Star series. I'm not as disappointed as I normally would be because several players are unable to participate, including Tayler Hill (ineligible), Theairra Taylor (injury) and Megan Nipe (injury). Needless to say, the '09 rendition will have a little more Pro Bowl look to it, although some of the top players in other classes will be playing tomorrow. My guess is they had trouble getting Schoenecker Arena again and had to move their finals from Sunday to Saturday.

I'm not sure what to expect next season. The situation with one of my co-workers is rockier than before; we haven't contacted each other for a month. Considering he had several resources I used for these productions that I currently do not have, it may put the future of broadcasting games in doubt. What this means is up in the air, but it's created an awkward situation as a result of the month-long stalemate. The solutions are few, but I consider this a moment where I find out who my true allies are.

Recap to come soon.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Broadcast wrap-up: 2009 state tournament

I still have yet to view the post-season show, and I still have a few hurdles to clear as far as slowing down and being more conversational (I think having additional people might help that aspect as fewer things will rush through my head). Initially speaking, I was far more comfortable being there than I was last year, even without Heinz leading the way. It was a bit of a hindrance as far as interviews go (I was hoping to get Centennial on the way out), but I guess you can call me committed. I had gone through too much to just say forget it. Despite our bare bones equipment, we made it work. I also successfully recorded the AAA and AAAA games to my computer, so I'll be using as much footage as I'm allowed from 45.

St. Michael-Albertville won what will be their only state title in class AAA; they're moving up to AAAA next season by beating a Minneapolis North team who was rather young; many players still have yet to attend high school. 63-50 was the final. North is scheduled to go to class AA, but they're requesting to stay in AAA, so we'll see what happens. In any case, at some point, the experience can be overwhelming for players who aren't old enough for driver's education. North looked lost after jumping out to a quick start and could never find that spark in the second half. St. Michael-Albertville wasn't supposed to be there either as the unofficial 7 seed (they were technically unseeded) and ended up as the surprise of the tournament. However, North may return to the powerhouse they were at the beginning of the decade.

Things finished as expected in class AAAA, but the final score was closer than expected. Minneapolis South won 68-61 over Centennial with 47 points coming from Tayler Hill alone. Hill was the only player to score double-digits for South, except they didn't lose this time. Megan Nipe scored 22 points for Centennial, but this game was won from the free throw line. South was 25-30 (83%) while Centennial was 17-26 (65%) from the charity stripe. For those who think free throws aren't important (they generally don't provide many points by percentage), they really do make a difference that can't be attributed to how the other team plays. Hill tied the all-time tournament record for points in a single game and easily broke the all-time single season scoring record. She finishes her dream season with 1,053 points. More astonishing is that Hill didn't score below 20 all season. Not even Sadiqah Jihad fouling out or Tyisha Smith leaving the game due to a knee injury would stop South from winning what was supposed to be theirs last year, the class AAAA state championship.

You'll see us again at the All-Star series, but looking back now, some goals I will try for next season (should I return) are:

1. Create an emergency plan in case one of my co-workers goes AWOL for three weeks and fails to respond to any form of communication. I almost got burned today.

2. Expand the coverage area. We went to Becker, but it was to televise a game featuring Minneapolis South. You may see us head for the Lake Conference or Suburban East as St. Paul looks rather weak for 2009-10.

3. Focus on just play-by-play, whether I call games solo or with a partner.

4. Find a few more faces who are willing to call games with me. The sources I have now are reliable, but they're often swamped with basketball schedules of their own (coaching that is). Guess you can't take people away from the thing they love most.

5. Be more careful when conducting interviews with college players. I almost landed in hot water, but cleared up the issue before it boiled.

Exhausting as it was, and frustrating, I'm glad to close the book for 2008-09. You'll see the post-season show soon. I don't expect to televise AAU this summer given the logisitical concerns, but you never know.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Broadcast preview: 2009 state tournament

I've visited the Target Center a couple times this week to clear a few hurdles; the place isn't as intimidating once you get used to the layout. I'm not sure how this year will turn out compared to last year. Heinz is on another shoot, leaving Bob and I left to televise the tournament. Bob wasn't able to secure a DSR 250, so we'll see how the 300 handles the lights of Target Center. I'm bringing a camera from the U of M, which does a pretty solid job on its own.

I do kind of wish Heinz would have gotten to us sooner; I've tried unsuccessfully to contact him for three weeks and his other commitments is one reason why I'm considering to not continue after this. I don't question his work ethic, but a girls basketball schedule is too exhausting with parts of the operation at different places. Several DVDs have yet to be published and it's getting to the point where it may not be worth broadcasting them on SPNN. Combine that with the lack of sponsorship support, and I feel that I could get some practice some place else. At times, I feel like a lone man beating a dead bush. In any case, there's still some post-season action left with class AAA and AAAA.

Minneapolis North, while ranked in AAA themselves, have taken down two teams ranked above them to reach the final with St. Michael-Albertville, the unofficial 7 seed. Analysts suggest North will steamroll STMA, although North's last win was part skill and part sheer luck with a missed New Prague free throw. With several 8th-graders on the team, I'd expect them to be a force again if they can't pull out a win against STMA. North also has the state assists leader: Chelsey McGee, who happens to be an 8th-grader. Faith Johnson-Patterson has also won five state titles in her tenure with the Polars, which means she has another hand to fill.

Everything has gone as expected in class AAAA as many thought South and Centennial would be the potential match-up from the start of the season. Centennial's damaged as Megan Nipe has played with a bad knee all season. South is at full strength and proved they can win even after "goofing off" for a half as they erased a 14-point halftime deficit Thursday to beat Eastview. South was the heavy favorite coming in and some said their section final was essentially for the state tournament. So was the thought last year, except Central pulled off a minor upset. Centennial's team doesn't have the depth like Central did a year ago. However, South has lived and died on Tayler Hill. If Centennial shuts her down like Central did, other players will be forced to step up, which isn't something they're used to. This year will likely be South's last chance to win a state title for some time. Centennial will have some rebuilding to do, but they have some good players coming up.


1. Tayler Hill's scoring total has yet to be finalized, which is essentially a waiting period to find out how many points will someone have to score to break her record. Speaking of records, Hill easily won the scoring title this year, passing the 1,000 point mark in her game against Eastview. If Hill's previous season high? 857 in her sophomore year. She also will lead the state in another category: free throws made and free throws attempted (250/327). Do the math, and that's almost 25% of her scoring total from the charity stripe.

2. Hill posted seven double-doubles this season, also a career high while playing at South.

3. Bridget Schuneman stepped up this season, placing second in the Northwest Suburban Conference in scoring and leading the conference in rebounds.

4. Megan Nipe, while hurt, averages over 16 points per game this season. For many players, that would be a dream statistic (especially at places like Arlington, Harding and Como Park).

5. Centennial lost twice this season, once to Osseo without Megan Nipe and once to Hill-Murray with Nipe. South also lost twice, once to Hopkins when not at full strength and an upset loss to Maple Grove at full strength. In other words, full rosters doesn't necessarily mean an automatic win.

By the way, if Hill scores 17 points or more today, she will break the record for most points in a single season.

If you go today, you'll see Willie Taylor there. Not because his team is in, but because he's on the selection committee for the all-state team in class AAAA.

Time to throw my NCAA bracket out the window. Didn't see the Wisconsin upset coming.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Section seeds

I'll post my reflections on the Twin Cities game shortly, but before I do that, I will offer my thoughts on section seeding involving teams I've televised this season in tandem with the St. Paul City Conference.

We'll start with section four in class AA. Jordan and Roosevelt are the two #1 seeds in their subsections and it's hard to fathom that either will face any difficulty until they play each other again. Jordan crushed Roosevelt in their first meeting, but Roosevelt may pull off an upset if they can work together as a group. Shakila Boler has had more time to catch up with her teammates. Roosevelt had no trouble beating other high seeds in their section, knocking off Humboldt and St. Croix Lutheran despite not being at full strength. Humboldt may get to the subsection final, but it will likely be Jordan and Roosevelt in the final. Jordan's two losses this season were against teams they will not face in post-season play and are the favorites to win class AA. My pick: Jordan.

On to section four in class AAA. Hill-Murray and Minnehaha Academy are the top seeds. Unfortunately, we couldn't televise their regular season game as Hill-Murray went through some problems with their boys hockey team posting pictures of themselves violating league rules on Facebook. However, the bulk of the St. Paul City Conference is in this section. St. Paul is still very weak; Central had no problem winning another conference title this season. Highland Park would be a threat if they could beat teams better than they are, but they've failed to do that in the last two seasons and suffered an upset loss to Mahtomedi. Hill-Murray and Minnehaha will play each other again, but it's a toss-up regarding who will make it to state.

Chaska leads the group in section two in class AAAA. Eden Prairie is second. EP beat Central twice this season, but lost to the Lake Conference winner in both regular season games. However, we've all heard the old adage about beating a team three times. Richfield may have something to say about that as Classic Suburban champs winning 22 of their last 23 games. Kennedy beat Chaska in January as well and lost by just three in the second meeting. Prior Lake doesn't have enough to hold up as the game they played against Chaska will show you. Any one of the top four seeds has a chance to qualify for state. My pick: Chaska by a slight edge as they've come out on top more often than not in the tough Lake Conference.

Which brings us to section three in class AAAA. Lakeville North is number one and split their season series with Chaska, falling one game shy of the Lake title. Park of Cottage Grove fell hard with the loss of Voigt to graduation and Fisher to an ACL injury. They'll look to rebuild for next season. Lakeville North beat Eastview twice, the first by one and the second time by 14. Eastview can't be counted out, but Lakeville North brings in depth and talent. Don't let the 19-7 record fool you. My pick: Lakeville North.

Section four in class AAAA features Central and Cretin-Derham Hall. We didn't televise Woodbury this season, although they came back in a big way with the return of Sarah Hintz this season. Woodbury lost twice this season to Minnesota teams (the third was against a Wisconsin team) and while their deliberate style can be beaten, it won't be easy. Woodbury gets in trouble if their opponent reaches the 60s. White Bear Lake was close both times against Woodbury, but will have to play through Central first. Cretin's not going anywhere. St. Paul Central exceeded coach Willie Taylor's expectations; he told me they would be 18-8 coming into sections. At 20-6, they're unpredictable. They haven't faired well against other class AAAA teams this season, but did beat Osseo. They get a lot of box-and-ones, but don't have the same depth they did over the last two seasons or the same level of talent. My pick: Woodbury.

Speaking of Osseo, the Orioles and Centennial both play in section five in class AAAA. Centennial is #1 and Osseo is #2. The two split their season series, although Nipe didn't play the first time. The Cougars won by 15 in the second meeting when she returned. Nipe, however, isn't the same player we've seen in previous years; Bridget Schuneman leads the team in scoring this year. That doesn't make Centennial a slouch though. Osseo upset Centennial last year and lost close games with other top AAAA teams this season despite a new coach (Joey Waters, who was an assistant at Central last year). They could pull it off once again. My pick: Centennial, hopefully it won't be the kiss of death.

Finally, the big one: section six in class AAAA. Hopkins and South have identical records, so don't let their seedings fool you. South's loss to Hopkins came when they weren't at full strength and my colleague at Community Hoops says Armstrong caught Hopkins on a bad day to upset them. Hopkins barely escaped over Wayzata in their second meeting. Hopkins looks strong, but they're not invincible. South can't do much about their conference, but they've figured out how to beat the box-and-one as they're loaded with shooters. South's two losses came when Tayler Hill was the only player to break double digits, so taking out her support options will be the key to success. South hasn't lost since their upset loss to Maple Grove, however. Armstrong may have something to say too after their loss to South in the regular season. Minnetonka has come up with some big wins as well despite going 12-14. Call me a pack follower, but I believe whoever comes out on top in this section will win the state title in class AAAA. South will have to get through Armstrong and Hopkins to get in, but they're used to this kind of pressure. My pick: Minneapolis South

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A test of morale

Obviously, the Minnehaha-DeLaSalle game didn't work out. The DeLaSalle coaches wouldn't give the green light. That makes two games we were turned away (although one was out of everyone's control) that would have made for great television. Calling games and streaming them online has turned into an experiment on human behavior. Given that I study behavioral patterns of people all the time, this is turning into a big learning experience.

Speaking of behavior, the cynicism I'm dealing with from my co-workers isn't helping my morale or interest in continuing high school broadcasts after this season. I spoke with Heinz about a game plan for the upcoming Central-South Twin Cities game (the fifth straight time the two teams will play each other and the eighth overall since 2005). Talk of the controversy about Tayler Hill's scoring record came up and I recited everything that was reported in local media outlets (every newspaper and TV station in the metro area). His response was that it was all made up.

I understand the need to obtain information, but when you're not available to get it, I don't feel that everyone else is making up quotes and other information that isn't correct, although the South A.D. did tell me the Pioneer Press made an error about the attendance of last night's South-Roosevelt game. TV stations get their ideas from newspapers frequently and vice-versa. It was accurate reporting (and lack of hometown bias) that busted the U of M men's basketball team years ago for academic fraud. Unfortunately, there are the Janet Cooks and Jayson Blairs that tarnish the reputation of the profession, but not everyone thinks of journalism as making it up. If we're talking cynicism, who's to say I'm not fabricating every detail I recite. I don't, but this is a potential danger of cynicism: you don't trust anyone. As such, he claims that I would be the first to reveal information about Tayler Hill's college selection process or the scoring record controversy (that will likely end in a few games). Sorry to burst your bubble, but I'm not.

Heinz has also commented on my reporting and interviewing style. While he has admitted that he does this sometimes to rile me up, I wonder if I have the right approach in the wrong field. Sports, by default, is designed to be entertaining. However, as I said in my last post, asking people what their favorite pizza topping is won't get you anywhere. I try to have fun with these people, but I always ask serious questions designed to make people think about themselves as players and as students. I have a limited amount of opportunities and don't want to give these people free passes. As such, I emphasize what's happening in the game since that's the most relevant piece of information. It's old by the time we televise, but if we were looking for pure entertainment, I'd be doing another type of show.

My naïvete or Heinz's lack of journalistic training could be altering both our perspectives, but I don't know if it's worth continuing to call games if the cycle of cynicism and obsession with entertainment versus breaking the story continues. When you're on the same beat as other reporters who have a bigger budget and resources available, the goal is to find a way to stand out from the others, which is what I've attempted once I became comfortable with doing play-by-play. However, you can't always get everything and have to trust the work of others when that happens. Everyone's looking for that break, but there is some team play that goes on in journalism and I feel I'm the only one who understands this.

Then again, given what's happened with some teams this year, perhaps there are few who actually care about how good reporters like me cover the field. Perhaps I'm stuck on an old-school model. Sometimes I wish I knew the answers without having to second-guess myself.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Broadcast wrap-up: Osseo vs. St. Paul Central

Free throws were the difference in this game. Osseo couldn't buy a free throw late in the second half and those missed points cost them as Central pulled off a minor upset, winning 57-51. Fouls piled up on both sides and the small crowd was treated to an exciting basketball game. Theairra Taylor led all players with 19 points. Central needs to beat Highland one more time to lock their spot in the Twin Cities game. Given the fact that they beat Highland on the road, that shouldn't be a problem.

Broderick Bell returned and it felt like old times, except we're much more comfortable with each other than we were two years ago. His coaching duties occupy a lot of his time, but it was nice to actually have someone alongside; I've had a partner for just three games and the rest I've called solo. Is it a problem? No, but it gets a little lonely up there.

I also feel that I'm very comfortable with interviews. I did freeze up when I was chatting with Dani Mangen and Chiamaka Okonkwo of Osseo, but going off script has proved a wise idea so far. The flow with my interviews and open are much better. My coworker, Heinz, teases me about the lack of blondes I feature. I know he's pulling my leg, but I'm not seeking the shallow male sexist demographic.

He does the same with my interviews, as I usually will provide some background before I ask a question. There are times when this isn't possible, but adding some details emits the perception to others that the reporter wasn't plucked from the street and thrown in the fire, that they actually have an interest in what's going on. In any case, he's commented at length about the style of my questions, joking that I should ask them what their favorite pizza topping is. I know the game is over by the time it airs, and I know Heinz is joking, but I believe you're going to stand out for the wrong reasons if you're asking fluffy questions to subjects.

Two more games to go (if I can actually get a hold of DeLaSalle that is).

Next TV game:
Minnehaha Academy vs. DeLaSalle
February 14th, 6:00 p.m. at DeLaSalle

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Broadcast wrap-up: Jordan vs. Roosevelt, scheduling change

Sorry for the delay; the Super Bowl got my attention yesterday and preparations for Monday's game were minimal due to the quick turnaround. The broadcast almost didn't happen, but the situation was resolved.

Jordan got out early and never looked back, thanks to 24 first-half points from Brittany Chambers. Roosevelt's shooting woes cost them; they couldn't buy a basket. Boler is back, but it's clear she's not at full strength herself. Time will help her restore her playing abilities, but Roosevelt will have to play as a sleeper team rather than a favorite for the playoffs. Tyesha Wright was solid, but had no team support. Jordan won 82-60 and showed why they're the favorites to win the state title this time. Jordan is by far the goofiest team I've talked to, and I don't mean they're weird. Some players would "upstage" the person I was interviewing; Chambers at South and Dietel at Roosevelt, and I spotted that and somehow parlayed it into talking about the team chemistry. Perhaps I'm more comfortable in front of the camera after all. Jordan certainly is.

Our next TV game happens to be a scheduling change. In fact, there are two worth noting. The SPA/MPA doubleheader will not be televised as negotiations were unsuccessful. In its place are Osseo vs. Central at 1:30 p.m. at St. Paul Central, Central's last non-conference game of the season and Minnehaha Academy vs. DeLaSalle at DelaSalle on Valentine's Day. I will be back to normal postings this month.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Scheduling Change: Prior Lake vs. Chaska

As you may have guessed, we didn't televise the Central-Johnson game from earlier this week; Central blew Johnson away in a 75-40 win and wouldn't make for a great televised game.

However, we are adding two new teams to our broadcast repertoire; Prior Lake and Chaska. Chaska is currently ranked 3rd in the state in the Maxpreps poll while Prior Lake is #52 despite having a 5-7 record; they've played some tough opponents in the first half of the season. Tip-off is scheduled at 7:15 p.m. Saturday in Chaska.

More to follow, but our Lake Conference coverage will now be up to three teams.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Broadcast wrap-up: Jordan vs. Minneapolis South

I did something new today despite being the play-by-play voice for three seasons; I conducted an interview after the game with three South players. In other words, you'll hear me while I'm in the bleachers and then you'll see me on the court. We could really use a sideline reporter, but I'm used to being the go-getter now.

The game was back and forth, but Tayler Hill nailed a key three while the game was tied at 40 that South used in an 11-2 run that gave them enough of a cushion to win 59-52 over Jordan. Chambers and Dietel were solid for Jordan, but they couldn't keep up with South's speed. Tayler Hill did her part, coming alive in the second half, but South could have won by more if it wasn't for several miscues on offense. Three charges (two on Hill) and several traveling violations wiped away easy baskets. Somewhat uncharacteristic of South, but Maple Grove and Hopkins already proved they're not invincible. I strained my vocal chords with the exciting highlights from Chambers and Hill though. Great game, perhaps the best of the season.

I'm also surprised there wasn't a bigger crowd for South. The game was before both NFL playoff games today, although I was told it wasn't highly publicized. When you can bring a top team in, promoting that fact can really bring in the home crowd.

I'm in a bit of a bind regarding the next TV game. Johnson is going backwards and Highland Park still can't beat a good team (including a two-point loss to Roosevelt, who wasn't at full strength), so it appears Central will win the conference title again as long as they don't get cocky. I'm eyeing their road match against Minnetonka on January 24th, but I will provide an update as soon as I can get confirmation.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Broadcast preview: Jordan vs. Minneapolis South

Jordan makes their first of two Minneapolis stops this season with a game against South, their second class AAAA opponent of the year. Jordan is coming off a win over #1AAA New Prague while South won a big game against #4 (Maxpreps) Eden Prairie. Both teams can hang with the top teams in the state, which could set up fireworks for their meeting against each other.

On the broadcast side of things, I'm starting to wonder how viable this can be in the future. I don't have any problems calling games solo as I've done for most of the season, and my colleagues all have other commitments, but I wonder if it's really a sign telling me how much interest there truly is in girls basketball and/or announcing. I know I'm not the only one who cares about this, but I think I may be in a small pool.


1. Tayler Hill is sitting at 3,368 points, 326 points behind Katie Ohm's all-time record. She has already claimed second place, passing Megan Taylor's career total of 3,300.

2. Neither Brittany Chambers or Tayler Hill have scored below double digits this season. Chambers' lowest total was 12 against New Prague while Hill has still yet to score below 20. Her lowest total was 21 points against Hopkins at the Dick's Sporting Goods tournament.

3. South is still lacking in support, with Tyisha Smith and Ameshia Kearney averaging just over 10 points per game, part of that helped by playing two weak teams in the Minneapolis City Conference. Hill can't win games by herself.

4. Jordan isn't loaded with basketball players, but all-around athletes. Most of the team played on this year's volleyball team, who won the class AA title.

5. About a quarter of Hill's points are coming from the free throw line, where she's averaging 79% as a free throw shooter. She leads the state in free throw points and free throw attempts.

Wrap-up to follow.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Wrap-ups: South vs. Park and Eden Prairie vs. Roosevelt

I apologize for not posting sooner, I was home for the holidays and spent some time catching up with the family, and I had issues getting a hold of Roosevelt's staff for the green light to televise their game with Eden Prairie. Fortunately, the game worked out, but a two-man referee crew proved to be problematic with our floor cameraman. One of them apparently made a stink about him being down there. There should be a three-man crew at every game, but I can't control that.

The Minneapolis South-Park (Cottage Grove) game turned out well, although a guardrail prevented my overhead cameraman from getting shots on the baseline. If we go there again, we may try to move up; I like a clear shot of the entire court because you never know when you'll need that space. South blew away Park, who was no match for South after the 2nd half started.

On an interesting note, Jackie Voigt was there, but said she wasn't allowed to talk to reporters while Brianna Mastey, another freshman, had no problem talking to me on my visit to Becker for the Tip-Off Classic. I didn't have that problem with Pam Borton, Gopher women's basketball head coach, either. Perhaps there's something I'm not aware of or something I did that I wasn't supposed to do. Perhaps it's individual preference. My nerves are slowly fading, although I was thinking too much about avoiding questions Borton could not answer in my four-minute chat with her at Becker. In any case, I haven't received calls or e-mails telling me I'm in trouble, so I won't fret unless that happens.

On Eden Prairie and Minneapolis Roosevelt, I worked with Brandon Jones, who made his broadcasting debut for high school sports. It took a little while to establish roles, but I thought he was poised and prepared to handle the responsibilities. I'd definitely work with him again, simply because many of the mistakes were likely caused by his lack of experience in calling a game while I've been at this for three seasons. Eden Prairie could be a dark horse for class AAAA, already beating Central and Osseo with a 7-2 record so far. Their depth is their advantage. Roosevelt played good defense, but shooting was their Achilles' heel in a 79-59 win for the Eagles. We'll see what changes are made when Boler is ready to play, which should be soon. They're not bad without her, but she'll add some much needed help with depth when she does suit up. Overall, I wish I could have better prepared for this game, but I thought it turned out all right.

South will be our next stop, and our sixth different location in as many games (Hamline, Becker, Central, Park, Roosevelt were the first five) before we make a repeat stop at Central and Roosevelt. I definitely like the expanded coverage we're doing this season, giving more teams a share of the pie.

Next TV game:
Jordan vs. Minneapolis South @ South, 1:00 p.m.
Will broadcast on SPNN channel 15 and YouTube

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