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

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.
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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

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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