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Information Please? Blue Ribbon Basketball ’07-’08

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on October 17, 2007

First there was Street & Smith’s. (I still have my copy with Calvin Murphy from his Niagara days on the cover.) Then there were all the knock-offs: SI, Dick Vitale, etc. Then, down from heaven, came Blue Ribbon Basketball. The Old Testament begat The New Testament which begat The Bible. Now that’s all there is because when it comes to information on teams, players, conferences, the whos,, the hows, the whats in Division I Men’s Basketball, that’s all you need. Order yours, wait 3-4 days, call in sick and spend a day, then half a weekend with the book and salvation will be yours. (When the games begin, just make sure you keep the Big Book, i.e., Blue Ribbon, near the remote.) By the way, every Division I hoops’ office has it on a handy shelf, ready to reap its bounty. Guess that’s a pretty good endorsement.

Here’s an excellent excerpt from their web-site that tells you what goes on in the book:

How to Read Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook

Sample Top 25 School Sample School

“The book is designed in two separate parts. The front contains an exhaustive analysis of Blue Ribbon’s preseason Top 25. These stories are anywhere from 4,000 to 5,500 words in length and broken up into distinct sections.

COACH AND PROGRAM sums up the state of the program and the head coach.

Next comes PROJECTED STARTERS, where Blue Ribbon writers do their best to predict what five players are likely to open the season in the starting lineup. This information isn’t pulled out of thin air, but usually based on a conversation with a team’s coach. KEY RESERVES follow, and finally, other players on the roster and recruits. At times, an incoming freshman or transfer will be projected as a starter.

The story begins its final descent with Questions and Answers, quick one- or two-sentence opinions of a team’s perceived weaknesses (Questions) and strengths (Answers).

Letter grades come next. These letter grades aren’t a comparison of a team against other teams in its conference or around the nation, but rather an analysis of its own strengths in four key areas: BACKCOURT, FRONTCOURT, BENCH/DEPTH and Intangibles.

Finally comes the BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS, several paragraphs that tie the entire package together and tries to forecast how a team should fare.

Mingled throughout the story are two graphic elements: the current schedule and the previous season’s results.

In addition to the Top 25 report, Blue Ribbon contains a full story, ranging from 1,000 to 2,500 words, on every other Division I team in the country. The book lists each conference alphabetically, and each school in the various conferences are listed alphabetically.

The stories differ from the Top 25 because they aren’t as exhaustive in terms of player analysis. But each are thorough, our information gleaned from thorough research and a conversation with the head coach.

The stories end with letter grades (see above) and the BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS . . . ”

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Who Needs Debates? Hoopsters Have a Candidate; “I Got Obama”.

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on June 1, 2007

Bill Bradley was a great player and he probably would have been, and could still be, a great president. But he wasn’t really one of us, was he? He was too good. I loved the guy and in junior high, after reading John McPhee’s biography of Dollar Bill, “A Sense of Where You Are”, I’d pretend to be Bradley every day when I practiced, learned there the value of repetition in drilling shots and moves. (That particular idolatry stopped, of course, after I saw Pistol Pete. No clean-cutness for me: I wanted to be Pistol!) Still, when you score fifty-something in the Final Four, you’re not one of us. Not even close.

Enter the crafty lefty pick-up player, Barack Obama. There’s an excellent article in today’s NY Times breaking down his game. Turns out he even hoops with Harvard’s all-time, big-time basketball junkie, “AD”, Arne Duncan, (CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, former player under Coach B, NTL Weekend Camp coach and long-time pro player in Australia).

If you don’t want to vote for The Left then vote for The Lefty!

from The NY Times

“Last Christmas, Senator Barack Obama flew to Hawaii to contemplate a presidential bid in the peace of his childhood home. But there, on a humid playground near Waikiki Beach, he found himself being roughed up by some of his best friends. It was the third and final game of the group’s annual three-on-three basketball showdown, and with the score nearly tied, things were getting dirty . . . ”

continued here

“good look” goes out to Josh Kratka

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“Away Games”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 16, 2007

Basketball is played all over the world (and beyond, recall Darryl Dawkins and Planet Lovetron, and add to that the intergalactic display slated for this weekend in Las Vegas). On a more terrestrial level, there are a lot of interesting stories told about playing in unusual places. That’s the fun in it, right? Every game of basketball takes you somewhere new. Christine Bader, former NTL Hooper in NYC wrote a memorable piece awhile back: “A Night of Basketball in Manila”. One more recent basketball journey comes from Russ Bradburd. There is a nicely told review to help take you there, posted February 14, 2007 by Richard Kortum of East Tennessee State University on ARETE, a moderated e-mail discussion list hosted by The Sport Literature Association concerning “Paddy on the Hardwood”:

“Dr. James Naismith once proudly remarked of his invention, ‘I am sure that no man can derive more pleasure from money or power than I do from seeing a pair of basketball goals in some out of the way place – deep in the Wisconsin woods an old barrel hoop nailed to a tree, or a weather-beaten shed on the Mexican border with a rusty iron hoop nailed to one end.’

Driving across the treeless Mongolian steppe five years past, I glimpsed a most incongruous apparition. I had to rub my eyes. About a mile off the track there stood a lone sentinel: a tall wooden post with a single rough cross board and basketball hoop attached. Venturing off the beaten track in Mongolia requires that one be ready for just about anything. It’s the closest thing to being on another planet. But a basketball hoop? In the middle of nowhere? . . .”

more here

Thanks to Akira Motomura for the tip!

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Jay Jennings on Maravich (and a Never Too Late Basketball Weekend Camp)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 11, 2007

Maravich About to Do the UnbelievableJay Jennings, a sports and literature guy who will take down a book in his reviews if it deserves it, wrote a generally complimentary piece for today’s NY Times Book Review on two biographies published recently about Pete Maravich. He is like I am: interested enough to read about Pete and his dad, Press, and what made him who he was (and wasn’t) but in the end it’s . . . roll the tape, let’s see that behind-the-back pass to the front of the rim from – heaven strike me down if I did not see this with my own eyes – the dead right corner. Jennings played (and practiced) hoops with us at the second ever NTL Weekend Camp (we’ve now held more than 70) in The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts for a feature piece in Sports Illustrated. Here’s what he wrote of himself: “I had come to (NTL) . . . to become Bobby Hurley. I figured if one whiny, short white guy with a bad haircut could play against the Dream Team, there was hope for me”. Turns out, Jennings was a good ballplayer (as good in the drills as in the games; with work could have played Harvard JV, maybe) and wrote an enormously encouraging piece that gave us our first national exposure.

(Bill Simmons also, as usual, has a funny and on-the-money take [“Maravich was like 12 Globetrotters rolled into one”] on the same two books in ESPN the Magazine.)

This was my introduction to Pete Maravich: I was in eighth grade, I think. I was way into Pat Riley (and Louie Dampier) because Riley was from Schenectady, NY’s Linton High School; he and the Kentucky Wildcats were big in the Albany area, where I lived. I had planned to listen to the Kentucky/LSU game on the radio that night (if cloud conditions and weather were right, I could actually get the signal from WKYM). But I was a kid, probably had played five hours of hoops that day, so I fell asleep before the game. Then, then I was awakened by this roar from the radio. I thought, “did I miss the whole game”? I looked at the time and it was only 8 o’clock, the game hadn’t even started. Here’s what the announcer, barely audible over the din said: “A freshman from LSU, Pete Maravich, has just electrified the crowd by scoring 70 points in the freshmen game (freshmen weren’t allowed to play varsity then) in the most incredible individual performance I have ever witnessed”! Then, as now, I could not wait to see Pistol Pete flying down the court, the ball a yo-yo, the defenders props, with nothing but a world of magic and endless possibilities between him and the hoop.

(Thank you to Nelson for the Pistol Pete You Tube video tip.)

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