Adako's Army

Northeastern’s basketball team is going through one of it’s most successful seasons in years. After the glory days in the 1980s that featured NBA All-Star Reggie Lewis and legendary coach Jim Calhoun (currently with UConn), along with six NCAA tournament appearances, the program fell off a bit in the last 20 years.

In the past couple of seasons, however, the program has experienced a resurgence under coach Bill Coen and is poised to potentially win the Colonial Athletic Association this year and return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.

The success, combined with the renovations to Matthews Arena, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, have led to a completely new basketball experience not seen in some time at the school, and the crowds have gotten bigger and bigger as the atmosphere begins to resemble that which was common in the 80s.

Steve Garfield

February 10, 2010

We were paid a visit by nationally (perhaps I should say world)-renowned video-news-gatherer Steve Garfield on Monday. Steve’s had his videos posted everywhere, from the BBC to CNN. He’s also a reporter for rocketboom.com.

I thought what he had to say was pretty interesting, and what he had to show us pretty useful overall. What I gathered most from it is how engaging video can be as a news medium, and how in this day and age it can be ridiculously interconnected and widely broadcast to anyone, anywhere.

He took streaming video of our classroom that he was able to post live, at that moment, on the internet, that was able to be followed by any of his twitter followers, which I thought was a pretty nifty little thing to be able to do.

Imagine the possibilities, of, say, an Anderson Cooper broadcasting his live movements out in the field to the thousands upon thousands of people that turn to him for news? I think that’s a pretty wild concept.

He also made us think about the ethics involved with live video, giving an example of a video he made where a woman named Nancy Hogan interrupted an interview he was doing. She was probably not all right in the head, but her questions were surprisingly pointed and I think his overlying philosophy on the situation was spot on:

What I’m doing is I’m just capturing, just sitting back and capturing, letting the camera roll. She had come over the rope and interrupted, so you might turn off your camera. What I think is leave the camera going and capture it all. Some reporters are like ‘whoa that’s not right.’  In a public place like that there’s no expectation of privacy, and beyond that she came across the rope, she saw the cameras, she wanted to participate in the recording. I think it’s fine.

I think one of the best examples of first-person video reporting he gave us was his walkthrough at his Jamaica Plain voting center from election day 2008. He was told he couldn’t videotape anything, but he knew the law and tried to explain to the people there he could, in fact, videotape the surroundings. Ultimately he left, but getting the entire process on video like that provides insight that you can’t really express with words.

Through his dedication and love of the craft, he was also able to spin his work into various paying gigs, which is something most aspiring journalists should look into figuring out, or copying.

I wouldn’t discount doing stuff because it’s free because you have to have experience and do things right now.

Good advice, I’d say. Want to do something? Do it, do it well, and chances are if it’s really worthwhile somebody will be willing to pay for it.

Belated as this may be, we were lucky enough to have Jennifer Lord Paluzzi ofCentralMassNews.com stop by last Wednesday and give a presentation on the burgeoning network of community-based news websites she’s been working on for us.

After getting laid off in October of 2008 from the MetroWest Daily News, Paluzzi started up thedailygrafton.com, which was itself an expansion of her earlier greater Grafton blog.

One of the inspirations for starting it up, she said, was because Grafton’s official town paper was one of those “funny newspapers from the town I went on vacation to,” and she thought the people of Grafton deserved better.

She got together with Jack Schoefield and turned her blog into the internet equivalent of a real, functional, daily newspaper.

Their venture soon expanded to other towns, like Millbury and Northbridge, and now they’ve got nine total, providing some of the most comprehensive local news in Central Massachusetts, if not the most comprehensive.

They’ve got videos, and photos, and real-time news that people who care about the goings-on of these towns can find instantly. It’s a pretty remarkable network for community-based journalism, really, and it’s the kind of network that I think will serve a lot of local communities on the internet in the future.

Said Paluzzi:

When I look at it I say ‘it’s just a small town why is it a big deal?’ But people in a small town want to know just as much about what goes on in their town as they do about Congress. This is what really affects people.

And she’s right, it really is what affects people. It’s what they care about on the most direct basis. She pointed out the difficulties in getting someone to understand what it means to be a journalist from a site like CentralMassNews.com, how they don’t really get the idea of a website with newspaper-like credibility.

But I think down the road, you’ll find that won’t be the case. And I think you’ll find a network like CentralMassNews.com will be more trusted than dinky hometown newspapers ever were.

Cold fatigue

February 10, 2010

One of the toughest things for me to deal with around this time of year is what I like to refer to as cold fatigue.

As a west coaster, I’m used to December, January, and February sucking. Those are the winter months, after all. But in the middle, sometimes end, of February you start to see those  kind of light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel kind of days that make you believe Spring is mercifully on its way.

Not so in Boston. Those do not exist. Not in February, at least. February is cold and it sucks. And then March is cold and it sucks. And then April, really, is largely cold and miserable.

It’s awful, I tell you. You associate March Madness with sunny T-shirt days and all of a sudden you make the brilliant decision to go to school on the east coast and all of that’s thrown out the window.

most pictures of winter and snow make it look majestic and inviting. not this one, this one gets to the heart of it. cold sucks.

My own charming self-pity aside, you probably wonder how this relates to Bay Area sports. Well, tenuously, really, but I do have a point here.

At this time of the year for Bay Area sports, and really sports in general, you get kind of a similar cold fatigue. The Super Bowl comes and goes, and you’re kind of left with the ho-hum portions of the NBA and NHL regular season.

Desperate for spring training to start, anxiously anticipating March Madness, and all you have to pass the time is the race for some of the most uninspiring playoff spots in all of professional sports – the bottom seeds in the NBA and NHL, where half the teams in the league make the playoffs anyway.

Like, congratulations, Miami, you made it into the playoffs despite being two games under .500, now go lose four games to LeBron James and enjoy your offseason.

And I don’t think sports cold fatigue sets in especially well in the Bay Area market, where, come February, you’re left with two of the most predictable teams in their respective leagues.

On the one hand, you have the Golden State Warriors (owners of a sparkling  13-37 record, putting them in an exciting race with Minnesota for second-worst in basketball) who you know are going to be bad. They’re bad every year.

Case in point: Golden State of Mind’s pre-game poll for Monday night’s game against Dallas asked fans whether they were rooting for the Warriors, and Don Nelson in his pursuit of basketball’s all-time coaching wins record, or Dallas, and the opportunity to ring another one up in the loss column as the Warriors chase second-to-last place to give them a better shot at landing Kentucky’s John Wall in the next draft.

The result? 63% of respondents (362 votes) were actively rooting against the Warriors just so they could improve draft position. The GSoM tone was equally optimistic:

You know the Mavs, you unfortunately know the Warriors too well. Hopefully the Warriors surprise us with a win. Don’t hold your breath though.

And then on the other hand you have the Sharks, who are remarkably good in the regular season year after year almost to the point where they’re boring. Especially since they flame out in the playoffs equally remarkably year after year.

It’s a little hard to get worked up about any regular season win with a team that has made it an annual tradition of racking them up  before they become most important.

So yeah, cold fatigue.

But at least pitchers and catchers report in 10 days.

Photo by flickr user turbulentflow and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Normally I’d want to link to a few things to illustrate a woe-is-the-Warriors-post (lord knows there’s no shortage of material to reference), but this time I’ll stick to this weekend’s ESPN Weekend Dime, because there’s just so much juicy Warriors badness packed into one article I think it will suffice.

Exhibit A:

The Warriors, though, are adamant that there was never a shred of validity to the recent report out of Boston suggesting that a deal featuring Allen and Ellis was a legit possibility.

The safest assumption at this point? As mentioned earlier this season when the prospect of Golden State’s trading young Anthony Randolph was raised, teams would almost certainly have to be willing to absorb the contract of Corey Maggette (with nearly $31 million left on that deal over the next three seasons) to get an Ellis conversation started.

The Warriors, being the Warriors, are kinda sorta maybe shopping Monta Ellis around the league. Not to see what they can get, but to see if they can springboard Monta into a way of ridding themselves of the burdensome Maggette contract.

Mind you, this is a contract that was signed before last season. And in the second year of the deal, Maggette is basically having the best year of his career and performing as well as could be hoped for in one’s wildest dreams. And even still the Warriors not only cannot move him to a team that could use his services (many could), they would have to attach their best player to him in order to get out from under that contract.

This is how the Warriors operate. Maggette’s contract was odious when it was first signed, and it’s still bad now, even though it’s miraculously working out almost in a best case scenario. That shows profoundly poor judgment. The Golden State Warriors, everybody.

Exhibit B:

46: Monta Ellis’ 46 points Wednesday night in Golden State’s 110-101 defeat in Dallas represent the highest scoring output in a loss this season. Four other players — Kobe Bryant (Feb. 1), Chris Bosh (Jan. 20), Dwyane Wade (Jan. 6) and David West (Dec. 29) — have scored 44 points in defeat.

I don’t really have a ton to say about this. I think it kind of speaks for itself. Is there another team in basketball more likely to boast the player with the most points in a defeat this season?

And Exhibit C:

16: Houston’s 119-107 victory Tuesday night over Golden State halted a run of 16 consecutive games for the Rockets decided by fewer than 10 points. That was the longest streak of its kind in a whopping 27 years, dating to 1982-83 when Indiana played in 20 consecutive games decided by 10 points or fewer.

For 16 straight games, the Houston Rockets could neither be blown out, nor blow an opponent out. A remarkable stretch of time, really, for a pretty good team playing a pretty volatile sport, in terms of night-to-night outcomes.

That was the longest streak of its kind in a whopping 27 years

Reposted for digestion.

But yeah, the Warriors put a fixing to that right well like.

Is there a moral to the story of this post? Not particularly, other than that the Warriors are a miserable, miserable professional sports franchise and are not likely to be anything different for some time. Pointing out the latest examples of this reality is merely cathartic.