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Getting better at covering basketball

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by newinthefield, Sep 28, 2011.

  1. newinthefield

    newinthefield Member

    I have never been much of a basketball fan, and I never really played the game in an organized fashion. However, my job is in a HS basketball-hungry state, and I want to improve my coverage this coming year.

    Does anyone know of any good resources for learning more about the strategy of the game and/or how to write better gamers on the sport? I know there are a zillion strategy books out there, but if someone knows of a good one, I'd rather just get that than sift through several of them.

    Much obliged to all who can help.
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Basketball for Dummies if you just want one book.


    Most games, though, strategy doesn't come into play. One team is just better than another and it shows early.
  3. newinthefield

    newinthefield Member

    My initial thought on a resource as well, but just seeing what else may turn up.
  4. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Well, I guess we would need to know what you know about basetball already.

    What is a "five" on the court?

    If I have a small, fast team, what type of defense will I be using and why?

    What are the three types of rebounds in a stat sheet?

    When does an assist happen?
  5. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    Rather than telling you how to become more analytic and deeper about the game, I'd instead warn you to remember your audience. Do not get to the point where you're writing over their heads. It's just a game, and if you're covering high school basketball, it's just a game being played by teen-agers.

    The most arcane things you really need to know are the finer points of statkeeping, like 93Devil pointed out. Knowing about when to give a team rebound ... when to award an assist, and when not to.

    If there's a concept you need to bring across to your readers, the best way to attack it may be in that you're being educated about it yourself. Treat it as something that you've just been taught about and translate it to your audience.
  6. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    When I get sent out to cover a sport I don't know much about I go in with the mindset that I'm going to write about the people playing the game more than the game itself. You'll learn about the sport the more you watch it and cover it. You don't have to understand a matchup zone the first day.
  7. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member


    Basketball is the easiest of the big four sports to cover by a mile. I can't think of any reason why you would ever need to reference strategy, except under the strangest of terms.

    Keeping it simple will result in a better gamer.
  8. Matt Stephens

    Matt Stephens Well-Known Member

    Whenever I've had to cover a sport I was unfamiliar with, it always paid off to do a Google news search and read just straight gamers by somewhat well-known publications to give me a better feel. Mizzou is right about keeping it simple, especially when it comes to a sport like basketball where understanding what's going on out there isn't too difficult (not trying to insult you, just thinking of it from a casual fan perspective).
  9. deviljets7

    deviljets7 Member

    Is the syllabus and final exam from that old Jim Harrick course at UGA still available online? :D
  10. newinthefield

    newinthefield Member

    I guess I should have mentioned that the strategy part is more for me to help my understanding of what is going on in the game. I know how to keep stats, but at some point, you have to break away from just the stats.
  11. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I agree about it not being all about the stats, but game strategy is not exactly what I would be focusing on for gamers. Focus on the most emotional moment of the game.
  12. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    newinthefield, I think I know how you feel. When I was in college, I got assigned to the women's basketball beat at the school paper, and while I loved watching basketball I found out quickly that I didn't have a good feel for how to write it.

    The coach was pretty cool and didn't have any problem with me coming to watch practices. As long as my stories didn't break down their game plan in detail, she was fine with it. At first I'd be there a few minutes before they finished, just to catch her and players for interviews. But gradually I started getting there for the last 30 or 45 minutes of practice. By sitting up in the stands and watching, I learned a lot. I knew their offensive sets. When they'd call a play during a game, I knew what was supposed to happen because I had watched them work on it in practice. And hence, I had some idea what went wrong if the play didn't work.

    It definitely helped my understanding of the team and the sport, and had a positive impact on my writing ... and it was all a product of the coach being cool with me watching practice. See if you can find a coach who will let you do that.
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