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Looking for some advice on a column

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by djsquid06, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. djsquid06

    djsquid06 New Member

    I've gotten good information here before, so I thought I'd post a column and get your guys' thoughts.


    Removing past demons


    Akron 65, Buffalo 53.

    Though the score is now a motivating tool, it remains a painful reminder of what was a most disappointing ending to the 2008-09 season.

    White towels hid the dejection on the men’s basketball players’ faces from the rest of the world at the end of last year’s MAC Championship. While the Akron Zips rushed the Quicken Loans Arena center court with exuberance, the Bulls stumbled toward their bench with tears flowing and hearts broken.

    They were 12 points short. A half-dozen baskets away from permanently healing a nagging pain that no Tylenol, close loss to UConn or CBI Tournament invite has been able to soothe since Buffalo lost its first MAC Championship.

    For last year’s seniors, Greg Gamble, Andy Robinson and Vadim Fedotov, the loss was especially painful. They joined the team as freshmen with Buffalo a season removed from its first MAC Championship appearance – an 80-79 overtime loss to Ohio in 2005 – and intended to finally put the school on top.

    But Buffalo’s second appearance in the MAC basketball granddaddy didn’t finish with any confetti or trophy. The Bulls seniors saw the goal within reach, but the Zips grabbed it away.

    Gamble wept in a towel and Robinson buried his head into his jersey. It continued a painful streak: one without a MAC Championship, one sans a campus-wide celebration on Selection Sunday.

    The seniors and rest of the team received a parting gift in the form of a trip to Kansas for an 84-73 loss to Wichita State in the CBI Tournament.

    Thanks for participating.

    Now it’s on seven seniors’ shoulders to lift the Bulls, and head coach Reggie Witherspoon, to that seemingly unreachable summit. Expectations are high for the first time in three seasons, and prognosticators in 132 Student Union and across the nation agree that this senior-laden team should contend, and possibly win, the MAC.

    But it’s the results that bosses and paying fans want and expect.

    Buffalo’s basketball fan base is aching. It is tired of teams that tease it into believing “this year is different.” The expectations are a reminder of what the team is capable of, but Buffalo’s donors and diehards won’t be pleased until they are making get-away plans to see the Bulls play in an NCAA Tournament First Round game.

    And it’s starting to turn on Witherspoon, a personable coach whose personality coaches, fans and players love. Even as one of the nice guys, Witherspoon’s mediocre results are no longer soothing a campus and support group that suddenly hunger for winning after witnessing Turner Gill’s football squad succeed in ’08.

    It didn’t help that the team set itself up in a position to impress fans, only to let them down.

    At one point last season, Buffalo stood at a shocking 17-5, and an even more surprising 9-1 in the MAC. It was the clear favorite to capture the MAC Regular Season Championship, and was expected to breeze through the tournament in Cleveland. Once again, the basketball team was a buzz that got fans thinking: “What if?”

    This was before a monstrous late season falter. A 4-7 slide left the Bulls once again watching the NCAA Tournament on CBS in frigid Amherst.

    So the pressure is on. Fans will nitpick when Witherspoon’s motion offense seems stagnant. They’ll yell for his head when an opponent’s 10-0 run goes without the interruption of a Buffalo timeout.

    How the coaches handle these criticisms will dictate how the season goes.



    E-mail: david.sanchirico@ubspectrum.com
     
  2. ringer

    ringer Member

    With all due respect, this was hard to follow. And I have no idea what point you were trying to make.

    I think it would help immensely to be clearer sooner about what that 65-53 game was, what was at stake, and when it happened (what month?). Even though you're trying to create drama, it doesn't work unless you help the reader by spelling it out. Always err on the side of clarity.

    Examples of things that tripped me up but are easy to fix: It shouldn't take as long as the third paragraph to figure out that it was a basketball game. And even then -- without using Google -- I had no idea who the Akron Zips were. College, high school, or what? Had you said University of Akron, then I'd get it right away. I also didn't immediately know if the Quicken Loans Arena was in Buffalo or Akron...etc. (Do you have to mention the corporate name of the arena anyway - wouldn't it be richer and more dramatic to briefly describe it - i.e. a dull brick windowless arena or a flashy place?) It also wouldn't hurt, in the first reference, to spell out what MAC stands for. Then - what positions do those seniors play? Can you personalize them more so it's easier to sympathize with them? Later, can you give us more than an aching fan base? Use some stats. Without doing any reporting, the column won't be persuasive. But as mentioned, I'm not sure what you're trying to persuade readers anyway. Where's your thesis statement?

    Things like that, I think, will go a long way to help your readers. Remember, even if the column was for a local publication and I'm the only wingnut who didn't see the game, then, at the very least, the column would be much more powerful if it gave your audience details that they DIDN'T see, rather than stating the obvious: towels over their faces, disappointed seniors.

    I hope that helps.
     
  3. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Why was the loss so dejecting? Just because a team loses in conference championship doesn't mean it's devastating. How were they expected to do? A coach may say that a team is NCAA-tournament worthy, but that doesn't mean that's a realistic goal.

    You said that the team had a surprising record and then say they were expected to breeze through the tournament. Both can't be true.

    As for mentioning boosters and diehards, yeah they would like to see the team make the field of 65. But I have never heard anything about the Buffalo basketball team and how good they are. That fact alone means that a casual reader needs more of a hook to get into the story.
     
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