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Tips on Covering High School Basketball

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Carvelli3, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. Carvelli3

    Carvelli3 New Member

    Tonight is the first time that I get to cover a high school basketball game and I was wondering if I could get any tips from you guys. Thanks
  2. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Make sure you put every kid's name in, and spell it correctly, even if all they do is get a rebound. Otherwise, little Johnny and Susie may not get that college scholarship, and it'll be your fault.
  3. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    -- Check with the official book to make sure all the numbers on the roster are still accurate. Also, check to see if there's any JV call-ups for your box.

    -- Get clear instructions from your SE what stats he/she wants for your box. In some areas, points alone are sufficient. In other shops, such as mine, full NBA-style box scores are the norm. If that's the case, make sure you have a system that's accurate and quick to convert on deadline into box form. That's easier said than done and will take a lot of trial-and-error on your part.

    -- As a rule, get any visiting team interviews first. Obviously, they're not going to linger as much as the home team folks do.
  4. Cousin Oliver

    Cousin Oliver New Member

    This sounds obvious, but write down the final score in big type as soon as the game ends. A couple of times I got so worked up over everything else (stats, interviews questions, thinking up a lede) that I didn't even remember to write downt the final score. (I had to go back and count up the scorers for each team) There's always some garbage free throws or baskets in the last seconds to mess you up.
  5. In Cold Blood

    In Cold Blood Member

    Good luck with covering the game. Deadline will give you nightmares at first, but there is nothing better than banging out a solid story in a time crunch.

    You will want to keep your own stats. Only the rarest of high schools will have printed up stats for you at the end of the game, and copying stats out of the scorekeeper's book afterwards will waste precious time.

    Think about how you want to keep stats before you head to the gym. Have a plan. And especially until you get used to covering games, keep things simple. Don't try to track every assist, rebound, steal, block, turnover etc. You will lose your happy little mind.

    Get copies of the rosters before you get to the game, if possible. If not, talk to a scorekeeper to get accurate roster information before the tipoff.

    Everybody has their own routine. For me, it was two legal pads on the table in front of me. One I used for stats - shots attempted, made, ft's made/attempted, rebounds. The other I used for a very basic play-by-play. For example: 8:52, #3 CHS 3-pt, 53-50. That could get tricky in fast-paced games, but I liked it because it helped me identify runs a team would put together.

    Depending on your time when the game ends, try to grab both coaches and a player or two for quick interviews. Be thinking about questions during the game. Jot them down if necessary.

    When you sit down to write, write quickly and accurately. Spell names correctly. Ask the editor how long the article should be, and stick to it. Hit deadline.

    Remember to try to capture the reader's interest, but also remember that not every article is an award-winner. Some nights the words flow onto the paper, sometimes they don't. So if you're stuck trying to write that amazing lede, remember that a clean, accurate gamer turned in before deadline is much more valuable to editors than a Hemingway piece turned in 20 minutes late.
  6. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    In all seriousness, if you can, try to call the coaches before the game, to let them know that you are going to be there, and if you can, get any other phone numbers ( of theirs, or a player or two) in case you get behind and can't reach them, or to check stats, or for any other questions.
  7. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Full NBA-style box from high school games? God bless you, Bubbs.
    That's almost unpossible.
  8. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a "Duh!" suggestion, but figure out when the game turned and start there. if Team A goes on a 15-0 run in the third quarter and the lead never gets into single digits again, that's your lede. If Joe Blow hits a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win it, that's your lede. A good rule of thumb: If the game is tied or close at halftime, your story probably hasn't been written yet.
    I've seen way too many basketball stories where the game was decided late in the fourth quarter, and the recap of the game action starts in the first quarter.
  9. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    Yes, avoid the rookie trap of telling us a chronological recap of the game...hit the turning point hard and add details from there.

    I don't need to read...

    Morganstown led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter, hitting 5 of 12 from the field and forcing three turnovers...etc, etc, etc.
    Thomas Snookie banked in the winning shot from halfcourt at the buzzer.

  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Also, I generally go over the individual scoring in the official book after the game.
  11. apeman33

    apeman33 Well-Known Member

    If this is your first game, see if you can get there ahead of time and introduce yourself to the coaches. Once you've done that, ask them the following:

    1) Season records. No one else in the gym may know. At the least, the coach can check with his scorebook. You might also ask him about some of the other teams they've played. If they're 2-6 but they've played four ranked teams and lost all four games by close margins, then they're certainly better than a 2-6 team whose opponents have combined for 3 wins this season. That's something good to know.

    2) Double-check the spellings of tough names, especialy the visiting team's. Some teams still fax rosters and the home school might not ask what that grabled-up name is. So the program lists No. 35 as "Jeffries" but it turns out his name is "Jefferson."

    3) Where will they be after the game? If his games are on hometown radio, he might go up there first for the post-game show. If not, he'll likely be at his dressing room but he might also like to chat with some parents, so he could be on the court for a while.

    Also, always check the scorebook and don't assume the roster provided is right. Say a player changes his number. It seldom happens, but when it does and you don't know it, it can be a pain in the ass, especially if No. 15, who's not in the program, starts having the game of his life. Sometimes, a JV player wears one number on JV and another on varsity. Other times, the JV/varsity roster will list two players with the same number. You can check those against the scorebook.

    As far as stats, if your SE is just looking for points for the box, then keep individual points but just do team stats for shots, rebounds and turnovers. If you see a player getting a lot of rebounds, see if coach's stats person has a count after the game. That's the way I started out with stats because our boxes at the time were just FG FTM-FTA Pts. (Smith 7 2-3 16, Jones 2 4-6 8, etc.).

    If your SE is wanting more, just do the best you can.
  12. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    For all the reasons listed by posters above, don't count on Maxpreps (or similar sites), a school website or even a fanboi site having correct rosters and spellings of names. The home book is your primary source for that information.

    One other thing: Some scorers only enter first name, or even nicknames, in the book! Insist someone give you last names as well. Hanging isn't good enough for those who think one can write a story with "Jimmie had 15 points and Cheeto had 11 for Podunk High."

    Also find out what your paper does with the freshman and JV games. Outside of tournaments, all three teams generally travel together and play at the same site. Does your paper just run the score, or do they want the leading scorer too?
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