Sometimes, the best things in life you never coming. That was the case with the Emerson Lions women’s basketball coach Bill Gould and one of his best players.
When Kelsey Johnson showed up to Emerson’s accepted students day in 2012, she was just as unknown as the rest incoming freshmen coach Bill Gould did not recruit. Little did coach Gould know; he was about to meet one the building blocks for the future of his program.
“[Kelsey] recruited us more than we recruited her,” Gould said. “Literally the first time I ever saw her play live was her freshman year here.”
Johnson grew up in Syracuse, New York where she played three years of varsity basketball for Christian Brothers Academy High School. She was named team captain her senior season, and said she put basketball over everything. Despite her team winning three league championships, Johnson wasn’t too heavily recruited as a senior. Despite the recruitment efforts from other colleges such as Babson and Endicott College, Johnson’s decision to come to Emerson was an easy one.
“I chose to come to Emerson for the education at first,” said Johnson. “I knew that marketing was something I definitely wanted to do with my life and I learned Emerson was an up and coming marketing powerhouse.”
When coach Gould is looking for potential recruits, he said he looks for three things in particular. Number one – the player has to be tough. Number two – the player has to be smart. And number three – the player has to have at least one skill that will translate to the Division 3 level. Johnson had all those traits, and Gould would have been interested in her if he ever had the chance to see her play.
“I just literally don’t think I was ever at anything she was at, so I never had an opportunity to see who she was,” Gould said.
But he’s glad he has Johnson now. As a sophomore, Johnson was one of the Lions most productive players this season. She was the Lions’ second leading scorer and rebounder.
“Last season I was a freshman and was nervous all the time,” Johnson said. “This year I really had to calm down and be tough mentally and physically. This new mentality really helped me to become a better player.”
Coach Gould attributes a lot of Johnson’s success to the combination of her size and athleticism, which makes her a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
“Her biggest strength is her physical ability,” Gould said. “At the Division 3 level, if you’re six-feet tall, you usually don’t have that type of mobility. If you have that type of mobility, you’re generally not that tall.”
Johnson is one of the tallest members of the women’s roster. But she wasn’t always tall.
“I was really small until about eighth grade,” she said. “I actually woke up one morning and was suddenly 5-feet 9-inches.” Now, she loves being tall, saying it separates her from everyone else.
On the court, Johnson is as competitive as any player on the women’s basketball team, according to junior teammate Catherine Cloutier. Off the court though, her personality couldn’t be more different.
“[Kelsey] is probably one of the teammates I enjoy being around the most because you know you’re going to have a good time,” Cloutier said.
Even coach Gould can see the difference.
“She’s the kind of kid that doesn’t crack jokes all the time.” Gould said. “But when you listen you go, ‘damn that kid is really funny’.”
Johnson still has two years of eligibility left at Emerson, and no one is more excited than coach Gould about her future. He says Johnson may not be the best at any one particular skill, but she’s as well rounded of a player as they come.
“She has the ability to score, shoot, dribble, block shots.,” he said. Nobody does all of things, but she does. Oh yeah, and she’s 6-foot and athletic too.”
When asked if he though Johnson could become an All-NEWMAC type player, Gould said, “I literally don’t know if there’s a kid in the league better at all those skills than Kelsey.”
Both Johnson and Gould are on the same page when it comes to her goals for the next two years.
“My own personal goal is to become more of an offensive threat,” Johnson said. “I was really streaky this year with my offensive game. I would love to be able to become a reliable offensive player.”
“[Kelsey] could be an absolutely dominant, put her wherever you want type of player,” Gould said. “She has the potential to be just a spectacular player.”
Two years ago, Johnson was an unknown commodity to the Emerson basketball community. Now, she’s one of its brightest stars.
“Playing basketball at Emerson means commitment and dedication to me,” Johnson said. “I’ve always been committed to everything I do and basketball isn’t any different.”
I usually turn the TV on mute while I watch college basketball games. As a current player, I feel I understand the game well enough to follow it on my own instead of following someone else’s commentary.
But for this assignment, I turned the volume up on the #20 Memphis versus #24 Connecticut game and was blown away by the performances of Mike Patrick and Len Elmore. Patrick did the play-by-play and Elmore did color commentary.
As far as picking a game to watch, I could not have asked for a better game. UConn (20-5, 8-4 American Athletic Conference) ended up winning 86-81 in overtime and the game was exciting from start to finish. UConn senior guard Shabazz Napier scored a career high 34 points while senior guard Joe Jackson led the scoring charge for Memphis (19-6, 8-4) with 21 points. Napier had a chance to win the game in regulation, but his buzzer beater attempt rimmed out.
The actual game itself was great, and the announcers were spot on as well. I was truly impressed with Patrick’s ability to keep up with the game. There was a sequence in the first half that really stood out in my mind.
One of Memphis’ players tried to drive to the lane and a UConn player tipped it away. Napier recovered the ball, threw it down court and hit Niels Giffey in stride who was fouled on a dunk attempt. The whole sequence happened in a matter of seconds, but Patrick never missed a step. The call was so spot on it was almost as if Patrick knew what was coming before it actually happened. The audio and the visual on the call synched perfectly. What was happening on TV matched the words coming out of Patrick’s mouth, which is how it is supposed to be done.
Len Elmore is one of the most respected color commentary guys in the industry. Elmore played 10 seasons in the NBA, and clearly
has a wealth of knowledge about the game. There were two instances in the game in which Elmore’s vast knowledge stood out.
The first was early in the first half. A Memphis played tried to pass out of a double team to his teammate Michael Dixon Jr., but the pass appeared to be tipped so Dixon trotted over to the ball behind the half court line. The referee immediately called a backcourt violation. From my own observation, it appeared the ball was tipped. Elmore though wasn’t fooled. Before the replay was shown, Elmore pointed out he thought the pass was tipped, but by a Memphis player instead of a UConn player. The replay confirmed what Elmore thought. Patrick asked Elmore how he saw that in real-time, and Elmore said he saw the spin on the ball as it rolled down the court, and that type of spin can only occur if the pass is tipped from a certain direction. A minute detail like that is something that caught me off guard, but it clearly demonstrated Elmore had seen a similar play before.
Later in the second half, Napier came off a DeAndre Daniels screen and pulled up for one of his five threes on the afternoon. To the common fan, the star of the play was Napier for draining the triple, but to Elmore, the star was Daniels for the terrific screen he set. Elmore broke down the dynamic of the screen and how Daniels positioned himself perfectly towards the sideline to force the defender to go under, giving Napier enough space to
elevate on his jumper.
Patrick and Elmore never fought for air time which made the broadcast enjoyable to listen to.
Mike Patrick’s biggest flaw in this game was his descriptions of Napier’s previous game winning shot attempts. ESPN played the video of Napier’s previous attempts, but Patrick explained the plays like it was a radio broadcast. It would have been better if he let the video do the explaining while he just explained the situations.
Elmore’s biggest flaw was the lack of intonation in the biggest moments of the game. Patrick’s voice changed during the biggest moments, adding to the excitement of the broadcast. Elmore’s voice remained the same throughout which stuck me as odd. Intonation can make a huge difference if used correctly, and Elmore failed to utilize it.
All and all, Patrick and Elmore did a great job on the call. From start to finish, I was able to follow the game and their commentary was insightful and well delivered.
Sometimes, size really does matter.
In sports especially, the taller or bigger athlete gets the nod over the smaller athlete 99 out of 100 times. It’s just the way it is.
Pierre Jackson of the Idaho Stampede is a perfect example of the rare occasion where size shouldn’t matter.
Coming out of high school, Jackson wasn’t a highly sought after recruit despite putting up incredible numbers. As a 5’10” senior, he led the state of Nevada in assists, but decided to play junior college basketball at College of Southern Idaho. Jackson led Southern Idaho to the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship and won the MVP award. After finishing his junior college career at CSI, Jackson transferred to Baylor where he’d go on to have a decorated two-year career. Jackson was named an honorable mention All-American and led Baylor to the Elite Eight in
his junior season. In his senior season, he was named the National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player as the Bears beat the Iowa Hawkeyes in the championship game.
Jackson entered his name in the 2013 NBA Draft and was selected 42nd overall by the Philadelphia 76ers before having his rights traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Right now, Jackson is obliterating the NBA Development League, averaging more than 30 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists per game. He was named a D-League All-Star this season, and broke the D-League scoring record with a 58-point outburst on February 4th. However, Jackson still hasn’t gotten a chance to prove he can play on the NBA level, and frankly, I don’t understand why.
The knock on Jackson is that he’s too small. At 5’11”, Jackson doesn’t have the size of most prototypical NBA point guards. A few years ago, the average size of point guards was about 6’1”, but today, most of the top point guards in the league are about 6’4”. Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, John Wall, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo are just a few guys that have raised the average height of the position. But that doesn’t mean Jackson can’t compete with these players just because he’s five inches shorter than they are.
Look at a player like Ty Lawson for example. Lawson is very similar in size to Jackson, but the argument can be made that he’s in the top echelon of point guards in the league. What Lawson lacks in size, he makes up for in strength and quickness. Despite his lack of height, Lawson consistently gets to the rim because of his elite quickness and understanding of how to break down a defender. Those same traits apply to Jackson, who is nearly impossible to get out of the paint.
I’m not saying Pierre Jackson is as good as Ty Lawson, but he can be an effective player in the NBA despite his lack of height. Jackson has more
of a scorer’s mentality than Lawson, just like the mentality of Lawson’s teammate Nate Robinson. Robinson is another NBA player that doesn’t have great size but is an effective scorer. I don’t understand why a NBA team in need of some bench scoring won’t take a chance on Jackson. Throughout his career, Nate Robinson has shown that little guards can put up big scoring numbers in the NBA, and Pierre Jackson is showing all the NBA scouts at D-League games that he’s too good to be playing against this level of competition. Give the guy a shot!
Pierre Jackson will probably never be an All-Star caliber point guard in the association, but I truly believe he could be a valuable role player in the NBA. Look at some of the back up point guards in the league, and then look at some of the teams that need depth at the point guard position. Detroit’s backup point guard is Peyton Siva. The Knicks’ backup point guard is Beno Udrih. Cleveland’s backup point guard is Matthew Dellavedova. Please try and tell me that a guy averaging 30 points and 6 assists per game in the D-League can’t produce the same, if
not more than some of these current backups. It just doesn’t make sense.
Size does matter, but it only matters to a certain extent. A 6’3” point guard with a broken jumper and turnover issues shouldn’t get looked at in the same light as someone like Pierre Jackson who is 5’11” but has an NBA skillset. I hate to use Brian Scalabrine as an example here because I love the White Mamba, but he had a multi-year NBA career with half the natural ability as Pierre Jackson. Scal was a great college player at USC, but he could never score 58 points in a D-League game. He just doesn’t have the kind of ability. But clearly, Pierre Jackson does, and it’s a shame all 30 NBA teams are overlooking him because of his height.
If Jackson hasn’t gotten the NBA call for another reason, I’d love to hear it. All reports indicate that his character off the court is up to par and his play on the court shows that he’s ready to take his talents to the next level.
In most cases, size does matter. In Pierre Jackson’s case, it shouldn’t. It will be absolute blasphemy if Jackson spends the rest of the season in the D-Leage. This guy deserves a shot to prove himself in the NBA.
#2 Syracuse defeated #17 Duke 91-89 in the Carrier Dome on Saturday in what will go down as one of the best games of the season. Every major news outlet had some sort of story up right after the game, but the three I decided to compare are: ESPN.com’s recap of the game which they got from the Associated Press, Gary Parrish’s recap on CBSsports.com, and Pete Thamel’s recap on Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. These just happened to be the first three articles that came up after I searched the game, but it ended up working out because all three authors took different approaches to covering the game.
The Associated Press story that ESPN.com posted did a good job of walking the reader through the game in a chronological order. The article opened up with the basic “who, what, when, where and what”, and then had quotes from both coaches on their thoughts of the game. After that, the article went in chronological order of how the end of the game played out. It talked about how Duke’s Jabari Parker fouled out late in regulation and how Duke’s Rasheed Suliamon hit an off-balance three pointer to send the game to overtime.
Then in overtime, Syracuse used its’ height advantage to pound the rock down low, and Jerami Grant had three dunks in the extra period. The article touched on all the big plays of the final few minutes, but it didn’t go into any real detail about the atmosphere of the game or the significance of it. It was written in a summary style and even though it told all the facts, it was pretty boring.
Gary Parrish’s piece for CBSsports.com took a totally different approach than the AP article. Parrish started off his piece talking about the atmosphere in the arena
and the coaching matchup between the two winningest coaches in Division I history and how this only the third time Coach K and Jim Boeheim have ever met. Parrish talked about how this game will be remembered 15 years from now and how the outcome of the game was more important than the beginning of a new conference rivalry. Parrish did touch upon some of the big plays late in the game, but the article was focused more on the other aspects of the night instead of the game itself. Although it sounds odd, this article was extremely effective. Parrish did a great job painting a picture of what the atmosphere was like in Carrier Dome during the final minutes of the game.
Pete Thamel’s piece for Sportsillustrated.cnn.com was a mix of Parrish’s piece and the AP piece. Thamel weaved the summary of the game with the story lines of the night together in a piece that flowed nicely. The lede of his story was completely different than the other two pieces and it instantly captured the readers attention. If there is a more vivid lede in any game recap this week, I’ll be damned.
“As debuts go, this is like playing your first round of golf at Augusta, drinking your first beer at Oktoberfest or planting your first kiss on Kate Upton,” he wrote.
Even though that lede has nothing to do with the game or basketball in general, it painted the picture of something epic, and the Syracuse/Duke game was definitely epic. Thamel used the same energetic tone throughout the whole article which really added to his story telling. Every sentence, no matter what it was about, was interesting because of the adjectives he used. Thamel’s piece has less summary than the AP story but more than Parrish’s, and less about the atmosphere of the night than Parrish’s but more than the AP story.
It’s pretty amazing that three different writers can cover the same event but produce three completely different articles. It just goes to show how many different angles a news outlet can take when covering a certain event. If I had to rank the three pieces, I’d rank them like this: 1. Parrish, 2. Thamel, 3. AP. Parrish’s article took me into the Carrier Dome and I felt like I was there watching the game as it unfolded.
NBA writer Zach Lowe is one of the most respected voices in the professional basketball community, and honestly, it’s tough to figure out why.
On a scale of “good, ethical journalism to this is my opinion”, Lowe often falls near the bottom. He doesn’t always report on hard NBA news, he simply tells his honest opinions in his pieces for Grantland. The biggest mystery about Lowe is that no one even knows why they believe what he says. He’s a mystery man. There just isn’t that much information about his past online. Bobody knows why they trust what Lowe writes, they just do.
He often strays from the normal journalistic techniques, goes on ridiculously long rants about sometimes unrelated topics, uses footnotes more than any one else, and writes 6,000 word articles on a topic that could be completely covered from all angles in about 2,500 words.
Yet somehow, everything he writes is gold.
Take his NBA All-Star game ballot article for example. To put it in it’s simplest terms, the article practices “bad journalism”. It is filled with his own opinions, he uses the word “I” in just about every paragraph, it’s way too long, and he ends the article with “10 Things I Like and Don’t Like”, even though the title of the article is “Our NBA All-Star Team”.
Even with all these flaws, I couldn’t stop reading.
Lowe had me hooked from the second I clicked on the article to the very last word. While reading the article, Lowe brought up some interesting points about his All-Star selections that most average fans would have never even considered. He went off on an eight paragraph rant about why he didn’t select Detroit Pistons’ center Andre Drummond for the Eastern Conference team. At first glance, Drummond is putting up All-Star caliber numbers, but when Lowe explains his reasoning for leaving him off the roster, you think to yourself “Hmm, I never looked at it that way. Maybe he’s right”.
That’s what makes Zach Lowe such a great writer. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what he’s writing about. If he wanted to write a “How To Ice-Skate For Dummies” book, regardless of his ability to ice-skate, I’m sure it would become the number one ice-skating book on the market. The way he writes is clear, and his ability to make his readers re-think their own opinions is unparalleled in today’s sports media market.
The fans get to vote the starters for the All-Star game so why should I care about who Zach Lowe thinks should actually get the start? There isn’t a good reason for it, yet I’m fascinated by what he thinks and have found that’s he’s usually correct. His writing isn’t always “good journalism” per say, but Zach Lowe is one of the best writers on the Internet right now.
Since stepping onto the field for his first career game last season, Johnny Manziel has dominated college football.
Manziel finished his first collegiate season with 3,706 passing yards, 26 passing touchdowns, 1,410 rushing yards, and 21 rushing touchdowns. These video-game like stats helped Johnny Football win the 2012 Heisman Award. Read more…
The Dallas Cowboys defeated the New York Giants last night by a score of 36-31.
The Giants committed 6 turnovers last night, yet somehow had a chance to actually pull off the win. Despite the horrific play in the Dallas game, Giants fans should remain optimistic about the remainder of the season. Here’s why.
The Cowboys may have scored 36 points last night, but 14 of those points came from the defense and two other scores came right after the Giants turned the ball over deep in their own territory. Overall, New York’s defense played pretty well last night. The secondary, which was banged up to start the game, held their own against the Cowboys explosive offense. Even without their number one cornerback Prince Amukamara for the majority of the game last night (Amukamara suffered a concussion in the second quarter), the Giants D held Romo to under 300 passing yards and held superstar wide receiver Dez Bryant to 22 receiving yards. The Giants’ defense was awful last year against the run, but held DeMarco Murray to 86 yards on 20 carries. At the end of the day, the Giants defense played pretty well – something you couldn’t say often last year.
2. Passing Game
Eli Manning was awful on two of the first three drives of the game. On the first play from scrimmage, Eli threw a screen pass right into Demarcus Ware’s chest for an interception, and on the third drive, Eli over threw his receiver and was picked off by Will Allen. After those two early miscues, Eli was spectacular. Manning ended the day with 450 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. The Cowboys had no answer for the Giants passing game. The Giants 3-receiver set looked unstoppable, as Eli consistently hit his single side receiver for big gains. Rueben Randle (5 catches, 101 yards), Hakeem Nicks (5 catches, 114 yards), and Victor Cruz (5 catches, 118 yards, 3 TDs) beat the Cowboys corners on just about every play. Eli’s last interception was a fluke play, but for the majority of the game, the Giants passing game looked phenomenal.
3. Running Game
The running game last night was putrid. David Wilson fumbled the ball twice on seven carries, and Da’Rel Scott showed us why he isn’t a NFL starter yet. The good news though is that the running game can only improve from here. Before last night, Wilson hadn’t fumbled on his last 130 carries, so last night seems like a fluke. It is pretty evident that the Giants offense is much more explosive when Wilson is in the game, and look for him to rebound in a big way next week. The Giants worked out Brandon Jacobs today, and are clearly looking to make some moves at the running back position.
Jonathan Dwyer and Willis McGahee are free agents right now, just saying.
Any team that turns the ball over 6 times does not deserve to win the game. However, despite turning the ball over 6 times last night, the Giants were still in the game until the very end. Had the Giants only turned the ball over four times instead of six times, they probably would have left Dallas with the win. The fact that they were able to turn the ball over six times and still had a chance to pull out a victory is a testament to how good this team can be.
Last night was an ugly loss for the Giants, but don’t jump off their bandwagon just yet.
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