Media column version 11.14.14 — How former UCLA coach Ben Howland says answering reporters questions gave him prep work to a TV analyst job at NBCSN

Remember the time during the 2013 Pac-12 basketball tournament when Ben Howland was so upset about an official's call he tossed his jacket into the crowd? That'll make for good TV with his new role at NBCSN. (Photo by USA Today)

Remember the time during the 2013 Pac-12 basketball tournament when Ben Howland was so upset about an official’s call he tossed his jacket into the crowd? That’ll make for good TV with his new role at NBCSN. (Photo by USA Today)

What made it into this week’s column linked here:

Former UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland may not be in the Dick Vitale bubble conversation about gregarious, made-for-TV game analysts, but that’s the path of least resistance that he’ll take for the 2014-15 season — NBCSN will announce today that he’s been hired to do a package of Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association games, starting with the Barclays Center Classic event in Brooklyn (Virginia, Vanderbilt, La Salle and Rutgers) on the day after Thanksgiving.

On the eve of a full-court scramble of the first night of college basketball on TV — ESPN and the Pac-12 Networks are the ones to have blazing Friday — we’ve talked to Howland, who is also returning as a studio analyst on Fox Sports 1, about how this works into his schedule a full season removed from Westwood, still living in Santa Barbara, and no doubt still considered a viable coaching candidate somewhere.

What seems just about right to log in here:

== We’re in full agreement with Deadspin.com about declaring Daniel Tosh the winner based on scientific evidence for how rebuttal rip-off of ESPN’s “Sports Science,” in response to how an ESPN fellow stole his “web redemption” segment for that singer who tripped and fell while doing the Canadian national anthem. When we saw the “Tosh.0” episode as it ran on Comedy Central Tuesday, we couldn’t want to see the blowback. We did appreciate the one responder to the Deadspin.com post who wrote in headline style: “Guy Whose Entire Show Is Ripping Off Other People’s Content Upset That Someone Ripped Off His Content.” That’s how it works in today’s world o’ borrowing. And ESPN says it did not do anything wrong in trying to offer a snarky response.

== NBCSN says this morning that Wednesday night’s Kings-Ducks game from Anaheim had a 1.01 rating in L.A. — the second-best rating for an NHL regular-season game in the L.A. market on the cable channel. The first: Last season’s Kings-Ducks game from Dodger Stadium (2.38 rating). Better perspective: The 1.01 rating is more than 400 percent better than what the Ducks did on an NBCSN game in L.A. last season (0.2) and nearly 100 percent better than what the Kings did on NBCSN games in L.A. a season ago (0.55).

== More on the Dead-o-Spin radar: “The funniest man at ESPN” is, of course, Norman Chad, having just wrapped up the World Series of Poker for his 12th year at the network calling this thing. Almost as funny is how it took 4,400-plus words to quantify that obvious fact in a profile on him posted Tuesday about Chad.

== We choose to lay out and let you read these Grantland Dictionary: Sportscasting Edition entries to the fullest. Continue reading “Media column version 11.14.14 — How former UCLA coach Ben Howland says answering reporters questions gave him prep work to a TV analyst job at NBCSN” »

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Play It Forward: Nov. 10-16 on your sports calendar — Steve Alford’s season on the brink isn’t Year 2 at UCLA, is it?

UCLABruins.com

UCLABruins.com

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: 2014-15 SEASON OPENERS:

UCLA vs. MONTANA STATE
Details/TV: Pauley Pavilion, Friday at 9 p.m., Pac-12 Network:

USC vs. PORTLAND STATE
Details/TV: Galen Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network:

CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE at SAN DIEGO STATE
Details/TV: Friday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports San Diego

LONG BEACH STATE at BYU
Details/TV: Friday at 4 p.m.

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT vs. S.E. MISSOURI
Details/TV: Gersten Pavilion, Friday at 6 p.m.

PEPPERDINE vs. FRESNO STATE
Details/TV: Firestone Fieldhouse, Friday at 7 p.m.

Steve Alford turns 50 years old later this month. And with that, a lot of us are feeling just a little bit older right now. For a simple reference point, flip back to the late ‘80s when John Feinstein’s book “A Season on the Brink” included the process by which Indiana coach Bob Knight tried to recruit the  hot-shot high school sophomore Alford. Now that the baby-faced Alford enters his 20th season as a Division I basketball coach, it this a make-or-brink moment for Year 2 at UCLA? He molded a 28-9 record and a Pac-12 Conference tournament championship in his first year, and that turned out to be pretty sweet – as in an eventual Sweet 16 appearance. But missing from this year’s roster are Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Zach LaVine and the Wear twins. Alford’s replenished with five freshmen, including Kevon Looney, who had a team-best 12 rebounds in an exhibition win over Azusa Pacific the other night, and 7-footer Thomas Welch, from Redondo Beach out of L.A. Loyola High. On the opening night of college hoops – where No. 1 Kentucky risks its credibility hosting Grand Canyon,  No. 2 Arizona stays home for Mt. St. Mary’s and Louisville’s Rick Pitino coaches against his son, Richard, the head coach at Minnesota, in Puerto Rico (ESPN, 4 p.m.) — the Bruins saddle up with the Bobcats of the Big Sky Conference for a tip-off so late, it’ll already be Saturday night in the East.
reggie-theus A few hours earlier,  Cal State Northridge will take on a much more challenging task. Coach Reggie Theus, also starting his second year, decided to measure his team up against No. 16 San Diego State, and follow that by going to Tucson to face the Wildcats (Sunday, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network). This Matadors team will end up playing at Oregon and at Louisville this season. Their Big West rivals at Long Beach State, where coach Dan Monson recently agreed to a five-year contract extension, put UCLA and Kansas State on its schedule early on as well. But for starters, the 49ers go to West Coast Conference challenger BYU in Provo, Utah, hoping their core group led by Mike Caffey, Nick Faust and Tyler Lamb are up for the challenge.
532a5d9b5b291.imageAs for the region’s WCC teams, Loyola Marymount turns to alum Mike Dunlap for his first year when the Lions host their own LMU Classic against SE Missouri and Boise State on back-to-back nights. Pepperdine, with alum Marty Wilson starting his fourth season as coach, take on Fresno State, which went 21-18 a year ago. The next night, there’s USC, a miserable 11-21 last season, going without a senior and with 11 sophomores and freshman. Andy Enfield’s  second season begins a matchup against the Big Sky’s Portland State.

THE REST OF THE WEEK:

dm_140826_mlb_braden_on_kershaw_trout1103USC goes Thursday night against Cal at the Coliseum (6 p.m., ESPN) as the prelude to facing UCLA and Notre Dame … The Baseball Writers Association of America is expected to give out its AL and NL MVP Awards to the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw on Thursday (3 p.m., MLB Network) … The Clippers have to wonder if Gregg Popovich is going to put out all his veterans when they meet San Antonio (Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) … The Kings and Ducks have to play each other five times in the regular season, but they’re going to knock out two of them in one week (Wednesday at Honda Center, 7 p.m., NBCSN; Saturday at Staples Center, 1 p.m., FSW, Prime) … John Force is in position again to win another Funny Car title when the NHRA’s 50th Auto Club Finals happen at the Pomona Fairgrounds (Sunday’s finals start at 3:25 p.m.; qualifying begins Thursday) … Oh, right, the Lakers … they’re going back-to-back in Memphis (Tuesday, 5 p.m.) and New Orleans (Wednesday, 5 p.m.) before coming home for San Antonio (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Golden State (Sunday, 6:30 p.m.). You’ve been warned …. And there’s even more at this link.

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It’s Out of the Question: If a hunger to win won’t be satisfied by these Lakers, then where do we get our fill?

His friends at TNT are already projecting what Charles Barkley's weight will look like as he waits out the first Lakers win of 2014. (Photo: TNT)

His friends at TNT are already projecting what Charles Barkley’s weight will look like as he waits out the first Lakers win of 2014. (Photo: TNT)

Charles Barkley has made a solemn vow that he won’t eat another meal until the Lakers win a game. And you thought Tommy Lasorda on Slimfast was cruel and unusual self-inflicted punishment?

Kobe Bryant sits on the bench after rookie  Julius Randle breaks his leg in the Lakers' opener on  Oct. 28, (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Kobe Bryant sits on the bench after rookie Julius Randle breaks his leg in the Lakers’ opener on Oct. 28, (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

On the “Petros and Money” sports talk show, they’re holding a “Lakers Win Watch 2014” prediction contest. Kinda like “Storm Watch,” only it affects more people in L.A. Bill Macdonald, the Lakers TV play-by-play man, picked this coming Wednesday in New Orleans. He was laughed off the AM dial.

Over on the Lakers’ home station, Colin Cowherd likened the team to “the circus that comes through town, doesn’t treat the elephant well and makes everyone uneasy.”

Easy there. It all could be fixed in a jiff by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, knowing how the league can fix things when it needs to.

The man who has already made Donald Sterling disappear said this week he’d raise the minimum age for any player entering the league from 19 to 20 years old if he could. By the executive power vested in him by all the TV partners, can’t he automatically raise the minimum win total for the Lakers to a dozen by April, 2015?

Lawrence Tanter_ credit-Gary Friedman  Los Angeles Times  March 23, 2011This could be the point when Lawrence Tanter tantalizes the Staples Center crowd by introducing tonight’s starting lineup “for your Los Angeles Losers” with a microphone that loses its power. And if you’re trying to divert your attention from the scoreboard, check out those “Loser Girrrrrrls.”

The black jersey didn't help Kobe Bryant and the Lakers scare off the Clippers in their first meeting of the season on Halloween night.  (AP Photo/Christine Cotter)

The black jersey didn’t help Kobe Bryant and the Lakers scare off the Clippers in their first meeting of the season on Halloween night. (AP Photo/Christine Cotter)

It’s more and more appropriate that these lakers – and let’s go with the lower-case “L” at this point, because there are too many of these scarlet letters to count at this point — be con- demned to wear their black alternate jerseys, the ones with the sleeves. So when the Black Mamba is wearing his black armband, it’s not too noticeable.

There has to be a tipping point soon when Nike asks Kobe Bryant to film a commercial where he gets the entire city of Los Angeles to huddle up and “be relentless.”

Sorry, is that slogan taken?

Continue reading “It’s Out of the Question: If a hunger to win won’t be satisfied by these Lakers, then where do we get our fill?” »

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Media column version 11.07.14: There’s documentation of how to live, and still chase, a career dream in the sports media world

Kane County Chronicle sports writer Kevin Druley works on his story in the Kane County Cougars' press box after their game. (Photo provided by Patrick Lile)

Kane County Chronicle sports writer Kevin Druley works on his game story from the press box while covering the Single-A  Kane County Cougars, outside of Chicago. (Photo provided by R. Patrick Lile)

The focus of this week’s media column posted here:

In the span of an 18-minute documentary, R. Patrick Lile and Kevin Druley are linked for a lifetime. Where things end up, both are anxious to discover.
All-Sports-Logo960x360-v5Lile, a filmmaker who just turned 34 last week, created the thought-provoking piece entitled “Sportswriter,” one of the 50-plus entries in this weekend’s All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival.  The sixth annual event begins Friday and ends Sunday at the Regal Cinemas LA Live Stadium 14 near Staples Center.
Druley is the focus of “Sportswriter” as he narrates his own story — a 28-year-old covering minor-league baseball and high school events for the Kane County Chronicle, just west of Chicago.
Will he still be doing this, for the love of the games, in five years? Will the newspaper industry as we know it still be what he wants to be in? Will he connect for a career with his hometown St. Louis Post-Dispatch?
Both Lile and Druley are living their dream, and chasing it as well, in the sports media.
The film airs as part of the first session for the festival (Friday, noon to 1:45 p.m.), included in a block with six other shorts. Lile has also made it available for the time being to watch at this link.

What else is worth noting:

== What Druley wrote in the Kane County Chronicle last November about the experience of seeing himself in a documentary about his life.

== From an email exchange with Lile, now working as a program assistant at Northwestern University’s School of Communications in its Radio/TV/Film department, we asked what he thought about Druley’s chances of making it in the newspaper world and satisfying his career goal: “Having read a lot Kevin’s articles and also being an avid reader of other sports columnists, I’m not sure what separates him from the guys writing for Sports Illustrated, ESPN or one of our Chicago sports pages. Kevin wrote an article about Cubs prospect Albert Almora that’s so good the Chicago Tribune should have been knocking on his door begging him to write for them. And even beyond the minor league baseball beat, Kevin gets to do some really interesting articles on everything from amateur wrestling to high school sports.  Ultimately I’m not sure what separates the Rick Reillys, Mike Wilbons and the other big names from guys like Kevin.  Sometimes it is just an opportunity and someone getting a chance.
“As for reaching that satisfying career goal, Kevin mentions during the film that he has found more fulfillment with his personal life.  When your dreams go from being only about your professional life and suddenly you dream about having a family, that ultimate career goal might change a little. You find more appreciation in your personal life. That’s certainly true for myself as I have started a family and have 8 month old twins since making the film.”
We also asked Lile if it’s difficult to separate his own emotions from the subject as he’s making his documentary, especially this one: “As I was making ‘Sportswriter’, I was also working with Kartemquin Films, the social issue documentary company that produced ‘Hoop Dreams,’ ‘The Interrupters’ and ‘Life Itself.’  Working with those very accomplished filmmakers on those very accomplished films, there is a constant reminder that you’re making films about people, not about subjects. On other films I have had to put down the camera to allow a person to grieve, give them their space. If you’re doing your job as a filmmaker, you should be connecting with the people you’re making a film about because it is a very collaborative process. It’s hard to separate your emotions as your making a film, because in the end you really do care about these people. Unless you’re doing some sort of burn piece or an exposé, you have to care in order to be an effective filmmaker.”

Art created by DeviantArt.com.

Art created by DeviantArt.com.

== More highlights of the All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival: “The Hank Gathers Story,” included in Sunday’s 2-to-3:30 p.m. block, is part of a “Memorable Moments” series from Yahoo.com Sports documentary executive producer Alan Springer, with this 10-minute doc directed and produced by Jackie Pepper. The series has been around for five seasons and 42 episodes. Last month, it won an Edward R. Murrow award for “Best Sports Journalism”  for a Loyola-Mississippi State piece about how that basketball game in 1963 helped change sports history.

== The festival ends with a screening of “The 25,000 Mile Love Story,” which has been winning festival accolates going back to its release a year ago. It was the “Feature Audience Favorite” of the 2013 Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. An L.A. Times review here of the film and the book after it came out.
The film airs Sunday at 6 p.m., with the awards ceremony starting at 8 p.m.
Friday’s opening night is highlighted by the L.A. premiere of “Out of Nothing,” about four men who try to break the motorcycle land speed record on their homemade machines. Actor/comedian Ryan Stiles produced the film that will be shown at 8:15 p.m., with friend Drew Carey expected to attend.

== Next in line for ESPN’s “30 For 30” documentary series: “Rand University,” about the early life and times of former NFL receiver and current Fox Sports 1 analyst Randy Moss (Tuesday, 5 p.m., ESPN).
Continue reading “Media column version 11.07.14: There’s documentation of how to live, and still chase, a career dream in the sports media world” »

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Think of the Clippers as the first to dive into Google TV … or Netflix … or whatever Steve Ballmer dreams up

Then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, left, shakes hands with former NBA players Bill Russell, right, and "Downtown" Freddie Brown during an NCAA college basketball game between Washington and Oregon State in Seattle. Now that Ballmer is owner of the Clippers, what's the next step in him renewing the team's media-rights deal that can justify spending $2 billion to buy the team?  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) ORG XMIT: NY155

Then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, left, shakes hands with former NBA players Bill Russell, right, and “Downtown” Freddie Brown during an NCAA college basketball game between Washington and Oregon State in Seattle earlier this year. Now that Ballmer is owner of the Clippers, what’s the next step in him renewing the team’s media-rights deal that can justify spending $2 billion to buy the team? (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) ORG XMIT: NY155

There may be nobody better suited to lead sports television into a new era than a former Microsoft CEO who seems to live by a motto of “hard-core energy.”

Though he may not relish being saddled with the responsibility, Steve Ballmer could be the perfect candidate at the perfect time to capitalize on his latest investment.

After shelling out $2 billion to purchase the Clippers this past summer, money may be enough to motivate a diversion from the eroding conventional cable model in an effort to begin recouping the largest sum ever paid for a professional sports franchise in North America.

Particularly because of the proximity to the Dodgers, whose latest TV contract may have burst the country’s regional sports television bubble, and the Lakers, who had trouble partnering with Time Warner Cable to launch their own regional sports channel, the ripple effect could move the Clippers to get creative in selling its media rights to a new technology.

But when the Clippers’ modest $20 million per year TV contract with Fox Sports West’s Prime Ticket expires after the 2015-16 season, the conventional options for the NBA franchise appear limited. Which may play right into Ballmer’s wheelhouse.

Read more at this link ….

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