Sunday, August 10, 2008

November is coming! Get excited!

Let me begin this post by offering full disclosure. We "journalists" are supposed to be fair and balanced, neutral at all times. Whether or not you believe this is possible, this is the goal. A college basketball journalist can't write that Duke will win every game if he is a Duke fan (although this one would like to). Likewise, a political journalist shouldn't favor one candidate or one party over another, and if they do, it should not affect the integrity of their work.

I consider myself a journalist. I work hard to write fair, balanced stories. In my role as a television producer, I take pains to tell all sides of the story and give justice to them as best I can. But now, I have taken a leave of absence from the world of journalism to work on Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Last week, I loaded up my car and drove from New York to Missouri to help BO get elected.

Throughout the 15 hour drive, as I meandered through towns and past farms and into America's heartland, I could not stop thinking about what will come a few months from now. In November, Americans from all corners of the country will come together in the hopes of new beginnings and a chance for victory. Obviously, I'm talking about college basketball season! (You were expecting something else??)

My drive from the Atlantic to the Mississippi was long and arduous, but it gave me a chance to think about all the basketball that is coming soon. And it also gave me a mini-tour of some notable hoops hotbeds in this country.

Around 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 3, I left New York, the home of the point guards. From Pee Wee Kirkland to Sebastian Telfair, lead guards have dominated the NYC blacktop. I thought about the time one of those point guards, nicknamed Showtime (former St. Johns guard Darryl Hill) bounced the ball off my head in a summer league game. Embarrassing.

Around 10 AM, I got to William Patterson College in NJ, former home of D-III superstar and Pistons guard Horace Jenkins. Love for D-III hoops!

Around 1 PM, I reached Pittsburgh, home of the Panthers. Will they contend for the National Championship this year? It should be Pitt and UConn all year long fighting for the Big East crown.

Around 3 PM, I saw the first signs for Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes are known as a football school, but have quite the basketball tradition. From Jerry Lucas to Greg Oden, THE Ohio State University has had some quality ballers. Can freshman center B.J. Mullens lead them back to the top of the Big 10 this year?

Around 5 PM, I got to Dayton, Ohio. The Flyers are one of those under-the-radar programs that always surprises people in March. I thought about why people are so hesitant to give the Atlantic 10 love. They have quality programs and great coaches. Just because they don't play BCS football doesn't mean it's not a great basketball conference. I think Xavier proved that last season.

By 8 PM, I reached Indianapolis, and I thought not about the Hoosiers, but about when my father took me to the Final Four in that city in 2000. I watched Mateen Cleaves and Mo-Pete cut down the nets that year. Now that was a great college basketball team.

By 10 PM, I saw signs for Indiana State University. It was dark and there were no lights anywhere. I could have sworn I heard Larry Legend's jumpshots lightly grazing the net, and then bouncing back to him on his Indiana farm. Spooky.

By Midnight, I passed Southern Illinois University, home of the Salukis. Another great mid-major program that everyone forgets about until they make the Sweet 16. I wish casual basketball fans knew more about teams like this.

Finally, around 3 AM, I pulled into St. Louis, home of the SLU Billikens (what up, Larry Hughes) and the 2008 D-III national champions, Washington University. Yeah, that's right, I got recruited by them...

A long drive, and an exciting time ahead. College basketball is just around the corner, and everyone of the schools that I saw (and hundreds more), are gearing up for November. Oh yeah, and I hear there's an election too...

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