Journalistic review: Comparing articles from the same game

After I cover a game, I like to read other people’s articles to see how their write-ups compare to mine. I’m not looking to judge whose is better, but to see how everyone else structured their article, the lead they used, what quotes they selected and what stats or plays they thought deserved mention.

Last night I covered the Canisius basketball team’s game against Northwestern State. After I finished my article, I went and found every recap of the game. There were only a handful of us on press row, so it wasn’t too hard to find all of them.

The Griffs won 85-52, and Alshawn Hymes was the star of the night. He tied a MAAC record and set the Canisius mark with nine 3-pointers in the game.

Sophomore Alshawn Hymes.

Another storyline was the opponent. Canisius had just played NSU ten days prior on their home floor, losing an ugly game, 86-74.

The idea of a great comeback could also have been played up. Canisius has given up big runs in the first half after taking an early lead several times this season, and they did so again last night. The difference was instead of folding, they answered it with a 17-0 run of their own and took the lead back before going on to dominate the Demons.

Other stats worth noting: Julius Coles went over 1,000 points for his career; Canisius controlled the boards with 23 offensive rebounds; Northwestern turned the ball over 29 times; Canisius had 20 assists.

I posted my recap here. I chose to lead in with the turnaround from the last game. The Griffs dominated in every aspect of the game, from statistical to psychological. I’ve never seen an offense so flustered that they repeatedly threw passes right to Canisius players.

I also want to keep in mind my target audience. I write for the school paper. I mention Canisius players a lot more than opponents, and while I do give criticism where it is due, the school paper generally tries to stay positive.

I didn’t want to lead with the comeback because I thought highlighting the stretch of bad basketball in a game we won by 33 points was too negative. I could have led with Hymes, but I decided to put him as the first part of the body instead.

Bob DiCesare usually covers the team for The Buffalo News, and his article can be found here. He led in with the drought and subsequent comeback, which is what I would have liked to do as well.

His paragraphs are too long for the web and it was 12 missed shots, not 13, but of the bunch, I thought his article was the most well-written (…which is why he writes for the News). I’ll give him a break on the stat because I know he was already passed the first deadline at the press conference and he probably didn’t have time to go through the book and count like I did.

I think there was one other stat that was slightly off, but such is the nature of the beast on deadline writing. Other than that I was impressed with his use of the language and how easily he transitioned from one idea to the next.

My inner dork took over next and I put both articles into Microsoft Word to run some quick stats. Turns out, our articles were actually pretty similar.

If I was on deadline like he was, there’s no way I write 813 words or come up with some of the stats I did. Writing on deadline sucks, but especially as the internet becomes more and more important, getting articles up as fast as possible is a tool of the trade.

One thing I do want to make mention of is his ending. “…Frazier’s second of two open-floor jams worthy of entry in any dunk contest. There was no doubt as to the outcome thereafter.”

That’s it. No more. That’s the thing about news articles, they don’t really end, they just stop. It’s a hard concept to grasp for young writers, because our entire lives we were drilled to have conclusions and tie themes together at the end. It’s dumb, but that’s the way it has to be, especially on deadline. Besides… why waste the time coming up with something clever when numbers show that very few readers actually read to the end of an article anyway?

Okay, enough about this one. The next one I read was written by Paul Casey Gotham, who covers the Griffs for the blog Pickin Splinters. He opened with a focus on Hymes, devoting the first 175 words all to the sophomore’s record-setting performance.

From there he got right into the comeback effort, going into more detail than either of the previous articles. Citing the Griffs’ 1-2-2 press was a nice touch. It really did cause fits for the Demons, and mentioning it puts readers right into the action.

I found it funny that he made special mention of Rob Goldsberry as a 6-foot guard. Six feet tall. That’s a good one. Props to Canisius for making him seem taller in the media guide.

Gotham used a look-ahead ending on his piece, which is common (and effective) in sports writing. If you notice, I used that type of ending as well.

The next two pieces I read were the releases from each of the schools (Canisius’ here, NSU’s here). Keep in mind each outlet’s audience. People who read the write-up on the school page will most likely be fans of that team.

It looks like both schools use similar website providers, which is probably why both have such small pictures and ads in odd places.

School recaps are more bland and factual that news recaps. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that writers for outside sources can use a slightly more opinionated approach to their pieces.

Both leads were very similar, mentioning Hymes and the number of turnovers committed by the Demons, then how this game effects the season record. Each school talks about its own players and then works in a quote or two. Both end with what is upcoming for the team.

Canisius’ Athletic Communications typically end its articles with some statistical notes, which I love. Stats are great, and being able to pull them makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about. Why yes, Greg Logins is 10th all-time in rebounds.

The last write-up I found of the game was the AP recap. I don’t know who writes these or what the process is, but it looks like an intern at a desk got handed a stat sheet and spit up a 150-word summary.

Again, remember the audience. I’m willing to bet CBS (or any of the other hundreds of outlets that used the AP recap) couldn’t care less about Canisius College. They make one of these for every single game for every single team. One hundred fifty words or so is all they need to tell you the main points of the game, and then they’re done.

If we say that whoever wrote this probably doesn’t care about the game, then the only reason he wrote it is because his boss told him to. So what’s his motivation? Get it out of the way so I can go home faster.

When I write, I try to put fans who weren’t at the game right in my seat on press row, to feel like they are up close and personal with the players, like I get to be. The funny face I got from the out-of-town-score-phone-answerer-guy after a player crashed into the table was funny and would definitely put the reader in my shoes, but isn’t something that goes into an article. That goes here.

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Hymes sets shooting record as Griffs roll Northwestern State

Alshawn Hymes is now shooting .427 from 3-point range, which puts him in the top-40 nationally.

What a difference ten days can make.

Just over a week removed from a sloppy 12-point loss to Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La., a completely different Canisius team took the court Wednesday night in Buffalo as the Griffs manhandled the Demons, 85-52, at the Koessler Athletic Center.

It was a career day for sophomore Alshawn Hymes, who set the Canisius College record for most 3-pointers in a single game, with nine.

“I came in this morning and I just felt like something hit me, like the team was ready to play,” Hymes said. “It’s something I felt it a couple games throughout the season so far, but it was just so much stronger tonight.

“I dream about [nights like this] all the time. I know how good of a team we can be, and tonight we proved we’re taking steps in the right direction.”

Hymes finished the night with 28 points, the highest single-game output from a Griff since Frank Turner put up 30 against Southern Miss on Dec. 22, 2009.

Senior Julius Coles also had a night to remember, as his 15 points put him over the 1,000-point mark for his career. He is the 31st player in school history to accomplish the feat.

The teams traded baskets early on the contest, with Canisius leading 12-11 just over five minutes into the game.

The next five-minute block was an uneasy one for Canisius supporters. The Griffs went on another one of their infamous first-half cold streaks, missing 12 consecutive shots while being outscored 10-0 over the drought.

Sophomore Gaby Belardo knocked down a jumper with exactly ten minutes to play in the half, and it was the start of the comeback. Instead of turning the ball over and committing fouls like they did in Louisiana, Canisius controlled the boards and started making shots.

Twelve points from Hymes over the next seven minutes helped back a commanding 26-2 run that put Canisius back in the driver’s seat as they went up 38-23 and never looked back.

The Griffs finished the game with 43 rebounds—21 defensive, 22 offensive. The team also had 16 steals while forcing the Demons into 29 turnovers.

Like Emilio Lopez in Mr. Deeds, Tom Parrotta is very very sneaky.

“Had we played like this down in Louisiana… it would have been a different story,” Canisius head coach Tom Parrotta said. “I think some of the guys said that tonight on the bench, ‘How did we let that happen down in Louisiana?’ ”

Even with a big lead, Parrotta stuck with his main rotation of eight players. Freshman Ashton Khan and junior Marial Dhal checked in with 2:06 left in the game and freshman Eric Kindler did the same with 1:03 to play.

Dhal didn’t collect a rebound but blocked two consecutive shots in a three-second span. Junior Rokas Gricius missed his third straight game with back spasms and freshman Chris Manhertz continued to be bothered by a bad ankle.

Canisius (6-6) shot 41.4 percent from the field while holding NSU (8-5, 1-5 road) to 33.3 percent.

Up next for Canisius is a road game at Saint Peter’s on Monday, Jan. 3. The Peacocks had won five straight games before losing star players Wesley Jenkins and Ryan Bacon to injury during Dec. 21’s game at Binghamton.

Jenkins is reported to have re-injured the same right knee he partially tore his ACL in over the summer, and Bacon is reported to have a sprained ankle. There is no official word yet on whether either player will be ready for the Canisius game, although neither played Wednesday night against Lehigh.

Jeron Belin and Nick Leon now lead the charge for Saint Peter’s. Both are good players, but this would be a great way for Canisius to make up ground in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings.

They said it

“I wish I could come up with something real positive to say about my bunch, but, you know, it’s going to be hard to find a silver lining in that. My daddy says, ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.’ Y’all prolly ain’t heard that one.”
-Northwestern State head coach Mike McConathy

Star sighting

Buffalo Bills tackle Demetrius Bell was on hand at the KAC for the game. Bell is a graduate of Northwestern State. He originally went to the school to play basketball.

Two can play that game

Bell (right, obviously) with a member of the Canisius High School pep band. Nice smile.

Coming into the contest, the Demons’ William Mosley led the nation in blocks per game (4.3). That was only extra motivation for senior Tomas Vazquez-Simmons, the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots, who joked that since both players wear the same number, he was glad to show people who the best number 42 is. Mosley finished the game with four blocks. Vazquez-Simmons had five.

Unsung Hero

Rob Goldsberry. Five assists, no turnovers, three rebounds. Sold a lot of foul calls early when the Griffs needed it. It’s the little things.

Life is about the little things, this is not one of them

This is a big thing. Click this. It’ll be good to have over the words on this post.

I can link to bad rap music if I want. I just want a fantasy football championship. Two of them, actually.

My new profile picture on Facebook. I may never change it (until I get next year's banner).

Despite the odds, DeSean Jackson was limited to two catches for 32 yards, making me a champion.

I watched the whole game from Buffalo Wild Wings with some friends. Jackson’s catches both came on a comeback route with the DB playing off him. Jackson was officially targeted 12 times in the game by Vick, but most of them were poor throws. He dropped one or two, but probably four passes intended for DeSean should have been intercepted.

I was wrong about Joe Webb, too. Turns out the UAB product isn’t half-bad.

I had David Akers going for me, and I was very mad when he missed the long field goal at the end of the first half. The 54-yard attempt would have been five huge points for me. It would have nullified a Jackson touchdown, too, because I’d get one for the extra point and it would be six points both ways.

But it was all for naught. The Viking pass rush was too much for the Eagles to handle and Vick didn’t have time to wait for longer routes to develop. He checked down or ran frequently. Tight end Brent Celek and running back LeSean McCoy were targeted 17 times combined.

I was the most nervous guy in BWW when Vick dropped back to throw a pass with the game out of reach at the end of the fourth quarter. I thought there might have been one second left on the clock, but they ran it off, and I was a champion. So if you were in the Wild Wings and wondering who the idiot was with his arms up after an incomplete pass, that was me.

I’ve been running this league for seven years now, and this is my first ever victory. I’m pumped to say the least.

I’ve had some good team names over the years, but this season I named my team after a movie I watched on a team bus last winter. My team was The Dead Presidents, from the 1991 Patrick Swayze movie “Point Break”. (Apparently, my team loves Patrick Swayze. “Youngblood” is another bus ride favorite.)

My team's logo. Its Wikipedia page say "Point Break" has a cult following, which I assume puts it in a category with the likes of "Boondock Saints", "Fight Club" or even "Requiem for a Dream".

Not the greatest of movies, but it served its purpose.

I have a lot of sports memorabilia around my room, but my fantasy football banner may be one of my new favorite pieces.

I love fantasy sports and fantasy football, but after tonight, this will just be one more award and it’ll be on to the next one. Fantasy baseball is to be dominated next. Forty-six days until pitchers and catchers report!

DeSean Jackson will be the death of me

Dennis Johnson from the NFL Network reported today that 50 percent of fantasy championships will be impacted by Michael Vick.

If Jackson caught footballs liked he picked out sunglasses, I'd be in business. Nice shirt though.

For me it’s not Mike Vick, it’s DeSean Jackson (unless of course he’s implying Vick impacts Jackson). I have two fantasy titles on the line tonight, and both teams are going against DeSean Jackson tonight.

And by “going against,” I mean, “need him to do poorly.”

One of my teams is already screwed by Wes Welker. So here’s how it plays out: One game I have a six-point lead and David Akers vs. Jackson. In the other, I have a five-point lead with Akers and LeSean McCoy going against Jackson.

Right now it looks like I’m going 1-1. That’s okay, except I’m losing the pay league and winning the free one. I’m hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.

Here’s my wishful thinking. I think the Vikings are going to get pounded into the turf tonight. I’m not sure Joe Webb is better than Joe Licata. Two days rest for Adrian Peterson helps, but the Eagles are just too good.

I need the Vikings to eat some clock in the first half. Their defense will have all they can from Vick, so give them a break when they finally get off the field. Run Peterson and Gerhart and keep the clock rolling.

I also need the Eagles to get up early. The sooner Philadelphia has the lead, the sooner Andy Reid stops dialing up passing plays. Defensive touchdowns wouldn’t hurt either. They would put the game further out of reach without anyone on offense scoring a touchdown (I’m nervous for punt returns though… Minnesota got burned by Hester).

One thing I have on my side is the threat of the Eagles playing three games in 12 days. Between this Tuesday night game, their Week 17 game and Wild Card weekend, the Eagles could potentially play three times in 12 days. If they get up big and/or early, hopefully Reid will take out some of his stars and let the others play.

Basically what it comes down to is if Jackson scores a touchdown, I lose. If not, I have a shot. I lost the championship last season because Peyton Manning only played the first half of Indi’s Week 16 game. Here’s to hoping karma comes back around.

Oh, and if Jackson wants to do that thing again where he drops the ball before he gets into the end zone, that’d be cool too.


Other notes:

-Everybody blasted Brian Westbrook when he took a dive to keep the clock running instead of taking the touchdown, effectively losing several fantasy championships in the process. When Peyton Manning did it this weekend, nobody said a word.

Where else could you find a picture like this of T.O.? Only Twitter.

-Twitter is growing on me. I love that fact that you can get up close and personal with famous people. Landon Donovan’s Twitter made me laugh one night, and I made a comment about how he makes celbs seem more real. Well, he responded. That’s right, Landon Donovan tweeted at me. The answer is yes, it was as awesome as it sounds.

-Now that Mike Singletary is out in San Fransisco, what are the odds Glen Coffee comes out of retirement?

-The World Junior Classic is going on right now in Buffalo. I’ve been keeping my distance from the event, and I have my reasons. I’m pulling for the States though. Too bad they’ll be the best team in that arena this year.

Week 16 NFL picks

While the NFL looks ahead at its Week 17 finale, most fans have their focus set on week’s round of games, where their fantasy championships will be won or lost.

I didn’t realize the Buffalo News people picked Saturday’s game until it was too late. I think I might have taken the Cardinals, but it’s easy to say that now. I’ll just pick one less game.

New England at Bills (+8)–Pats. Bills usually keep Welker in check, but we haven’t beaten the Pats in our last 18 tries.

Dallas at Arizona (+6 1/2)

Detroit (+3 1/2) at Miami–Lions

Minnesota (+14 1/2) at Philadelphia–Vikings. Gotta make up ground somewhere.

Washington (+7) at Jacksonville–‘Skins. Sloppy one.

San Francisco (+2 1/2) at St. Louis–49ers. If this was Twitter, I’d tweet “#6-9divisionleader” but we all know the hashtag would cut out after the dash.

Seattle (+6 1/2) at Tampa Bay–Tampa. #6and9divisionleader. Much better.

Jets (+1) at Chicago–Bears

Baltimore at Cleveland (+3 1/2)–Remember last week when I asked if a line was serious and I lost? Maybe I learned something. Browns.

Indianapolis at Oakland (+3)–Colts

Tennessee (+5) at Kansas City–This is where I usually lose on KC and other people make money on the Titans. Look out for Moss. Titans.

Houston at Denver (+3)–Like Tebow and Lloyd, dislike everyone else. Texans.

Giants (+3) at Green Bay–GB

San Diego at Cincinnati (+7 1/2)–SD

New Orleans (+2 1/2) at Atlanta–Yikes what a game. Gets decided by a last-second field goal. Take the points. Saints.

Overall (best bets)
Sullivan: 117-93-5 (11-4)
Northrop: 116-94-5 (10-5)
DiCesare: 111-99-5 (9-6)
Wilson: 103-107-5 (11-4)
Gaughan: 101-109-5 (8-7)
McKissic: 100-110-5 (7-8)
Game Seven 91-119-5 (10-4-1)

Last week:
Bills (+5 1/2) at Miami–Bills
Bills 17-14. Win
Kansas City (+3) at St. Louis–Rams
KC 27-13. Loss
Houston (+1 1/2) at Tennessee–What? Is this a misprint in the Buffalo News? They spelled Tennessee wrong too so it could be. Houston*.
But then again, every time I pump a team up like this, they lose.
…..Eh. I hate being right. Tennessee 31-17. Loss
Jacksonville (+5) at Indianapolis–Jags
Indi 34-24. Loss
Arizona (+2 1/2) at Carolina–These teams might try to lose the game on purpose so they can get a leg up in the first overall draft pick sweepstakes. I honestly don’t know who is worse. I guess I’ll go with Carolina. I think.
Carolina 19-12. Win
Cleveland (+2) at Cincinnati–Cinci
Bengals 19-17. Push. Apparrently they didn’t have any pushes last week. Further review says final line was PK. Win.
Philadelphia (+3) at Giants–Eagles
Eagles 38-31. Embarrassing for the Giants. Win
Washington (+6) at Dallas–Dallas. Rex Grossman is starting for Washington. In my league, he currently has -1 fantasy points on the year.
Dallas 33-30. Loss
Detroit (+6) at Tampa Bay–Tampa
Detroit 23-20 (OT). Loss
New Orleans (+1 1/2) at Baltimore–Saints
Baltimore 30-24. Loss
Atlanta at Seattle (+6)–ATL
ATL 34-18. Win
Jets (+6) at Pittsburgh–Steelers
Jets 22-17. Loss
Denver (+6 1/2) at Oakland–Denver
Raiders 39-23. Loss
Green Bay (+9) at New England–Pats
GB 31-27. Loss
Chicago (+1 1/2) at Minnesota–Bears
Bears 40-14

6-9