Will Leitch’s book, Are We Winning, has a chapter about covering games and hanging out in the PRESS BOX which made me think about the game I covered when interning at the original WDFN (a Detroit radio station that went to all national radio shows before rebooting as a local station that I refer to as WDFN2.0) as a 21 year-old.
It was a pre-season NIT game between
If I remember correctly, I got into Breslin using Matt Dery's press pass, went down some stairs and started wandering. I eventually found the area serving the press dinner, Why. The. Face. I grabbed a couple chicken wings and something to drink and sat down at a table where a couple people were sitting. I finally looked up and noticed BILL RAFTERY (onions) and John Saunders were sitting there, holding court, as people say, with a couple of other people. I didn’t have the balls to say anything to these guys and I just sat there with no idea of what was supposed to happen. If I remember correctly, Bill introduced himself and said hello, I quickly said hello and went back to listening but I was really just in awe. I have no recollection of what was said. Time to figure out where my seat was. Luckily or just effectively, the seating chart was on the back of the door.
I sat down in the best seat I’ve ever had for a sporting event and got set to cover a basketball game. I had no idea what I was supposed to do during the game. My job was to get some sound bytes after the game and upload them for Matt Shepherd to use when he did the news for the morning show featuring Jamie Samuelsen and Greg Brady. I entered the “gym” from behind the basket and stopped in my tracks when I realized where I was. I eventually found my seat and noticed a tv set up for the reporters (and me) every 2 spots. Everyone sitting at press row was given the same paper they handed out to the Izzone which informed them who wore goggles and which player had dissed MSU for Oklahoma when he transferred (Hollis Thomas) among other things which I have forgotten.
Then the game began, oh my were these players fast, watching at home or in the stands were my seats usually were, did not let me know how fast the game actually was. I remember the game as Tim Bograkas’s break out game as he got playing time and played his normal defense that caused steals and allowed MSU some fast break points. This was the team that featured Alan Anderson, Kelvin Torbert and Chris Hill as the new guard freshman. Marcus Taylor was the starting point guard and everyone assumed he would go on to fame and fortune in the NBA.
At halftime I had no idea where to go, so I just stayed in my seat finally calming down. Then someone came from the tunnel and handed me a stat sheet for the first half. Wow, this was freaking awesome, I knew who shot what percentage and how many fouls Aloysius Anogonye had. The game, as you have probably guessed, went by in a flash and I have almost no memory of it other than MSU won. I remember discussing the speed of the game in the bullpen at the radio station the next day and Mike Stone responding with something like, “Yeah, those games go by fast, they’re fun to cover.” Not exactly what I meant, but true none the less.
After the game came the fun part, sitting in the press room and getting to ask the coaches questions. I hooked up my tape recorder to something that allowed all the reporters to get the whole press conference and sat down to enjoy these coaches getting grilled by veteran reporters. Nothing of consequence happened when Izzo was talking so I went to get my tape recorder. Luckily, Kelvin Sampson was quick to the microphone and I didn’t miss anything, as I sat back down a little embarrassed. When Kelvin was done, we got to go into the locker room and talk to the players. I exclusively went into the MSU room because whoever I followed went there first.
I remember groups of people around Marcus Taylor and Kelvin Torbert so I thrust my microphone in their faces and got some quotes, if I remember correctly I asked Marcus something about them getting most of their field goals off assists (it was a ridiculous amount like 85%). Then I moved around the room to the players that didn’t have crowds, like my good friend Aloysius. Someone asked him about moving on to
I never did hear any of my cuts of audio on the radio, but that was easily my favorite thing I did for WDFN. Adam Wolfe broke his leg that year, which I marked up to my jinx and for that Adam I’m sorry.