So college basketball season is upon us and we've gotten all of our coverage worked out
Most exciting for the site as a whole as we enter our third year covering the college game is that we're probably going to have our broadest college coverage to date: all the power conferences, a few "mid-majors" and a bit of NCAA Division II and NAIA coverage as well.
In general, our goal is for each writer to focus deeply on their team and then use that lens to provide insight about what's going on in the conference in general. If you've been reading this site even for just a few months - or simply glance at the various NCAA conference sections we have (on the top left hand side of our home page) - you can probably guess where our interests lie. But to re-introduce you to each writer I asked them to answer a simple question: What are you most excited about this college season?
I asked them for one sentence, but most were so overjoyed that one sentence simply wasn't enough.
The Swish Appeal 2011-12 College Basketball Team
(Each person's name is linked to their personal profile. The link to their Twitter account is linked in parentheses).
James Bowman (@petrl_dgt) - James will be entering his second college season with us covering the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and undoubtedly offering statistical insights as they strike him this season. James spent his summer covering the Atlanta Dream and got to cover the WNBA Finals for a second consecutive season.
What excites James most about the 2011-12 season: "The drama of the ACC: can Georgia Tech earn a bye in the post-season without Foster and Montgomery? How will Clemson do this year? For Duke-Connecticut, will the Blue Devils play the part of Mac *before* he takes the Charles Atlas course, or *after*?"
Ray Floriani - Ray will be entering his first full college season with us after covering the New York Liberty this summer. Ray doesn't limit his coverage to the college game either: in addition to covering various schools around the New York/New Jersey area, he offers insights from officiating girls basketball tournaments of all ages.
Jessica Lantz (@j_lantz) - Jessica's favorite color is orange, she bleeds orange, and she's an Oklahoma State alum (it's not clear in what order those things occurred in her life). Naturally, she'll be keeping tabs on the Big 12 and waiting for OSU Cowgirls forward Toni Young to pull off that in-game dunk that she promised us last season.
What excites Jessica most about the 2011-12 season: "With the changes in the Big 12, there is much to be interested in this season. Along with the Big 12 farewell tours of the NCAA champs, Texas A&M, and the recently-announced Mizzou Tigers, this season will mark the first time playing without Connie Yori's Nebraska Cornhuskers or the Colorado Buffs on the schedule. And, of course I'm duly interested to see how the youth of Oklahoma State matches up against the Danielle Robinson-less OU Sooners. Go Pokes!!"
Queenie (@nycscribbler) - Rebecca has been with the site from the beginning of its college coverage and will continue giving us her Game Notes of Dooooooom for programs around the New York metro area. In addition to focusing on the St. John's Red Storm, she'll also be giving us our first taste of Division II coverage with notes on Queens College.
What excites Rebecca most about the 2011-12 season: "Renewing my journey through the New York City basketball scene."
M. Robinson - Mike is entering his second season with us and will be expanding his coverage to the Michigan Wolverines this season in addition to attending games at Bowling Green State Falcons, Dayton Flyers, and Michigan State Spartans. (Obviously adding Michigan to our rotation is exciting to me; having someone else write about it while I just put my "Go Blue" sentiments in the comments is probably more tolerable for you.)
What excites Mike most about the 2011-12 season: "I'm looking forward to the parity that will be displayed in this year's basketball season. Unlike past years, the 2011-2012 season brings a different narrative as there is not one team that is clearly head and shoulders above everyone else. This will bring about renewed excitement, more upsets - especially from mid-majors - and added anticipation. This season has the makings of being one of the best seasons for the women's game in quite some time."
Holly Tanneyhill (@BuiltByDays) - Holly is entering her second year with us and will be covering the post-Mayan UConn Huskies once again. Not that she ever really took a break from covering UConn while covering the WNBA's Connecticut Sun this summer.
What excites Holly most about the 2011-12 season: "There are two things that I am most looking forward to: (1) How UConn rebounds post Maya. After Taurasi left in 2004, UConn lost their footing until Maya Moore arrived in 2007, losing 17 games in a 3 year span. In Connecticut, that is almost enough to make heads roll. (2) How the national landscape develops. There are people in unfamiliar roles all across the country. Notre Dame is now the hunted in the Big East, Baylor is top dog, Tennessee seems to have regained their mind and senses. This is going to be a great year in WCBB and probably the closest we have been to 'Any Given Night' in a LONG time."
Kris Willis (@Kris_Willis) - Kris joins us this season after covering the Atlanta Dream this summer for SBN Atlanta and covering some other men's professional basketball league (that can't even get its act together enough to start its season on time) at SBN's Peachtree Hoops. Similar to me, Kris is a NBA fan who recently became a WNBA fan and is now interested in women's college basketball. He will be keeping tabs on the SEC through a Georgia Bulldogs lens for us this season.
Me (@NateP_SBN) - Having moved back to the Bay Area from Seattle, I will no longer be doing covering Seattle U and Washington games although I will be keeping tabs on them. And given that SBN already has outstanding coverage of Cal via California Golden Blogs and C&R offering their take on Stanford, I figured I'd branch out a little and spend more time following local basketball legend Jennifer Azzi's second season at the University of San Francisco Dons as well as keeping tabs on the WCC this season. That doesn't mean I'll abandon my Pac-10 roots - I'll still do some more general conference coverage - but watching the process of USF rebuilding a program is interesting in its own right. I'll also take care of game summaries for nationally televised games that nobody is covering.
What excites me most about the 2011-12 season: Parity - although nobody I know of picked a Texas A&M-Notre Dame national championship game even as the tournament began last season, there is arguably even more parity this season, which should not only make for more competitive games nightly but also make coaches' ability to build chemistry and get the most out of their talent more important. And Go Blue.
The SB Nation network: As David Hooper of Rocky Top Talk observed the other day, it looks like more SBN sites are covering women's basketball this season.
One advantage of having other college sites that cover women's basketball within the SBN network is that content will automatically show up in our related links section based on the tags we use, which will complement whatever we do here with the passion from fans who truly love the schools they root for. I'll draw upon those sites for additional coverage of big games (and Pac-12 coverage), but as you'll see on the left sidebar of our home site and the right sidebar within stories I've also posted a list of SBN sites that cover their women's teams even semi-regularly.
Clearly, some SBN sites do more than others - California Golden Blogs and Rocky Top Talk (Tennessee) are among the best in the network, doing previews, recaps, and game threads throughout the season - but many of those sites have ramp up coverage around after football is over, during conference play, or come tournament time. The best way to encourage more coverage: give 'em a click, let 'em know you appreciate the effort to add more discussion about women's basketball to the web. (This is another great time to plug the SB Nation iPhone app - if you find other sites that you like around the network, you can use that to find them.)
You (?) - As pleased as I am with the breadth of our coverage this season - I think we've assembled a great team that offers a range of perspectives on the game and sports in general - we can't be everywhere in the nation to see everything. In fact, there are times when we can't even be at the places we'd like to be.
That's where you come in.
While this team of women's basketball bloggers will drive the conversation on the site by sharing their insights, there's plenty of opportunity for you to add your voice to the site. You can comment on anyone's article. You can quickly share links, pictures, and You Tube videos about your favorite program using "fan shots" (the little blue boxes you see on the site). You can write up your game analyses or summaries that reflect your thoughts about the current state of your favorite team. You can rec other people's fan posts to let us and everyone else know that it's worth a read (and worthy of being promoted to the front page).
Jessica has previously described all of the ways that you can share your thoughts on the game around the site. Ultimately, the Swish Appeal team treats the site as a shared space to share thoughts about the game and you're invited to add to that space as well in whatever way you see fit.
So for practice, a starter question to add to our thoughts above: What are you most excited about for the 2011-12 women's college basketball season? And if you're feeling bold, offer a suggestion for what we can do more of to make the site better for you.