February 2009 Archives

Blog #25

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Sitting in the Southern Miss recreation center while the women's basketball team is practicing on one of the four courts. There are a bunch of people shooting in open gym on the other three courts and we have court three, so we have some rec games going on both sides of our practice, kind of an intesting experience.

The team is happily back on the ground after a rough travel morning. We had a 4:30 a.m (ET) wake-up call, loaded the bus and got to the airport and found that our flight had been moved up to 6:15 from 6:30, so it was quick get checked in, get through security and walk right to the plane. We actually flew back to Memphis, landing at about 7:30 this morning in some bumpy air that came with the rain that has been in Memphis. We then grabbed breakfast in the airport, and flew to Hattiesburg since we have to practice from 2-4:00 today, unfortunately, we were on a proppeller plane that really made for a rough ride in the turbulence for about the last quarter of the Hattiesburg trip. We had a couple of folks who were green in the gills when we got off...I think we'll all be happy for the five-hour bus ride home after the game tomorrow night.

It took a bit to get our luggage off the plane, only to find we were missing 10 bags. So while we are here at practice, Tony Martin is on his way back to Memphis to pick up a second set of uniforms since we don't anticipate getting any bags until saturday morning if we're lucky. We got to our hotel, had a quick lunch and then if the girls all did what I did, we took a nap. Jeff Brightwell and Coach McFerrin taped her radio coach's show, which Jeff emailed to WREC, and he's not at practice now, so I'm gonna guess he's finally finding time for some shut-eye as well. The team is working on a few problems from last night and getting ready for USM for tomorrow, and with no tables, Kristin Henke (our academic advisor) and myself are sitting on the floor in the end zone, so I'm gonna wrap this up and make sure a loose ball doesn't end up taking out my laptop after I already dropped my Blackberry in a sink to start the trip.

Blog #24

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Just 21 minutes to game time for our contests at UCF in Orlando. Had a chance to talk with former Tiger Jessica Hall, who is sitting out this year as a transfer for the Knights. She'll be the veteran player on a team of youngsters next year, as this year's UCF squad has nine sophomores...Jeff Brightwell joked with her that she must be the team mom.

Tonight's game is televised live on Bright House networks for those of you living in Florida, Indiana, Alabama, Michigan and California.

It will air on a tape delay basis on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS), beginning at 9 p.m. (ET) and on CBS-College Sports, also on a tape-delay basis, beginning at 10 p.m. (ET).

Should have starters in soon, 19:13 to introductions. Game officially tips at 7:05 p.m.

Brightwell's Blog #54

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Tiger baseball is underway and off to a decent start this year. The team was able to get a couple of wins over Kansas out of the Big 12 over the weekend, but unfortunately got beat 14-4 by Murray State last night. Murray State is coached by former Tiger assistant Rob McDonald who won his 100th game over the weekend against South Dakota State. Last night we played Murray at Gagliano Field in East Memphis. The field was built in 1967 and about 15 years ago, the Memphis Tiger Youth Organization took over and has done a really nice job of upkeep at the park. I'm looking foward to our other two games there.

I'll be with women's basketball this week so WUMR's Sports Director Andrew Vandeventer will be traveling with baseball to Troy. Andrew is a sophomore at the University and went to CBHS in high school. I brought him in to the fold last semester and he's worked his way up to be my analyst on Women's Basketball broadcast and he also does the WMC-TV "Internet Game of the Week". A broadcast schedule is below for this weekend.

Women's basketball leaves today for our last regular season games at UCF tomorrow and at Southern Miss on Saturday. We lost to both of these teams at home. Both UCF and USM are in a mix of five teams at the top of the conference separate by just one game.

Thursday Women's basketball 6:00 WUMR Friday Baseball at Troy 6:00 WUMR Saturday Basetball at Troy 1:00 ALL ACCESS ONLY (Note: Just click on the Listen button from at the bottom) Women's basketball 5:00 WUMR Sunday Baseball at Troy WUMR

Blog #23

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Still no real hint as to who we will be playing in the conference tournament and what our seeding will be. A lot will depend on the games on Thursday night. Memphis cannot be the No. 12 seed, because we beat Rice, and even if Rice wins out and we lose two games, we'd own the tiebreak with them, so we could be no lower seeded than No. 11. We are No. 10 right now, but Tulsa won over Houston yesterday, so if the Golden Hurricane wins both of its remaining home games and if the Tigers don't get at least one win on the road this weekend, we would fall to the NO. 11 seed.

No one apparently wants to lead the conference alone this season. Southern Miss and UCF were battling it out two weeks ago, and both lost road games. USM is now tied with UTEP, who beat USM 105-87 to take the tiebreak advantage in that series on Saturday, and SMU. USM did beat SMU in its one meeting with the Mustangs, so if those three remain tied, it then goes to their respective records....well, let's just say I'm glad I don't have to figure out that tiebreak situation!

I get asked about once a month or so what my job entails on game days, so yesterday (Senior Day), I tried to keep a running list. Here is a 'typical' game day in sports information:

10:00 a.m. -- Arrive at office. Run updated Conference USA releases for radios, review the senior script, make sure the digital camera is charged, create game file on stats computer and pack everything up to head to the gym (I'm really envious of people whose office is in the same building as their gyms on days like this).

11:30 a.m. -- Realize I lost my parking pass for the garage, but the gates are open (yeah)...Unload all the stuff I just loaded in the car 10 minutes ago and wheel in to the fieldhouse.

11:45 a.m. -- I'm a little behind already and I just got here. Tony Martin (our DBO) needs to use our printer to run the passlist, so I have to quick try to get everything loaded out of our storage room and out to courtside. The technical aspect gets a little more complicated when Jeff Brightwell tells me none of the outlets on his end of press row are working, so we have to string a bunch of extension cords again for this game. (We thought the problem was fixed because the outlets actually worked for the Friday night game! Never know what you have til you get there!).

12 something-ish -- Set up stat monitors and stat laptops...Loaded game file I created in the office and tried to get my laptop to read Tony's USB doesn't read it for some reason, so Tony has to go back to the office to run his!

12 something-ish -- Realize I forgot to write down the times I've been doing stuff for this blog, so just humor me!

12 something-ish -- Take game programs (which I stuffed Saturday when I came in the office), over to entrance, set up stuff for my stat crew....Stamp vouchers for stat crew (I think that might be the most important part of my job, is making sure my stat crew is in place and fed).

12 something-ish -- Go over senior day script with Larrick and then again with Brian Crawford, our media relations intern who is going to be taking photos. I also make sure the Marshall SID and radio guy get settled and what they need and review the senior day timing sheet with them so we're not catching them off guard.

1 something-ish -- It's after 1:00, I know this because Jimmy Ogle got here at 1:15. Jimmy is doing our official scorebook today in place of Jimmy Hayslip, who is having a much-deserved day off from doing the book. Walk Jimmy through who our scratches are for the game and go up to get live stats set up. The little laptop that runs the live stats for our website didn't work Friday night, so I fiddled with it on Saturday and am crossing my fingers and hoping it works.

1 something-ish -- The little laptop isn't working....realize I forgot to connect the network cable to the internet hub -- um, user error?

1 something-ish -- Hey, we just realized I messed up the timing sheet and we are five minutes behind, so we steal three minutes off the pre-game clock...luckily, no one notices (until I out this on the blog!). Larrick Johnson is super-assistant, he's got the seniors' families all lined up on the end zone and the table is set up at center court (thanks to Charlotte Peterson for setting that up pre-game).

1 something-ish -- Um, that's not Paris' grandma on the end zone. I asked each of the seniors who was walking out with them today and obviously Paris' family had a change of plans. I grab Paris quick as the pre-game countdown winds down and we review the script realllllyyyyy quick with Chuck Roberts (super PA!). Chuck is not a fan of my scripts (I'm thinking) because he ad-libs the beginning of the ceremony, which leaves Larrick and I looking at one another trying to figure out when to send the first senior out. I gave Larrick the exact script so he knew where we were in the ceremony, but we wing it!

1 something-ish -- Whew, senior festivities done...the camera didn't run out of memory or power, nothing fell and shattered and we got done in 3 minutes (there is a conference rule saying you cannot go over 5 minutes). National anthem time, then starters.

2:04 -- Can you believe we tipped early?

2 something-ish -- Tigers hanging with Marshall early...then take a lead. Once I sit down, I'm trying to take notes on the game for the post-game story I have to write. The Commercial Appeal is not here today, so my post-game story will possibly get used in some format for their story if I don't get it to them too late....Thank goodness for journalism school, writing on deadline with no background would be brutal.

2 something-ish -- Down at the half. We run box scores quick for the coaching staffs to look at in their respective locker rooms. We have to fix the minutes on the box and reprint it and have some weird little stat crew issues, nothing life-changing, we're ok.

2 something-ish -- Back at play...I joke that during the game is the easiest part of my long as the scoreboard is functioning, or the stat computers don't lock up, or the live stats or monitors crash....well, ok, easy is relative. The stat monitors crashed Friday night and the live stats never worked, so I'm pretty optimistic that for our final home game, we're gonna be ok.

3 something-ish -- Well, the scoreboard shows we are still winless against Marshall. We check the stats against the official book, then run books for the coaching staffs and radio guys. I make sure the Marshall SID has gotten everything he needs from my super stat crew, then go get Coach McFerrin out of the back to go to radio...this is a process that is quicker some days than others, but not too bad tonight.

3 something-ish -- I quickly get to see former Tigers Tamika Butler and Raven Rogers and saw Gresh Gorman in the stands earlier. Unfortunately, just a quick hello and hug with both of them, then I have to help our interns break down all the stuff I set up about, um, 3 hours ago.

3 something-ish -- Post game is done and players and fans are trickling in to a post-game reception for the Fast Break club. I shoot one quick photo of the seniors' cake and then go back to work.

4:45 -- I'm back in the office in the AOB. I have a box and a laptop bag to unload and then a post-game story to write.

5:15 -- I have the first draft of the story wrote and started updating the website, emailed the game file to C-USA and updated the NCAA xml site...I load the story to the website and realize I forgot to mail it to my media list, so I get that done.

5:57 -- I'm eating a salad I bought on Friday knowing I had to work all weekend. I had about 6 nachos and a drink at the game, so it occurred to me, I'm kinda hungry.

6:18 -- I'm trying to figure out who to nominate for Player of the Week to C-USA...I'll text coach to get her thoughts and to see if anyone is doing a women's basketball video coaches' show this week.

7:10 -- Hmm, still no word back for Player of the Week, but I did get our all-conference stuff typed up (it's due tomorrow) and sent our stats and media requests to UCF and USM for our next games. I type up two different players of the week forms and will save it in my email draft box. It's 7:35 when I shutdown my desktop...another nine hour day (this is why we don't track hours worked in athletic media relations!).

7:35 -- Coach texts me player of the week info and says she's out tomorrow and giving her assistants a day off, so she'll see if anyone wants to do the video show...Coach Wholey ends up emailing me that he'll do it at 6:29 Monday morning (have to remember to turn off email alerts on my phone).

So, there you go...a day, plus some, in the life of a sports information person on game day. There is no typical day, but it's all pretty chaotic, that's about the only thing each day has in common :0)

Blog #22 - Senior Forward Ashley Thornton

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It is hard to believe that my last home game at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse is Sunday. Also, that my college basketball career at the University of Memphis will soon come to an end. It still hasn't hit me yet, it probably won't until the game is over on Sunday. I never thought that this day would come, and it makes me sad to even think about it, because I don't want it to end just yet, I feel like the fun has just begun. I've enjoyed my time here as a Tiger. The fans are wonderful and have always been there for support no matter what. I want to thank all the fans so much for everything.

My teammates are great. They are all like my little sisters that I care so much about. We have had each others backs, laughed, and cried together. As a team we have grown so much as individuals and learned so much from each other. On the court we have played hard for each other and when others doubted our abilities, we stuck together and made it happen. So I want to thank my teammates for making this the best senior year for me possible, I will never forget you guys. But, we didn't do all of this alone. Our coaches have helped us along the way and taught us so many things also. I want to thank them as well for just being there for each and every one of us, we are better individuals because of them. We are one big happy family and this year I will truly miss them. I can never have it back, all I will have is memories. I must say this is one of the best seasons of my career that will never be forgotten.

Basketball is all I've known for the past 10 years of my life. I am going to miss actually playing and being a part of a team. I used basketball to get an education and never thought I would be without it. There have been many life lessons learned and some that I will always use throughout my life.

I want to thank my mom, dad, sister, and nephew for always being supportive in all of my decisions they have watched me grow into a woman. I also want to thank my high school coach she helped my make it to the next level.

Thank You Again Everyone for Everything, Ashley (A.T.) #42

Brightwell's Blog #53

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Yesterday, I went out to the stadium to help our SID Jason Redd clean out the press box. Although I am excited about FedEx Park, it was hard not to think about all the good times at Nat Buring.

During it's 36 year run, it saw over 950 games. On March 14th, 1972, the Tigers opened Nat Buring with an 11-2 win over Mississippi State. It was home to five NCAA regional teams and four Conference Champions. There were only three losing seasons in the history of Nat Buring, capped by the 32-1 record by the 1981 team. 57 Tiger pros played at the park, including nine All-Americans and 94 All Conference selections. Nat Buring saw it's last game on May 17th, of 2008 when the Tigers knocked off 30th ranked ECU 7-5.

So even though I'm very excited to come home to FedEx Park in 2010, I will always have fond memories of old Nat Buring Stadium.

Here is my final pic I took yesterday before I left.

Nat Buring Stadium, Feb. 18, 2009

Blog #21

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Good afternoon Tiger fans....We are back in town following a 65-60 road win at Tulsa yesterday. That game was really a team effort as everyone played double-digit minutes yesterday with just eight players dressed for the game. We got to the game and all 14 Tulsa players were out on the court shooting and I looked to the other end and saw just eight folks for us and wondered what we were in for! But our pressure defense that we played against SMU really gave Tulsa some problems, as their posts would catch the ball in the full court press and then would have some trouble passing out of the trap because our guards did a great job of denying their guards the ball.

We are now 3-3 on the road in league play with wins at Rice, UAB and Tulsa and losses at Marshall, East Carolina and Houston...and if you sandwich the second half of the ECU game with the first half of the Marshall game, we might have left another road win out there somewhere. Now we need to get our first league win at home.

This weekend will be our last shot for a home win or two. We host East Carolina Friday night in a Pink Zone night. That's also a Take a Kid to the Game night where all kids receive free admission with a paying adult. So we give you the OK for this game to wear Pink instead of your Memphis Blue in support of breast cancer awareness and research.

Then Sunday, we will celebrate Black History Month and will say a Fieldhouse good-bye to seniors Jessica Jackson, Paris Leonard and Ashley Thornton. I am officially feeling my age as I write that sentence as Paris Leonard was the first women's basketball signee I wrote about as the women's basketball SID five years ago! We have already seen this team accomplish some great things, start off 5-2, win our home tournament, go in to league play with a winning record and now tie the win total from last season with four regular season games still to go...There's still some goals out there, so even though we haven't pulled together a complete home game win in league play yet, don't give up on us and come out this weekend to say thanks to the girls and support them as they try to continue to build momentum for the league tournament.

Speaking of the tournament, just a reminder that this year's tournament is in New Orleans, Mar. 5-8th. We'd love to see you there and always have a great advantage when our spirit squad and band make the trip..we'd love to see our fans there too! But if you are unable to make it to New Orleans, the games can be heard on WUMR, 91.7 FM and if you have an All-Access subscription, you can watch the live streaming video from our website.

Brightwell's Blog #52

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As I promised you Monday, below is the early baseball broadcast schedule. As usual this time of year, we get overlap between women's basketball, student broadcast of men's basketball, and baseball which obviously overlaps. For the 21st year, the games will be on WUMR 91.7fm and will also be streamed (Audio or video) on the All-Access package. Next week we'll begin our weekly updates with Coach Rock which can be found on the baseball home page for free.

2/20 vs Kansas-NO BROADCAST-WBB vs ECU 2/21 G1 Air Force 11am G2 Bradley 4pm 2/22 vs Pittsburgh- NO BROADCAST WBB vs Marshall 2/24 vs Murray State 4pm 2/27 @ Troy 6pm 2/28 @ Troy-NO BROADCAST-WBB at Southern Miss 2/29 @ Troy 1pm 3/3 @ Middle Tennessee 4pm 3/4 @ Middle Tennessee 3pm 3/6 vs Valparaiso 4pm-PENDING on WBB CUSA Tournament 3/7 vs Valparaiso 2pm-PENDING on WBB CUSA Tournament 3/8 vs Valparaiso 1pm-PENDING on WBB CUSA Tournament

Brightwell's Blog #51

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Good weekend for women's basketball as they went on the road to UAB and got a CUSA win to snap a five game skid. I was especially happy for Ashley Thorton who is from Pinson, near Birmingham. Ashley tied a career high 22 points in her last game in Birmingham in front of a big crowd of family and friends in blue. Took a new bus down and back which had recliners and satellite TV so we were able to watch the men's game at Gonzaga on the way back.

Only three women's home games left with SMU coming to the Fieldhouse Thursday at 7:00.

Yesterday I headed up to USA Stadium in Millington to watch the baseball team practice in 70 degree weather. They actually about 30 or so fans show up to watch the team play some intra-squad following batting practice. Adam McClain may play some outfield this season and it's good to see him back after only getting to play 13 games last year before his season was ended by injury in a game against Southeast Missouri. Pitching looked solid and the big field at USA Stadium will provide our pitchers a luxury they haven't had at Nat Buring, which is a chance to make a mistake and not get burned as easily. It's 334 down the lines and 414 to center with 10 foot high walls at USA Stadium.

With Women's basketball getting late in the season and baseball starting in less that two weeks, we'll have our usual overlap in broadcast and I'll post that on the blog later this week.

Blog #20

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Wow, almost 2 months since my last post...sorry Tiger fans, this season has been a blur! We are getting ready to load the bus in about 40 minutes and will drive down to UAB for a Saturday contest against the Blazers. This should be an interesting game because both teams have a trio of players who rank in the top 10 in the league in minutes played and this is also the first team that we will be seeing for a second time this season, so I'm curious to see how the players respond to having a chance to make changes against a team they had a good chance to beat in the season opener. I expect we'll see a few threes in this game if the first one is any sign of what's to come, let's just hope UAB doesn't hit 12 like they did in the first meeting! I'm going to guess the Tigers worked this week on closing out their respective shooters.

We had a light week this week....well, light for college basketball anyways. The girls still had class all week, but got both Sunday and Tuesday as days off, which is probably the first time since the holiday break they've had more than one day off. I'm sure their legs still feel pretty heavy, but when you are used to going six days a week, having multiple days off feels like a vacation!

Believe it or not, we have just three home games remaining. We host SMU on Thursday (Feb. 12th). I watched the first half of SMU's game at Southern Miss last night on CBS-C...USM prevailed in the battle for first in the league standings, so let's hope SMU burns some of the anger from that loss off at UCF this weekend before they roll in to Memphis on Thursday. The Mustangs will be repeating the four-game conference road swing that we went through two weeks ago, and it's a tough one...especially that UCF/USM travel. The game will be at 7 p.m. Thursday...hope to see you there!

Brightwell's Blog #50

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Back on the road today for a short trip with women's basketball. We'll leave this afternoon for Birmingham where we'll face UAB tomorrow night at 6:00. We lost our conference opener to the Blazers at home back on January 4th when they hit 12 three pointers to win 71-62.

The baseball team got back outside yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours to do defensive drills after spending Tuesday and Wednesday in the turf room. They may try to go to USA Stadium some this weekend since that will be the primary home this season while our park on campus is being renovated. On another baseball note, the three games that were to be played at Snowden Grove will now be played at Gagliano Field off of Mt. Moriah.

Brightwell's Blog #49

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Softball gets underway this weekend when the Tigers travel to Mobile, Alabama to play in the South Alabama tournament. This morning, we began our weekly coach's show with Wendy Thees. Her show should be up this afternoon on the Softball home-page of GOTIGERSGO.COM.

We also caught up with Women's Tennis coach Lee Taylor Walker.

Only one women's basketball game this week when the Tigers travel to Birmingham to face UAB Saturday at 6:00.

Great weather yesterday for Daron Schoenrock's baseball Tigers to begin "Spring" practice. I'll be watching them some this week and I'll update you as I do.

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