Thursday, January 12, 2017

Back Here At Halftime

There are days when TigerBlog sits down to write and the words just come pouring out.

There are others when he can't for the life of him figure out where to start. This is one of those times.

As you read this paragraph, you should know that TigerBlog has already written and deleted five other ideas he had. None of them were any good.

Some days, you don't have your fastball. You have to tough it out anyway.

And that's where TigerBlog is right now. No idea where to go. So how to get there?

Sometimes when he's in this situation, he'll go back a year and see what he wrote on that day. One year ago today, he wrote about Patrick Stevens, whose Twitter account says that he's a "media free agent covering college football, basketball and lacrosse, 140 characters at a time."

Patrick had covered four men's basketball games in the D.C. area in one day and wrote about his trip. TigerBlog followed up with the fact that two of the four games were coached by Princeton alums - Mike Brennan at American and John Thompson at Georgetown.

Two years ago on this day? He wrote about how good "The Drums of Thunder" were at Princeton's basketball game that weekend. The same group - TB believes they are fourth- and fifth-graders from Montclair, N.J. - performed at Jadwin at halftime of the men's basketball game this past weekend as well.

Their shows are tremendous. It's all percussion, and it has a lot of power and energy behind it. This year's visit added a new wrinkle, as the Jadwin lights were turned off in the middle, and the only light came from the drums themselves.

TigerBlog couldn't completely focus on the "Thunder," since he was doing a halftime interview with Mike Mahoney, his counterpart at Penn. It dawned on TigerBlog that Mahoney had worked with men's basketball coach at Northwestern and had been the athletic communications contact for women's basketball at Dartmouth when Courtney Banghart played.

Plus, Mahoney is a good guy. And TB didn't have anyone else to talk to anyway. As a bonus, Mahoney did a very good job as the interviewee.

It's not always easy being interviewed, not when you're the one used to asking the questions. That's certainly TigerBlog's experience.

TigerBlog doesn't really remember how many years it's been since he regularly did radio for men's basketball. He actually started doing radio before he worked here, back in 1989, when he worked with David Brody and Rich Simkus on WHWH. He did a lot of basketball radio for the next 15 years or so, or more really.

Eventually, Noah Savage, who graduated in 2008, approached TB about doing games on the radio, and TB said sure, he'd give him a shot. He had tried the same with Ahmed El-Nokali, who would have been an all-time great. As it's turned out, Noah is also really good, and he and Derek Jones make a really good announcing tandem.

This year, those two are doing radio for away games and just the Ivy League Digital Network - which has a much larger audience - for home games. TB is on with Patrick McCarthy for the home radio games.

The experience has been fun so far. And one thing that TB realized is that he really enjoyed all of the interviews he did at halftime through the years.

TigerBlog can only guess how many halftime interviews at basketball games he's done through the years. It's probably 200 or more.

There have only been a handful of times were he went into the game with a prearranged halftime guest in mind. Usually he just looks around at the crowd, figures out who would make a good guest and goes over and asks during a timeout.

For all of the times he's gotten guests for halftime, only one person has ever said no to him. Just flat out no. He's had others who have said they couldn't because they didn't have the time or their kids were there, but that's been rare. But only one person has ever just said "no," and he did so with such disdain that TigerBlog can still see the look on his face, more than 15 years later.

It was when Princeton was playing Maryland at the Verizon Center in the the BB&T Classic. As the first half went along, TB saw Robert Novak, who at the time was on a show called "Capitol Gang" on CNN, a show that MotherBlog had loved. In fact, she and TB would watch it "together," as it were, with MB at her house and TB at his. Then they'd compare notes. It's too bad they couldn't simply text each other back-and-forth during the show.

As TB saw Novak on the other side of court, he thought "perfect." Here he was, in D.C., and he would have a political commentator on at halftime.

So TB walked over to Novak during a timeout and asked him in his most polite voice if he'd like to be on Princeton radio at halftime. And what did Novak do?

He sneered "no" at TB. He didn't even look up at him. Just sneered.

TigerBlog has interviewed three governors, a U.S. Senator, a U.S. Congressman, active professional athletes, active NBA coaches, retired Hall-of-Famers, University presidents, journalists, TV personalities, and pretty much anyone else from any walk of life who would make an interesting guest.

Robert Novak is the only one who ever said no.

When Novak died in 2009, TigerBlog thought back to that exchange, and that look still gave him shivers.

And there you have it for today.

1 comment:

George Clark said...

I never met Robert Novak but I saw that sneer a hundred times on TV. I couldn't stand him. Derek Jones was by himself at Bucknell and put me on at halftime. It was a hoot. Carril heard it and told me later that I have a face for radio. Let's hope you and Pat are 5-0 after the weekend. See you Friday.