Introducing "Movement Mondays" at The College Basketball Nostalgic
Monday, August 15, 2016
Dear Prospective Reader,
As it is my goal to publish quality content daily at The College Basketball Nostalgic, I want to introduce my vision of what will be appearing on Mondays.
An Early Obstacle: When first attempting to construct The College Basketball Nostalgic, I was pigeonholing myself with the idea of doing a certain type of post for each day of the week. Initially, I wanted Mondays to cover NCAA championship games as they occur on that day of the week; hence, the name of "Magic Mondays" (more on that below). However, doing so did not always make logical sense, especially within my grander vision of breaking down the past 20 NCAA Tournaments.
For example, if I reviewed a first round game from the 1997 NCAA tournament on a Friday and then jumped to the 1997 title game the following Monday, I would have created a chronological and haphazard mess, which is the last thing I wanted to do with The College Basketball Nostalgic. In basketball terms, the last thing I wanted to be was that point guard who bounces the ball back and forth between his right and left hand while going nowhere on the court.
As I rather want to do an organic deep dive of each tournament, round by round, I had to develop a better solution that would allow me the time necessary to give each tournament the proper time that it deserves, whether that takes weeks, a month or even longer.
My Solution: Rather than having one day of the week focusing on a specific round or aspect of the NCAA Tournament, I decided to give myself some creative freedom to offer possible sections that may be covered on that day. In simpler terms, rather than going with one idea for Mondays, I decided to give myself at least three initial ideas (with the opportunity to expand), which would allow for more variety on the site and keep me motivated to do new things rather than feeling stuck to some prescriptive task that assuredly and quickly would have lost momentum.
Idea #1: As I am a Reading/Language Arts teacher, and a big fan of alliteration (the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of words), I wanted these sections to have a certain rhythm playing off the name of the day of the week, in this case, Monday.
With that in mind, the initial idea of "Magic Mondays" worked, though I don't often attribute Mondays with being magical.
I don't know about you, but I have always hated Mondays. As a young kid, I would cry each Sunday night knowing that I would have to go back to school the next day after having so much freedom during the weekend. At various points in my adult working life, I wanted to cry knowing that I had to return to a depressing office the next day.
And yet, for me, there are at least two Mondays of the year that are worth looking forward to, all because of the NCAA Tournament. First, there is that Monday after Selection Sunday, when brackets are being discussed, distributed and filled out. Second, there is the Monday of the championship game, a culmination of an entire tournament and hopefully the dream that your team will still be playing on this night.
When it comes to NCAA championship games, there have been many historically significant happenings, especially Texas Western starting five African Americans while defeating Kentucky in 1966.
Yet, the phenomenon of the NCAA Tournament as an American viewing spectacle particularly launched on a championship Monday night in 1979 as Magic Johnson and Michigan State defeated Larry Bird and undefeated Indiana State.
With that in mind, Mondays on The College Basketball Nostalgic will have to cover title games, thanks to what Larry and Magic helped create in 1979. While this site is focused on NCAA Tournaments from 1997 onward, "Magic Mondays" will feature title game reviews from the past 40 years, including the 1979 classic below
Idea #2: As I began developing content for my early versions of "Wednesday Watch" and "Thursday Treasures," specifically through reviews of old tournament games, I started focusing on the broadcasting teams, the men who literally breathe the madness into our living rooms.
The aforementioned 1979 title game on NBC is a great example of how the power of the broadcasting team, as seen in the legendary trio of Dick Enberg, Al McGuire and Billy Packer, can somehow make this already exciting game even more exciting.
Anyways, while reviewing a rather forgotten first round game between Oklahoma State and Syracuse in the 1999 NCAA Tournament, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Sean McDonough and Bill Raftery calling the action. If you read my bio, you will learn that these two men are my favorite tournament announcing duo. In reviewing this game, I quickly realized how announcers like McDonough and Raftery are excellent at taking a competitive game to the next level in terms of excitement and significance.
With McDonough and Raftery as inspirations, I experienced a light bulb moment. What if I, a keen observer of the NCAA Tournament and a broadcast journalist graduate, occasionally wrote a Monday section on announcing duos who helped make the tournament so special for me?
Rather quickly, the idea of "March Mad Men" (thanks to the colorful personalities of Raftery, McGuire and other announcers, and my affinity for a certain AMC television show) came to mind.
Essentially, "March Mad Men" will comment on the individual and collective announcers who have made the tournament worth watching, and in some cases, hard to keep watching. This section will observe the broadcasting styles (the good and the bad) and legendary calls from specific announcers and opine how these men affected the viewing experience of the game at hand.
Idea #3: With one more idea needed, I thought about the overall goal of The College Basketball Nostalgic. The answer rest in that last word, Nostalgic, as this site is in large part about my positive memories of watching the NCAA Tournament, especially how those memories still inspire me years later.
I quickly thought of the idea of "Monday Memories," which I was admittedly at first a bit lukewarm about, especially if it was just detailing what I remembered from a certain game that I was reviewing.
While this site undoubtedly is a personal passion project, I want it to be more than just about me, and have potential meaning to others. Thus, I had to find a way to make "Monday Memories" work for not only me but you, my prospective readers, especially if I wanted you to return again.
I immediately thought of the tournament that started my college basketball obsession, 1997, and how I could use that tournament as a starting point to share a personal anecdote about my life at the time. Back then, I was a freshman in high school, experiencing highs and lows, and confused by them all, with one particular day, the first Friday of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, a great example of this roller-coaster ride.
Using this seed of an idea, loosely framed around the 1997 NCAA Tournament (and something that I can't wait to share in the coming weeks), I basically want "Monday Memories" to offer the possibility to get creative and tell stories beyond the games that others could relate to, specifically through these personal anecdotes and memories that I have somehow retained all these years later.
With my three ideas in place, all I needed was a name for my "Monday" section of content.
Theme: As a teacher, I am a big fan of working with my students to find the themes, or overall meanings, of the novels that we are reading. In terms of the site, unifying basketball with writing, I was looking for a theme that would do the sport justice while satisfying the goal of Mondays on this site.
While Sunday is technically the first day of the week, Monday is what I consider the first day of the week as it is the day we all return to school and work. Basically, Mondays get the week going, the ball rolling. While fairly obvious, Mondays will get the ball (that is, the week's worth of content) rolling on the site.
This image of a ball rolling got me thinking about a conversation that I had years ago with my younger brother Timmy. When we were both in college, we would play a lot of pickup ball and call each other once a week to talk about how things were going, including how we were playing on campus. During one conversation, my brother shared a column from Bill Simmons, who wrote about that joyous and rare occasion of pickup basketball when five strangers randomly come together and play as if they have been playing together for years.
Essentially, Simmons' idea broke down to the concept of unselfish ball movement, which got me thinking of my favorite college basketball team of all-time, the 2004-2005 Illinois Fighting Illini.
Led by Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head, that Illini team was the definition of ball movement in Coach Bruce Weber's motion system, sometimes passing the ball as many as fifteen times on one possession before launching a three.
In large part to its unselfishness, that Illinois team would begin the season 29-0 and captivate many college basketball fans along the way to finishing as the national runner up in 2005.
From an offensive side of basketball, ball movement is the Holy Grail that makes five men one team, win or lose.
As a 34-year-old man who still plays pickup ball, there is nothing more than I want when playing than to have the ball move, whether it results in me or someone else getting an open shot.
As a reader, there is nothing more that I want from a website than one that continually feels as it is moving forward with fresh, exciting and engaging ideas.
With all that said, Mondays on the site will be called "Movement Mondays" as I literally want to get the ball moving with fresh content for the week and figuratively involve all of my readers on a site where they feel engaged and a part of something bigger, whether a fanatical, casual or first-time observer of the NCAA Tournament.
Thanks again for your time and consideration reading my vision of what The College Basketball Nostalgic will bring each Monday to the site.
Sincerely, Chris Maynard firstname.lastname@example.org