Sunday, February 24, 2008

It's been 10 days since the last women's basketball game, and tonight was the final home game of the season for a proud Maryland Women's basketball squad. Tonight the team paid respect to seniors Jade Perry, Ashleigh Newman, Laura Harper, Christie Marrone, and Crystal Langhorne. This squad of 5 players were the first Coach Frese recruited and took the Terps to national prominence in 2006 when they won the NCAA trophy.

There were lots of tears off the court when the seniors emerged from the locker room and assembled in front of the entranceway for the final game of the regular season. Those tears continued when Coach Frese appeared (just 7 days off from delivering twin boys) to deliver glass enclosed jerseys and photos to the seniors and thank them for the prestige they have brought to the Terrapin program.

The media coverage for this evening's game rivaled that of men's basketball. There were television crews from the Sports Machine, WBAL, WUSA, and NBC4. Gail Burton (AP), along with Milton, and several other reporters that usually cover men's basketball, attended. It was pretty tight on the sidelines.

You can view photos of Crystal Langhorne, Jade Perry, Ashleigh Newman, Kristi Toliver, and Laura Harper as well as read about Maryland's thrilling victory over Florida State over on the DC Sports Box.

Fortunately the game was against Florida State and there weren't any Floridians in the media area. If this final home game was against a more local team (Virginia) there would probably have been more competition for spots on the floor.

I shot the game with my D200 and 70-200/2.8 lens, along with my D2H and 400/2.8 prime. The 400 is way too much lens for shooting on the baseline, but 200 is just too short for shooting the other side of the court. Since I don't have a 300 I have to go with the 400 and do my best. I can get some really great tight shots with the 400 but it's also very difficult working in such a tight space.

I'm happy I got Coleman's shot that tied the game with 4 seconds to go. I'm going to run it as my lead-in photo to Anthony Amobi's article on the game.

We applied for credentialed access to the NCAA 1st and 2nd round at Comcast Center on March 23 and March 25. We haven't heard back yet but I'm cautiously optimistic we'll be granted the credential. We've covered every women's home game this season (as well as a few away games) and I think that Maryland now supports our efforts. I hope to hear soon if we were granted access or not.

Baseball is about to get into full swing, and softball played it's first game this past week. Lacrosse also played this weekend and plays again up at Mount St Mary's on Tuesday at 3pm. I probably won't go since it's pretty far away.

A wheel on my Think Tank broke lose in the airport on Saturday. I need to return the bag and get a new one. Hopefully Kirk will help me out!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

So it's Valentine's Day and there's a basketball game tonight. Fortunately for me my wife Julie is very accommodating and she gave me the nod to go shoot the game tonight. Prior to the game we had dinner so I got my romantic-points in (hopefully).

I showed up as the Terrapins were being announced and got my gear assembled and headed out to the court. I was at court-side for the opening tipoff and that made me very happy. I was able to have a nice classy meal with my wife as well as make it to my "second" job as a sports photographer.

The Terps played very well this evening. Ashleigh Newman started scoring again, and Marah Strickland was ridiculously hot tonight. In the first half she sank 4 3-pointers. It seemed like almost every time she got open she hit the 3-ball. It's amazing to think that she's only a freshman and yet she's so lethal. It will be enjoyable to watch her devlop over the next 3 years. I'll bet that she'll be breaking records her senior year.

Harper also blocked a shot just a few minutes into regulation and marked her place in history as the all-time leading shot blocker at Maryland. Her 187th blocked shot ousted Kris Kirchner from way back in 1980. Apparently Harp wasn't even aware that she was coming up on this plateau.

The Terps didn't commit a single foul in the second half. It was definitely a site to see. Maryland played their defense and offense the way they wanted to and didn't get drawn into the Boston College gameplan of slowing the ball down to draw the Terps out.

Please go read my DC Sports Box article on the Terps win over Boston College.

I had a nice time talking with Gail Burton this evening. She's an AP photographer and also the team photographer for the UMBC Retrievers. She also is a photographer teacher at Anne Arundel Community College and, despite being a full-time photographer, still seems to have a spark for it. I enjoy talking with her because she seems generally happy about photography. This is in stark contrast to many of the other photographers I've spoken with, who are jaded, bitter, and feel as though they have been disenfranchised by their employer or some other larger entity in the past. I try to stay away from the latter folks!

Sadly there is only 1 more women's basketball home game left and then it's tournament time. Fortunately the first round is held in College Park and hopefully the DC Sports Box will receive a credential to cover it. While walking to the Dining Hall tonight (I said it was a "classy" dinner, didn't I?) I noticed the baseball players practicing over on Shipley. Boy that place is cold. I'm not looking forward to those early March openers.

Softball starts up in another week so that's exciting. Lacrosse scrimmages tomorrow night too. I'm sure there will be lots to do in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tonight there was a men's basketball (Maryland vs Duke) played in Durham as well as a wrestling dual held up here in the College Park area. I asked Anthony to watch the game, read the box score and the post-game comments and quotes and work on the basketball article so that I would have a chance to attend the wrestling matches, take photos, and write an article.

I have to admit that when I attended a match earlier this winter it was my first wrestling match ever. I didn't know how it worked, how the scoring worked, and I especially didn't understand the flow of the sport. I never considered myself to be particularly intelligent in sports in particular, but I am an engineer (albeit in software) and as a result I have a talent for observing, asking questions, learning, adapting, and improving.

Whenever I head out for a new assignment for the first time my wife Julie always asks me how I think it will go. I usually tell her the same thing I always say on first-time assignments to cover sports I had never watched before: a not-confident "who knows...." while shaking my head. The first time I cover something the quality of my product is abysmal. But the second time around there is noticeable improvement. Same thing goes for the third time around.

I think this is my 4th or 5th wrestling dual that I've covered this winter and I'm starting to get the hang of it. I know how the scoring works now (that's a plus) and I've experimented with camera settings to find out what works reasonably well given my camera body and light limitations (D200 with f/2.8 glass in a low-lit gymnasium). I've also figured out a good way to take play-by-play notes and that goes a long way when you write an article (note: Maryland doesn't publish play-by-play or box scores for wrestling).

Please read my latest wrestling article over on the DC Sports Box.

Up next is women's hoops tomorrow night. There's a lacrosse match on Saturday as well as a men's basketball game on Saturday night (Maryland vs Florida State). I heard from Al today that the DC Sports Box was approved for photo credential for the remainder of the season except for the game against Clemson. That's fantastic news and I was very happy to hear that. It's certainly a far cry from our situation in October and I'm very appreciative and thankful that Maryland continues to give us the opportunity to report on the progress of their various teams.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Our good fortune at Maryland continued this evening. Despite not hearing anything official from the athletic department, I received word that there were spaces reserved for us at the reporters desk as well as on the floor for tonight's game between the Terps and the NC State Wolfpack. I was elated to find out this news, but had to make fast in order to get back down to College Park from up in Baltimore where I was celebrating a coworkers 30th birthday in his extravigantly furnished and Apple-inspired living room.

I made it in time and parked without difficulty. When I reached the media entrance I met the same CSC gentlemen who are usually there. Many recognize me at this point except for the gentleman that holds all the credentials. To him I am still a mystery, and I repeat my name and organization every time I show up for a game. Most of the time he gives me a pass. But sometimes (like tonight), the pass is not there. Tonight there was an envelope for Anthony Amobi. It contained credentials for the next 3 home games. I took the envelope and went inside.

As I set up my laptop and pulled out my camera equipment I smiled at the thought of how far our organization (the DC Sports Box) has come in such a short amount of time. It's very fulfilling to know that we've accomplished something very tangible (obtaining media credentials to Maryland) because of our hard work.

The photo section was very crowded, and I was surprised we had a spot on the floor. It was nearly as crowded as the Duke game. The stands were also packed, and that meant I couldn't go up high and take photos through the 400mm lens. I checked in with Greg Fiume and asked if I could sit on the far side of the court. He gave me the nod and I dropped off my equipment on the baseline.

The game itself was very exciting as both NC State and Maryland played very well. James Gist had possibly the best night of his career, scoring 30 points and playing a key role in Maryland's comeback before the close of the first half. He contributed 7 of Maryland's 9 points that led to a 31-31 tie with just a few seconds remaining before the half. He also was instrumental in Maryland's 17-2 run to start the second half. Hats off to the senior for playing such a fantastic game.

Greivis Vasquez was also phenomenal. He was 1 rebound shy of a triple-double, which would have been only the second for a Terrapin. He dished out 15 assists and scored 13 points. He had 9 rebounds as well.

I wrote an article for the DC Sports Box. You can read more details about Maryland's win over NC State and take a look at my photos by going over here.

It's been 8 days ... 8 long days ... since I last attended a sporting event. I realize that in another month or so baseball, softball, women's LAX, and men's LAX will be in full swing and overlapping men's and women's basketball and I'll be dreaming of a couple of nights off. But for now it's safe to say that I've missed getting behind the eyepiece in the week or so that I haven't shot any sports. I've taken pictures around the house and posted them up to my Flickr account, but it's not as fun as athletics.

Tonight Maryland faced Virginia. It was expected that this game would be tight. Both teams are competing for the #1 spot in the ACC, and Virginia is a very physical team. This was obvious almost immediately as Virginia took on a player control foul in one of the early possessions.

Brenda Frese was as huge as ever and it's really quite surprising that she's still sitting courtside and participating in the coaching. It's a real testament to her commitment to the team. She looks like she could pop any day now, and she's still down there talking to Coach Park about plays and what-not. I have a lot of respect for somebody who is over 9 months pregnant and is still actively coaching an ACC game.

The game was very back-and-forth. There was no clear winner throughout the entire contest and both teams had strong leads at different points. Towards the middle of the second half Virginia had the momentum and looked like they were going to take one away from the Terps with an 8 point lead but Marissa Coleman put a stop to it. She had some key plays where she forced a turnover and made a driving layup that gave the Terps the spark they needed to get back into it.

Crystal Langhorne continued to excel and scored 17 points. Laura Harper scored her 186th block and tied Kris Kirchner for the all-time-block record at Maryland. She also banged home 25 points and 15 rebounds. She really is a remarkable player. Marissa Coleman was also in the double-double category tonight with 21 points and 12 rebounds. She managed to keep her cool against Britnee Miller, who was working her from the opening tipoff. At one point shortly before half time Coleman was blatantly fouled by Miller in a really physical manner in the backcourt and it looked like Coleman was going to knock her out. Cooler heads prevailed and Coleman ended up going to the line and scored.

Anthony Amobi from the DC Sports Box was there to work on the article. I didn't get very much time to talk with him this evening because I was busy in the media room helping Yuchen Nie get his email account set up. Yuchen is joining the DC Sports Box and I wanted to make sure he's in the loop on all of our communications. I got there late (as did he) and we were both very hungry so I didn't have much time for chatting before tipoff. It's a shame because there were several people there tonight I would have liked to talk with (Eddie, Reza, Greg, Yuchen, Anthony, and Natalia).

You can read Anthony's article on Maryland's Think-Pink win over the Virginia Cavaliers over on the DC Sports Box website here. It contains my photos as well.