Part of me wants to post a link to my post-game blog and be done with it. Part of me wants to copy and paste notes from it, and from my game story, and be done with it. Part of me wants to say "(expletive) it, I just won't do it."
You see, I'm a professional writer. That is neither here nor there in terms of braggadocio; it's just I'm paid to go to events at the local or area high schools and Montana State, watch the contests and write about what I see. Usually, it's supposed to be inspirational or artistic or pick any other word out of a thesaurus. I'm supposed to come up with different angles, different ideas - more than "team x beat team y by this much" and other claptrap one sees while reading standards AP game stories written for bipartisan or informal audiences. The outline for the 800 Games Project says it best: "5. A lot of us grew up believing that there were "right ways" to do sports journalism: dry Associated Press game recaps, super-inspiring athlete feature stories, cliché-ridden "expert" sportz analysis. Zzzzzzzz. Screw all of those."... " It's up to you to make that interesting, but play-by-play and ESPN catchphrases are inherently boring. So you have a head start on that crap."
Which is what I've tried to do my entire life, from freshman year of high school onward. So it's very frustrating for me, sitting here now three and a half hours after the game ended, to know I turned in a shoddy product for my employer because I had a case of writer's block for the longest damn time after the game ended.
What was a no-brainer of a story - Montana State pulls out four-point win after repeatedly trying to give game away; all the good action in last 10 minutes - kept getting muddled by my thought of Rod Singleton acting chippy toward his coach, Brad Huse. I'd never seen the senior point guard mouth off to Huse this season, never heard of it at all last year when Singleton was a junior. So it stuck with me, but not in a good way. Especially since the game was a down-to-the-wire, Bakersfield-cuts-it-to-one-with-15-seconds-left type of game.
So it wasn't writer's block, per se - I wasn't going around the office like Dan Rydell in the Sports Night episode of Dear Louise, asking for patience and support. Plus I was on deadline, so there would be none of either. I just had too much in my head, and didn't know how to order it properly. Singleton's woes were a factor, I thought. The man who stepped in his place as a momentary leader and the one who scored the bulk of the points, junior Xavier Blount, was also a factor that should be mentioned. (DUH, says every semi-trained writer or typical sportz fan).
Interplay between a football player and one of Cal-State's players was also noteworthy. Zach Minter, a big bear of a dude who helped his football team advance into the FCS quarterfinals earlier Saturday, was sitting with a bunch of football players behind the Bakersfield bench, a prime second-half congregation spot for the football team. You know, cause they like to harass the opposing team. Minter's target tonight was junior center Andre Jackson, averaging a small amount of minutes, points and rebounds in his tenure as a Roadrunner. Jackson himself, was anything but small: 6-foot-10, 285 pounds listed, he looked every bit of both.
So, in a nowhere near capacity arena (capacity is 15K, I believe and there were less than 3K in attendance), Jackson gets fouled during a play. As he gets ready to step to the line, Minter calls out "Here we go, Shaq's going to shoot free throws." It startles Jackson; he smiles and tries to stifle laughter. Minter calls again, as the official is trying to get Jackson and everyone else set "Dude, it is Shaq. Big, giant black guy who probably can't hit free throws." Jackson smiles again, breaking it into a grin but not into a full laugh. He then releases the shot, leaving his hand in the air for the follow through as it swishes through the hoop. A momentary "Sure, you made me laugh. But this is what counts" gesture.
Minter, never one to shy away from anything, called out "That's OK, Shaq. 50 percent is coming. I know your numbers. 50 percent is the best you can do." Jackson smirks again, and a teammate of his tries to stifle laughter while standing outside the lane. More Minter: "Shaq, 50 percent. I'm telling you." Jackson missed the second, smirking and smiling all the way. He stays in for a couple more minutes, a few possessions, before being pulled out to languish back on the bench.
"Shaq, why they pulling you out? Cause you missed a free throw? You always miss those. Or was it that baby hook you missed?" comes from the mouth of Minter as Jackson slaps a teammate's hand and walks off the court toward his bench. The Roadrunner looks into the stands, grinning and smirking, and points to Minter. Not in a menacing or inappropriate way; more of a "Way to go, you got me. I salute you for getting into my head" symbolic gesture. Jackson even adds a thumbs up, to which Minter replies "You're welcome, Shaq. Come back anytime."
I think I cured my writer's block. If only I had thought of that sooner.
at MONTANA STATE 71, CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD 67 12/03/2011
CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD 4-2 (0-0) -- T. White 0-5 1-2 1; D. Johnson 7-9 0-0 16; R. Savage 3-6 4-6 10; S. Carter 4-9 5-8 13; R. Hayes 4-9 1-2 13; M. Hughley 0-1 0-0 0; I. Grayson 2-7 1-2 5; I. Matip 2-2 0-0 5; Z. Lamb 1-1 1-2 3; A. Jackson 0-3 1-2 1; A. Young 0-1 0-0 0; K. Pearson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-53 14-24 67. MONTANA STATE 4-3 (0-0) -- X. Blount 8-14 8-8 26; T. Johnson 2-6 3-6 7; J. Stewart 2-6 1-3 5; R. Singleton 1-6 9-10 11; M. Fall 2-4 2-2 6; C. Moon 4-8 5-8 14; J. Allou 1-1 0-0 2; M. Dison 0-2 0-0 0; J. Budinich 0-2 0-0 0; S. Reid 0-0 0-0 0; B. Brumwell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-50 28-37 71.
Three-point goals: CSB 7-19 (R. Hayes 4-6; D. Johnson 2-3; S. Carter 0-2; I. Grayson 0-2; A. Young 0-1; T. White 0-4; I. Matip 1-1), MTST 3-11 (R. Singleton 0-1; J. Stewart 0-2; C. Moon 1-4; X. Blount 2-4); Rebounds: CSB 26 (R. Savage 5), MTST 32 (T. Johnson 8); Assists: CSB 11 (I. Grayson 4), MTST 10 (R. Singleton 2); Total Fouls -- CSB 28, MTST 21; Fouled Out: CSB-I. Grayson; MTST-None.