Getting the Bad News: What it was Like for SU Sports Media on Selection Sunday
Published on March 21, 2017
Video report package: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHfYSyUqqQs&feature=youtu.be
Story, photos, audio and video by Jon Cerio
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – When you walk into the Carmelo K. Anthony Center on the Syracuse University campus, you can’t help getting caught up in the nostalgia. Among the banners, trophies and tributes, The Orange, or Orangemen at the time’s, historic 2003 championship game normally plays on repeat.
You can see a more youthful Jim Boeheim, a lights out performance from deep from current Orange assistant coach, then freshman Gerry McNamara. You can watch his fellow freshman on the team, and current NBA all-star, Carmelo Anthony dominate on the block. You can also see “the block,” as lanky junior forward Hakim Warrick extended from seemingly nowhere to save the game – and Syracuse’s only national title.
On Selection Sunday, Men’s Basketball Sports Information Director Pete Moore switched the mode on that monitor from past to present.
Eyes on the Prize
All eyes were on one small screen encased in glass, awaiting the word on Syracuse’s future. Reporters would watch the NCAA selection show together, then get head coach Jim Boeheim’s reaction at a podium barely 50 feet away.
Would the 18-14 team that began the season in the Top Twenty, beat Duke, Virginia and Florida State but got clobbered by woeful St. John’s and Boston College get a bid?
CNY Central Sports Director Niko Tamurian was there, along with News Channel 9 sports reporter Mario Sacco. Spectrum News’ Gabrielle Lucivero was doing live shots on what to expect. Ted Goldberg was there too.
Post- Standard and Syracuse.com beat reporters Mike Waters and Donna Ditota pulled up their chairs for a front row seat at the small screen.
Student media reporters including Kevin Ryans, Noah Eagle, Paul Schwedelson, Connor Grossman and Andrew Carter, were there representing Citrus TV, WAER, The Daily Orange and more.
Regardless of the station, paper, or website they represented – whether covering the team for 20 years or 20 weeks – everyone had something in common – nervous energy.
Some may not have wanted to admit it. After all, they work in a profession centered on objectivity. But it was apparent that objectivity often only really matters when you’re officially reporting. The before and after part is fair game for fandom.
“It’s your job, you have to stay neutral,” Tamurian said. “In your heart you want them to win.”
The East Syracuse native is an unabashed fan of SU athletics, as was evident during the selection process. He would grimace when an at-large spot went to another team, nervously rubbing his face or biting his nails, looking to colleagues for support.
Student reporters were on edge as well. There was a lot of nervous laughter from some, fidgeting from others.
“I’ve been here, rooting for Syracuse basketball since my freshman year,” SU senior and Citrus TV reporter Kevin Ryans said. “Obviously with the media, you want to cool it off with the fan thing.”
As each region was announced, the room got quieter, until it reached a breaking point.
When the final spots were revealed, and Syracuse’s name wasn’t on any line, a collective sigh filled the hallway. Someone let out an “Ouch!”
Ditota summed it up in two words:
“That’s it,” she said.
Video interviews and Boeheim press conference:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9thp5P4sWb4&feature=youtu.be
Not-So Mellow Center
The mood at the ‘Melo’ Center turned from hopeful to somber rather quickly. Reporters solemnly carried their chairs back up near the podium to prepare for a surely more despondent head coach.
There wasn’t much conversing – mostly cameras getting a final once-over, last-minute microphone checks at the podium, bracket distribution, and laptops powering on. It wasn’t long before the main event began.
Boeheim entered through the glass doors, stoic and silent. Reporters rushed to place their audio recorders on the podium as he stepped up.
“Obviously it’s disappointing,” the coach said. “Especially for our seniors, our two fifth-year seniors who came here, who wanted obviously to make the tournament.”
Reporters didn’t ask many questions – they already seemed to know most of the answers. The press conference lasted all of five minutes, and mainly consisted of Boeheim listing his team’s accomplishments, admitting its shortcomings, and relaying his players’ disappointment.
Much of the time was taken up by awkward silences. The coach’s final answer summed it up well.
“Everybody’s disappointed,” Boeheim said with a sigh. “It’s what you would expect. Nobody’s happy.”
After about 15 seconds more of silence, Moore asked if there were any more questions.
No one spoke up.
“OK, “Boeheim said and left as quickly and quietly as he had come in.
“Thank you,” Moore said. And that was that.
Audio interviews & Boeheim press conference: https://soundcloud.com/user-857188699/full-interviews-audio-kevin-ryans-niko-tamurian-matt-park-jim-boeheim-press-conference
“That’s a Wrap”
Video cameras were taken down after a few cracks at wrap ups were recorded. Cables were coiled, laptops zipped up. One by one, the reporters left, for the most part without much said.
There would be no out-of town trips to cover this team unless it made it to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Final Four.
“Certainly people around here are going to be disappointed with that choice,” ‘Voice of the Orange’ Matt Park said. The men’s basketball and football play-by-play man probably had made an understatement. And he wasn’t just talking about fans.
After most had left the building, Citrus TV’s Andrew Carter, decided to make the most of the situation. He switched hats from journalist to fan again, and filled out his NCAA tournament bracket.
“I’ve got Louisville winning the national championship,” Carter said.
Back on that small TV screen Syracuse’s 2003 Championship Game was soon playing once again.