Baltimore college hoops needs better coverage from local media

November 12, 2009 | Drew Forrester

The local college basketball season kicks off tomorrow night and carries on through the weekend with several outstanding kick-off contests…and I’m wondering how many of you know about the games, who’s coming to town, and which of the local teams are expected to be strong this season.

You don’t know the answer to those questions?

Blame the media. 

Fortunately, none of you will be able to tear into me – or WNST as a whole – about this subject because we’re the unquestioned Baltimore media leader when it comes to promoting, discussing and covering local college basketball.

Over the last ten days, I’ve had Pat Kennedy, Todd Bozeman and Fang Mitchell on my show. Tomorrow morning, UMBC’s Randy Monroe will check in.  Bob Haynie has Loyola’s Jimmy Patsos on with him regularly during the season.  I even bring on the opposing coaches.  Just this morning, in fact, we talked with longtime Miami of Ohio coach Charlie Coles.  His Red Hawks come to Towson for Friday night’s opener at the Towson Center.  The marquee local match-up this weekend has Morgan State at UMBC.  Marques Blakely, the best player in the America East Conference, brings Vermont to Baltimore on Friday night for an opening tilt with Loyola.  I had Vermont coach Mike Lonergan on the show with me on Tuesday.  Bob Haynie forgot more about college basketball than I’ll ever know and he covers the local teams as well as anyone every afternoon at WNST.  

When it comes to reporting on the local college hoops scene, as Carly Simon once sang, “nobody does it better…”

Unfortunately, the rest of the media in town are falling short on their responsibility to cover the local teams and report on the games.  

Way short, in fact.  Picture a 24-foot jumper coming up four-feet short.  ”Airball…Airball…Airball…”

Give the Baltimore media a big, fat “AIRBALL!” chant for their pathetic coverage of local college hoops. 

If little old WNST is beating your rear end at something, you know you’re falling well shy of greatness, right?

The media in this town stinks when it comes to covering local college hoops.

And this goes out to all of them. Men and – *ahem* – women.  Every single of them.  The TV folks are guilty.  The radio talk show guys (and gals) are guilty.  The Sun is VERY guilty.  MASN and their baseball-is-all-that-matters-in-town web-site…they’re guilty too.  

The time has come for the local media to step up their game and cover these teams as if they’re big league…because in the last few years, they’ve just about all become big-league.

Sure, we don’t have a 25,000 seat state-of-the-art building for Towson or UMBC to play in…and the state school is, by geographic standards, owned more by Washington DC than Baltimore.  In other words, the Terps aren’t coming to Baltimore anytime soon to make Charm City their new basketball home…they have a building on campus that we’d give anything to have on West Baltimore Street.

But that shouldn’t be the root-cause for the local media’s disembrace of college hoops.  

I cover and care about college basketball in Baltimore for one main reason.

It’s in Baltimore.  

Successful sports teams in Baltimore make Baltimore better.  That’s a fact. 

And when UMBC goes to the NCAA Tournament, or Todd Bozeman comes to town, turns his life around and totally rebuilds the Morgan State program and takes them to the Big Dance, or when Fang Mitchell guides little old Coppin State through the rough waters of a financially-strapped athletic department and turns them into March dancers…it all serves to make Baltimore sports better for all of us.

Towson University plays in the Colonial Athletic Association — clearly one of the best mid-major conferences in the country. Ask Coach K or Gary Williams about VCU’s program.  Loyola’s college basketball program is enjoying immense success under the guidance of Jimmy Patsos.  And even though they’re not technically Baltimore, let’s give a tip of the cap to Milan Brown and his guys at Mt. St. Mary’s — tournament qualifiers in 2008.  

It’s good basketball in these parts.  Some nights, depending on the opponent, it’s even high-level college basketball that you get to watch.  

But a lot of you don’t know about it because the media in Baltimore doesn’t cover it. 

The athletic departments in these respective local colleges need to do better as well.  They need to promote better, service the media better and, in general, operate as if they’re big league all the time.  Because they ARE big league.  But on the whole, they’re doing their part to promote their teams and players.  As they’d all tell you, though, there’s always room for improvement.

In fairness, the local SID’s in town are actually friendly, accomodating and mindful of their position in the community.  Unlike the baseball team in town, you’re welcomed when you enter the RAC, or the Towson Center, or Reitz Arena.  Credential requests aren’t scoffed at…they happily fulfilled.  

You can criticize the team and/or its play and not be concerned that your seat in the press box might not be available at the next home game.  

There’s no reason, none at all, why the media in Baltimore doesn’t cover college basketball more.  

Everyone in town needs to cover, report and promote what’s going on at UMBC, Loyola, Coppin St., Morgan St. and Towson.  

The fans – every single one of you reading this, included – need to step up their support as well.  The local scene is affordable, entertaining and easy to access.  Because I don’t want to hear any excuses about not knowing the schedule, I’ve created a Baltimore mini-plan for you to review and follow through on…and you’ll spend about $60 total if you take me up on it.

Here’s the schedule.  You’ll see seven games…I’ll send you to Towson and UMBC twice because of their strong conference opponents and their local clashes.

  • Tuesday, November 24 at RAC Arena — Coppin State at UMBC (ticket coupon up at WNST.net next week)
  • Wednesday, December 3 at Towson Center — UMBC at Towson 
  • Saturday, December 5 at Coppin State — Morgan State at Coppin (first game in their new arena)
  • Saturday, December 22 at Hill Field House — Towson at Morgan State
  • Monday, January 4 at Reitz Arena — Siena at Loyola 
  • Wednesday, January 20 at Towson Center — Northeastern at Towson 
  • Saturday, February 6 at RAC Arena — Vermont at UMBC

All of these games feature quality opponents, perennial conference championship contenders and outstanding players.  

You’ll spend about $60 or so on tickets.  You’ll occasionally see money-saving discount coupons for these games at WNST.net as we strive to do our part to help promote these games for the local schools.

You, as Baltimore sports enthusiasts, need to get out and support the programs as well.   I’m not asking you all to buy season tickets or anything, although that would be nice (and affordable).  I’m asking you to make a conscious decision to visit every local arena at least once in 2009-2010.  I bet if you go once, you’ll go twice.  I’d almost guarantee it.

It would be nice if the local Baltimore sports media made the same decision to visit every local arena at least once this season. 

Some of them wouldn’t know how to get to the RAC or the Towson Center without being driven there by an intern. 

That’s not a low blow…just a fact.

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