Vol. 56, No. 1 November 2018 .pdf version
David Teel: Seating is our greatest issue
Joe Mitch: Dunphy epitomizes Dean Smith ideals
USBWA mourns passing of O'Connell, Guback
King, Theisen win Guback scholarships
Quinn a big winner in writing contest
Kansas, Notre Dame are preseason favorites

Quinn a big winner in USBWA's best-writing contest

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Brendan Quinn of The Athletic placed in four categories in the USBWA's Best-Writing Contest, including first place in spot news/game stories.

Quinn also placed in magazine-length features (third), enterprise reporting (fifth) and moderate-length features (fifth). His winning story was about a critical day in Michigan State's athletic department.

"All of this – from OTL's report, to the facts of past incidents at MSU, to the dark umbrella of (Larry) Nassar's haunting behavior – remains exceedingly difficult to unpack and organize," Quinn wrote. "Lines are blurred in a confluence of controversies. (Tom) Izzo and (Mark) Dantonio have both stood before reporters voicing support for Nassar's survivors, while facing questions lobbed about allegations inside their own programs.

A bizarre incongruity.

"To untangle the mare's nest, one must first understand how all these roads intersected."

Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard placed in two categories, including first in magazine-length features for a story on former Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins' new job as head coach at Washington.

The other first-place winners: David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press (column writing), Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic (moderate-length features) and Pat Forde and Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports (enterprise reporting).

Teel won in column writing for a reflective piece on how Virginia should deal with its historic loss to No. 16 seed UMBC in the NCAA tournament.

"Subtle chances? Of course," Teel wrote. "The best coaches, (Tony) Bennett included, make them frequently. "But a radical departure from the defense-first principles that have fashioned five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and three outright ACC titles during that span? Uh, no."

Auerbach took first place in moderate-length features for a story on how UMBC coach Ryan Odom and his wife dealt with their son's obsessive compulsive disorder.

"What Odom is doing to revitalize a program that last reached the Tournament in 2008 is impressive," Auerbach wrote. "But what he does just by opening up about his son's mental health challenges can have a far greater impact. 'I don't know why it's so taboo,' Odom says."

Thamel and Forde won the enterprise category for an examination of records that led to an important story about the FBI investigation into college basketball.

Other multiple winners included Nathan Baird of the Lafayette Courier Journal (second for enterprise and fourth for moderate-length features), Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports (second in moderate-length features and fourth in column writing), Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star (third in column writing and fourth in enterprise reporting) and Lindsay Schnell of USA Today (fourth in magazine-length features and fourth in moderate-length features). Alex Schiffer of the Kansas City Star took second place in magazine-length features and was part of a team that took third in enterprise reporting.

Best-Writing Contest

Column Writing

  1. David Teel, Newport News Daily Press. Fans overreact. Wins seem bigger than they are. Losses seem bigger than they are. This particular loss, No. 1 Virginia's loss to 16-seed UMBC, seemed cataclysmic. Take a breath, this column says, and then tells us why we should.
  2. Seth Davis, The Athletic. Rick Pitino's predictable fall from grace
  3. Jesse Newell, Kansas City Star. Kansas Devonte Graham's lessons from his mom
  4. Jeff Eisenberg, Yahoo Sports. Diversity. Helping high-school girls' player find a basketball-ready head covering
  5. John Akers, Basketball Times. Lefty Driesell should be in the Hall of Fame

Magazine-Length Feature

  1. Mike Waters, Syracuse Post-Standard. The family photo on Mike Hopkins desk is not of his family. And that might tell you all you need to know about the Washington coach. An interesting show-don't tell personality profile.
  2. Alex Schiffer, Kansas City Star. Oral history of a high school dunk video that helped Michael Porter Jr. make his first national splash.
  3. Brendan Quinn, The Athletic. Zavier Simpson was lost, then found in his hometown of Lima, Ohio.
  4. Lindsay Schnell, USA Today. Grayson Allen is a polarizing figure. Here are some reasons why.
  5. Jason King, Bleacher Report. Perception and reality. Mohamed Bamba is a star player. He is also a complex person with a complex background.

Moderate-Length Feature

  1. Nicole Auerbach, The Athletic. Ryan Odom, coach at UMBC, and his wife share their long road with their son's obsessive-compulsive disorder. It's a compelling story about a crusade that has grown larger than their family.
  2. Jeff Eisenberg, Yahoo Sports. This moving story is an extraordinary profile in courage. Avery Martz suffered a stroke on the day she moved into her dorm room at Saint Joseph's. Her basketball future remains to be seen, but her story is worthwhile.
  3. David Woods, Indianapolis Star. Basketball's signature is written large at Butler.
  4. Nathan Baird, Lafayette Journal and Courier. Dakota Mathias isn't Purdue's star. He's Purdue's symbol.
  5. Brendan Quinn, The Athletic. A look behind the scenes of a Hawaiian preseason tournament where a Michigan team tries to find its identity.

Game Story/Spot News

  1. Brendan Quinn, The Athletic. A powerful narrative about the day when Michigan State's athletic department reached its breaking point. There was Larry Nassar's sentencing for sexual abuse, the resignation of athletic director Mark Hollis, and questions that stretched into almost every athletic office. And then there was a basketball game.
  2. Scott Dochterman, Land of 10. Jordan Bohannon refused to break Iowa's free throw record.
  3. Brian Hamilton, The Athletic. UMBC, and a coach who took a journey to get there, pull an upset for the ages.
  4. Lindsay Schnell, USA Today. Villanova's shooting tips. An interesting technique for talking about an offensive showcase.
  5. Mike Waters, Syracuse Post-Standard. Syracuse shocks three-seed Michigan State. How'd that happen? Story dissects the surprising result.


  1. Pat Forde and Pete Thamel, Yahoo Sports. An impressive examination of records provides a clear picture of the depth and sweep of the FBI investigation into college basketball. The story is important and significant in scope.
  2. Nathan Baird, Lafayette Journal and Courier. John Neff inherited a basketball prize a Purdue jersey once worn by John Wooden, one of the Big 10's early stars and later, a legendary coach.
  3. Katy Bergen, Aaron Reiss and Alex Schiffer, Kansas City Star. A discovery of abuse complaints filed against Missouri player Terrence Phillips.
  4. Jesse Newell, Kansas City Star. An amusing history of a student prank that became the wellknown "Beware of the Phog" banner that still hangs at Kansas.
  5. Brendan Quinn, The Athletic. A look back at the time that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar considered attending Michigan.
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