Monday, March 19, 2007

Adande, Bolch Shine In Coverage Of USC Victory

L.A. Times sports writers J.A. Adande and Ben Bolch were ready Sunday when USC scored an upset victory in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament over Texas. The victory propelled USC into the front ranks of college basketball and brought to celebrity hood two SC freshmen, Daniel Hackett and Taj Gibson. It also was USC's 25th victory of the season, an all-time record for a school whose basketball program has long been in the shadow of crosstown rival UCLA.

This was a moment for the L.A. Times Sports section to prove its mettle, and it certainly did, with a series of superb stories catching the high spirits of the moment. David Wharton contributed a useful sidebar to the work of Adande and Bolch.

Hackett, starting after coming off the bench most of the season, was the star of the game, and this was appropriately the subject of an excellent Adande column, "In run to Sweet 16, Hackett has been USC's point man."

In it he told the story of how, after the tragic shooting death of USC's Ryan Francis helped create a point guard void for this season, Hackett, who had been slated to be a high school senior, took five junior college and online courses over the summer to qualify a year early as a Freshman on the SC team.

Up until the NCAA tournament, Hackett wasn't prominent, averaging just 4.9 points a game. When the Times put together a chart beforehand on how the Texas game might be played, Hackett was hardly mentioned.

But when USC's great coach, Tim Floyd, told Hackett he would start and be assigned to guard Texas' premier player, Kevin Durant, Hackett recounted later, "I was like, Oh gosh, he's a great player, tremendous talent."

Hackett will never be obscure again. Fortunately, as the CBS coverage of the game showed, his parents were there to see their son's triumph.

Meanwhile, Bolch, lead writer for the Times on the game, caught the drama of the occasion with his lead paragraphs.

"SPOKANE, Wash.--They're no longer mere bracket busters, a ragtag group defying expectations with heart and hustle.

"These USC Trojans now require a different description: one of the best college basketball teams in the country."

The sidebar by Wharton told how the USC game plan, developed in part by assistant coach Phil Johnson, had worked.

All in all, it was almost as much of a triumph for the Times sports section as for USC. I hope Randy Harvey, the Times sports editor, gets complimented today by editor James O'Shea and publisher David Hiller. Even Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons.


If one of a newspaper's greatest functions in society is to be a scourge to insensitive louts, two articles in the L.A. Times Sunday filled that bill excellently.

Steve Lopez's column told how pornographic billboard advertisers for a tasteless, to say the least, Hollywood movie were offending Los Angelenos. And Dan Weikel wrote how the operators of Orange County toll roads are levying outrageously high fines against people who don't pay their tolls.

Lopez pointed out what we all know: Hollywood can be offensive.

But Weikel's article points to an important question: Should California go down the sordid road of more toll highways?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

USC, as a #5 seeded team, beating #4 seed Texas is hardly a monumental upset. A better story is the"freshmen" such as the 21 year old Taj Gibson, who attended six high schools and somehow became eligible at USC, and Daniel Hackett, whose father was conveniently given a coaching job after his son committed to the Trojans. Throw in the money paid to OJ Mayo and the basketball team is now resembling the scandal-plagued SC pro football team.

3/19/2007 9:12 PM  

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