Sunday, October 15, 2006

Review of the Sporting News (TSN) 2006-2007 College Basketball Yearbook

Update September 2007

  • The 2006-2007 season is long gone, but the 2007 NCAA College Basketball Tournament games are available on DVD!.
  • And you can get started on the 2007-2008 season by checking our Gigantic 2007-2008 preview of links.
  • Catch up the latest recruiting rankings

    The original 2006-2007 review
    I picked this one up at Borders, at the list price of $6.98, cover #5 (Arron Afflalo of UCLA and Derek Ravioli of Gonzaga).

    Comprehensive Review
    * The review is divided in two parts
    * The first part covers all the special features, stories, recruiting and player rankings.
    * The second part covers the meat of the magazine, the team-by-team within conference-by-conference analysis

    Part One Grade: B-
    Very good coverage of recruiting (especially Top 50 JuCos), but not too many in-season features.
    Front of the magazine
  • Top 25 (two pages with a sentence for each team)
  • Six pages of various features including a Mike DeCourcy story, a story on the new NBA Draft rule, revisiting the best incoming freshman classes of all time (77, 79, 81, 88, 95 and of course 2006), and various other things including a fan favorite Stock Exchange with BUY and SELL on certain teams and players.
  • Field of 65 projection
  • All American Teams (three of them)
  • Top 100 players, broken down by position (20 per position)
  • Top 10 frontcourts and backcourts
    Back of the magazine
  • offer to subscribe to TSN for 33c per issue (60 issues total, 92% off newstand price)
  • major preseason tourney schedule and conference tourney schedules
  • Top 100 Class of 2007 (provided by OJ Mayo is #5! Wow!!!
  • Top 25 Class of 2008
  • Top 25 Class of 2009 - Lance Stepheson in the top 5
  • Top 50 Incoming players - class of 2006; Yes, Oden is #1
  • Top 50 incoming Junior College players for the 2006-2007 season. Great JuCo feature, by
  • Top 50 Junior College sophomores - to enter Division 1 in 2007-2008. Great JC feature as well by
  • Recap of 2006 NCAA tourney scores and list of future NCAA sites

    Part Two Overall Grade: A
  • Conference Pages. Grade: B+
    * The Conferences are printed as they are ranked by TSN. #1 rated conference is (no surprise) the SEC. TSN is unique among preview magazine in presenting all 31 conferences in ranking order. Last one are the Independents.
    * The six BCS conferences get one full page as a conference preview, featuring first and second team predictions, player and newcomer of the year, a six-category Honor Roll (best shooter, playmaker, NBA prospect, defender, most versatile and most underrated). Also included the Top 10 Impact Newcomers, last season's standings, and detailed team-level statistics of last year. Also short intro, ascending and descending teams, and three players on the rise, and a picture of a player. All this per conference.
    * The next few conferences (A10,MVC, MWC, C-USA, WAC) get less than half a page as a conference preview, embedded in the page of our one their teams. These get similar coverage as the BCS conference, expect its the Top 5 Impact newcomers, and they dont get the short intro/ascending/descending/three players on the rise. Shockingly the Colonial is not among these!
    * The remaining conferences get a 1/5th of a page preview that has the all-conference team prediction, last season's standings, and player/newcomer of the year prediction

  • Team by Team pages. Grade: A
    * Each team predicted to make the NCAA gets an asterisk by its name
    *** The top teams of each BCS conference get a full page preview, with a complete roster with jersey numbers. A big surprise is that while the height/weight/class and PPG/RPG/APG are maintained, the percentages are no longer posted! (FG%, 3PT%, FT%). These were available in last year's TSN NCAA basketball yearbook. There is a data box for the university including the overall record of the coach and his record at the school, and the names of all three assistants and the number of years at the school, among other things. A unique feature of TSN is the including of the full schedule in this page. The text of the preview is broken down in three groups: "What we like", "What Scares Us", and "X-Factor". Also included is a text box of "An insert-conference-name-here Coach Says", providing a short scouting report on the team.
    * The remaining teams of each BCS conference get half a page preview. This has the same structure except there is less text (obviously). Half page previews do not get the "An xxx coach says" scouting report. This includes some NCAA-bound teams
    *** For the advanced mid-major conferences (A10,MWC,MVC,C-USA,WAC) the coverage is as follows. (Shockingly the Colonial is not among these!):
    * The top team gets a 3/4th to a full page preview (similar format as the BCS reports)
    * The top half of each conference gets a half page preview (similar format as the BCS reports)
    * The bottom teams only get 1/6th of a page coverage. No rosters, no schedules, very little coverage. It does include the projected starters, and the coaches overall and at-this-school record. If your team is one of these, you won't be happy!
    *** The remaining conferences get just 1/6th of a page coverage for all their teams, with the same structure as the previous bullet. This surpringly includes the Colonial conference!

  • One obvious difference between this edition and the previous editions is the quality of paper it is printed on. Presumably in an effort to save money TSN went with a newspaper-like paper instead of the more glossy type used in their previous magazines. This feels better than newspaper paper though, and it really shouldn't matter, unless one must have glossy paper :-)
  • Some of the individual player statistics are gone compared to previous TSN editions (FG%, 3PT%, FT%).
  • Poor coverage of the Colonial!
  • No coverage of Women's NCAA basketball
  • Downgraded coverage of the bottom teams of the A-10, WAC, MWC and C-USA: In previous years all the teams in those conferences got a half-page preview. This year, (presumably more cost-cutting), TSN downgraded the coverage of those teams to a mere 1/6th of a page, without any of the special features such as complete rosters with jersey numbers or schedules. If you are a fan of those teams, you may want to look elsewhere.

    Compared to the other NCAA college basketball preview magazines
  • TSN is unique among other preview magazines in putting the team's schedule in the same page as the team preview. This is only available for the BCS teams and the top teams of the advanced mid-major conferences. But it is a very handy feature!
  • TSN (Sporting News) is unique among preview magazine in presenting all 31 conferences in ranking order.
  • Extended JuCo player coverage (top 50 of 2006-2007 and top 50 of 2007-2008)

  • If the Shortcomings above do not deter you, and you only want to buy one magazine as a college basketball fan, then I would recommend this one, with Street and Smith a very close second. (The in-page schedules give TSN the edge over Street and Smith)
  • If you want to buy a preview magazine to specifically follow your favorite team(s) and conference(s), then you have to sift through all of them to see which one has the better coverage for your favorite team(s) and conference(s). For example this one does a poor job covering the Colonial and has downgraded coverage of the bottom teams of the A10, WAC, MWC and C-USA. But it has upgraded coverage of the Missouri Valley, and it leapfrogged the MVC ahead of those four! Yes, they think MVC is the 7th best basketball conference in the nation.

    Upcoming reviews
  • Next review will be the USA Today special edition, now available in newstands wherever the multicolor fishwrap is available
  • Other preview magazines available: Blue Ribbon Yearbook, CBS Sportsline, ACC Handbook,
  • Not yet published: SI special edition and ESPN the Magazine previews.
  • If you are a publisher and you want to send me a copy for an early review, I will be more than happy to review it :-)

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