Monday, October 15, 2007

2007-2008 Sporting News (aka Street and Smith) College Basketball Magazine Review

College Hoops Preview Magazine review #3 is ready to go with TSN, The Sporting News 2007-08 College Basketball preview magazine. I picked this one at Borders Bookstores at the list price of $6.99, with the unfortunate cover of the Lopez twins. Unfortunate because Brook Lopez is academically inelligibile for the first semester. Better fire up Photoshop and make a new cover! While there I also noticed that the CBS Sportsline preview magazine was out. I didn't flip through it, but the previous year's editions were, to borrow a word from Bill Walton, hooooooooooorrible.

For historical reference, this is my 2006-2007 Sporting News review. Speaking of 2006-2007, every 2007 NCAA college basketball Tournament game is available on DVD, produced officially by NCAA On-Demand.

And one last thing, check out our gigantic 2007-2008 season preview of links to various websites and blogs writing about the 07-08 season. And this is a good time to plan ahead for the upcoming season, how are you going to record your favorite games on TV?

The magazine starts with a "Dear Readers" letter by publisher Mike Kallar, revealing the merger of Street and Smiths and the Sporting News preview magazines. The Sporting News name is retained but it will be published in Charlotte, NC, home of Street and Smiths. So did Street and Smith ruin the excellent Sporting News preview magazine or did they manage to improve it further? Read on to find out!

General Interest Stories

  • The expected alphabetic Team Index is on page 4.
  • TSN's Top 25 is revealed with a paragraph for each team
  • A 2.5 page national overview article blended with the top 25 includes mentions of Duke, UCLA, Calipari, and three All American teams. Also a list of one-and-out candidates with the usual names. Story by TSN's Mike DeCourcy
  • The top 100 incoming freshmen are broken down geographically (based on their state of origin, not the college's location)
  • The excellent New Destinations page (page #13) has a list of transfers eligible for this season, transfers eligible for next season, and the coaching changes in-between the seasons.
  • A two page "Whatever happened to" tracing Dane Fife, JR Van Hoose, and Teddy DuPay.
  • A great idea, a page with the final standings conference-record wise of all teams in all conferences. Nice!
  • Five pages of Cheerleader photos - perhaps the ones rejected by HBL. An example of Street and Smiths mediocrity ruining the Sporting News excellent basketball guide. Booo!
  • Continuing the Street and Smith tradition of giving the smaller conferences and divisions some love, they include a one page preview for the NCAA Division II, one page for Division III, and one page for the NAIA.
  • Four-page coverage of the JuCos! (JC aka junior colleges)
  • Four page coverage of Women's College Basketball
  • A six page article (page #182) has 2006-2007 statistics, both individual and team statistics for NCAA D1, D2, D3, NAIA and Women's too.
  • The schedules are included! A 12-page block starting on page 188 has every team's schedule. Break out your magnifying glass though. This is the first one of the preview magazines I have seen that has a complete schedule!
  • Last page: A list of the top in-season exempt tournaments of interest, along with dates for the conference tournaments and sites for the 2008 NCAA Tournament
  • Lincoln Financial Sports's SEC conference schedule is included as an advertisement on page #113.
  • Grade: B-

    Recruiting Coverage
  • Four page coverage of Junior colleges and juco players
  • Ten pages of recruiting coverage with a focus on the 2008 class. Players after 2008 are all grouped together (another S&S oddity). All-Metro teams are provided which includes top five players in 22 major metropolitan areas. A long list of prep/hihg-school games of interest is given as well. A two-page article spotlights the top 25 high-school basketball teams.
  • A five-page story spotlights some of the top Women's high school players and teams.

    Conference Previews
  • The BCS conferences along with some high mid-major conferences (A10, C-USA, MVC, MAC, Mountain West and WAC), get a full page of conference preview. They are presented alphabetically at the start of the book. Each conference preview includes a ranking of the conference teams recruiting-wise with a short explanation for each team, a nice feature looking at future recruiting prospects powered by Rivals, the all conference players team, predicted order of finish, the conference superlatives (best player, best defender, etc), and a text intro to the conference. The magazine brands them as High Major.
  • A few more mid-major conferences start on page 130 with half a page for the conference preview. This is for the Big West, Colonial, Horizon, Southern Conference, Sun Belt and Gonzaga Conference (oops WCC). For reference, I will call this Tier #2. The magazine brands them as Mid Major.
  • The remaining conferences get a 1/5th of a page for their conference preview. For reference, I will call this Tier #3. The magazine brands them as Low Major.

    Team Previews
  • BCS teams and the top six mid-major conferences receive either half a page or a full page preview. The full page preview includes the roster with jersey numbers, bujt gone are the detailed player statistics of the previous season. Also gone is the team's schedule in the team's page that was a trademark TSN feature. Boo @ Street and Smith! You ruined it! On the plus side, a graph of a team's number of wins in the last five year is posted (a Street and Smith feature). Also included are Power Ratings, rating the team on five key factors. A nice touch! An impact rookie from each team is spotlighted very briefly. There is one picture per team. The text preview itself is one long text, not broken down in sub-categories like TSN used to do. The record of the head coach and the names of the assistant coaches are listed but they are not as detailes as TSN's was. Boo again! The bottom teams of each conference receive half-a-page review instead of full-page but they do get full rosters with jersey numbers. This approach creates some strange things, for example Purdue and Michigan get half a page, while Tulsa has a full page. I'm not complaining but BCS koolaiders may do so.
  • Teams belonging to conferences in Tier #2 (see the previous section on Conference Previews) get about 1/6th of a page coverage without any rosters. The exception is the top team in the conference that receives half-a-page preview which includes a roster with jersey numbers.
  • Teams that belong to Tier #3 conferences (see the Conference Preview above) receive one to two paragraphs each and that's all.

  • There is no dancing around this, they have ruined what made The Sporting News (TSN) my favorite preseason magazine.
  • They decided to use the Sporting News name because it is more popular and recognizable but this magazine is really a renaming of the Street and Smith magazine. While not bad, they are not TSN! Which is why they bought TSN.
  • One big plus of this magazine is that it has a 12-page schedule of every team in the country.
  • There is more women's coverage here than any other preview magazine I have seen so far.
  • They have a lot of recruiting coverage for the 2008 class and 2007-2008 high school season, but very little for 2009 and beyond
  • The most extensive JUCO coverage I have seen, a total of four pages, including team coverage
  • This is good preview magazine to get, especially if your a fan of one of the top 6 non-BCS conferences as it has very detailed ccverage (A10, MVC, MWC, MAC, C-USA nad WAC). The Colonial will probably feel dissed and left out once again as they are relegated to the 2nd tier despite producing a Final Four team just two years ago.
  • But I'm not happy with them ruining the successful Sporting News format! Boo!!!!!!! Bring back the real Sporting News!!!

  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Hey man! I'm gonna have to respectfully disagree with you. First thanks for the reviews. Second off, i feel that this magazine was excellant. Besides te sporting news is now with yahoo sports mag which is good. Also man, i love cbs sportsline! Cant beat their color-coding graphics man! Good review, but i disagree. This is a good mag!

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