With March Madness right around the corner, college basketball journalists have a lot on their plates. Between keeping up with teams, traveling to cover games, and performing interviews with players and coaches, they have very busy schedules. We were lucky enough to have a Q and A with Mark Anderson, a UNLV writer for the Las Vegas Journal.
NCAAM REVIEW: As a UNLV writer, what’s your take on tournament hopes of teams in the MWC? Who are the players to watch?
Mark: Nevada is the one team that can fall short in the conference tournament and still get into the field. All the other teams need to win. Boise State looks to be the Wolf Pack’s top challenger, and the Broncos’ Chandler Hutchison is likely the Conference Player of the Year. But Nevada has Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins who are really good.
NCAAM REVIEW: What’s your take on UNLV this year and in the future?
Mark: The Rebels are getting better, but they’re not an NCAA Tournament team yet. A good goal would be to make the NIT. Coach Marvin Menzies can recruit, and I think he’ll continue to bring in top players like Brandon McCoy, but it’s going to be a process. I think UNLV is 2-3 years from being a legitimate NCAA Tournament contender because the Rebels lose their backcourt after this season and most likely McCoy.
NCAAM REVIEW: What are your favorite moments that you’ve covered as a journalist and who are the best players you’ve seen live?
Mark: There have been so many. I covered last year’s national football championship where Clemson scored with a second left to beat Alabama. I was at the 2006 title game between Texas and USC when Vince Young ran in for the winning touchdown. The National Championship between Florida State and Auburn three or four years ago was incredible. I was on the field when Kevin Thomas returned a fumble 100 yards on the last play as UNLV beat Baylor. It was the first (and maybe the only) time the team with the ball and the lead lost on a fumble on the game’s final play.
As a student at Florida, I helped cover the Gators’ rally in the fourth quarter from 17-0 down to beat Auburn 18-17. I also got to travel to cover the Florida basketball team in the NCAA Tournament in Atlanta, and traveled to Syracuse and East Rutherford, N.J., as the Gators made the Sweet 16 in the 1987 NCAA Tournament. And I was at the Florida State-Florida game in which the Seminoles’ Charlie Ward completed a pass to Warrick Dunn, who turned a short pass into a long touchdown that immediately quieted what had been an incredibly loud crowd in a game that helped cement Ward’s Heisman Trophy and put FSU in the national championship. Those immediately come to mind. I’ve covered football much longer than basketball, so most of my top experiences are in that sport. As for the top players I’ve seen while working, this is not a complete order, but I’ll go with Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Emmitt Smith, Ozzie Smith and Mark McGwire. I’m sure I’m leaving out a lot of athletes, though.
NCAAM REVIEW: Explain more about your job for people who want to learn more?
Mark: I am responsible for covering UNLV football and basketball, which means staying on top of and breaking news, writing features and game stories, and keeping up with trends and how they affect UNLV. I write close to daily for our print product and for our website. There is no typical day, which makes the job interesting. In addition to my writing responsibilities, I do quite a bit of video. In fact, I take part in a weekly show that focuses on UNLV athletics out of our studio.
NCAAM REVIEW: Finally, what advice can you give to aspiring journalists?
Mark: Get all the experience you can. I began in high school, and it really paid off. It turned out to be more important than my school work, though I strongly recommend doing well there, too, because that can only be a benefit. And be willing to adapt. The business is changing drastically, and no one really knows what the future holds. But I have to believe there will always be a place for strong journalism. I hope so anyway.