Sunday, February 8, 2009

This Bengal Deserves All-BSC

Michelle Grohs (right) has always been a member of the supporting cast -- it was always Natalie Doma and Andrea Lightfoot who got the headlines on Idaho State's outstanding women's basketball teams. Grohs, a 6-foot senior from Salmon, has always been a nice complement, shooting the three well and blocking shots as a good weak side defender. But with Lightfoot and Doma around, she was never going to get star billing.

This year, with both Doma and Lightfoot out of eligibility and injuries and attrition reducing the Bengal roster to a bare minimum, Grohs has had more than an ample opportunity to shine. She is taking full advantage of that opportunity.

In a crucial game on Saturday against Northern Colorado, Grohs poured in a career high 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead Idaho State to a harrowing 63-58 win over the Bears. She drained three line-drive treys, and demonstrated her athleticism with a couple of nifty catch-and-shoots from inside the arc. And while Grohs is not your traditional post-up, back-to-the basket forward, she even dropped in a couple of turnaround jumpers from the baseline. A daunting finishing schedule and the Bengals' bare-bones roster will still make it an uphill climb for Idaho State to make the Big Sky post-season tournament. But if the Bengals do make it, there's no question that Grohs will be a key contributor.

Heading into Saturday's game, Grohs was ranked No. 1 in the Big Sky in three-point shooting and blocked shots, and would have ranked No. 1 in free throw shooting if she'd had enough attempts to qualify. She leads Idaho State in both scoring and rebounding. No matter where the Bengals finish in the Big Sky playoff race, Grohs' production deserves first-team all-conference recognition.

What Is Proper Message Board Etiquette?

I have been reading the debate on the Bengal message board involving my partner in this blog, ISU SID Frank Mercogliano, over proper message board etiquette. Frank took exception to a post noting that Bengal leading scorer Amorrow Morgan would not play in Saturday night's game at Northern Colorado because of a family emergency. (And let me say that my family's thoughts and prayers are with Amorrow and his family).

The debate then continued into whether athletic department employees, including coaches, administrators and SIDS, should be posting on messages boards, or reading and reacting to posts on those boards. There were are lot of differing opinions offered on the topic, and I'm not going to jump into the debate here.

What I would note is that the evoluation of cyber space has created a new set of communciations challenges for a whole range of "establishment" organizations like academia, business, government --and athletic departments. When I started in the newspaper business in the late 1970s, there were a few outlets where people could go for news and comment about these "establishment" organizations. The organizations only had to monitor those few news outlets -- the local newspaper, three or four television stations, and a few local radio stations, and know what was being said about them.

If they disagreed with what was being reported or with the commentary about their organization, they could call the reporter or editor and complain, or write a letter to the editor. In extreme instances, they could simply refuse to cooperate with a specific reporter or news organization in the future.

With the rise of the Internet, however, there are message boards and blogs, and the ability to post commentary on traditional news stories posted on the web sites of more traditional media like newspapers and television stations. For the most part, posters can say just about anything they want, with no standard of accuracy or fairness, and they can do so anonymously. Organizations like athletic departments have to decide if they are going to allow ongoing public comment on their operations without any accountability.

Because I'm in the communications business, I've taken several seminars on the so-called "new media," and I can tell you, business is not sitting back and allowing cyber space to control how they are being perceived. Southwest Airlines, for example, has full-time employees who do nothing but monitor the web for references to their company in blogs and on message boards, and then respond to comment they feel is inaccurate or needs some sort of a response.

I recently took a seminar from a gentleman who writes a travel blog. After a particularly disagreeable experience with a rental car agency that left him standing out in the rain at an airport for an extended period of time, he wrote a blistering review of the company's customer service practices on his blog. The very same day, he was contacted by a secretary who works for the company who asked him if she could provide him with vouchers for a free rental in the future. He was duly impressed.

I know there is an ongoing debate within athletic departments about whether they should monitor message boards and blogs, and if so, who should do it, and how they should respond to criticism, rumors and suggestions. I don't think anybody has developed the "perfect" philosophy, but I would suggest that in this day and age, athletic departments ignore cyber space at their own peril. And I think it's incredibly naive of message board posters to think that coaches, athletes, administrators and their families don't pay attention to what is posted, or that they shouldn't react to it.

Finally, I would suggest posters at least consider the Mark Schlereth policy of cyber posting. The former Denver Bronco and current ESPN analyst says he gets a ton of email and comments on his web postings, and he asks the posters to apply this approach to their posts -- if you wouldn't say it to my face, don't post it anonymously and ask me to take it seriously. I must say, I've done my fare share of anonymous posting over the years, and some of it would not fit Schlereth's standard. But in the future, I will try to live up to that standard. I think it would help contribute to a more civil and intelligent cyber universe. That doesn't mean people should censor their criticisms of coaches, players or administrators -- but offer that criticism in a civil and thoughtful fashion. And take accountability for it -- don't be surprised if a coach or athlete takes exception to your thoughts, even if you think they are "anonymous."
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

--Brad B.

And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.


BlackfootBengal said...

Brad! I have never hid behind my message board handle. The coaches know who I am as well as some players and most of the people who frequent the board. I guess that probly means that if asked I would have told them to their face.

idaho said...

I know you haven't, Blackfoot, and I respect your openness. I would say I'm not surprised that the coaches sometimes take exception what you write. (As they sometimes take exception to my commentary). But when you offer opinion, you have to be prepared to accept counter opinion.

--Brad b

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