SEC Basketball Media Days, Part 2

On Thursday, Tipoff '08 continued in Birmingham, Alabama. Coaches and players from both the men's and women's basketball teams flew down from Nashville in time to arrive for the 9 a.m. session at the SEC's annual media days.

If you're a member of the media at media days, you usually are stationed in one location. If you're a talk show host, you have a spot on radio row. If you work for television, a specific meeting room is your assigned studio. You stay in one place, while the coaches and players come to you. If you're a writer for a newspaper or an internet site, you hang out in the main interview room.

But if you're a player or a coach, you're assigned a guide from the SEC office, who escorts you through the maze of hallways in the hotel to your scheduled stops at various media outlets.

For each team, there are four different schedules through the rotation. Men's teams begin their session with both coach and players in the main interview room. Then they start their rounds of the other stations. Women's coaches and players do the television spots first, then finish up in the main interview room.

So Liz Sherwood, Jen Risper, and Shan Foster were able to pose for a photo when they first arrived. But immediately afterwards, they went their separate ways, Shan to the main interview room and Liz and Jen to the TV studios.

The TV studios are improvised from meeting rooms in the hotel. CSTV was the first stop for Jen and Liz. The routine quickly became familiar. You enter a dark room with studio lighting, get your microphone, and take your place on the hot seat to answer questions.

Next stop is "TV1", a room that looks like it's ready for a press conference. TV cameras from various TV stations and websites (including Vanderbilt's official website, are pointed at the familiar SEC backdrop. One at a time, the players take their place at the table to answer questions.

After that, the players go to the the FSN studio. It's another dark room with another hot seat. In the past, players have often been asked a lot of "fun" questions about pregame rituals, tattoos, what songs are on their iPods. This year most of the questions focused strictly on basketball.

Then there's a walk down the hall to another dark room, another hot seat, but with a different background and different questions for SEC-TV. One line of questioning is post play in the SEC. Liz talked about the difficulty of playing against under-sized post players – "They're crazy," she said. "They're feisty; they have to be."

On the "fun" side, they were asked about shopping. Liz commented that skirts are easier because it doesn't matter how long they are, "but I don't know whether my mother would agree with that!"

After finishing the circuit of TV studios, Liz and Jen go to the main media room for interviews with writers from newspapers and the internet.

Like everybody else who gets a few free minutes, Jen and Liz spend some time looking through the new media guides, which are hot off the press. One of the new features added to the players' bio pages is "Postcards from Spain", with a photo from the team's trip to Spain and a note from the player.

By this time, Coach Melanie Balcomb had also taken her place at a table in the main interview room.

The representatives from the women's team – Jen Risper, Coach Balcomb, and Liz Sherwood – are back together in the media room while Coach Kevin Stallings and Shan Foster from the men's team are making their rounds of the TV studios.

After the newspaper interviews are finished, there's one last stop next to the logo commemorating the 75th anniversary of the SEC. Each of the players and the coach answer a few questions for while the camera is rolling.

By 11 a.m., it's over. Everybody picks up a box lunch, then heads back to the airport for the flight back to home in plenty of time for afternoon practices and business as usual.

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Photos copyright 2007 by Whitney D For Top Stories