Miss Basketball

“These girls play year round. They are quicker, stronger and more physical.”
Janet Haneberg-Diggs, Ohio Miss Basketball 1988

Janet Haneberg-Diggs was Ohio’s first ever Miss Basketball in 1988. After starring at Cincinnati’s Seton High School, Janet was an excellent player at Xavier. Many athletes, both make and female, have gone on to have careers in sports broadcasting. Janet has done that; however, what is unique about her career in sports broadcasting is that she works “behind the scenes.” Most former athletes are “on air” talent. Janet Haneberg-Diggs is a freelance score box operator for Fox Sports Ohio, for Cincinnati Reds games, and for College Basketball games.

In the 28 years since, Janet Haneberg-Diggs was named Ohio’s first ever Miss Basketball, a lot has changed for athletes. There are fewer multi sport athletes. This is true for both males and females. Athletes now usually play one sport, and in many cases, play it year round. There are year round conditioning programs for athletes in all sports and at all levels.

I have been doing the play-by-play on television of the Indiana Girls Hall of Fame tournament since 1990. The caliber of play has improved dramatically over the years. In last year’s Girls Hall of Fame Classic, Jackie Young from Princeton (IN) High School, put on an incredible show. She is one of the best High School Girls players ever to come out of the State of Indiana.

As a freshman for #1 ranked Notre Dame, Jackie is averaging 9 points per game. Yes, Girls High School Basketball has gotten better and better since Janet Haneberg-Diggs was named Ohio’s Miss Basketball in 1988, but let’s also remember that in 1988, there was no WNBA. The WNBA now has been in existence for some 20 years.

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Theo

“What makes a great organization, is 1,000 small sacrifices when nobody’s looking.”
Theo Epstein
Theo Epstein was raised in the Boston suburb of Brookline. While Theo was attending Yale, he interned with the Baltimore Orioles front office. Epstein then worked as the San Diego Padres Director of Player Development before becoming the Boston Red Sox General Manager. In 2002, at age 28, Epstein became the youngest General Manager in Major League Baseball history. Theo Epstein became the Chicago Cubs President of Baseball operations after the 2011 season.
Theo Epstein already has secured his spot in Baseball’s Hall of Fame. He was the architect of breaking two curses! The curse of the Bambino and the curse of the Billy Goat! He was the Red Sox GM when they won the World Championship in 2004 – their first since 1918.
Epstein and his staff were responsible for totally rebuilding the Chicago Cubs. This year the Cubs won their first World Championship since 1908. In addition to being highly intelligent, Theo Epstein delegates authority and is a very good listener. Epstein has succeeded with terrific trades, fine draft picks and impact free agent signings.
Theo Epstein knew he wanted to be a baseball executive when he was in his early teens. Not only does he have three World Championships rings, two with the Red Sox and one with the Cubs, but the Cubs are posed to be a very strong team for years to come!
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Big Papi

“I come to play everyday.”
David Ortiz

David Ortiz recently retired after playing Major League Baseball for 20 years. David Ortiz was a ten-time All-Star who belted 541 home runs. Ortiz helped lead the Boston Red Sox to three World Championships (2004, 2007, 2013) and was the World Series MVP in 2013. Big Papi hit 54 homers in 2006 and led the American League in RBI’s on three occasions.

David Ortiz was at his best when it mattered the most. He led the Red Sox to the greatest Post-Season comeback in sports history. The Red Sox were down three games to none against the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series and Boston came back to win four straight. Ortiz knocked in the winning runs in games four and five to set the stage for that incredible feat.

I have been a baseball broadcaster my entire adult life and can truly appreciate how hard it is to play the game well on a consistent basis. Very few players have the ability to come through in the clutch time and time again. David Ortiz was an incredible player when the chips were down. He smacked 17 home runs in Post Season play. Because of his terrific hitting and friendly personality, Big Papi was both loved and respected by many people. After the Boston Marathon bombings, he endeared himself to so many people by becoming quite vocal in his support for the City of Boston. Ortiz battled injuries early in his career with the Minnesota Twins. He came into his own with Boston and became one of the great players in Red Sox history.

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Vin

“As long as you live, keep smiling because it brightens everybody’s day.”
Vin Scully

Vin Scully has broadcast Dodgers games on radio and television since 1950. Vin was born in The Bronx and grew up in upper Manhattan rooting for the Giants. In addition to broadcasting for the Dodgers, Vin called NFL games and golf for CBS. Scully did the play-by-play for Baseball’s Game of the Week on NBC during the 1980’s. Vin Scully was inducted into the Broadcaster’s Wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

After 67 years of broadcasting Dodgers Baseball, Vin Scully has called his final
game. Vin was hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 and moved with the team to Los Angeles prior to the 1958 season. Why is Vin Scully the absolute best? He is extremely bright and very well prepared. Vin is a great storyteller and a terrific play-by-play announcer who paints an excellent word picture.

Vin Scully also is a very nice man. I spoke with him on several occasions years ago, and he could not have been more pleasant. I listened to a number of his broadcasts this season and think that he still excels at age 88. Listening to Vin can brighten your day and put a smile on your face. When you judge an athlete, you look at how great he is at his best (peak value) and his longevity. As a broadcaster, Vin is second to none in both categories.

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Geno

“With the absence of pressure, it’s hard to do great things.”
Geno Auriemma

Geno Auriemma has been the Head Coach of the University of Connecticut’s Women’s Basketball team for more than 30 years. Auriemma has led the Huskies to a record 11 National Championships. UConn’s .877 winning percentage during Auriemma’s tenure is the highest of any men’s or women’s College Basketball coach. Auriemma has led UConn to nine straight Final Four’s and to six undefeated seasons. Geno Auriemma has led Team USA to two Gold Medals in the Olympics.

UConn was 12-15 Geno Auriemma’s first year at the helm, and that is the only losing season he ever has had at UConn. Auriemma deserves a great deal of credit for all of the success he has had at UConn; he won his first NCAA Championship more than 20 years ago. One of his best players, Rebecca Lobo said, “Geno understands better than most people what makes women tick. “Geno has his barbs. Geno has his insults. He uses the silent treatment. He does many things to keep his players from getting complacent.” I liked what Geno Auriemma said about courage. He stated it is not the absence of fear but being able to battle when you have fear. Unlike some other coaches, Geno Auriemma does not put players on a pedestal. Geno Auriemma presses all types of buttons; he is one fantastic basketball coach who is great at getting his teams to maximize their potential.

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Pat

“Attitude is a choice. Think positive thoughts. Believe in yourself.”
Pat Summitt

Pat Summitt chalked up 1,098 wins during her 38 year tenure as Tennessee’s Women’s head basketball coach. Pat won more games than any other NCAA Division 1 head basketball coach. Her Tennessee teams won eight National Championships, 16 regular season SEC titles and 16 post season SEC tournaments. Pat Summitt won two Olympic medals: as a player in 1976 (Silver) and as a coach 1984 (Gold). Pat Summitt was named NCAA Coach of the Year seven times.

When I think of Pat Summitt here is what comes to mind: incredible determination and endless passion! Pat was so relentless that she led her Tennessee teams to 31 straight NCAA tournament appearances. Pat Summitt set the bar very high and when you think about all her success, I am reminded of a quote from the great author, John Steinbeck, who said, “It is the nature of man (woman) to achieve greatness, if greatness is what is expected of him (her).”

Pat a Summitt was driven to perfection and expected greatness from her players – and much
more often than not, she got it! In fact, Pat Summitt never had a losing season at Tennessee. Pat said that she mellowed as time went on. Her players never liked getting that “icy stare.” Pat Summitt was a mentor and a hero to many of her players. Pat Summitt died much too young (age 64). Her impact never will be forgotten, and her legacy will live on. It is fitting that she is recognized with so many honors and awards including The Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Nate The Great

“Nate Thurmond was one of the fiercest competitors I ever played against.”
Jerry West

Nate Thurmond recently passed away at age 74. Nate Thurmond was a seven-time NBA All-Star. Thurmond was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. Thurmond starred at Bowling Green before entering the NBA. Nate was the San Francisco Warriors first round pick (3rd overall) in the 1963 NBA Draft. Nate Thurmond is one of five players in NBA history to average 15
rebounds a game.

Yes, Nate Thurmond had talent and that alone made him special. What added to Nate Thurmond’s greatness is that when you took that talent and coupled it with a player who was totally unselfish
you really had something special! Nate Thurmond was all about winning! When he first joined the Warriors Wilt Chamberlain was their center. The two led the Warriors to the NBA Finals. The following year Wilt was traded and that allowed Nate to flourish at the center position. When you look at Nate Thurmond’s overall game you saw his scoring, rebounding, and shot blocking. Let’s also remember that he was an excellent passer. In fact, Nate was the first player in NBA history to score a quadruple double in a game!

Thurmond was teammate of Gus Johnson’s at Akron Central Hower High School. They are the two players from the 1963 NBA Draft who have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Nate Thurmond returned home at the end of his career and helped lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Eastern Conference Finals. Nate Thurmond was a classy individual both on and off the court. Teamwork is the essence of life and Nate Thurmond’s game was all about teamwork. I always will remember the great impact he had on the game of basketball.

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