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Quotes from The City Game
Written December 12, 2005

 

The "City Game" is the city of Pittsburgh's annual basketball showdown between two local universities with a long tradition.

• Duquesne University was once a national power but now struggles near the bottom of the Atlantic 10.

• The University of Pittsburgh is a contender each season for the conference title in the Big East.

For their December non-conference meeting, the two schools draw a lot of press locally, although their programs seem to be going in opposite directions and Pitt is usually heavily favored to win.

FSN Pittsburgh televised the 74th edition of the City Game on December 7, 2005, from Duquesne's A.J. Palumbo Center.  Pitt won, but not by the complete blowout that some expected; the final score was 71-60.  I was there.  So were dozens of my TV and radio colleagues.

On the print side, some newspapers assigned two reporters to this game:  one who normally covers the Pitt "beat" and one who normally covers Duquesne.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also sent a columnist.

So the next day in the P-G there were three articles:  a "gamer" by Pitt beat writer Ray Fittipaldo, "notes" by Duquesne beat writer Phil Axelrod, and a column by Gene Collier.  And on page C-8 all three of them quoted the same post-game statement.  They were reporting what Duquesne coach Danny Nee said about Pitt's Carl Krauser.  Last spring Krauser considered turning professional, but he's returned for his senior season with the Panthers.

I noticed that all three quotes agreed in principle, but there were major differences in wording and order.

Fittipaldo's version:  "He looked like a man among boys.  Carl Krauser is the real deal.  He's hard to guard.  He attacks the basket.  He's just a warrior.  I really wish he went to the pros.  That would have made my job a lot easier."

Axelrod's version:  "Krauser makes everybody on his team better.  He's the real deal.  He's relentless on getting to the rim.  He looked like a man playing with boys at times."

Collier's version:  "He's the real deal.  He makes everybody on the floor better.  He was awfully good today.  I wish he'd gone to the NBA.  He could help the [New York] Knicks, or somebody."

I decided to dig a little deeper, and I found even more variations from other reporters, such as Dave Mackall of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Eric Hall of the Beaver County Times, and Stephen Flinn of the Uniontown Herald-Standard.

Mackall's version:  "Carl Krauser is the real deal.  He's tough to guard and makes everyone else on the floor better.  He's just relentless on getting to the rim."

Hall's version:  "I really wish he went to the pros.  He could help the Knicks or somebody.  It would make my life a hell of a lot easier.  He's like a man playing with boys."

Flinn's version:  "Krauser is the real deal, he causes mismatches, he plays with tremendous heart.  I wish he would have went to the pros, he looked like a man playing with boys sometimes.  He makes all the other players better, he's relentless to getting to the rim, and he's a warrior, who just keeps attacking, so I don't know what the NBA was thinking about, but I felt he could have helped the Knicks this year."

Now perhaps each of these six reporters talked individually with Nee, who expressed the same thoughts in a slightly different way each time.

But with that many media on hand, I'm sure that the reporters gathered as a group to hear what Nee had to say.  The assembled scribes each scribbled notes.  Afterwards, each came up with a different set of reconstructions and paraphrases.

(We probably wouldn't want to read a perfectly accurate transcript anyway.  It would contain clutter like "you know" and "uh" and "I mean."  And it would contain comments that might be taken the wrong way, like "a man playing with boys."  Fittipaldo used his sportswriter's license to change this to "a man among boys.")

Here are some more examples from the same game, including stories written by an unnamed reporter for the Associated Press (AP) and by the Tribune-Review's John Grupp.

 

Nee on his team's field goal shooting

AP version:  "I think it boils down to we have to shoot the ball better.  If we want to be competitive and have a chance to win, you can't shoot [28] percent in the first half."

Grupp's version:  "We've got to shoot better if we're going to be competitive or have a chance to win.  We had a lot of makeable shots and Pitt's defense a lot of times got us to hurry and take some poor shots."

Fittipaldo's version:  "We have to shoot the ball better to be competitive.  We had some shots that were makeable."

Axelrod's version:  "Some shots my players had were makable."

Nee on Pitt's Aaron Gray (17 rebounds)

Mackall's version:  "Mr. Gray really has improved.  He's really a work in progress.  The coaches have done a good job with him.  He's slimmed down.  Everybody is going to have trouble with him."

Fittipaldo's version:  "Gray is much improved.  He's very good.  He is going to be a force.  Everyone is going to have trouble with that size."

Hall's version:  "We couldn't do anything with him.  We have trouble with that kind of size."

Pitt's Krauser on Gray

Axelrod's version:  "We wanted to get the ball to Gray down low.  We wanted the inside presence, and feed off him."

Fittipaldo's version:  "We wanted to get the ball inside to Aaron.  He's doing a great job.  We just wanted that inside presence and to feed off him."

 Gray on energy

Fittipaldo's version:  "We knew we had to raise our energy level.  We were flat at times in the first half.  They were staying close longer than we wanted them to.  Carl fired us up, and our team defense got a lot better."

Grupp's version:  "We came out and started to play with a lot more energy."

AP version:  "We knew we had to raise our energy level.  We came out a little slow and allowed them to stay with us longer than we wanted them to."

Axelrod's version:  "We let them stay with us a little longer than we wanted."

Duquesne senior Bryant McAllister

Hall's version:  "We matched the intensity, but we couldn't match their experience.  They were a little mentally tougher than some of our young guys."

Grupp's version:  "I think we matched their intensity.  It's just some of the experience that their guys have, and they were a little bit more mentally tougher than some of the young guys we've got."

Axelrod's version:  "They were a little bit mentally tougher than some of our young guys we've got."

Collier's version:  "We played hard, but they're just mentally tougher."

McAllister on failing to score

AP version:  "I think a lot of our problem is, guys are playing with a lot of effort and passion, but we go on these scoring droughts."

Collier's version:  "A lot of our problem, even though we play with a lot of effort and passion, is that we go into these scoring droughts.  We call these plays and then we start to run them, and somebody forgets the play.  We've got to be a lot more mentally tough."

Axelrod's version:  "We go on scoring droughts.  We would call out a play.  Somebody forgets the play, and then we scramble and come up with a forced shot."

Grupp's version:  "We kept going on scoring droughts.  We'd call the play out and somebody would forget the play.  Our offense would break down and now we've got to scramble.  It kind of forces us into a bad shot.  A lot of it is that mentally we have to be tougher in running our sets and do it correctly so we get the shot that we want."

Winning coach Jamie Dixon

Mackall's version:  "You're not going to blow guys out in this place.  It's just not going to happen."

Axelrod's version:  "A game like this brings out the best in both teams.   . . . You're not going to blow out a team in a game like this."

Collier's version:  "There was more to this than a normal game.  This game brings out the best in both teams."

 

Conclusion?  Although reporters are good at conveying what their sources intended to say, the words that appear in print aren't necessarily word-for-word what was actually said.  Caveat lector.

 

TBT

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