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Q & A with David Jablonski of The DDN
Q & A with David Jablonski of The DDN
Published by Swampy Meadows
Q & A with David Jablonski of The DDN

BEVERLY HILLS (MI)-- The Flyer Faithful have entered that boring six month Twilight Zone between the last Flyer game and the Red and Blue scrimmage where not much b-ball news (except recruiting) occurs. “FTS” thought it would be a good time to check in with DDN Flyer beat writer David Jablonski to get his impressions of the Elite Eight season and see what he is up to now.

FTS: Give the UD Pride readership a snapshot of your personal background and how you ended up at The DDN.

DJ: I grew up in Mount Orab, Ohio, a one-stoplight town about 36 miles east of Cincinnati. It used to be in the country, at least when I was young. Now they have a fancy Krogers. You could say my life began in Dayton, however. As I've written on our blog, my parents are Alter grads and had their first date on Brown Street and their wedding reception at UD Arena. Anyway, I wrote my first stories for the student paper at OU, then interned with newspapers in Fort Wayne and South Bend and then with Scripps Howard in Washington, D.C., while in college. I worked for two years in Vero Beach, Fla., living about a mile from Dodgertown when the Dodgers still trained there. I wanted to be closer to home, so I took a job in Springfield in 2001. That's where I've been ever since. They cut our staff in half two years ago and moved a bunch of sports writers to other positions. That's how I ended up writing more for the DDN, though I also still try to keep up with stories in Springfield.

FTS: Altho you did not attend UD, you grew up a hoops fan. Tell us a little about that.

DJ: My dad built a full-court basketball court in the backyard. Maybe that's where it starts. Honestly, if you have a full court in your yard, you should be in the NBA, but my dad didn't give me the height. I identify with basketball above all sports because I've played it so much (thousands of games in recent years in pickup games three times a week at Wittenberg). My grandpa Jim Leary took me to UD Arena a few times when I was young, most notably the game in which Chris Mack threw a pass off Wes Coffee's face and also the NCAA tournament game when UTEP upset Kansas. ... My dad was a UC grad. We got season tickets in the glory years of the Huggins era and traveled all over to see the Bearcats (Chicago, Memphis, Chapel Hill, Memphis, Hawaii, you name it). That was good prep for all the travel I did this past season for UD.

FTS: Prior to covering the Flyers for The DDN you were the beat writer for Wright State. How are the two programs similar? Different? Should UD play WSU?

DJ: I covered the Raiders for one year, and it was a fun season. Nobody expected anything, and they got within six minutes of the NCAA tournament. I think both programs in the last two seasons had a lot of likable guys. That made them fun to cover. They were similar in that there were low expectations for both teams, and they surpassed them. Wright State was picked to finish last in the Horizon League in the season I covered them. UD was picked seventh this past season. Both teams have good, young coaches. Both teams have passionate fans. That's fans. Wright State has a good fan base in relation to the rest of the teams in the Horizon and even led the league in attendance when I covered them, but it's hard for anyone to compare to UD, especially a program across town. Should they play? Absolutely. For selfish reasons, that'd be great for the newspaper.

FTS: You certainly picked a great year to start covering UD! Did you see the success that this year’s squad experienced coming?

DJ: I'll admit I didn't expect much after seeing them play the first three games. I'm sure I wasn't the only one. They got lucky to beat IPFW and didn't play especially well against the two Saint Francises. The expectations changed quickly with what they did in Maui. Even so, if they hadn't won seven of nine games in March, everyone would have thought differently of this season. I can't say I saw that run coming. I also didn't predict the iPhone, Facebook or the 2014 Bengals' Super Bowl title...wait, I guess that last one didn't happen.

FTS: At games you are carrying around a digital camera, a video camera and you are also expected to write about the game as well. How the heck do you manage do all that and what are your priorities?

DJ: I'm still a writer first. I have to get the stories done on deadline, usually two right after the game. I've been juggling digital responsibilities for seven years, though. I started shooting video for our website in 2007 and eventually started taking a camera to every game and putting together highlight packages. That was good preparation when they finally gave me a real DSLR camera. My wife, Barbara Perenic, is a photographer (formerly with Springfield and now with The Columbus Dispatch), so she taught me the basics. Mostly, I just learned on the job. I started midway through the Wright State season in 2013 and then shot 70-plus Reds games from the photo wells by the dugouts. You learn fast. Shooting photos gets me closer to the action (especially in baseball) and lets me see things you might miss in the press box. I like to call what I do digital note-taking since I don't have time to take many actual notes.

FTS: What was your favorite game from the NCAA run and why?

DJ: It's got to be the Ohio State game. Best finish. Best storylines. A noon game, which was just great for deadline purposes. No way The DDN comes up with its famous headline if that had been a 7 p.m. game.

FTS: What is your favorite Archie Miller story?

DJ: Archie is all business, so anytime he lets down the wall, so to speak, in front of the media, it's a good thing. One time he joked with Archdeacon and me about going home to watch the sports ticker all day to see his score pop up again and again. I think if you watched Archie at practice in Memphis with his daughter hanging all over him, you know that there is more to Archie than just basketball. I think he does a great job with the media stuff and he's a good quote. I just don't think he likes the attention as much as some coaches.

Note: Speaking of Arch, he just won the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi award as the top sports columnist in the nation for the 2nd time:


FTS: Buffalo chicken wings or Memphis BBQ?

DJ: I'll go with BBQ. Buffalo was OK, but Beale Street wins hands down.

FTS: The last thing you do after a UD game is bang out the game wrap, which is a freebie and not behind The DDN paywall. Is that a labor of love?

DJ: I did some of those very late at night, so it was definitely a labor of something. You just hope you to spell everything write and get your facts right because those aren't being edited. (Note: I see what you did there, Dvaid!) I'm not sure if our loyal commenters ever forgave Archie for never playing zone or if they conceded that maybe he knew what he was doing in the end.

FTS: Now you are busy covering the Reds. How is that going?

DJ: Let's just say I don't think the Reds have any shot of getting within 40 minutes of the Final Four. I thought this team missed its window in the last three years and is now on the decline. I still think it could fight for a wild card spot, but Saint Louis has already proven this season what it proved again and again last year. It's just a lot better than the Reds. I'll cover about two of every three home games this season. Jay Morrison, who covers the Bengals and now Wright State for us, is helping out. It's a long day anytime you cover the Reds because you have to be there around 3 pm for a 7:10 game, but it's fun hanging out with all the veteran writers like Hal McCoy.

Note: In case you missed it, DDN HOF writer McCoy and Reds HOF player Joe Morgan finally broke their silence after 35 years of not talking to each other:


FTS: Will the Flyers be an NCAA team again next year?

DJ: I do think they'll make the tournament again (Elite Eight? Probaby not). Sibert and Pierre is a good one-two punch. The freshmen will get better. They need the big men to improve. They have the potential to finish in the top three in the A-10, but as this season showed, who knows what's going to happen.

Thanks for your time David and for the outstanding job you did covering the Red and Blue this year!

That’s it “From the Swamp.”
You can email me at: swampy@udpride.com
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