Monday, April 17, 2017

Eight years in the books, and yet we've only just begun

This site's eighth season saw 106 games in four different states, most notably a January pilgrimage to the cathedral of college basketball, The Palestra. (Photo by Jaden Daly/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

This is a post I put together routinely every year, as a show of thanks and gratitude to those who help make this site what it is. And every year, I visit the site on April 17 and walk away mesmerized, in awe of the life it has taken on since its conception, infancy; and now, its maturation.

On this date eight years ago, inside the WSJU Radio office that is about the size of a standard bedroom, a contingency plan to protect against a broadcast flameout was born. In the event that my on-air work could not spawn a career of its own, I could still make my way in the industry as a writer, I thought at the time. Thankfully, my progress behind the microphone was tangible enough to where my life in the booth is still existent, but the side project I initially viewed to be a fallback has since grown into a full-time outlet. And after two reboots within its first year, it became the college basketball source that almost four million of you have relied on, that nearly four thousand of you follow on Twitter for live updates, breaking news, and the far-too-frequent North Carolina ramblings that we will certainly get to before this piece is through.

In 2015-16, I took this site and its accompanying brand to 141 games. Without the aid of three NCAA Tournament venues in close proximity in our recently concluded 2016-17 campaign, the overall game count was going to be smaller, but the sights and the memories remained just as strong. With more pieces in place to expand the rebuild on the corner of Union and Utopia, I reconnected with St. John's, and rediscovered the fun of chronicling my alma mater in the process. Being able to cover postseason runs for Seton Hall, Iona, and Saint Peter's; the Peacocks' CIT championship being the last of the three in a thrilling stretch that gave John Dunne a testimonial for his magician-like ability to squeeze every last drop into a winner, was the icing on the cake of a season where The Palestra was also crossed off the bucket list in mid-January on somewhat of a whim. Special thanks goes out to Marie Wozniak at Saint Joseph's for giving me the opportunity to help tell the story of a Big Five rivalry in a timeless venue.

There is a long list of people I need to thank, and I'll try to get to all of them in short order before the Academy plays me off stage. First, to the sports information directors who not only put up with us, but made it a point to guarantee everyone on staff was treated with the highest regard, I offer my sincere thanks. In no particular order: Kevin Ross, Bobby Mullen, Tom Chen, Steve Dombroski, Brian Morales, Hamilton Cook, Mike Kowalsky, Joe DiBari, Brian Beyrer, Pat McWalters, Jon Stanko, Ryan Uhlich, Gary Kowal, Jack Jones, Marie Wozniak, Mike Demos, Mike Ferraro, Jeremy Kniffin, Derick Thornton, Matt Reitnour, Greg Ott, Maxx McNall, Harrison Baker, Stephen Gorchov, Mex Carey, Larry Torres at Madison Square Garden, Mandy Gutmann at Barclays Center, Ray Cella with Gazelle Group, Brian Morrison at the Atlantic Coast Conference; and finally, John Paquette with the Big East. All of you were excellent in your dealings with me and my staff, and I thank you for that.

Speaking of the staff, your work and its quality spoke for itself. To Jason Guerette, my tag team partner at Seton Hall, I thank you for making sure we have at least two, usually three, pieces of postgame coverage after every Pirate contest with your five thoughts supplementing game stories and Kevin Willard's quotes. To Ray Floriani, what can I say? Your love for this site knows no bounds, and the fact that you've sent along material that encompasses every different facet of the game proves that. I don't know where I would be without your vision and experience. Jon Reyes joined the family this year and quickly became the most adept feature writer we've had with his work covering Wagner and the Northeast Conference. Brandon Scalea produced some great content covering Rider as well, and Norman Rose was an indispensable wing man for our MAAC Tournament bonanza. Not to be outdone, the special contributions we received from the likes of Josh Adams, Matt Lisella, and Joe Pantorno guaranteed there was almost always someone there to chronicle a game in the area. Then, there was Brian Wilmer, who was quick to lend a hand in Greenville to help cover North Carolina in their first steps on the road to what became a national championship that will not soon be forgotten, especially not by yours truly. On that note, anyone interested in joining the staff need only send an e-mail to to inquire about opportunities. We could always use the extra staff members, and although the pay isn't there, the experience and chance to cover Division I college basketball is something that you cannot put a price tag on. If you feel like you would be a vital asset, drop us a line and we'll go from there.

I said I would get to the UNC obsession, and here it is. Those of you who know me well know that the Tar Heels are my first love in this sport, as the 1993 national championship game got me fixated on college hoops. Since then, I have been partial to the residents of Chapel Hill, and writing game recaps and previews on the way to cutting down a net enabled me to channel my fandom into a professional product. With that said, special thanks goes to Roy Williams and his team as well.

To the coaches, I appreciate your patience and time during the year when it can often be taken for granted. To my colleagues in the media, I am forever indebted to each of you, not just for the positive feedback and words of wisdom, but also for the ability to just talk shop and shoot the breeze about the game that always keeps us coming back for more. Finally, I cannot thank you, the readers and fans, enough. Without you, there is no me, there is no site, and each of you are a bigger part of my life than any of you will ever know. Just reading one word of a game recap or seeing a retweet or a like on Twitter or Facebook means the world to me, and your support is what makes this whole endeavor worth while.

They say the challenge of staying on top is maintaining your success. With eight years now under this site's belt, I feel as though this is just the beginning, and that there is more to come; more memories to create, more stories to be told, more celebrations to share. There will never come a day, or at least I feel there will never come a day, where the outpouring of positive words I hear or see with regard to what this site has done and how it has impacted people does not move me to some degree. Staying humble has helped keep the drive alive, and the fire that was started inside an office on April 17, 2009 burns stronger and brighter than it ever has.

In closing, I hope that you enjoy the offseason; where we will still be in touch, as after all, the transfers, reviews, previews and NBA Draft talk will keep us occupied, and until November when our ninth go-round begins, I ask that God simply keep you all in the palm of His hand.

Thank you again, for everything.

No retreat, baby, no surrender.

Jaden Daly
Founder and Managing Editor