Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, May 27, 2020

A basketball newsroom comes to The IX, and why that matters — Interview with Carolyn Swords — Must-click women's basketball links

Introducing The Next

I wanted you to be the first to know: 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage is coming to The IX.

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The Next will launch June 1, and it represents an expansion here at The IX unlike any we’ve ever attempted before. We’re getting ambitious, we’re bringing in an all-star crew of basketball media talent, and we’re going to need some help to make it succeed.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the best ways to create what I think of, and often speak of, as the infrastructure of coverage. To build up the necessary audience, it is vital to be someplace where the work is consistent, excellent, and reflects the interests and needs of those who follow it.

At High Post Hoops, we did that for more than three years, and our audience tripled from year one to year two, then AGAIN in year three.

But ultimately, leadership changes anywhere can derail even the best success stories. Even inadvertent changes can alter a publication’s ability to function within a larger company. I am grateful for the support we’ve had at FanSided over the years. But I am protective of the coverage we’ve built, and want to be sure it continues for many years to come.

When other priorities take hold, as just happened at several outlets, vital work can disappear overnight. When advertising is the center of the revenue model, the work is at risk, too.

So while the group that I’ve been working with is covering women’s basketball like never before, a young, diverse pipeline that’s both altered the way the industry covers the sport, and changed the makeup of those doing it, I want to be sure the relationship all of us have built with you, the readers, is preserved and built on.

Accordingly, the grant provided to us by Substack will backstop the revenue the writers have been receiving in the first month. After that? We need you to step up: $9 a month, $72 a year, or a founding membership of $197.20 for those of you who can afford it. A few hundred of you can make this a reality, a permanent part of the media landscape. That’s all it will take.

You need to know two things about The Next, which will operate on a subscription-only revenue model, with 99 percent of the work appearing free to all.

  1. Every dollar of our net revenue will go to the writers, editors and photographers covering women’s basketball every single day

  2. We will never stray from our twin methods of covering the women’s game with the fierce, independent intensity you expect while explicitly embracing diversity of talent

The simplest way to think about this: we’re going to cover the game as we always have, and we are beholden to you and you alone.

For those of you who already subscribe to The IX, just know, your subscription doesn’t change. You still get original reporting and analysis, interviews and must-click links across all five women’s sports every single weekday. We’re overjoyed to have you.

And a special offer, for being at the core of what we’re building: if you believe in this coverage, and you’re already a paid subscriber to The IX, when you subscribe to The Next, we’ll extend your subscription to The IX by three months. Just email us at once you’ve signed up and we’ll make that addition for you.

We can’t wait to continue to provide you with a full newsroom about women’s basketball every single day.

And we’re even more excited to directly connect it to what you already experience every single day: the work being done across five different women’s sports, connecting and expanding the women’s sports network universe. We lift everyone, because more is more.

And with The Next, we’re making sure that more is here to stay.

This week in women’s basketball

Get to know your Shekinna Stricklen history.

Natasha Cloud and Aleshia Ocasio, sports power couple, are making the best of quarantine.

Stef Dolson shares her COVID-19 experience.

Strong Myles Ehrlich piece on Satou Sabally’s fit in Dallas.

Alexa Philippou caught up with Kelly Raimon, New York Liberty assistant coach with a long Connecticut past.

Adia Barnes’ family has been through it with COVID-19.

Carly Thibault-DuDonis, who is GOING PLACES, spoke to Jared Hines.

The Athletic’s Hannah Withiam, Danielle Lerner, Charlotte Carroll and Zac Boyer put together their top 25 NCAA women’s all-time list.

This podcast on the Houston Comets is just great.

Mitch Northam is must-read as usual on the ACC.

Sue Favor spoke to Terri Jackson about a potential WNBA season.

The great Jeff Jasper remembers his first team.

Doug Feinberg gets inside the difficult decisions made by WNBA teams on rosters.

Jack Maloney looks at how WNBA players plan to adapt for a no-fans scenario.

Madeline Kenney breaks down Chicago’s final roster.

Kent Youngblood does the same for the Lynx.

Sarah Spain catches up with Layshia Clarendon.

Good stuff from Ben Dull on Dijonai Carrington.

HerHoopStats’ latest podcast featured Ryan Ruocco.

Tweet of the week

Five at The IX: Carolyn Swords, Las Vegas Aces

I spoke to Carolyn on Tuesday about her brief retirement, work with mascots and much more. You can listen to the full interview here. Some excerpts below.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Carolyn, you have a perspective on things that not a lot of people have, which is to say you’ve experienced retirement for all of three months, and you’ve been on the other side of it. And I guess I want to start there by telling our listeners, what did you learn about retirement?

CAROLYN SWORDS: First of all, I think this has been a very unique time to say the least to have experienced a little bit of retirement. But I was really enjoying my time in the front office and left that I can continue to stay with the Aces and stay connected to basketball. So now that I’ve kind of flipped back to being on the court, and just kind of rearranging my goals a little bit and focusing on on the upcoming season.

HOWARD MEGDAL: I do wonder how hard was that moment to make that decision and then if you could take me through how you go emotionally just to get to that headspace to be able to play once again.

CAROLYN SWORDS: I’ve been playing basketball since I was eight or nine years old. So it’s very much been a huge part of my life. And, you know, I played at Boston College and has played obviously in the W NBA and then has gone overseas. So it’s been a way for me to really learn and grow and set goals and, you know, explore and it’s been a huge part of my life. And I did an internship with the aces in the, after the 2018 season, really looking at all the different elements of the business operations and, and I was really excited that that was a very enjoyable experience. And so finding that there was still a way to stay connected to basketball, something that I love, and especially at the WNBA, which I think is so important, just in a different way. It just felt like the right time, I think everyone experiences that a little bit differently. And then COVID has obviously shaken things up a little bit. And there was an opportunity to join me again, as a player, and still loves basketball. So, it was something that I was happy to do.

HOWARD MEGDAL: You seem particularly engaged with [basketball on] the business side of it. Is it the path you think you might want to pursue even more than what is often a traditional post-career front office set of roles for players, which is on the player personnel side?

CAROLYN SWORDS: I’ve really enjoyed learning more about the business side. I think as players, especially the longer you stay in the league, and you start to learn other teams and their tendencies and the knowledge that you gained as a player is incredible and it’s really exciting to feel that growth from a young player to then a veteran to be able to recognize and adapt and help other players adjust in real time on the court.

And that’s something that I still love, I still love that element of, of learning solid skills and strategizing as a team. I think the the business side is has been very new but also yet incredibly exciting and seeing there are just different problems to solve. Like how do we engage our fans? What do they need? How do you generate excitement to get people to the game? So it’s been really fun to kind of learn more about a whole new world of basketball, other than what I’ve previously been exposed to.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon  Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.