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Entries from blogs tagged with “decade”

Little moments before the big moments

Nice action pictures are created by a skillful combination of hand-eye coordination, excellent timing, anticipation and concentration. Interesting photos from press conference days are made from a concerted effort to be where other media members are not. It's a rarity to be the only media outlet around to witness a funny moment or a show of personality by a Kansas player. Plain and simple, the higher profile the basketball program, the greater the saturation of media will be to compete with on such days. And it does get competitive because no photographer or reporter wants to get stuck with the same vanilla images or quotes that everybody else has.

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The first of two spreads from a practice and interview day during the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans features all 6-foot-10, 237 pounds of Thomas Robinson — splayed out on the floor in front of his locker — giggling like a schoolgirl on the phone a day before the championship game. As a sigh of relief, players typically loosen up a bit, often retreating to their phones once most of the writers and TV journalists have left the locker room following an interview. Sticking around the locker room a little bit longer has proven to be rewarding. I've found I'm much more likely to come across a lighthearted moment such as this when a guy like Robinson can breathe and be himself rather than when there are 10 TV cameras in the room behind me.

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Part of the next spread came about in a contentious sort of situation with another wire service photographer and me. Bill Self was scheduled to appear in a CBS interview with Kentucky head coach John Calipari at a location clear across the Superdome from where the rest of the interviews were scheduled. I knew the taping was closed off to other media beyond the CBS crew, an Associated Press pool photographer and a Reuters pool photographer. I wandered over anyway hoping to catch the two yucking it up outside or in the hallway. When I approached the interview room, I ducked in thinking my presence would do no harm and was greeted with some unfriendly words from one wire service photographer. We exchanged more words just before Self materialized next to Calipari and then all the griping stopped. The two coaches laughed a bit as they got some makeup and it made a nice exchange.

Adjacent to this image on the next page is what might be, in my opinion, one of the best shots made of a player being escorted by golf cart to an interview. Trust me, I've shot a lot. The concourses around these 70,000-seat stadium are ridiculously dark and in this case, Mike Yoder made a really nice image of Tyshawn Taylor's face illuminated while texting on his phone. I've always like how dramatic of a look this image by Mike has, especially considering that the main light source is the glow of an iPhone.

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This final spread features a dominant image from this last season's Big 12 Media Day at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. Coaches and players were shuffling through the hallways from one interview to the next. I noticed as Self sat down next to West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins, the two started laughing and joking around. Down the row, Oklahoma State players Le'Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart and head coach Travis Ford paid them no attention at all. After noticing the various personalities at play, sports editor Tom Keegan said this image reminded him of a bunch of kids lined up outside the principal's office.

"Jayhawk Decade" can be ordered online at ljworldstore.com or by calling 800-578-8748 or 843-1000. Copies also can be purchased at the Lawrence Journal-World, 645 New Hampshire. Retail locations in Lawrence include Hy-Vee stores, KU Bookstore locations, Allen Fieldhouse Store, Kansas Sampler, Jayhawk Bookstore, Framewoods Gallery, Lawrence Memorial Hospital Gift Shop, and Weaver's.

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The final Border War game

After most basketball and football games I'm usually racing to get my images sent back to the paper and up on KUSports.com. Rarely do I get much opportunity to really talk about my images after the fact because it's usually just on to the next thing. With this in mind, I figure what better time than now, after we just released a book on 10 years' worth of our best images, to start the discussion.

Over the next few weeks or so, I'll be releasing various spreads from "Jayhawk Decade" and talking about my work, the work of my fellow staffers and giving some anecdotes about what was going on when some of the images were made.

In the interest of coming out strong, let's start it off with some spreads on the final game of the Border War at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 25, 2012.

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In the picture farthest to the right of this spread is a KU student, whom I believe that every photographer in the building shot a picture of on this day, but none so nice as the one Mike Yoder got of him leering at Ricardo Ratliffe while the Missouri forward shot a pair of free throws. I love the image for the menacingly intense look on his face. However, I also like thinking about how many hours were spent camping at Allen Fieldhouse and the commitment that he and each and every one of the students around him had to put forth to get front-row seats behind the bucket for the biggest home game of their college careers. The stories they will tell.

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On the next page, the dominant image features Thomas Robinson's "Block heard 'round the world." Staffer Richard Gwin got every bit of the overpowering presence of Robinson in this one, with the ball sailing away from Phil Pressey, all before a backdrop of students, who from what I can tell are mostly a split-second away from realizing that KU just forced overtime.

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The next spread shows all eyes following the ball as senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor hoists a three-pointer 20 seconds into overtime to give the Jayhawks the lead. While shooting a game, I'll often try to find reasons to shy away from super tight action shots. Allen Fieldhouse and the fans always give me an easy excuse to put down the big heavy lens in favor of something looser that can involve some environment. Because what is KU basketball without its environment? I'd argue that the Jayhawks wouldn't have come back from 19 down against their biggest rival in any other place — and what a place it is.

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If I had to describe Bill Self's demeanor immediately following the '08 championship, I might say he was overwhelmed, emotional, gracious and triumphant. Asked the same question about what he was like after the final game of the Border War, I would say he was absolutely jacked about that win. In the chaos after the final buzzer, people were everywhere — players chest-bumping, screaming, hugging, throwing their jerseys. While wading through the celebration, I stumbled onto Self, who looked to be in a state of adrenaline-induced euphoria, throwing his arms up and roaring at the crowd in celebration.

Mike Yoder's image appropriately ends the Border War portion of the book, as it shows ecstatic fans hanging over the scoreboard, no time on the clock and an 87-86 overtime win by Kansas against Missouri.

"Jayhawk Decade" can be ordered online at ljworldstore.com or by calling 800-578-8748 or 843-1000. Copies also can be purchased at the Lawrence Journal-World, 645 New Hampshire. Retail locations in Lawrence include Hy-Vee stores, KU Bookstore locations, Allen Fieldhouse Store, Kansas Sampler, Jayhawk Bookstore, Framewoods Gallery, Lawrence Memorial Hospital Gift Shop, and Weaver's.

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