For the second episode of season three of Down the Drive’s offseason interview series, I had a discussion with Spencer Tuckerman, the founder and chief architect of OhVarsity!, another fantastic Cincinnati Bearcats athletics blog. In a wide-ranging discussion, Spencer and I talk about his research process, the state of the men’s basketball program and the difficulties of watching basketball at US Bank Arena.
Clayton Trutor (CT): What aspect of Oh Varsity! are you the most proud of?
Spencer Tuckerman (ST): This was the hardest question. There’s a lot I’m proud of, but if I had to pinpoint one thing, it would be the fact that I made it myself. I sometimes have to pinch myself that I get to stand on the sidelines at the same football games I watched from the student section for years. Ryan Koslen has been really good to us in that regard. It’s super cool that I get to “work” at games for a “media outlet” that I invented. I love UC a lot. I have season tickets I don’t sit in. Creating an avenue to cover games from field level is a dream come true.
CT: Which Bearcats sport is your favorite to cover?
ST: They have their pros and cons. Football is great because I love standing on the sidelines, hot or cold. There’s a great community of people that cover UC and getting to see all those people while watching the game from the field is the best. I just wish it could happen more than six times per year. For basketball, I just use my season tickets for weekend games (I live in Columbus) and watch on TV during the week. I don’t really cover them in an official capacity in that sense, although Emily Witt and Matt Allaire take photos when there’s room for them, thanks to Andre Foushee and the basketball folks. Basketball is great because there are so many games and so many storylines and it’s nice to watch and write about the team in the middle of the week to break up my normal work routine.
CT: Looking around at the various Bearcats blogs, which Cincinnati athletics team strikes you as not getting enough coverage?
ST: Truthfully, all of them. UC has a fantastic athletic department. I say it a lot, but it bears repeating: Mike Bohn has done a great job. If I had to pinpoint a few teams that aren’t covered enough, it would probably be volleyball and women’s basketball. Whenever I see them succeeding, I feel guilty I’m not doing more. It’s hard with my schedule. Those girls work really hard and they deserve a lot of the attention that naturally gets directed to football and men’s hoops. One of the best women’s volleyball players in the country plays at UC and not enough people are appreciating it. An incredible swimmer, Jackie Kiere, came through Clifton and many people missed her, too. I suppose the same could be said for Ian Happ as well.
CT: What are your thoughts on the women’s basketball team’s performance thus far this season?
ST: Women’s basketball is fun to watch this year. IImar’I Thomas is the real deal, Sam Rodgers is a great local kid, and they have some good guards. Part of what made recent seasons so frustrating for me is that I think there’s a market for more Bearcat basketball. If those girls can keep playing like they are now, I think people will follow, and UC can become the league’s best women’s basketball program behind UConn. The new arena is great and the team is fun. If you live near campus, get to The Shoe and watch those girls play. I think it’s only a matter of time before they’re back in the tournament.
CT: Oh Varsity! does a fantastic job covering the history of Bearcats athletics. What is your approach to researching and writing about the past?
ST: It’s not nearly as scientific as it should be. I write about history because I enjoy it and because UC has a fantastic legacy in so many areas. All of my coverage just comes from whatever I find interesting enough to motivate me into writing, and there’s plenty. I actually have a list of topics to get to eventually. I keep telling myself I’m going to spend summers knocking things off the list, but there are a lot of things fighting for my time and I end up just spending three weeks writing about Old McMicken Hall. As far as resources go, fortunately UC Libraries does a good job of making things accessible. Beyond that, it’s just a lot of Newspapers.com and books I’ve bought.
CT: Describe the worst seats you’ve ever had at a sporting event.
ST: US Bank Arena is a terrible place to watch a basketball game. When the Shootout was moved there in the wake of the brawl, it was the worst. I was a student, and the student sections were placed on the floor of the arena behind each baseline. The place is designed for hockey, so we were in the 80-foot gulf between the front row of the stadium seating and the court itself. In 2012, I was probably 10 or 15 rows from the court, on the same plane as every other student. I couldn’t see anything, so I ended up watching most of the game on their archaic jumbotron. Not a great environment at all.
CT: Describe your greatest sports video game victory of all time.
ST: I’m not good at video games. In middle and high school I’d always play against my friend Matt and he would be the one to invent cruel ways to beat me at the last second. Maybe ask him.
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