Ah, gotta love college journalism.
Student journalists tend to get looked down upon by the general public because of their relative lack of experience. But a lot of times they can break stories that slip by the mainstream media because of their special relationship with the people they're covering. They are, after all, peers.
Such was the case Monday when The Daily Evergreen, the student newspaper at Washington State University, caught up with Ivory Clark.
At some point this year, Clark and coach Tony Bennett started to fail to see eye to eye, and Clark's minutes became erratic. Never was that more evident than in the NCAA Tournament, when Clark was the player of the game against Oral Roberts but registered only 15 minutes in the double overtime loss to Vanderbilt.
Now Clark is lashing out.
Among the highlights from his rambling diatribe to Daily Evergreen reporter Brandon Scheller:
- On not playing at all in overtime against Vandy: "I mean, even if we wouldn’t have won, me being a senior on the court, I was going to give it everything I had. It was overtime, you know? Any possession could be your last. I was just gonna give it everything I had. And I felt like some of the guys on the floor weren’t giving it everything. Maybe it was because they were tired playing 50 minutes."
- On playing sparingly on Senior Night: "I definitely thought after [the Oral Roberts game] I’d be in there at crunch time. But you know, I mean, it didn’t surprise me at all after playing only seven minutes on senior night. Nothing would surprise me after that. ... I felt very humiliated that night. My mom saved up for months to come see me on Senior Night, so to only play seven minutes was really humiliating."
- On how he views Bennett now: "I’m still kind of bitter, I guess, about the whole situation. I don’t want to say too much into it, you know? People think very highly of Tony, but I think I was really done bad this year. ... All that coach of the year stuff, I don’t endorse that."
It seems it's already too late for that, and it's a shame because this was such a special season for everyone involved. I can understand the frustration of wanting to be able to give everything you've got in your final college game, but there also has to be an element of humility. These are the things that need to be talked about behind closed doors, that need to be resolved between men.
All you need to do is look at the entirety of Bennett's reaction in the story to know that in no way did that happen. And that's a shame. Clark played a huge role in the season; with every fit he throws over the way he was treated this year, it becomes harder and harder to remember the game-changing blocks, steals and dunks.
Instead, fans will remember Clark as a sour-grapes individual who readily threw his team and coach under the bus -- seriously, how can anyone make the case that players didn't play hard in overtime? -- only a week after being ousted from the Tournament. Worse yet, this sort of thing does absolutely nothing for a guy whose best shot at making an NBA roster includes proving that he's a humble workhorse.
Kudos to Scheller for putting himself in position to get the big story. He proved that sometimes all you need to do is make a phone call, sit down, turn on the recorder and shut up. Other student journalists would do well to learn from Scheller that it's not cheating to use the special relationships you build with student athletes to beat your professional peers.