Making room for media in the Dog House
What an increase in publicity means to the Bulldogs
With the 2016-2017 boys basketball season underway, the 2016 defending state champion NA Bulldogs are preparing for a much-anticipated season. By picking up games against top-ranked teams in the state/nation such as North Central (#3 in IHSAA 4A) and LaPorte’s La Lumiere on December 15 (#1 in USA Today’s Super 25 rankings), the Bulldogs are hoping to prepare themselves for back-to-back state championship titles.
“Those teams are top teams in the state and in the nation,” senior starting guard Isaac Hibbard said. “It just shows how we are compared to top-ranked teams. Since they’re neutral court games, they help to prepare us for tournament games. No one has the home court advantage, but our fans travel well, so I’d say we always have the home court advantage.”
Not only is the 2016 championship team’s success bringing in high demand for ticket sales, but there has also been a major increase in media coverage for the Bulldogs. The Geico High School Showcase featuring Sierra Canyon vs. Oak Hill and New Albany vs. La Lumiere will be featured on ESPN December 15, which is a big step into the spotlight for NA.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to play on TV, especially on a station like ESPN,” junior guard Sean East said.
“It’s great because it really makes our games bigger,” Hibbard said. “A lot of fans come out and it brings a lot of hype for our team and to our city.”
New Albany will also be making an appearance in the 2016 City Securities Hall of Fame Classic, which will be televised on local Central Indiana stations December 30.
“Playing big teams like the teams in the Hall of Fame tournament means a lot to us because a lot of fans come out to those big games,” standout junior Romeo Langford said. “Games like that are good because they prepare us for tournament games and games against good contenders like the more popular northern teams.”
The Bulldogs are no strangers to dealing with the media, especially Langford, who is ranked #2 in the class of 2018, according to the ESPN 60.
“I used to not like it, but now I’m cool with it,” Langford said. “If it’s someone I’ve talked to before, I’m a lot more comfortable.”
“I’m comfortable with it, I’ve been around it since freshman year,” Hibbard said.
As for the rest of the upcoming season, the publicity has been motivational for the Bulldogs.
“Everyone is going to give us our best shot. The expectations are higher,” East said. “We have to come out and play every game. Everyone’s going to be looking for us on their schedules.”
The pressure has accumulated for the defending state champions to capture back-to-back titles and make a statement about New Albany Basketball.
“Since we won state last year, there’s a lot more pressure to get to that stage again, so every day in practice that’s what we work for,” Langford said.
The Bulldogs opened their season on Saturday with a 61-38 win over #6 Bloomington South in front of a sellout crowd.
The team’s next game will take place on Saturday December 3 at Evansville Harrison, and The Bulldogs are predicted to win by a score of 67-51 (John Harrell).