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The Tipoff: A pandemic navigated, a mentorship program launched

Seth Davis: When Joe Mitch asked me four years ago if I would join the leadership pipeline at the USBWA, I was honored and thrilled.

The Tipoff, The joy of delivering good news in tough times

For career writers like us, choosing our favorite story is like choosing our favorite child. But I'll always have a spe­cial place in my heart for a story I wrote for the Jan. 9, 2015 issue of Sports Illustrated. It was a lengthy profile of former Washington State, Iowa and USC coach George Raveling that centered around his remarkable role in witnessing history. Raveling was an assistant coach at Villanova, his alma mater, when he stood a few feet away as Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963. When the speech was over, Raveling asked Dr. King to hand him the papers that sat on the podium. Raveling still has those three sheets of paper, framed and stored in a bank vault in California. They're worth millions of dollars, but Raveling refuses to sell them.

The Tipoff, Priorities: Mentorship, women's game, staying safe

It has been a cold spring, an interminable summer and an agonizing fall, but one way or another it looks like we are going to have a college basketball season in 2020-21.

The Tipoff, Unusual Times Could Lead to Positive Change

To understate the obvious, this is an unusual time to become the new president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

The Tipoff, Final words from a transitional presidency

Being the president of the USBWA is a lot like being a parent. The days go by slow, but the year goes by fast.

The Tipoff, Reaching Out to NABJ, AWSM and Beyond

On Page 7 of the USBWA directory is a short statement about the organization's history, its functions and its goals.

The Tipoff, Open Locker Rooms are Good for Coaching Legends

Coaching is very often a copycat business.

The Tipoff, Taking the wheel as first president A.J. (After Joe)

After accepting the USBWA president's gavel from David Teel at the Final Four in Minneapolis, I paused for a second to look around the room at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The Tipoff, Get out the vote, attend the awards luncheon

Selection Sunday approaches, bubble and NET chatter percolate, and the NCAA transfer portal awaits the offseason. Such is life as college basketball conference play hits overdrive.

The Tipoff, USBWA finds next leader in Malcolm Moran

A friendly suggestion for the next time any of us chronicles a coaching search: Show the AD just a little compassion.

Most snoops are unaccustomed to identifying, interviewing and evaluating candidates. But as the committee searching for the USBWA's next executive director learned this summer and fall, the process can be challenging, enlightening and, ultimately, quite rewarding.

The Tipoff: Despite inroads, seating is our greatest issue

Greetings from Virginia, home to NCAA tournament anarchy. The first No. 15 seed to advance? Richmond over Syracuse in 1991. Hampton (2001) and Norfolk State (2012) followed, upsetting Iowa State and Missouri, respectively.

The Tipoff, Mitch will be USBWA's toughest act to follow

Rarely does the Tipoff break news. But rarely does our organization's pulse announce his retirement.

And trust me, Joe Mitch is the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's pulse. His retirement as our executive director, a position he has graciously and tirelessly held since 1983, is a time for reflection – how the heck do we replace him? – and, mostly, applause.

The Tipoff, USBWA can be counted upon in tough times

Gazing out from the city that has hosted more Final Fours (10) than anywhere else, anticipation of the NCAA Tournament is as fevered as ever – especially considering the range of teams that appear capable of winning it.

Just the same, the season is ending much the way it began: under the specter of an FBI investigation of corruption and fraud in the game.

As a source told USBWA member Pete Thamel of Yahoo in mid-February, "Hall of Fame coaches should be scared, lottery picks won't be eligible to play and almost half of the 16 teams the NCAA showed on its initial NCAA tournament show (in February) should worry about their appearance being vacated."

The Tipoff, Selection committee discussion will be ongoing

When USBWA Hall of Famer Malcolm Moran and I went to San Antonio in November to meet with the Division I men's basketball committee about the prospect of having the USBWA in the room to document the selection, brack­eting and seeding process, we were cautiously optimistic.

We also went into it knowing that this unprecedented meeting was just the start of a process.

The Tipoff, USBWA makes progress amid game's setbacks

KANSAS CITY – As we type this, basketball practice has commenced and optimism is running rampant on most campuses across the nation.

Maybe nothing illustrates that more than the scene at the University of Missouri: The Tigers went 8-24 last season but have made their fan base euphoric and are talking about being "the last team standing" because new coach Cuonzo Martin put together a top-notch recruiting class highlighted by the No. 1 prospect in the nation, Michael Porter Jr.

But the upbeat feeling that typically is pretty universal this time of year has to be tempered on campuses that might ultimately become embroiled in the FBI investigation of corruption and fraud that already led to the ouster of Rick Pitino at Louisville and has implicated assistant coaches at Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and USC.

The Tipoff, Changing times make USBWA even more vital

GLENDALE, ARIZ. – When I covered the Final Four for the first time 25 years ago in Minneapolis, concepts like the Internet and even having a cell phone seemed like the stuff of science fiction.

Not that those weren't pioneering times in the business: I believe I wrote on the newfangled flip-top Tandy Radio Shack, on which you could finally see more than a few lines of type and could magically transmit your stories in less than 10 minutes – unless somebody, say, kicked out the power cord in mid-send and you had to start over.

Even back in the day, though, there was one force we could all count on: the USBWA and its heart and soul, executive director Joe Mitch.

The Tipoff, Passing the gavel for more shining moments

I'm not sure it was at the split second a ball fell through net for what is arguably the biggest shot in the history of an NCAA Tournament championship game, the one that allowed Villanova's basketball team to do the impossible and top the wonderment of 1985 and the fairy tale that was born from it, when I realized my fate.

Maybe it hit me the following day: This is what poor ol' Gene Bartow must have felt like.

It was enough to follow in the hightops of those terrific past presidents of the United States Basketball Writers Association, but for my year-long tenure to begin with Kris Jenkins going all historic on North Carolina, well, that's one pretty massive enchilada to consume.

The Tipoff, Keeping reporters safe to and from arenas

It's true that the safety of people should define our highest law.

That certainly applies to those in the media covering events who might feel uneasy or threatened upon exiting facilities late at night, something the United States Basketball Writers believe is a significant point worth following.

The Tipoff, All we ask: Every member, add a member

In keeping with the spirit of a campaign season, does anyone know if Ken Bone is aware of the USBWA?

If not, here's hoping we can get the charming fellow and his red sweater a membership form post-haste.

Practice has begun and season-long odds have been set and games are a Deonte Burton 3-pointer away from tipping off. Wasn't it just last week when Kris Jenkins made arguably the biggest shot in the history of an NCAA Tournament championship game, one that allowed Villanova to do the impossible and top the wonderment of 1985 and the fairy tale that was born from it?

But with a new year comes fresh dreams and stars and drama and memories, and whether it is Cinderella with a coach named Rollie going to the ball against Georgetown and finding a slipper that fit by shooting an ungodly 78 percent, or the nation's best team proving it on the sport's biggest stage against the side everyone assumed was the best, nothing compares to the madness created in March.

The Tipoff, Moving forward, while remaining alert for icebergs

This being an election year, let my first act as your new president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association be to make some promises, a few which might be achievable and some whose long-term prospects run along the lines of Donald Trump being endorsed by Paul Krugman.

Example: I promise the next 12 months will be as dramatic and thrilling as a 3-pointer from Kris Jenkins to win the NCAA championship.