6A'- Thursday, March 17, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandai'y.com
'HALOL?!': New media and the changing landscape of college basketball
'TER "Nobody wants to self-pro-
1Amote, but I think it's a great way
Page 1to get information out expedi-
tiously," Jordan said. "You get
'31 tweets - and counting it out quick. As far as marketing
, Bacari Alexander isn't a and business, it's a great tool.
r guy. Social networking is a big thing
:ter is a Bacari Alexander for kids and recruiting and what
M. we do.
use, for those keeping "It's just another wayto spread
at home, that's approxi- the word about Michigan, and get
25 tweets per day, and out information, maybe a little bit
ketball season didn't even of insight into what we're think-
nil two months into Alex- ing, (and) our program."
Twitter tenure. There's no filter here, either.
This isn't the traditional sport
Branching Out communication form of press
ow, an ever-growing, yet it's nearly impossible for a mes-
latively small number of sage to get distorted when the
ine fans, is so in tune to final version of what is put in
der's Twitter universe the public sphere comes directly
se fans don't even blink from the coach or player.
they see his nonsensical The media, then, can't alter
phrase "HALOL" pop up the point the Twitter user wants
rtimelines. expressed (an unavoidable out-
ander, along with fellow come of mediation, even when
nt coaches LaVall Jordan there's no intention to twist a
ff Meyer, and head coach person's words).
eilein are now constant That's what Beilein finds so
ces on the application, valuable, and it's the reason he
sg out messages everyday decided to start a personalized
he Michigan program in website: JohnBeilein.com. Since
aracter bursts (the assis- it launched last July 31, 2010, the
ore so than their boss). website has offered a behind-the-
'in said he doesn't direct scenes glimpse of Michigan bas-
ches to use Twitter in any ketball.
way, but emphasizes that The "Beilein Daily" section
e responsible with what occasionally provides entries
)St. from the codch himself about
ust how much has Twit- his recent activities or thoughts
wn as a tool for the Ath- - like the post on Sept. 15 that
)epartment in the past announced Duprey's exit from
Consider that when he the program - while the "Sights
Alexander last April and and Sounds" page contains links
last June, Beilein didn't to stories, highlighted by all-
ise the subject or make it access videos produced by the
of evaluation in his search team's support staff. Aside from
erview process. the general information the site
here the coaches are, contains about the Wolverines,
sg their fingers off. Beilein likes that he can include
(tweet) about every other information about upcoming
eilein said. "I'm not living camps and clinics.
it. Bacari and LaVall and "We want to be able to give
a wonderful job of getting people more of an inside idea of
ssage out to all our fans ... Michigan basketball, of how the
it's significant that we're coaches live, how I live, how we
t involved. Where young like to live our life," Beilein said.
are involved, that's where "What we've found is there's a lot
e to be so that they hear of interest in those type of things
chigan name over and over ... I feel funny doing it sometimes
because who cares about me?"
e lies one of the several But people do care, as 3,858
us that college basketball users follow Beilein on Twit-
s in 2011 can derive from ter. Jordan has 1,542 followers,
r: promotion. Meyer has 476 and most of Alex-
not just about the repeti- ander's 2,313 followers probably
at Beilein points to, though know that "HALOL" stands for
ignificant - those associ- "Having A Lot Of Laughs" in
ith the Michigan basket- Bacari-speak.
ogram are able to put out "I think it's the new Twit-
cific message they desire. ter craze," Alexander said with
as what makes it slight- a laugh. "Everybody's going to
erent from other forms start eating that up. It's going to
media like Facebook. become commonplace. I need to
h Twitter was launched as copyright protect it, get my agent
of social media, it has rap- (sophomore walk-on guard Josh)
rphed into an application Bartlestein over there on this, so
lined to deliver news and we can make a little money off
s around the clock. that."
)w the right people, and it Combined, the staff's follow-
natter that you don't have ers could barely fill half of Crisler
watch your favorite team, Arena. But it's still more people
game isn't even televised. getting these messages than
have the power to choose before, and the numbers are only
d updates from count- growing.
or because the victory st
a turnaround that sho
has the Wolverines in the
After the game, Sc
tweeted just two words, b
stung the hearts of all S
"I found outI had aslot o
igan State followers beca
mentions were just going
Smotrycz said. " 'You ca
that' 'That'll come back
a unique problem ofI
-. the unprecedented ac
brings. A "mention" is a n
directed at a specific acco
the recipient sees even if1
not follow the sender. I
words, though the athle
choose not to read it, ther
restrictions as to what a
can send to a Michigan
For junior guard Zack
Facebook is more probli
Trying to balance a hect
ketball schedule withz
School of Business tours
he gets frustrated when r
fans (and even friends) t
upset with him when he
always respond to their I
And particularly annoy
the criticisms and tips
receives, especially wh
doesn't even know the
lashing out at him.
"You kind of just want
'Alright, who are you to
Novak said. "But you reall
You just got to let it go. It'
because I'll get messages,
be like, 'What's this guy
about?' And then I go wa
Packers or something, a
like, 'What're you doing?
the ball!' or whatever."
The flip side of the colle
lete's use of Twitter ant
forms of new media is the
that his own posts present
out even realizing it, a pla
write something in the1
the moment that doesn't
represent himself or his t
too well, whether it's a
message or disrespect tow
opponent or teammate.
In October, Kentucky
Josh Harrellson tweeted
tive comments about W
coach John Calipari af
criticized Harrellson in
conference following a pre
scrimmage. Calipari pr
and ordered him to do ext
ning before practice.
Then, in early Februar
sissippi State basketball
Rick Stansbury banne
entire team from using
after players Rayern J
and Renardo Sidney cr
Stansbury and Bulldog fa
a game. This all came
football season that saw
top programs ban Twit
players, with coaches w
the potential distractions
But the application's
ness hasn't always been ni
Recently, Ohio State fre
star Jared Sullinger tool
ing to a sign that Minnes
dent Andrew Wagner b
to a game, even though
mocking Sullinger's singi
formance in the now-in
e are no
Michigan assistant coach Bacari Alexander has become an avid Twitter fan this season.
doesn't "Party in the OSU" video. The
nternet two sent several messages to each
other on Twitter, until they made
ing are arrangements for Wagner to send
Novak the sign to Columbus.
en he Sullinger gave it to his mother.
person For Smotrycz, Novak and
other players with accounts, it
to say, ultimatley comes down to intel-
talk?' " ligent use of discretion.
y can't. "We try to school (current
s funny players) the best that we can
and I'll on that, about what should be
talking out there," Beilein said. "We're
tch the a family, and (they know) how
nd I'm dangerous that can be, when
Catch you're telling your family busi-
ness. We're pretty adamant about
ge ath- that, but we got good kids. They
d other understand that."
danger Added Novak: "One of the
. With- things we pride ourselves on is
yer may having a pretty bright group of
heat of guys. Don't be an idiot, don't say
exactly anything stupid, just be careful
eam all with it and enjoy it."
profane ,_ And_ when the danger is
vard an avoided, Twitter remains a fun
bonding activity for Michigan.
center Assistants interact with players
I nega- and players interact with each
ildcats other. Novak even said he and his
ter he teammates have friendly com-
a press petitions regarding who can get
season more followers.
omptly He also joked that despite the
account phenomenon that Alexander has
ra run- become, he could easily open up
a significant lead in followers if
y, Mis- he tweeted nearly as much as his
coach coach (for the record, as of March
d his 16, Novak had 2, 463 followers -
Twitter 150 more than Alexander).
iticized New Way to Recruit
ns after - With New Problems
several It should come as no surprise
ter for that college basketball coaches -
ary of always searching for the newest
it pre- and best ways to communicate
with high school student-ath-
open- letes - have taken to using Twit-
egative. ter as a recruiting tool.
rshman Those positive messages about
k a lik- the program that the coaches
ota stu- constantly tweet?
trought Perhaps they are designed for
it was the general public, but it cer-
ng per- tainly doesn't hurt Michigan if a
famous recruit (and his family) gets the
added reinforcement or if a play-
er who didn't previously have the
Wolverines on his radar sees the
message and bumps up his inter-
Additionally, the NCAA con-
siders a "direct message" at a
recruit - along with Facebook
messages - an ordinary e-mail.
Since plenty of high school kids
now check their social media
pages much more often than
es. The their e-mail, posting on Twitter
increases the likelihood that they
will take notice, and that they'll
respond more rapidly.
It's happened fast, too.
Smotrycz is just a freshman, and
he committed to Michigan late
in his junior year of high school.
But even then, Smotrycz said he
really didn't engage Twitter at all
during his recruitment process.
Now, countless potential players
e TEAM are on the application.
"Kids like to type more than
they like to talk these days,"
Jordan said. "(Twitter) allows
recruits and parents to keep
up with the program - follow
ou on updates with scores and games
- and individuals on the team as
well. It's kind of a double-edged
sword, but if you use it the way
it's meant to be used, it's a good
But the same risks current
NCAA players face are there for
recruits as well - long before
they even make it to college.
Player safety is even more of
a concern, since most recruits
on Twitter are under the age of
18. Where college athletes have
received plenty of education and
coaching in dealing with people
attacking them on the Internet, a
high school student has received
considerably less guidance, if any
at all. And, obviously, Internet
abuse can be much more harm-
ful to those in high school than
those in college, who are legally
adults and more mature than
their younger counterparts.
And the potential conse-
quences of an athlete slipping
up on Twitter are much more
significant for a recruit than a
college player. Harrellson had
his account suspended and was
forced to do extra running; ESPN.
com national recruiting analyst
Dave Telep has seen high school
players actuallylose scholarships
as a result of ill-advised Twitter
posts they've written.
"Some of what I've seen on
Twitter, it's just unacceptable,"
Telep said. "We don't have any
rules for this right now, so kids
are going to have to learn the
hard way. I know I've contacted a
couple kids who I know are really
good kids (and said) 'Everybody's
reading this, this is not the kind
of thing you want to have your
name attached to.'
"I think we have to educate
our kids about it, so they know
how to properly use it. It's a pub-
Telep doesn't necessarily see
Twitter as an ideal new method
for coaches to contact recruits,
though such communication
does happen often.
Instead, he sees it as an effec-
tive way for coaches to evalu-
ate recruits, based on what they
choose to post.
The process works both ways:
While recruits learn about Mich-
igan through general updates
from coaches and specific con-
tact from a staff member, the
Wolverines can assess character
- a critical part of evaluation,
especially in Beilein's philoso-
"College basketball coaches
are like spies on Twitter," Telep
said. "They figure they read
everything a kid says, and try to
gain an insight and advantage
into what he's thinking... (coach-
es) put on their CIA and FBI hats,
and that's how they use Twitter."
A dark cloud, though, could be
brewing on the recruiting hori-
zon. NCAA rules generally pro-
hibit contact between recruits
and fans, students and boost-
ers, as it essentially constitutes
illegal recruiting undertaken by
But with Twitter and Face-
book, anyone has access to
recruits. Any fan of any program
- or even someone posing as a
fan of a different team - can send
messages that recruits can't nec-
essarily filter. It all constitutes
illegal contact and could mean a
boatload of vagaries and enforce-
ment problems for the NCAA as
Twitter continues to grow.
With the surge in text messag-
ing in the last decade, the NCAA
had to quickly adapt an make
new rules surrounding caches'
use of texting to talk to recruits.
The same may have to I,.:ppen
soon with new media.
"I don't know how mu Nthe
NCAA can police this stuff,"
Telep said. "This is the we ld we
live in. This is life. Twitter Face-
book, social media, it's wh at kids
do nowadays. I don't kno how
the NCAA can be responsible for
policing every single thing on
"At the same time, you don't
want to accept it. What's the
right answer to this? I don' think
It is impossible to predi t how
college basketball and new nedia
will interact in the future After
all, who could have pre licted
Facebook and Twitter would
become the cultural behi soths
they are now?
The one thing Beilein knows:
He and his program have to keep
up with it all.
"It's really important fc us to
(not) say, 'Oh, we're not ging to
go there,' or 'I'm not goin, to do
e-mail,' or 'I'm not going to' -
you have to do it," Beilein said.
"You have to delegate it wd11, and
you have to manage it very well."
Otherwise, Michigan m ay fall
behind in a rapidly changi g col-
lege basketball landscape.
Telep warns that it could
do "more harm than good" if a
coach goes out of his c:mfort
zone in trying to adapt to social
media. One would think tE the's
referring to someone exac y like
Beilein, a 58 year old w , has
spent much of his career in the
lower, less pressure-filled ranks
of college basketball - a coach
who you wouldn't expect to use
Twitter regularly, let alon even
know its ins and outs.
And perhaps Beilein truly
doesn't know a lot about But
he's successfully adapte: and
more importantly, just as he said,
he has delegated effectively.
He quickly realized his assis-
tants had great potentia with
the newer, ever-more-important
forms of media, and Beile n has
essentially given them free reign
to build interest in Michig .
So far, they've done s very
successfully - probably netter
than most other college basket-
ball programs - and they've
done it all within the rules.
But as innocent as they may
appear now, Twitter and other
new media forms will clay a
critical role in the future I col-
lege basketball and, inde d, all
sports. Beilein, Telep, Alexander
and others have said they re not
sure where it's all headed - and
nobody can really know fo ,ure.
"I (heard) recently or. NPR
that our body's wired to hve 150
people that we deal with," Beilein
said. "Back in the day, bacd in the
caveman day, you maybe had 50
people, 100 people in your village
(and a) couple people from iffer-
"Now, it's literally n- lions
that you're correspondin, with
in some small fashion. ou're
overloaded, so you have to be
very careful with that."
The Michigan coaches stay be
"HALOL," but below the surface, *
Twitter is serious business.
mbers of people who are
ng the game.
if you follow Wolverine
sall coaches, you'll receive
ne positive talking points
ntly. It's a powerful way
program to convey an
attitude - one that can
ring in greater support.
A Fun Distraction?
Freshman forward Evan
Smotrycz won't ever forget the
Jan. 27 win at then-No. 25 Michi-
gan State. And not just because it
was the first time Michigan won
at the Breslin Center in 14 years
Timeline @Mentions Retweets Searches Lists
bacari34 Bacari Alexander
We have 2 and 3 Star players who have 6 Star heart!!!! Gotta love the job that John Beilein do
bandwagon still has seats availab et
novak3159 Zack Novak
Also, happy birthday to optwin ajmorgan 52!!!!
IB .: 26 Feb
Coach_JMeyer Jeff Meyer
Proud of how our Young Wolverines "RESPONDED" 2 a BIG road win msu..Rewardingt
Growth & TEAM Work in our WIN today over Iowa!
JohnBeilein John Seiein
Two day prep for OSU. Nothing like playing your rival in front of a pa
cked Crisler Arena. See y