|Seth Davis: The Rashi of College Basketball|
|Rashi (aka Rabbi Shlomo
Yitzhaki, 1040-1105) was the foremost Biblical commentator of medieval
times. Known for his commentating on the college hoop scene, Seth Davis
is similarly adept at exploring and explaining the nuances of the annual
quest for that “one magic moment” known as the Final Four. Fresh from
his TV duties, and having recently completed his book, When March
Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball, about the 1979
pairing of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Seth took time to talk with
JewishSport.org. Here is what he had to say:
How long have you been doing the Final Four "gig"? How did you start… and how did you get into sports writing in general?
I have always wanted to be a sportswriter and sportscaster, including back in high school. I had been covering college basketball for Sports Illustrated since 1995 and had been doing quite a bit of television work on the site, when I was invited by CBS to do a segment during their 2003 Final Four coverage. They invited me into the studio fulltime the following season.
What are some of the things you do to keep abreast of so many teams and players during the season?
I am constantly watching games, reading everything I can online, and talking to as many coaches, scouts and other various experts as I can.
What would you cite as the best Final Four you have covered, and what made that one stand out for you?
It's honestly hard to pick just one, but I would say that this past season's Final Four in Detroit, with the surprising presence of Michigan State in the midst of an economic crisis, will always stand out. This was also the first Final Four with the court placed in the center of the dome, so it was the biggest live audience ever to watch an NCAA tournament game. I only wish we had a more competitive final game!
Andy Katz is pretty much your counterpart at ESPN. Do you guys have much interaction during the season?
I see Andy all the time during the season. He is a very good friend of mine and a great, great reporter. He and I have been friends a long time before either one of us got into working on television.
So how tired are you once the Final Four and the season is over?
What is the first thing you look forward to doing after it's all
Extremely! I come home and hang out with my wife and kids. I have two boys, 3 and 5 years old, so we have lots to catch up on. And of course, I sleep as much as I can.
If you ran the NCAA, is there anything you would change regarding college basketball?
I've never liked that coaches are so limited in how much they can work with their own players during the offseason. Basketball fans may not be aware that you are Jewish.
What can you tell our readers about what being Jewish means to you?
I grew up in a Reform synagogue in Montgomery County, Maryland. I attended Sunday School and Hebrew school and was bar mitzvah. We had a bris for both my sons. I love my Jewish roots and the Jewish traditions. I know that I am part of an incredible history.
You recently penned a book about the Michigan State - Indiana State final and the Magic-Bird rivalry. What did you learn during the process of doing this book that you hadn’t realized or appreciate before that?
Just about everything I learned about that game was news to me. That's what made it such a fun project and, hopefully, a good read. One thing that stands out is just how close Larry Bird came to never playing college basketball after he dropped out of Indiana his freshman year.