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A hearty welcome, or a ‘hello again’
So: here we are. A new place. A new thing. What is this place and thing? I’ve been trying to figure out how exactly to phrase it, but the most basic explanation is probably the best one: this is the new home for all of my writing and analysis about basketball, formerly at a site titled Stats by Will. This site is technically the same title, just with a different URL and a pay structure.
I made this move for reasons explained further in a post at what I guess is now my old site, but it boils down to the fact that I would like to turn the work I’ve largely been doing for free for five years into something that can at least return a few dollars. I strongly believe the writing is worth it, and even if I am my own harshest critic, I think this is the best analysis you will find on two things in the Knoxville market: the University of Tennessee men’s basketball program and college basketball as a whole.
What is this, exactly?
This will be a newsletter, host site, and (hopefully) zone of sane discussion about a very silly thing in Tennessee basketball. I would borrow Paul Flannery’s description of his own site to best describe what I want here: real basketball analysis for real people. If you’re a fan of Tennessee basketball, or even if you aren’t and you’d simply like to stick around for the weekly post about NCAA basketball as a whole, this is a community I believe you’ll enjoy.
Loyal readers have gotten used to a familiar structure from me: a preview of every Tennessee basketball game (typically 35 or so in the average, non-COVID seasons), plus a weekly recap of whatever happened in Tennessee’s games that week. I’m happy to say that both of those will remain at this site, with some minor changes to each to allow for a better workflow and (frankly) a happier experience in writing them.
Along with those three posts, you’ll get a fourth each week that is about NCAA basketball as a whole, not just Tennessee. I will spoil that the first in-season one is titled Iyanla, Fix My Program and is about ten programs that…well, should fire their coach and hire one of the people I nominate. The other posts in the NCAA-at-large category will be about a variety of things: interesting programs, maybe a game review or two, statistical analysis, and hopefully a couple of coach interviews. This is what you’re getting if you subscribe.
What’s the value add?
I despise talking about myself and would much rather someone else answer this question for me, but assessing my own work objectively to the best of my abilities, I think my writing on college basketball is the very best available in the Knoxville market. Work of mine has made cameo appearances in The Athletic, 247 Sports, On3, a depressingly wide number of Internet forums, and a surprisingly deep number of team sites that are not Tennessee-affiliated.
I think this stuff has real national appeal. It has to, because Tennessee basketball is not one of the five or so programs in college basketball that can support a pay site on its own. That’s where the NCAA writing comes in. I know the most about Tennessee of any of the 363 (yes) Division I men’s basketball programs, but I want the non-Tennessee work to talk about the other 362 in a way that isn’t patronizing or inessential.
The goal here should be to build a website that does three things. One of them is for Tennessee basketball fans specifically; the other two are less specific:
Provides useful, high-quality analysis of Tennessee basketball that is not available anywhere else, diving into minute details and sharing an obsessive fan’s perspective that is not written by a homer or an overly objective analyst.
Discusses college basketball at-large and offers statistical, in-depth pieces on various items.
The big one: shares content that is not hot takery, clickbait, boring, or tossed-off. I promise you that if something appears on this site, real effort has been put into it.
There you go. Now, if only there was one more question to ask!
What’s it cost?
And there’s the question. The reason I (we?) have elected to move to Substack after a few years at a radio station, a Patreon affiliate, and as an independent blog is that this is the first place I’ve found that offers me the chance to be fully in control of a potential income. My disclosure is that I have made some money off of writing about basketball. The problem is that about 75% of that money is from private opportunities I took on for a pair of Division I schools last year.
I would not do this if I did not genuinely love covering and writing about college basketball, particularly with the Tennessee slant I offer. It’s a service that I truly believe is good and worthwhile, even if every March I start to reconsider that stance. If you’re willing to support this endeavor, I am more than willing to pour into it and make it the best site I possibly can.
With that in mind, I cannot do this for free/mostly free any longer. I have not set the dollar amount on this high, because frankly, college basketball is roughly a six-month sport with some amount of banter the other half of the year that makes you think about it occasionally. Here’s the subscription structure for this site:
FREELOADERS: $0.00. The good news is that you can still subscribe to this site as a free subscriber. With this subscription, you’ll get to read one of my 3-4 weekly posts - generally the Tennessee recap - and the rest will be behind a paywall.
MONTHLIES: $5.00/month. Substack doesn’t actually allow me to set a price below $5/month; otherwise, this would be $3. If you’re really feeling generous or if I can figure out how to turn your subscription into a free one for six months out of the year, this is the option for you.
YEARLIES: $30.00/year. This is the best value, and frankly, I think it’s pretty fair. For the equivalent of $2.50/month, you receive access to everything on the site and you don’t have to email me. A win for everybody!
Along with that, I have a special offer for anyone with an active University of Tennessee email address (ending in vols.utk.edu) that will run until Thanksgiving: clicking here will get you a yearly subscription for $20. I’ve been a college student and remember that anything over a $20 payment scared me, so this is for those of you who were like me and couldn’t stop paying $8 for Krystal.
What’s the expected schedule?
Generally, Tennessee basketball plays their games on Tuesdays/Wednesdays or Saturdays. Weekday game previews are always posted the morning of the game; weekend game previews get posted on Friday afternoons because neither you nor I want to work on a Saturday. Weekly recaps go up Monday morning/afternoon just like MGoBlog because I stole that idea from them a long time ago.
The NCAA-wide posts are more flexible. Generally, those will go up on Thursdays, but they can be moved around as needed. I’m also open to subscriber feedback. Those who subscribe will have the ability to comment on these articles and offer constructive criticism. I’d like these to be reader-driven pieces that work for you and for me.