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Ronnie Gallagher column: NSSA is back

Another year and another National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Weekend in Salisbury …Here’s a first. I actually had a request from a sports fan for all of this year’s winners.
“Tell them,” the guy gurgled over his fifth beer (I think it was his fifth ó I lost count), “how to pronounce North Carolina’s best player’s name. It really drives me crazy.”
OK, ready fellas?
It’s Hansbrough.
As in Hans-BRO.
It isn’t Hansborough. There is no “O” between that “B” and that “R.”
Thank goodness our hero Bob Ryan was in the house Saturday. He’s one of the national guys on ESPN who says “Hans-Bro.”
Give that man a Cheerwine.

Well, another year, and again, only Ryan is a winner from my afternoon TV lineup. So here’s my yearly shout out to Kornheiser, Wilbon, Reali, Plaschke, Paige, Mariotti and Rome, just to name a few.
Life ain’t fair, boys.
We’ll ship you some Cheerwines.

There was definitely an Appalachian State flavor on Saturday night. David Jackson, who made the now-famous call of Corey Lynch’s blocked field goal on the last play of the Mountaineers’ 34-32 win over Michigan, is the North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year.
C’mon, in David’s honor, let’s all yell out that final call together:
“The Mountaineers of Appalachian State have just beaten the Michigan Wolverines in the Big House!”Regardless of how loud you yell it, you won’t come close to matching Jackson.
Also, App. State coach Jerry Moore was Saturday night’s speaker.

Stories on North Carolina winners Jackson and A.J. Carr of the Raleigh News & Observer will appear in Monday’s paper.
The awards banquet will be held Monday night at the Salisbury Depot. The national winners will be in Tuesday’s paper.

NSSA officials said the two Michigan winners ó Tom Cage of the Detroit News and Michigan State/Detroit Pistons broadcaster George Blaha ó were not present.
You’d think Blaha would come wearing an Appalachian State sweatshirt.

The Louisiana winners couldn’t be found at Saturday’s reception either. Hmmm.
App. State is going to LSU for next season’s opener.

Jackson told this story on Nebraska fans. On their way to Winston-Salem to meet Wake Forest last season, a busload of Huskers stopped in Boone on Friday and walked around Kidd Brewer Stadium, taking photos, and soaking in that Mountaineer mystique.
Moore, a former Nebraska assistant, was told they were there, found them eating at the Daniel Boone Inn and met with them for an hour.
What a guy. Give Jerry Moore a Cheerwine.

By the way, have I mentioned that Boone is the prettiest place this side of heaven?

Kansas sportswriter Rick Peterson from the Topeka Capital-Journal wants North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams to know that he can come back to the state anytime.
Williams sat with the Kansas fans as the Jayhawks defeated Memphis for the national championship.
When Williams showed up with a “Jayhawk” on his shirt, Peterson said, “All was forgiven.”
Peterson is in town as the state’s co-sportswriter of the year, sharing the honor with Gary Bedore of the Journal-World in Lawrence. He said the Final Four was a whirlwind for Kansas writers.
“All of the Kansas media thought we were going home on Saturday ó or Sunday morning,” Peterson said. “We had our bags packed and souvenirs bought.”
Why?
“Because of the way North Carolina had played and the way KU had played against Davidson,” he said.
Then, Kansas played UNC.
“When it got to 40-18, we were thinking, ‘We’re staying,’ ” Peterson said.
Then, UNC pulled within four.
“We thought, ‘We’re going home,’ ” he chuckled.
Peterson didn’t go home, and Kansas won the title, but not without some tense moments.
Peterson was in San Antonio to write a Memphis angle. He thought his story on Derrick Rose coming up big was a done deal until Kansas somehow tied it up, forced overtime and won.
“All of a sudden,” Peterson said, “we were frantically re-writing.
“It was a strange Final Four but a great Final Four.”

Peterson did admit there was hostility from Jayhawk fans toward ol’ Roy when he left Lawrence.
“No. 1, because he said, ‘I’m here for life,’ ” Peterson said. “And No. 2, they really, really liked him.”

South Dakota Sportscaster of the Year Jeff Duffy of Huron is making his first trip to Salisbury. He said in his state, there wasn’t a Division I school until recently when South Dakota State made the leap.
In South Dakota, kids adopt teams, and his son has a friend who is a big Tar Heel fan and another who is a big Duke fan.
Duffy’s boy? He adopted Tennessee.
Tennessee?
The 14-year-old was promptly handed media guides from UNC and Duke. Hopefully, he’ll go home and convert.

Duffy broadcasts Huron High School sports, and Huron’s football team is in the midst of a 41-game losing streak.
Ouch.
“And I’ve seen every second,” he sighed.
Now, that’s a man who really deserves a Cheerwine.
(You just know Duffy’s reading this right now thinking, “Cheerwine? What’s a Cheerwine?”)

The Gambino Family was at the NSSA reception Saturday night celebrating Frank Gambino’s Wyoming Sportscaster of the Year award.
Gambino broadcasts from snowy Casper.
And we’re all going to do everything in our power to make his stay the best. Know why?
Because the Gambino Family told us we were, that’s why.

Homeboy Ron Morris, a graduate of Salisbury High and columnist for The State in Columbia, S.C., won for the third time in four years.
Morris shared the Sportswriter of the Year award with the Charleston Post & Courier’s Larry Williams, who has a few North Carolina ties. He was a sportswriter for the High Point Enterprise before heading south.
Williams is the Clemson beat writer.

And finally …
One of Morris’ best stories:
When he was 18, he worked here at the Salisbury Post and was allowed to lay out the front page of the paper.
Once, he ran a photo of Lester Maddox riding a mule.
Morris’ cutline under the photo started, “Lester Maddox, top, …”
Needless to say, Morris was given other duties from that point on.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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