My Favorite Photo of the 2015-2016 Men’s Basketball Season

This past season was an interesting one for me. I shot about the same amount of games in the city I live in as I did on the road. This year I gained a couple of new clients that provided me with a couple of very cool opportunities. There were many highlights throughout the season. The top highlight has to be shooting the MVC Tournament for Indiana State. The weekend in St. Louis was one that I really enjoyed, and I think that it showed in my photos. I really want nothing more than to help make something with my work, and that was a great opportunity to do so. As things break out for me in other sports the toughest sports to crack seem to be men’s basketball and football. This year I made some headway in both of them. Although I did not attend as many games this year as I have in the past I had a really fun season. Here are sixteen photos that I liked from this past season.

16. This is less of an action shot, and more of a scene. Each year the Purdue Athletic Department puts on their annual t-shirt game. They come up with a design, and the fans by putting on free t-shirts help make that design come to life. For some reason many fans do not play along, and that is crazy to me. Maybe a card design would work better for the fans at Purdue. They could just hold the card up that is on their seat at one moment in the game. It would not look as good throughout the game, but hopefully everyone could do that. This year I stitched together a panoramic image of the design during the National Anthem. I wanted to show the scope of the event a little here. It might be my favorite stadium shot of the basketball season so far.

15. This year I photographed a couple of non conference games for Youngstown State. I photographed them at Purdue, and then after that was over we agreed to do one more up at Notre Dame. I made a couple of photos at Notre Dame that I liked enough for this countdown. I like the way that the light works for this photo. Being the only photographer on the away baseline I was able to move around a little. Here I moved to get a dark background when the players were at the rim. I think that it worked out well here.

14. This was a matchup that I was really looking forward to. Denzel Valentine of Michigan State against Rapheal Davis of Purdue. Here Valentine sets up the offense. I thought that it was a good moment showing both sides of the action between two really good players.

13. This year I photographed Indiana State at the MVC Tournament. I really had not seen them play much during the season so I was not entirely sure about what their routines were. One thing that I knew about was the pregame huddle. I had an idea for a picture with the Arch Madness logo in the background. I waited until the moment, and then made this photo. From here I then sprinted up into the stands near half court to get the opening tip with the Arch Madness logo on the floor. This was one time where a second shooter would have come in handy. I made my images though, and that is all that matters.

12. That same Arch Madness logo in the rafters of the Scottrade Center would come into play in this photo as well. On day two of the tournament I arrived at the stadium just in time to see the end of regulation, and the overtime of the Northern Iowa upset of Wichita State. After a big Northern Iowa three the bench erupted, and I found this player celebrating with the logo in the background. For some reason the photo has stuck with me.

11. Early in the season I shot a game at Indiana State. I was there mainly with the idea of adding some photos at venues other than Mackey Arena into my portfolio. I used a remote camera at my feet for some wide shots of the action as well. This moment near the end of the game was one of my favorites from that remote.

10. This post season I shot the MVC Tournament, and then thought that I was done for the year. My last men’s game of the year though was up at Valpo for their opening round NIT game. They were facing Mike Davis and his Texas Southern squad. I have shot many games at the ARC, but this was only my second from the court. I thought that the light worked very well here for a conversation to black and white, and I think I have rated it this high for that reason. The photo just screams good versus evil for me as the play is shown in black versus white. As in all of the old westerns the white team won here.

9. My favorite visual game to shoot this year had to be the Purdue blackout game against Maryland. The dark shirts in the background really helped the players to jump out of the picture. I hope that every game is a blackout game next year. With the new lighting it really makes things pop. Using strobes might allow me to gain the same effect, but I have yet to see someone use them correctly in Mackey. The players always look too hot in the limited photos that I have seen.

8. Early in the season I was in Mackey shooting for the opponent of Purdue. Senior A.J. Hammons made a monster block though, and I was in the right position to capture it. I have often thought that way too often the defensive side of the ball is ignored in basketball photography. For the most part you can capture the action from the other end of the court, but at times being on the defensive side has its advantages.

7. One player that was very fun to cover this season was DeVonte Brown of Indiana State. He is just one of those athletes who seems to help you make good photos. Every motion is done very photogenically. This is one of those moments that he made look really good. At this point of the game against Evansville in the MVC Tournament I was still hoping to photograph him again the next day in the title game. That was not meant to be.

6. Here is another photo from the Youngstown State game at Notre Dame. Late in the first half Youngstown State was driving to the hoop a lot. I grabbed a wide angle lens, and put it on my camera. I had a remote, but I wanted to control what I saw in my image a little more. I like this photo as a scene setter for the day. This year more than any other I think that when I was on assignment I did a good job of delivering many different looking images.

5. Once again here is DeVonte Brown of Indiana State basketball looking more like he is on the football team. These are my favorite type of photos that do not look like the sport that I am shooting. From the moment that I saw this photo on the back of my camera I knew that it would be on this countdown. The fact that the player with the ball appears to be posing for me helps it a little as well.

4. After the end of the Northern Iowa upset of the Wichita State Wes Washpun jumped through the air. I am sure that other celebrations were great at the moment, but this was the one I wanted to capture. I just liked the way that it looked. I was not there to cover that game, but how can you not walk out to capture emotion like this? Photos like this are the reason that I do this.

3. My new favorite position at Mackey is this side view of the action. I like the different look that it gives my photos. Maybe it is because I see so many baseline shots during the season that I want to get something else. I really think that a team of photographers would be wise to put someone in this position to get one more view of the action. Here I picked this photo of A.J. Hammons because of the gesture in the image. Hammons may have thought that he had a rebound here, but instead he just came away with a head. Once again the black background makes this the image that it is in my mind.

2. If I had to pick one moment from the season to call ‘the moment’ it has to be the moment that Purdue legend Rick Mount stepped back onto the court at Mackey Arena. This was a long time coming, and the crowd really let Rick know what he meant to the team. I made some tight shots of Rick acknowledging the crowd, but I wanted to show the scene behind the moment. I moved away from the pack a little in order to use my wide angle to capture the action. I wanted the P on the floor and the two #10’s hanging from the ceiling to tell the story here. It is by far the loudest that I have heard the arena for one person. That was one of those moments that you shoot through the goosebumps.

1. You have seen this photo before. It has shown up a couple of times on this site already. I love this moment of sheer joy for everything that it represents. You have Vince Edwards reacting after a huge slam against Maryland. You have the fans (again all in black) reacting to the moment as well. This might be my favorite basketball photo that I made this season. Vince is only a sophomore, and I hope that I have the opportunity to photograph him at Purdue for two more years. When he realizes just how good he is it will be a special moment.

As I said earlier this was a fun season to cover. As I think about the future I really don’t know what it holds for me. My goal is to be somewhere where I can help build something. Until then I just feel like I am taking little bits from here and there. Occasionally a moment comes up like it did in St. Louis where I can build something. I want much more of that next year. We will have to see where the road leads. Right now though it is fun to take a look back at where I’ve come from. Looking back at the past season I can see images that I really like. I can also see a lot to improve on. It will be fun trying to do just that next year.

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About Pinola Photo

I am a sports and lifestyle photographer based in West Lafayette, IN home of Purdue University. I cover sports for Big Ten teams as well as other colleges. You can follow me on twitter @pinolaphoto. You can also view my website at www.davewegielphoto.net

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