My Favorite Photos From the 2015-2016 College Basketball Season

This is one post that I really enjoy making each year. I love covering women’s basketball. The emotion is there all of the time, and for some reason the photos seem to blossom from that emotion. When the game is played hard it shows in the photos. This was a very weird season for me though as I started off working some early games, and then had nothing until the Final Four came to Indianapolis. I tried to shoot some of the earlier post season games, but it doesn’t always work out. I may have attended less games this year than I have in the past ten years or so. That is too bad, and something that I should fix next year. In the end though I saw some really great basketball, and I have some images that I am proud of from the season. Here are sixteen of my favorite shots from this past year.

16. We start the countdown off with a shot that I like for one reason. The hair. I love covering this sport for many reasons, but one of them is the way that the long hair helps convey motion. It is a huge aid in conveying what you want to say. Here things lined up perfectly for me to make an interesting picture. The baseline on the other side of the court was full so I shot on the Maryland side instead of the Purdue side. I normally would only photograph the Purdue end, but you take what you are given. Here things worked in my favor to help me make an interesting photo.

15. I arrived at my Final Four game very early for a few reasons. One of those reasons was to shoot the UConn game against Oregon State. I knew that my images would not really be seen from the game, but it allowed me to work some things out from the location that I was given. I stumbled across this shot that night while panning with the players. I had the settings down so when the National Title game came I could make the image without having to play around so much. I like it as something a little different.

14. Here we get really different. Often when I putting these end of season galleries together I start to think that I have played it too safe during the season. One advantage with wrapping up the Purdue seasons so early is that I was able to make some interesting pictures that I thought of as I was making those year end posts. This was really a mistake as I was panning during the UConn and Oregon State game. I loved the watercolor effect of the photo though.

13. If you have even just stumbled across this blog a few times then you probably know that I love pre game huddle shots. I have a version of it that I use quite a bit in my work. Here early in the season shooting for Dayton I decided to try something different. I got right into the huddle with my camera and made something that I really like. The smiles tell you all that you need to know. This is a team that is having fun. I just feel good when I look at this picture.

12. Next we go from a feel good photo to one with a little violence in it. Andreona Keys plays the game of basketball very hard. At least once a game you can make a photo of her showing that. It is a role that you need on the team, and she fills it very well. Here she works hard for a point against Wisconsin on senior night.

11. Speaking of senior night here is an image that I really like from this years event at Purdue. I like the way that the jersey numbers  for Torrie Thornton keep showing up in this image. Her expression and the expression on her family also work for me here. I love shooting senior night. The emotion of the day just makes the photos for you. This year I tried to capture it from a few different angles with the numbers in the ceiling in mind. This was my favorite of those photos.

10. Later in the countdown you will see an image that spawned this one. When the lights are down pregame and the spotlight is on some interesting things can happen. Here I liked the way that the spotlights seemed to make a heart over the UConn huddle. The shadows were also interesting to me. The players appear to have their hands up together in one of them.


9. Here I am cheating to use two photos at one spot. If you have seen my countdowns before then you knew that it was coming. I wanted to include Geno Auriemma because with the win last Tuesday he made history. He won his 11th National Title passing John Wooden for the most in NCAA Basketball history. It was also his fourth in a row which was a women’s record. I also liked this shot of star player Breanna Stewart with the net. She was also making history as she won her fourth National Title along with her fourth Final Four Most Outstanding Player award. Not a bad career at all.

8. During the National Title game I was shooting for myself. My team went out in the round before so I did not have the burden of capturing game action on me. During the first quarter I did shoot some game action from my upper position. A lot has to go right for that shot to work. I spent the second quarter roaming around the stadium looking for unique views of the action. For a lot of the third quarter I was panning at 1/10th of a second. I wanted something like the photo that you see above. When I made that photo I made some kind of noise, and put my camera down. I could go back to capturing the action a little.

7. For some reason they changed the spotlight arrangement from the semi-final game to the final game. The idea that I had did not pan out. This was one idea that worked quite well though. Give me a player and a shadow and something can come of it.

6. I love a good jube shot. When the jube happens right next to me it is even better. Here Andreona Keys celebrates an and one for another player. As she was going to help her up next to me she let out a yell. It was a great moment during the game. This was one of those shots that was a lot of luck as I had the seat right next to where the jube happened. I will take that luck though.

5. My playing with shadows actually started during the Purdue season this year. With the new lights in the ceiling Purdue was able to really do some new and interesting things prior to the game. They really upped their game, and I imagine with an off season to work with they will have something really cool next year. At one game I noticed this huddle on the edge of the spotlight. I made a note to make this photo the next game that I attended. I think that it was a while before I was back, but I was able to make the photo that I had in mind.

4. One position that I like in basketball is the last position furthest away from the hoop. At Purdue we cannot go as far out as I would like, but the last position available is still a good one. That is where I made this shot from. One of the surprises of the Purdue women’s season for me was freshman Dominique Mcbryde. I do not really follow recruiting so I don’t know about ratings and who is the star recruit in a class. After watching the season play out I can only guess that Dom was a highly thought of recruit. She was a difference maker on the court. Here she goes up for a shot while bleeding from her mouth. She would make the shot and the free throw, and then exit the game to get her lip stitched up. She would re-enter the game not long after to keep going. You don’t even have to ask if she is tough. A lot worked out here to make a shot that I like.

3. This is the first of two wide angle shots from the National Title game that will appear in the final three shots.  I arrived at the game very early to set up a remote and save a spot for myself. Right when I arrived and while I was setting up my remote the staff went through a dress rehearsal for the National Anthem. I was able to see the entire pregame before it ever happened with the exact light that would show up later that night. That is some good info to have. When the large flag was brought out prior to the game it was not surprise to me, and I made this photo.

2. One thing that tends to happen when you are a freelancer is that you are put in tough situations for yourself. This year I knew that Boston College had never won a game in the Big Ten/ACC challenge. A win would be huge, and there would be a big celebration. I was shooting for the Eagles so it would mean some great pictures for me. My alma mater would lose the game, but it would be good for my photos. One thing that I have adapted to is that my team is whoever is paying me. As the game was ending I was willing the last second Purdue attempt out of the basket so that I could make the photo above. As the shot rimmed out the celebration began, and I was right in the middle of it. I would love to make these type of photos for Purdue, but that is not in the cards. I will always take a good celebration shot, and that night there were plenty. There is something about this one though that I have liked since I made it.

1. I waited a long time last Tuesday to make this photo. It was the photo that I went to the game to make. The confetti coming down across the teams and fans at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse after UConn won their fourth straight National Title game. I liked the idea of this wide shot, and I had a remote set up to capture this exact moment. As a safety though I made the shot with my handheld wide angle camera just in case. It worked out for the best as this was my favorite shot of all of them. This is what all of the work for the players in the off season is for. It was a very fun way to end the season for me as well.

Well there it is. My favorite photos from the past basketball season. As I said before this was not my typical season. I did not shoot as much as I normally do. What I did shoot though was very cool. As is usually the case I do not know what I will be shooting next year as I write this. With no affiliation I shoot what is available. This year I did a good job of filling the gaps in my schedule with some women’s basketball. Next year I would like to do more than fill gaps with women’s basketball. It is a fun sport that deserves a little more coverage than it gets. So with this it is time to close the book on the 2015-2016 basketball season. The next time that I will shoot college hoops will be next November. That is always a fun time as the slate is wiped clean and everyone is in first place. It will be interesting to see where the season takes me.

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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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