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Meet up-and-coming broadcaster Tyson Ewing, Jazz TV’s stat guru

SALT LAKE CITY — Craig Bolerjack likes to call them “nuggets.” They’re stats, interesting details the numbers provide which make Utah Jazz television broadcasts hum. While Bolerjack does a lot of preparation and research on his own for each game, the action is fast paced. Calling the play-by-play, executing ad reads and all the other demands of a broadcast make it difficult to find those nuggets on the fly.

That’s when he relies on his in-game statistician, Tyson Ewing.

“I think it actually hurts me, how much I write down while following the game,” said Ewing, who tracks every shot attempt, make, possession, assist, foul, etcetera while watching the Jazz with Bolerjack. “If we play a game against a team that plays fast, it’s kind of difficult, but I would say as far as pace goes, I’ve been doing it now for several years, so I’ve gotten comfortable with it. Chemistry with who you’re working with is the biggest thing.”

You could say that Ewing is Bolerjack’s right hand man, but that isn’t exactly the case this year. In normal circumstances, Ewing is seated next to Bolerjack and the color analyst, either Matt Harpring or Thurl Bailey during games. While Bolerjack and his broadcast partner describe the action on air, Ewing is furiously taking copious notes. Every moment is jotted down and analyzed on the fly. If Ewing notices an interesting pattern, like say, that Mike Conley has assisted on the last five Jazz baskets, or that the opposing team is on a significant scoring drought, Ewing quickly writes down the note on a Post-It and slides it to Bolerjack to announce on the air, adding to the game’s story.

The notes are often in a short-handed code, but the message is understood. Ewing might write down something like “JAZZ 13-3 SINCE 2:12 1Q,” meaning that the Jazz have been on a 13-3 scoring run since the 2:12 mark of the first quarter. Bolerjack, in his smooth, deep voice points out the Jazz’s scoring burst to his partner on the air, adding to the broadcast’s legitimacy and building a storyline to follow.

That’s how nugget finding usually goes. But since the current pandemic has altered the way the entire league has conducted its broadcasting of games, the team has had to come up with unique solutions.

For now, they’ve figured out a way to get those stat nuggets to Bolerjack with an unusual approach using Zoom. Seated outside the lower bowl of the arena in the tunnel area, Ewing is on a video call with Bolerjack who is sitting at the top of the lower bowl inside the arena, with Ewing’s screen blacked-out by a sticky note on the camera. He still watches the game and takes notes at a stunning pace. When he comes across a nugget or a stat that can build an interesting storyline, he removes the sticky note and holds up a small whiteboard with the stat. The change in lighting and movement in the corner of Bolerjack’s computer screen gets his attention and he is able to read the note on air just as before. It didn’t always work that well, laughs Ewing, saying sometimes a bit of dancing or pantomiming was needed to get Bolerjack to notice him at times.

Still, the nugget was found and delivered and no one watching at home could tell the difference. It’s gotten easier since.

“It’s been a work in progress and with his work and with him talking to me, we’ve come up with a pretty good way of getting the job done in a very difficult time,” praised Bolerjack.

Ewing first got this interesting gig while working as a broadcast assistant to Jazz radio voice David Locke in 2014. As part of Locke’s internship program, the five or six assistants he hires rotate as statisticians for Locke himself, the TV crew, and the visiting squad’s broadcast teams as well. It didn’t take long before Ewing separated himself as the best statistician of the bunch (which included me, Austin Facer) and was asked to be the permanent stat guy for Jazz broadcasts. A true stat nerd (I’m his friend, so I get to call him a nerd), Ewing often posts more nuggets that he’s found on his Twitter account, which has received more and more attention from the team’s loyalists.

Now Bolerjack can’t imagine doing a broadcast without him.

“What he’s really good at is on-the-fly stuff and looking at what could be in a game, so that’s what I follow quite a bit,” Bolerjack said. “He’s very stat-driven, but he likes to find stuff that nobody knows, and I really like that.”

But it isn’t just behind the scenes where Ewing feels comfortable on a broadcast, he’s also a play-by-play man himself. He’s going on his fifth season as the voice of Utah women’s basketball on ESPN 700. Before that, he was the voice of Weber State’s women’s squad for four years.

Getting all that experience on-air while listening in on nearly every Jazz broadcast for the last eight years has made Ewing a better broadcaster, according to him. Bolerjack, a broadcasting legend in the Salt Lake City market, thinks Ewing’s work as a nugget-finder has been a big help in the youngster’s journey as a play-by-play man.

“He’s come a long way, it’s a process, it has been for me. I told him that I don’t think that any broadcaster is satisfied with the way he calls a game, if so, they should retire. There’s always something you can do to fine tune it. You have to do your best to find your groove and what makes you comfortable and Tyson’s trying. He’s going to find that on his own.”

Chances are he’ll find a nugget on his way as well.

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