Minor-league basketball in Pennsylvania: meet the Ridley Gap Ghosts. And lake Baer--""thirty-five with no assets but a jumpshot and a knee they can't cut no more out of""--gets along by playing his beloved game on weekends and otherwise making himself available for little side jobs at the bidding of the gamblers who keep the Ghosts viable. Like, for instance, steering a hot high-school prospect--first with a little one-upsmanship on the court, then some unsubtle bribery in a hotel--away from college and toward the Ghosts. But when Jake's roommate and buddy, over-the-hill Jojo, is arrested for armed-robbery, lake is devastated. And with the Big Game only a night away, Levin's appreciation for Philadelphia sports-talk and bar-blarney becomes admirably acute. But, as narrated by Jake, this first novel's bitten-off and snazzo style, with self-conscious hard-boiled dialogue, comes close to setting your teeth on edge: the Rocky-style sentimentality and the stringy hipness never really bond. As a short-story, where a distinctive voice like Jake's can be enough, there might have been something special; as a tiny novel, there's some show of talent but mostly strain.