The usually embattled coach of the Univ. of Nevada at Las Vegas gets off a few good shots in this apologia for a college-basketball career that's notable in about equal measure for controversy and success. But, unfortunately, even the deferential assistance of veteran sportswriter Pluto (The Earl of Baltimore, etc.) can't enliven the deadly earnestness of an overlong tract that's the autobiographical equivalent of a brief for the defense. With no evident game plan, the authors offer a vaguely chronological narrative that takes Tarkanian from his roots in northern California's Armenian community to bittersweet triumphs and strife at UNLV. Along the way, they call a surfeit of time-outs to settle old scores and interject invariably supportive comments from fellow coaches, family members, former players, or other fans. Close to half the 350-page text is devoted to justifying the recruiting practices that have led to Tarkanian's censure by the NCAA and embroiled him in legal actions, one of which is to be heard by the Supreme Court during its current term. Tarkanian does offer some sensible suggestions for reforming--or at least recognizing--the realities of a big-time sport whose systematic abuses make cynical mercenaries, not student-athletes, of the inner-city kids whose talents fill arenas throughout the country. It's difficult, though, to credit either the commitment or capacity of a man who persists in referring to the classroom work required to earn a degree as ""academics."" Dull, exculpatory, and frequently repetitious fare of interest mostly to diehard UNLV partisans. This less-than-winsome entry has 16 pages of photographs (not seen).