FOUR CORNERS by Joe Menzer

FOUR CORNERS

How UNC, N.C. State, Duke, and Wake Forest Made North Carolina the Crossroads of the Basketball Universe

KIRKUS REVIEW

Menzer covers college basketball for the Winston-Salem Journal, so he should be the right guy to explain all the fascinations of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s legendary Tobacco Road connection. The heart of the ACC, generally considered the most consistently competitive conference in men’s college hoops, is the four schools located within a small stretch of North Carolina—the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, Wake Forest, and North Carolina State. Until 1956, when Wake moved to Winston-Salem, 110 miles away from the Raleigh-Durham area, the four schools lay within 30 miles of one another. As Duke’s superb coach Mike Krzyzewski observes wryly, “Here we share the same dry cleaners.” The result is a series of rivalries without equal in the sport. It doesn’t hurt that until very recently, when Charlotte became a banking center, there were no major-league pro teams in the vicinity. Carolina college basketball was the entire sporting universe—and local talent tended to stay at home. Ironically, as Menzer relates, all four of these outstanding programs were built by outsiders. The great names of Carolina college coaching (Everett Case, Frank McGuire, Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jimmy Valvano) came from Indiana, New York City, Kansas, Chicago, and New York City, respectively. Whatever their provenance, these guys created dominant teams; 17 of the first 18, and 31 of the first 35, ACC titles were held by one of them. And they produced national champions, too. Menzer’s tale includes such colorful characters as the Pepsi-guzzling Case, part-time minister Bones McKinney, and the wildly flamboyant Valvano; and mostly, Menzer narrates with gusto. But when he gets to the era of the great Smith-Valvano-Krzyzewski duels of the 1980s and ’90s—the period he himself reported—the book, oddly, seems to run out of gas. Not a brilliant piece of reporting or writing, but good fun for the fans.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-84674-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1998




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