A MARCH TO MADNESS by John Feinstein


The View from the Floor in the Atlantic Coast Conference
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 After writing about football (A Civil War, 1996) and golf (A Good Walk Spoiled, 1995), bestselling author Feinstein returns to his true love, college basketball in the ACC. With such perennial superpowers as Duke and North Carolina, the Atlantic Coast Conference is the place to go for particularly dramatic and hard-fought hoops glory. Last season's ACC, the subject of Feinstein's book, had no shortage of drama, with Duke's head coach Mike Krzyzewski coming back from a year of surgery and burnout, UNC legend Dean Smith aiming for the record as winningest basketball coach in college history, and Wake Forest senior star Tim Duncan eschewing an early exit to the pros. Feinstein was given unprecedented access: Seven of the league's nine head coaches allowed him to attend all practices, locker-room sessions, and staff meetings, and two others permitted him unusually lengthy interviews. As he has proven repeatedly, this writer knows how to use such access to great advantage, finding the telling moment or detail, reading the mindset of participating athletes and coaches with uncommon astuteness. This volume is no exception. Moreover, he pulls off the difficult feat of keeping nine narratives moving relatively seamlessly. The coaches are the primary focus here, and Feinstein is particularly good at conveying the exhausting pressures of a high-profile coaching job in which everything one does is subjected to endless media scrutiny and public comment. Regrettably, one wishes that he had devoted more attention to the sociology of big-college sports. By avoiding some of the political and social ramifications, Feinstein ends up with a volume that feels a bit thinner than his best work. On the other hand, since Smith's surprising retirement announcement in October, the book does take on the added luster of recounting the final season of a remarkable career. Whatever this book's shortcomings, Feinstein still has a great shooting touch, and this one is a three-pointer from downtown. Swish! (For a look at Hoosier high-school hoops, see William Gildea's Where the Game Matters Most, p. 1685.) (Book-of- the-Month Club selection; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 1998
ISBN: 0-316-27740-1
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1997


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