BIG MAN ON CAMPUS: John Thompson and the Georgetown Hoyas by Leonard Shapiro

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS: John Thompson and the Georgetown Hoyas

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This biography of the volatile basketball coach profits from the author's sense of fairness and objectivity but, lacking Thompson's cooperation and input--and that of friends, associates, and players--fails to get to the man behind the great teams and bitter controversies. Named head coach at Georgetown in 1972, the former Boston Celtic and successful high-school coach wasted no time in making his 6' 10"" presence felt. In fact, as Shapiro notes, some believe that, as a rare black coach in a predominantly upper-class white school, Thompson used his race to his advantage in recruiting and in manipulating his way to a personal fortune. By 1975, the once woeful Hoyas were in the NCAA tournament for the first time in more than 30 years. Just missing the Final Four in 1979 and losing the 1981-82 final to North Carolina, Thompson's bullying, brawling team, led by 7-foot Patrick Ewing, won it all in 1983. Over the years there have been controversy and what has come to be known as ""Hoya paranoia"": closed practices, gag orders on the players, refused interviews. From his suggestion, following the championship in 1983, that the officials and sportswriters were involved in gambling to his endorsements and payments for conducting ""a few clinics""; from his abysmal defeat at the 1988 Olympics to his recent meeting with a D.C. drug-dealer to warn him away from his players, Thompson has continued to be a fascinating, dominant figure in the world of college sports. Well written and presented, but Shapiro (Tough Stuff, 1988, not reviewed) fails to offer little more than is available in myriad magazine and newspaper accounts.

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 1990
Publisher: Henry Holt