DIGGER PHELPS AND NOTRE DAME BASKETBALL by Richard & Pat Scanlan Phelps

DIGGER PHELPS AND NOTRE DAME BASKETBALL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Forget the title and byline. Essentially, this deadly serious exercise in sportspeak is a third-person review of the Phelps-coached Notre Dame basketball team's 197980 season, which, by the ultracompetitive standards of big-time collegiate athletics, was only a modest success. The club did compile a 22-5 record, beating such powers as UCLA, Maryland, and previously undefeated DePaul. But it took early retirement in post-season play, losing to Missouri in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite sporadic attempts to add significance with accounts of Digger's one-on-one recruiting jaunts, speaking engagements before demanding superfans on the rubber-chicken circuit, and frequently hostile encounters with the press, the narrative never really gets out of a sequential rut. Part of the problem is that Phelps is presented as if Born to the Bench. Beyond such trivial tidings as the news that he owes his nickname to childhood employment in Dad's mortuary, wears loud jackets for televised contests, and makes novenas to St. Jude (patron saint of hopeless causes) when a tough opponent is on the schedule, the text offers few clues as to what makes Digger run. Nor is there any perspective on what a flourishing basketball program means for the university, let alone the players--who emerge as little more than cogs in a chillingly efficient machine. Strictly for devoted Notre Dame fans.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1981
Publisher: Prentice-Hall