March 1939: Before the Madness-The Story of the First NCAA Basketball Tournament Champions by Terry Frei, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
March 1939: Before the Madness - The Story of the First NCAA Basketball Tournament Champions

March 1939: Before the Madness - The Story of the First NCAA Basketball Tournament Champions

by Terry Frei
     
 

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In 1939, the Oregon Webfoots, coached by the visionary Howard Hobson, stormed through the first NCAA basketball tournament, which was viewed as a risky coast-to-coast undertaking and perhaps only a one-year experiment. Seventy-five years later, following the tournament’s evolution into a national obsession, the first champions are still celebrated as “The

Overview

In 1939, the Oregon Webfoots, coached by the visionary Howard Hobson, stormed through the first NCAA basketball tournament, which was viewed as a risky coast-to-coast undertaking and perhaps only a one-year experiment. Seventy-five years later, following the tournament’s evolution into a national obsession, the first champions are still celebrated as “The Tall Firs.” They indeed had astounding height along the front line, but with a pair of racehorse guards who had grown up across the street from each other in a historic Oregon fishing town, they also played a revolutionarily fast-paced game.

Author Terry Frei’s track record as a narrative historian in such books as the acclaimed Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming, plus a personal connection as an Oregon native whose father coached football at the University of Oregon for seventeen seasons, makes him uniquely qualified to tell this story of the first tournament and the first champions, in the context of their times. Plus, Frei long has been a fan of Clair Bee, the Long Island University coach who later in life wrote the Chip Hilton Sports Series books, mesmerizing young readers who didn’t know the backstory told here. In 1939, the Bee-coached LIU Blackbirds won the NCAA tournament’s rival, the national invitation tournament in New York—then in only its second year, and still under the conflict-of-interest sponsorship of the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association. Frei assesses both tournaments and, given the myths advanced for many years, his conclusions in many cases are surprising.

Both events unfolded in a turbulent month when it was becoming increasingly apparent that Hitler's belligerence would draw Europe and perhaps the world into another war . . . soon. Amid heated debates over the extent to which America should become involved in Europe's affairs this time, the men playing in both tournaments wondered if they might be called on to serve and fight. Of course, as some of the Webfoots would demonstrate in especially notable fashion, the answer was yes.

It was a March before the Madness.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
06/01/2014
Ostensibly about the 1939 University of Oregon men's basketball team the Webfoots, winners of the very first NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) tournament, Denver Post journalist Frei's book also tells the story of the Long Island University Blackbirds men's team from the same year, as they were winners of the second-ever NIT (National Invitation Tournament). Much of the narrative is framed by the buildup to World War II in Europe, all chapters in Part 2–which makes up the bulk of the title—being interspersed with fact-based "newsreel" items clearly written by the author. Frei's purpose here is difficult to discern since it is otherwise unclear whether the players, nearly all of whom later served in the war, were at the time aware of or concerned about these events. Frei also focuses on who the real national champion was for 1939. Solid arguments can be made in favor of both teams, and leaning toward one team over another seems to be based less on fact than on which criteria are considered. At any rate, Frei's case for Oregon is not entirely convincing. VERDICT Though well written and thoroughly researched, the title lacks focus. Still, those interested in basketball's early years and the origins of the NCAA Tournament will find much to interest them and a lot of new information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781589799257
Publisher:
Taylor Trade Publishing
Publication date:
02/06/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
264
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Award-winning journalist, author, and screenwriter Terry Frei is in his second stint at the Denver Post. He has been sports columnist for the Portland Oregonian, a football writer for the Sporting News, and an ESPN.com hockey columnist. Among his six previous books are Third Down and a War to Go, ’77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming of Age, and Olympic Affair. His web site is www.terryfrei.com.

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