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The Divine Nature of Basketball: My Season Inside the Ivy League

Overview


The Divine Nature of Basketball: My Season Inside the Ivy League describes a season spent as a virtual coach in the Ivy League. Shadowing head coach of Yale men’s basketball James Jones and bird-dogging his team from first practice to final game, Ed Breslin fulfills every college basketball fan’s fantasy of being an NCAA Division I coach.

It’s sports journalism in the tradition of George Plimpton. But above all, it’s a celebration of basketball, of participation in life, of ...

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The Divine Nature of Basketball: My Season Inside the Ivy League

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Overview


The Divine Nature of Basketball: My Season Inside the Ivy League describes a season spent as a virtual coach in the Ivy League. Shadowing head coach of Yale men’s basketball James Jones and bird-dogging his team from first practice to final game, Ed Breslin fulfills every college basketball fan’s fantasy of being an NCAA Division I coach.

It’s sports journalism in the tradition of George Plimpton. But above all, it’s a celebration of basketball, of participation in life, of gifted mentors and coaches, and of the proper approach to collegiate athletics.

And all this in the throwback Ivy League. Where lofty academic requirements merge with high athletic standards. Where every game is an intense and ancient rivalry. Where no league tournament renders the regular season meaningless. Where nearly all league games are played two-a-weekend. Where back-to-back games and five-hour bus trips make for weary legs and heartbreaking upsets. Where coaches have to be teachers and mentors first and foremost.

Over the course of the season, Breslin comes to understand that it’s coaches like James Jones, their priorities in order, who realize that lessons learned in sport are often enduringly important, and transferable to other areas of life. They know that the game of basketball, invented in a YMCA gym to vanquish winter blues and channel excess energy, is a divine template for teaching and mentoring. They know that mastery of a demanding skill in youth, and of one’s self, often leads to mastery in adult life: in the arts, in the sciences, in the professions, and in business.

The author experienced all this, and more, firsthand. But the most important lesson he learned is that if you ever visit the Yale locker room, whatever else you do: “Don’t step on the Y.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[Ed Breslin’s] new book on Ivy League hoops is truly divine.” –Providence Journal

“Breslin’s [book] is a Plimpton-like celebration of college basketball as told by one of its biggest fans.”
-New Haven Register

“If John Feinstein set the standard in covering a college basketball campaign in his landmark A Season on the Brink . . . Breslin still animates the form with this account of Yale University’s 2011–12 team. . . . Breslin offers especially insightful and detailed breakdowns of the team’s practice sessions and vivid play-by-plays of each game. If Feinstein gives readers an unvarnished look at an NCAA powerhouse, Breslin shows how beautiful— even, yes, divine— the college game can be away from the national spotlight.”-Booklist

“If you want to go on a journey of life in Division I hoops involving genuine student-athletes in the competitive Ivy League, this book is a must-read. Ed Breslin will take you on this amazing trip as he witnessed it firsthand.” —Dick Vitale

"Ed Breslin displays an enthusiasm for college basketball that's as refreshing as it is knowledgeable. His astute observations, shrewd interpretations, and colorful descriptions make this a soon-to-be classic. When all is said and done, his book tells a very human story of a man living out a dream." -Fran Dunphy, head coach, Temple University, former 10-time Ivy League champion coach of Penn

“You will finish this book with a smile on your face, pleased to have spent time with a writer who unapologetically and without the trendiness of irony or the falseness of sentiment has led you on a journey that, unequivocally, was the greatest of his life. And because that journey revolves around the game of basketball, it revolves around the world, as well.” –From the foreword by Rick Telander

A Divine Nature of Basketball dazzles while capturing the spirit of the game Naismith built. . . . [It] glistens with humility and candor. . . . A slam dunk.” —Fansided

"Breslin clearly loves basketball, and his passion for the game comes through on just about every page of his book."

--Library Journal

Library Journal
06/01/2014
Breslin (Drinking with Miss Dutchie) clearly loves basketball, and his passion for the game comes through on just about every page of his book. Unfortunately, he fails to fulfill the promise of his prolog, which claims that readers will be given something in the vein of George Plimpton's participatory journalism classics. Instead, they will find tedious, blow-by-blow accounts of every Yale men's basketball team's play in the 2011–12 season. These narratives are interspersed with Breslin's thoughts about and memories of the game, many of which are captivating reading. We learn less about the players and coaches beyond that they are excellent at what they do. And though the author includes a fair amount about what it's like to compete in the Ivy League it's hardly insider information, which is surprising considering the access Breslin was given. If he had simply written a straightforward memoir about his love of basketball or his time following the Yale team this would have been a far more successful work. VERDICT Yale men's basketball fans may be unable to resist this book and they will surely find some value in it. Everyone else should try John Feinstein's The Last Amateurs instead.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781613216361
  • Publisher: Sports Publishing LLC
  • Publication date: 2/4/2014
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 567,380
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ed Breslin

Ed Breslin is a former editor and publisher who spent two decades in the book business. He is the author of Drinking with Miss Dutchie and America’s Great Railroad Stations, and coauthor of Sherman: The Ruthless Victor.
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