is My Favorite Month
is my favorite month.
Not because of Thanksgiving, not because of
the change in the leaves, not because of the change in temperatures
and not because we’re almost to Christmas.
November is my favorite month because it is
when basketball season begins.
For as long as I can remember, I have associated
the month of November with the smell of the gym, the sound of the
ball on the hardwood and the yells and screams that are unique to
a cheering bunch of zealots in the bleachers.
The last few years, I have coached high school girls basketball
and the anticipation of this time of year has become even greater
for me. (As a coach, I have to anticipate the tough
questions I will face on the first day of tryouts – things like “Will
we play man or zone?” and “What color ribbons are we wearing in our
hair this year?” As you can
see, it takes a special kind of talent to coach.)
One of the things I ask my players to do each
year is to select a basketball-related book that they must read over
the course of the season. The
books provide a source for conversations at team dinners and on long
bus rides. Here are a few new ones that I will recommend
to the girls this year, as well as a couple of old favorites:
Losing Season by Pat Conroy
freely admit to bias here. Conroy is my favorite author of all-time, fiction or non-fiction.
His newest book tells the tale of his senior year at
The Citadel, as his basketball playing days came to a close.
His account of a season that he desperately wanted to
be so great, but turned out awful, is meaningful and genuine.
This book isn’t just about basketball – it’s about dealing
with adversity and the loss of something you love.
Punch: One Night, Two Lives and The Fight That Changed Basketball
Forever by John Feinstein
has taken another isolated piece of the sporting world and filled
it out so compellingly that one can’t stop reading. In a game during the 1977 season, Kermit Washington punched Rudy
Tomjanovich so viciously that Tomjanovich nearly died. The incident has remained with both men since
and Feinstein traces how that night affected both men emotionally
and professionally over the last 25 years.
These Girls, Hope Is A Muscle
by Madeleine Blais
chronicles a season of girls basketball at a powerhouse high
school in Amherst. Probably
the best book ever written about young women in athletics, Blais
lets us in on the lives of these girls, as they try desperately
to win a state championship.
Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure
by maybe the best basketball writer of the last few decades,
Wolff takes us on an around the world trip, tracing the popularity
of basketball around the globe.
Wolff captures the power of a sport to unite people,
yet eloquently describes how the game means different things
to every individual.
Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams
by Darcy Frey
boys from a crime ridden area of Coney Island play basketball
at Lincoln High School for one reason – to earn a college scholarship
so that they can avoid the depressing reality that awaits them
if they can’t escape their neighborhood.
Frey followed them for a season and this is her account.
And now I have to make a tough decision, one
that might dictate the course of our season this year – do we wear
the blue ribbons or the white ribbons???
earned a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of California,
Irvine. His first mystery, Dead Week, was released in December
2001. He and his wife live in Castle Rock, CO. His website is