Miracles on the Hardwood: The Hope-and-a-Prayer Story of a Winning Tradition in Catholic College Basketball

Twelv2. Mar. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781538717103. $28. SPORTS
In many respects, this history of Catholic college basketball could serve as a history of the sport itself. Gasaway, best known as a basketball analyst for ESPN, takes us from the early days of college basketball through the present. He starts by ushering us back to the period between the late 1930s and the 1950s, when the National Invitation Tournament was more prestigious than the NCAA’s basketball tournament (the latter is now the goliath March Madness competition); at that time, teams could play in both tournaments. We meet the earliest big men, including the 6'10" George Mikan, who starred at DePaul in the mid-1940s; and Bill Russell, also 6'10", who led the San Francisco Dons to two consecutive NCAA championships in the 1950s. There is also playmaker Bob Cousy, who was a three-time all-American at Holy Cross in the late 1940s. Gasaway also discusses great Catholic college teams, from the Dons to Villanova to perennial challenger Gonzaga. The author doesn’t shy away from discussing racism in this era of college basketball, when some coaches refused to play against teams with Black players on their rosters.
VERDICT Both students and fans of basketball will find this a valuable survey of the last eight decades of the sport, even as it concentrates on the fortunes of Catholic teams.
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