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A March to Madness: A View from the Floor in the Atlantic Coast Conference Paperback – February 15, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (February 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316277126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316277129
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In terms of work ethic, John Feinstein is the sports equivalent of Stephen King: he's tireless, prolific, and multifaceted. With a past-performance line that includes A Season on the Brink, A Good Walk Spoiled, and A Civil War, he's regularly in the running for his genre's MVP. A March to Madness, which chronicles the 1996-97 Atlantic Coast Conference's ineluctable journey to March Madness, continues his string. Exhaustively reported, and penned with as much poignancy as panache, it's the story of the most competitive college basketball conference in the U.S., filtered through the eyes--and complex lives--of its head coaches. Coaching young in-your-faces is never easy; it's even harder in a pressure cooker such as the ACC, where expectations are enormous, winning is essential, and an NCAA tournament bid is requisite for survival. Feinstein had remarkable access to his high-profile, high-strung subjects, such as Dean Smith, Bobby Cremins, and Mike Krzyzewski, and the drama he records is every bit as fast-paced and stunning as a close Duke-North Carolina game with the final seconds ticking off the clock. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The list of great sports books about anything but baseball is limited, but Feinstein (A Civil War, LJ 10/1/96) has increased it by one with this tour-de-force. Similar to his book about Indiana University Coach Bob Knight, A Season on the Brink (S. & S.,1988), Feinstein's latest covers one year with all of the teams in the perennially powerful Atlantic Coast Conference. After introducing each of the schools, their teams, their coaches, and their expectations for the 1996/97 basketball season, the book describes their progress week by week, culminating with Dean Smith's run to the NCAA Final Four. Such a detailed accounting of a sports season could seem interminable to readers, but Feinstein has again produced a narrative that is not only interesting but often exciting. He conveys the exhiliration of a road conference win and the gloom of a home loss. This book should appeal to all readers, not just to sports fans. Highly recommended for all libraries.?William O. Scheeren, Hempfield Area H.S. Lib., Greensburg, Pa.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

John Feinstein spent years on the staff at the Washington Post, as well as writing for Sports Illustrated and the National Sports Daily. He is a commentator on NPRs "Morning Edition," a regular on ESPNs "The Sports Reporters" and a visiting professor of journalism at Duke University.His first book, A Season on the Brink, is the bestselling sports book of all time. His first book for younger readers, Last Shot, was a bestseller.

Customer Reviews

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John Feinstein is one of the most prolific writers in the field of sports journalism.
Patrick L. Randall
I loved the knowledge of some of the intense rivalries, especially between Coach K and Dean Smith.
Patrick Graham
Even if you're not an ACC fan, if you like college basketball you should enjoy this book.
T. Bratz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John Orfield on April 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
I grew up in the Southeast on a steady sports diet of ACC basketball and football, followed each team closely each year, and, of course, later attended an ACC school. I graduated in the spring of 1996 -- just a few months before the 1996-97 season Feinstein chronicles in this book began. So I thought I knew all about the ACC and its sundry characters.
Boy was I wrong. Feinstein's insights and access showed me an entirely different side of the ACC world I only thought I knew. The spotlight here is on the coaches and we get to know most of them intimately -- their background, their fears, their expectations, their personal lives, their triumphs and failures. It's all fascinating stuff, although, frankly, I expected a little bit more about the players themselves. Instead, players like Tim Duncan and Vince Carter have mere bit parts in the background. But they were college players and I guess Feinstein really couldn't drag them into the commercial world of book writing.
Since the focus of the book is on the coaches themselves, the amount of access each coach gave Feinstein set the tone for the entire project. It is more than obvious that coaches like Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Maryland's Gary Williams, Wake Forest's Dave Odom, Clemson's Rick Barnes, Virginia's Jeff Jones, and Florida State's Pat Kennedy gave Feinstein as much access and interview time as he wanted and they are covered thoroughly in the book. On the other hand, it's apparent NC State's Herb Sendek, Georgia Tech's Bobby Cremins, and, most importantly, North Carolina's Dean Smith didn't give Feinstein nearly as much time, access, and information as the others. Smith, in particular, is portrayed as an outside, shadowy figure and a pretty mean one at that.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Hardy on September 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
...and certainly the best book on basketball I've read. Better for me than A Season On the Brink - better written, and the central characters are more sympathetic than Bobby Knight. But I'm a long-time ACC fan.
The book gives you great perspective on life as a basketball coach: how hard it is to climb the ladder, how uncertain the job is, how coaches' success depends on recruiting great players. The best parts of this book are the portraits of the coaches and how they got where they are today. Stories about Bob Kennedy and Gary Williams getting into a screaming match at the scorers table as assistant coaches; Jim Valvano and Rick Pitino at basketball camps in the off-season; and so on. Really compelling stories about the basketball life, including comments on the toll it takes on coaches' marriages.
The book has some drawbacks. For one, you almost need to be an ACC fan. I was already familiar with and interested in most of the characters in the book, but fans in other parts of the country may not be. Also, as time goes by and people move on out of the ACC, the book may become less and less relevent. All the players from that season are gone; many of the coaches too. I think only Herb Sendek, Dave Odom, Gary Williams, Mike Krz. are still coaching at those schools: gone are Rick Barnes, Pat Kennedy, Bobby Cremins, Jeff Jones, and of course El Deano. And the book really doesn't focus on the players at all: it's almost entirely about the coaches.
But some of the criticisms made by other reviewers don't seem valid to me: (1) Duke - I thought Feinstein bent over backwards NOT to show a Duke bias. But Duke finished first in the league that year, Duke has been one of the dominant programs in the game, plus Feinstein had some compelling stuff about Duke.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Karen Hoffman on November 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
you will after reading this book. I read the "Madness" in my first year of college at UVA- the year after it was published- and a love affair began. Whereas I used to not care less about basketball, this book signed over my life to the ACC. The soap opera-like stories, play-by-play excitement, and obvious love for the game captured me, and ever since I have been a virtual hermit during March. The biases are there, but that's part of the charm. In the ACC you love your team, but you love the game even more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Slokes VINE VOICE on September 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
I'm not a college hoops fan, but having come from the University of Connecticut (back when winning the NIT was a big deal for us), I figured I should try to read something about the sport that has come to define my alma mater.

I chose well. No, UConn is not a part of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the subject of this season-long profile by John Feinstein. But Feinstein gives a solid appreciation for what college basketball is all about through the experiences of the coaches, players, refs, execs, and fans active in the ACC, which Feinstein claims is perhaps the most competitive b-ball conference in Division 1, year in and out. "Let down just the slightest bit and you become instant roadkill," he writes.

Feinstein gives you a sense of the different coaching styles at play here, from Dean Smith's traditional approach at North Carolina to Rick Barnes' cut-up quirkiness at Clemson to Dave Odom's huggy-bear avuncularity at Wake Forest. He relates tales about the history and folklore of the conference that make one feel like an instant Dick Vitale just from reading them, even if the terms "traveling" and "charging" make you flash on American Express. Most importantly, he writes a book that really opens up the world of college basketball to the more casual fan, or even curious non-fan.

That's what I liked the book. I read it, relished it, and enjoyed it with practically no knowledge of the sport going in. The way Feinstein writes about how different refs call different fouls, for example, was both illuminating and entertaining reading.

Feinstein also writes candidly about contracts, recruiting, marriages (failed and successful), burnout, death, and all the other factors that affect college coaches.
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