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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outside Shot has the Inside Story
An incredibly in depth narrative. O'Brien did his research and took full advantage of his amazing access to these "[l]ittle, miniathelete gods" and the people around them. Like other reviewers I thoroughly enjoyed the way he seamlessly tied in the politics and socioeconomics of high school/college sports and Kentucky itself.

I readily agree that one need not...
Published 21 months ago by D Hayes

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sad testimony about educational priorities
I don't think Keith O'Brien intended to do so but he created a profile of the sad state of American education with this book. Here we see in Scott County a school that treats athletes as a special class who are not accountable to anyone other than the basketball program. What we see here is an otherwise well run school but it is clear that the basketball program runs the...
Published 17 months ago by R. C Sheehy


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outside Shot has the Inside Story, January 23, 2013
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An incredibly in depth narrative. O'Brien did his research and took full advantage of his amazing access to these "[l]ittle, miniathelete gods" and the people around them. Like other reviewers I thoroughly enjoyed the way he seamlessly tied in the politics and socioeconomics of high school/college sports and Kentucky itself.

I readily agree that one need not be a fan of basketball to enjoy this book. However, for those of us who are, I was fascinated to get a sense as to where all these "blue chip" prospects we see on ESPN come from.

After sailing through the book cover to cover in 2 days (also like another reviewer), I was struck by how concise the story was. O'Brien wastes few words and boiled down mountains of research and hours and hours of interviews and observation into a tight 300 pages that I banged through. The biggest disappointment is that Outside Shot is O'Brien's first book, so once you finish it you have to wait for his next one.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outside shot indeed, November 19, 2012
This review is from: Outside Shot: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County's Quest for Basketball Greatness (Hardcover)
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I've always enjoyed books about sports, especially basketball. O'Brien spent a year with this small town Kentucky team. Unlike many "embedded" reporters, he didn't just focus on the team. He was very aware of the small town pressures and the statewide interest in this team.

There was a lot going on that year. Three new players moved into the school district, claiming they weren't violating rules about moving to get into a better sports program. Although each had good reasons to move, such as a parent's job, they were viewed with suspicion.

The town itself was undergoing change. Toyota had transformed the place from a farming community several years before. Now the town faced financial pressure, unemployment and even racism.

O'Brien writes about each of the four star players as well as the coach. He writes well and the pace is good. In some ways, this team is like so many other high school teams; even the players blend together. There's the now familiar story of players who struggle with school and don't value education. Some come from challenging backgrounds. Their coach tells them they have to win to show the rest of Kentucky they "own" the stage. And they do take the game to a pretty high level.

Ultimately I found this book very good and very frustrating. The team has an outside shot at a championship and the boys have an outside shot at future success. Sadly, three of the four run into problems when they try to get placed on good Division 1 teams. Even when they get drafted, gaining an opportunity for an education, something goes wrong or they just miss being home.

One player goes to an elite prep school on scholarship and ends up at University of Cincinnati. When I googled his name he was still there.

Like so many other books about high school sports, this one ends with disillusionment. It's not the boys' fault; their classes are less than stimulating. Teachers have begun to show movies to hold the kids' attention. The team may win championships but they're not exposed to other avenues of success... or even encouraged to consider that alternative forms success might take.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outside Shot--Inside Story, January 25, 2013
This review is from: Outside Shot: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County's Quest for Basketball Greatness (Hardcover)
Outside Shot is a true narrative of a season of high school basketball in Scott County, Kentucky. It is a mesmerizing book that I could not put down. When I finished I had to read the author's notes to see how he could possibly know so much detail about the coach, the players and their families. The notes describe the author's unprecedented access to the practice sessions, team meetings and even doctor's appointments for the players. On some days the author is present in a player's home with his family from the time the player wakes up and has breakfast until the game ends that night. The author has also taped some of the opposing coaches pre-game and halftime comments to his players as a contrast to the coach he is following.

The author successfully captures all of the small town pressure placed on the coaches, players and their families. But the book is much more that a sports story. Woven throughout the basketball story line is the socio-economic history of Scott County, Kentucky and the family histories and dynamics of many of the players and coaches.
The author has obviously put his heart and soul into this book and it shows. It is a wonderful, fascinating read. Keith O'Brian, when do we get your 2nd book?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than a basketball story, January 16, 2013
By 
Joel Holtz (Vadnais Heights, MN) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Outside Shot: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County's Quest for Basketball Greatness (Hardcover)
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Keith O' Brien has written a captivating and at times, gut wrenching story of the Cardinals of Scott County, Kentucky and their quest for a State championship. But the book quickly expands to the troubles of the small town where they play..including drinking, academics, drugs, politics, and economics.

Chapter 3, COAL DUST AND DREAMS, about Coach Billy Hicks and how he got into coaching, is for me easily the best in the book.

Each of the teams 4 stars are featured throughout OUTSIDE SHOT.. Dakotah Euton, who grows up with a borderline abusive Dad. Will Schu, who grows up without a father..Ge'Lawn Guyn, whose Dad is a former drug dealer, and Chad Jackson, whose Dad ends up dead at age 39.

A great read not just for basketball fans, but for anybody who wants to read more about how to persevere through adversity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Home Run!, January 22, 2013
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This review is from: Outside Shot: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County's Quest for Basketball Greatness (Hardcover)
Outside Shot is outstanding! I will admit, however, that I am biased. I met the author, Keith O'Brien, after the Clark County-Scott County game on January 31, 2010. A week later, we talked for an hour, so I have been anxiously awaiting its release. The story of the 2009-10 Scott County basketball season weaves throughout the book. But it's about so much more than basketball. From farming in Scott County to coal mining in Harlan County, from the arrival of Toyota to high unemployment, from the wet-dry vote in Georgetown to drug dealing in Lexington, and from transfers and redshirts to watching movies in class, O'Brien captures the good and bad of Kentucky. An unbelievable amount of research went into this book. O'Brien interviewed hundreds of people and read countless newspaper and other articles. I highly recommend Outside Shot to anyone remotely interested in basketball.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sad testimony about educational priorities, May 21, 2013
This review is from: Outside Shot: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County's Quest for Basketball Greatness (Hardcover)
I don't think Keith O'Brien intended to do so but he created a profile of the sad state of American education with this book. Here we see in Scott County a school that treats athletes as a special class who are not accountable to anyone other than the basketball program. What we see here is an otherwise well run school but it is clear that the basketball program runs the school. The athletes have such domain and sadly are made the hopes of people who never left their area. They receive nothing in the form of an education and as we see it is rudimentary at best. They are there to play hoops and not much else.

This is just a sad book. It is made to tell us a story of a team but the story is a sad one of misplaced priorities. Just not well written or intelligent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great writing, April 16, 2014
This review is from: Outside Shot: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County's Quest for Basketball Greatness (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So much here- a beautifully written book, no spare words, but a depth of reporting and perspective on life that will appeal to both sports fans and people who don't have any interest in sports. Keith O'Brien writes about the function of sports in the lives of the athletes and the fans in this economically depressed region. He shares compelling stories about determination, teamwork, and the importance of having and working towards goals in our lives, and not giving up in hard times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Keith O'Brien Reminds Us That the Will to Succeed Starts From Within, December 29, 2013
This review is from: Outside Shot: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County's Quest for Basketball Greatness (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Wow. I LOVED this book, and anyone who knows me is aware that sports are not really something I follow a lot. That is what is great about OUTSIDE SHOT. It's a motivational tool wrapped in the cover of a team that was able to beat the odds and show what it really means to be successful.

There are so many layers to this story, and Keith O'Brien did an amazing job bringing them to the reader. For one there is the goal. Something we can all relate to. It's what drives the Cardinals and what will motivate those involved.

Then there is the determination. The great thing that O'Brien does is shows that the determination has to be equal among the players as with the coach. When both are fighting equally for the goal then there is nothing that can separate them.

Finally for me there is the motivation. Why do you want what you say you want? If it is just about winning then for me that is not enough. The players and the coach all had something in their lives that made them want to go out there and not just do their best but show what it means to be your personal best. By doing that they were able to reveal that regardless what others might say or do towards them it wouldn't break the resolve they had to push harder.

Talk about a story that should inspire anyone with a goal or vision in life. Through OUTSIDE SHOT Keith O'Brien shows why it's important not to give up, and he reminds us that the will to succeed starts from within.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, October 17, 2013
This review is from: Outside Shot: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County's Quest for Basketball Greatness (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I am not particularly a sports fan, and I am certainly not a follower of basketball, so for a sports themed story to have held my attention, there really had to have been some really good writing and some something-in-addition-to-sports substance to anchor it. This book definitely had that.

Excellent book. An awesome story to tell, well told. Very human portrait of all involved. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Redemption in a game called baskteball, October 11, 2013
By 
Joe Owen "Joe" (Republic of Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Outside Shot: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County's Quest for Basketball Greatness (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Keith O'Brien has written a fascinating book on how a town, a school, and a team has gone thru sadness, anger, and some redemption in their high school basketball team. "Outside Shot" is about how a high school basketball team, the Scott County Cardinals went thru a few years of losing basketball seasons and the town that followed the team was wrapped up in the team winning and when the team didn't win, the town showed an ugly side. I live in Texas where football is a religion and there are many, many small towns and big cities where the community follows passionately their local high school sports. In Kentucky, it's basketball and Scott County High School is the focus point on the towns passion for sports. This is a sad reflection on where a reputation for excellence is what makes a town feel proud. The book focus is on the 2010 basketball season for Scott County High School and its coach who just a few years before took the team to the state championship and won the state title. This is a blessing and a curse for the coach, the team, and the town since afterwards the town expected their basketball team to win state every year. When that doesn't happen, the town, community, and others blame the coach harshly, tell the players they are losers, and blame everything and everyone.
In 2010 the team experienced some redemption when they had a winning season, some heartbreak losses, and some lessons in life. I find it sad that the "religion of sports" is a guidepost for a town who cares about winning more than they care about the athletes. This book goes thru all the highs and lows, the stupidity of racism, the wisdom of others, the athletes who stand tough, and the coach who is all things to his athletes. This is a good book that shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of high school sports in small town America.
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Outside Shot: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County's Quest for Basketball Greatness
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