Customer Reviews: The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball
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Customer Reviews

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on January 10, 2012
I just finished "The Last Great Game" and I enjoyed it tremendously. The story of the two greatest college basketball dynasties in America is touched on in the form of Coach K and Rick Pitino and the teams they led into one of the greatest games of all time.

Fair warning to UK fans, the Duke team is given a far more thorough and in depth examination than the Kentucky team. Now that is not to say UK is ignored or that there is a bias or the sense that Duke is more deserving, rather it could very well boil down to a case of "to the winner go the spoils" since Duke did win the game. I do think the author could have added 15-30 pages to discuss UK's team dynamic, the players, and the campus- as he did with Duke- but I suspect this might have more to do with a lack of access to the UK side rather than a lack of diligence.

For Duke fans, you might be disappointed to learn that Bobby Hurley did not fully participate in the writing of this book. Given the attention given to the contentious nature of the relationship between Hurley and Christian Laettner and Hurley's pivotal role in Duke's success, I really wanted to hear Bobby's take on his college career and the game vs. Kentucky. That being said the sections devoted to Duke are well written and very revealing, giving a great perspective on all the players, the dynamic of the team, and Coach K's influence on their success.

I am a UK fan and I hate (but respect tremendously) Duke, and aside from a few complaints, I can recommend this book to UK, Duke and college basketball fans of all stripes.

And to respond to the other review regarding Hurley's participation:

Hurley is not quoted with any detail on the following:

Being "handed the keys" to the team as a Freshman to the chagrin of the upperclassmen.
His contentious relationship with Laettner.
Needing bathroom breaks in the finals loss to UNLV due to illness.
Being labeled a whiner as a Freshman.
Playing with a broken foot in a loss during the 92 season.

I simply think his voice was largely missing in the book, especially given his pivotal role in the story.

But it's still a fantastic book that I highly recommend...just not as perfect as others would have you believe.
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on January 12, 2012
Great book if you are a fan of college basketball or sports in general and remember the game.

I am a Duke grad so I loved it. Probably more Duke than Ky but still plenty for the Kentucky fans.

You get a real appreciation for what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of college sport. I came away with a much higher regard for Pitano.

My only gripe is that I got the Kindle version. No page numbers and sloppy conversion. For example a 6 foot 11 inch player is described as 611 in height.
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on January 9, 2012
On the morning of March 28, 1992, the Duke Blue Devils needed three more wins to become the first team in 19 years to repeat as national college basketball champions. Very tough squads stood in their path, though, and the game they played against the Kentucky Wildcats later that day in the East regional final of the NCAA Tournament is the contest that author Gene Wojciechowski looks back on in "The Last Great Game."

Wojciechowski tells the story of the Duke and Kentucky programs for the few years leading up to their epic '92 clash. Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke struggled for years with Final Four failure before finally winning a national title in 1991, and Rick Pitino was hired in 1989 to coach Kentucky back into elite status following crippling NCAA sanctions.

The author's history of the Duke and Kentucky programs of those years is excellent, as is his remembrance of the '91-'92 season and the 104-103 overtime classic itself. The author was able to get many interviews with players and coaches involved in the game, which was just unforgettable.

It's almost impossible to believe that it has been (gulp) 20 years since the game--I can still remember watching it and all who did watch it knew as soon as Christian Laettner's shot went in that they had just seen a game that would be talked about for decades. Wojciechowski's book is an outstanding recollection of a great game and a great era in college basketball.
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on October 22, 2012
This is really a fun read for any fan of college basketball. The author follows a familiar but enjoyable formula. (See Adam Lucas'THE BEST GAME EVER about the 1957 triple OT national championship game between North Carolina and Kansas) In this case the game is the titanic 1992 NCAA tournament game between Duke and Kentucky and Wojciechowski uses the game as a springboard for brief biographies of the coaches--Mike Krzyzewski of the Blue Devils and Rick Pitino of the Wildcats--and then goes on to examine the recruitment and personalities of the players on each team. The sections of the complex relationship between Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley of Duke and the story of the four seniors who stuck it out at Kentucky in the wake of a major scandal are particularly interesting.

Then comes a detailed discussion of the season and finally the story of the game itself, which ended in one of the most memorable shots in the history of college basketball. The book reflects the very best of college athletics--praise for the winners and respect for the losers along with the passion and drama that only sports can offer. But along with a wonderful sense of nostalgic fun, the book leaves the reader longing for the days when the rosters of great college basketball teams were filled with talented juniors and seniors in the era before the dark days of "one and done."
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on January 26, 2012
But with that said, it was a very interesting book. It is well written and gives insights about the game that I never knew. It also humanizes Laettner for me. I don't like him any more but do have an understanding of where he was coming from. I'm not sure how those 2.1 seconds changed basketball but do know that they were heart breakers for Kentucky fans. I also know that we have to endure them each and every year at tournament time. So maybe the 2.1 seconds did change basketball. For Duke fans, it's a wonderful tribute to your program.
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on June 12, 2012
This is how good Gene Wocjciechowski's THE LAST GREAT GAME is--Duke and Kentucky are my two least favorite college basketball teams and I couldn't put this book down. Next to John Feinstein's SEASON ON THE BRINK, it is the best college basketball book that I have ever read.

The secret to the book is Wocjciechowski's thesis that neither team actually lost, that the Kentucky kids became state legends, "The Unforgettables," while the Duke players achieved the rare repeat championship.
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on December 28, 2012
I vividly remember where I was when I watched this game. After 25+ years of basketball watching, I still find the Duke-UK to be the most dramatic game I've ever watched (or attended). So, picking up this book was a no-brainer.

It was disappointing then that I ended up skimming bits here and there and drumming my fingers. Unless you're really dying to read little snippets of dialog between the players, there really isn't a book's worth of material here. Gene W has definitely done his homework and interviewed numerous participants, but just doesn't have anything super new to add. And his fixed structure (Duke chapter, UK chapter, Duke chapter, UK chapter, ...) leads to silliness like his narrating the game itself twice back-to-back, which really didn't work for me.

All that said, the basic material is amazing: the two teams were extraordinary and the game was truly one for the ages. Hard to muff that up, so I'll still give it 3 stars. Definitely worth a beach read, and won't take you long to rip through it.

One last thing: the portion of the title "... that changed basketball" got my hopes up that this would position the game/teams in the context of basketball history (e.g. there was a great article in SI a couple months ago about the history of basketball offenses, etc). If the title sucked you in also, please be disabused. I didn't walk away with any sense in which the game changed basketball whatsoever. Except maybe that people will guard the inbound passer in such situations, which I already knew (and is pretty shallow).

So yeah, great game, okay book.
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on May 20, 2012
I am a slow reader and, as a Kentucky graduate, I found myself reading this book more slowly than I do most others. The reason is probably pretty obvious, as the result of the game is not a happy one for UK fans. This is a good book and worth reading for college basketball fans. It really opened up my eyes to the excruciating practices and conditioning programs that the players go through. Wojchiechowski does a superb job conveying the interactions between players on their own teams and on the opponents' teams as well.

Of course the title is overstated. It wasn't the "Last Great Game" and "The 2.1 Seconds" didn't change college basketball in the way the words seem to imply. But it was a great game, an exciting game, and an unforgettable one, especially so for those of us who watched it. Wojchiechowski does a great job relating much information that I was not aware of and enjoyed learning about. I learned more about Christian Laettner than I ever wanted to know; it is clear why his teammates referred to him as "A**hole." I wish Wojchiechowski had told us more about Kentucky's Sean Woods, who made the unbelievable floater that easily could have been the unforgettable shot instead of Laettner's buzzer-beater. Also, I'm still wondering how C.M. Newton got Eddie Sutton to resign as the UK coach as he never tells us how it came to pass. Those things said, I strongly recommend the book.
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on September 5, 2014
The Last Great Game is a really good recount of the one of greatest college basketball games ever played. Wojciechowski does a really good job of setting the background of this game. He goes over the major figures of the game,coaches and players and gives you all the background information you would need to know that makes this a highly interesting book. My only problem with the book is the last part of the title. The 2.1 seconds that changed basketball. He never says why this is so. Yes it was a very dramatic game. I watched it live myself. I was rooting for Kentucky but was very pleased by the effort and play of both teams. The game was played at a very high level. It is one of the best games I have ever seen even if it did have a disappointing for myself. But I don't see how it changed the game of basketball at all. If any one game did it was the 1979 final that featured Magic Johnson going against Larry Bird. IMO, College basketball became a big player on the sports stage after that game. If the author had summed up his book with his explanation of how it changed the game I would have felt better about it. But he didn't and that a small hole in the book for me. Still a fine book that any college basketball fan would enjoy.
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on January 11, 2012
I love Gene's writing on, but I was a little skeptical at first that he could stretch one college basketball game out into an entire book. However, the backstories leading up to the game are all very entertaining and interesting even for myself (I'm neither a UK or Duke fan). And the research that the author put into this book was extremely thorough.

I can still remember watching this game on tv so many years ago, Gene brought back some names and faces that I had almost forgotten about over time. I couldn't wait to read this book on the train on the way to work and back each day. This was one of those books that you are sad when it comes to an end. A great read for college basketball fans, especially those of us who remember when this game was played back in the early 90's - has it really been that long?
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