Ed Breslin fulfills every college basketball fan’s fantasy of being an NCAA Division I coach in his new book: The Divine Nature of Basketball: My Season Inside the Ivy League. The book describes a season spent as a virtual coach in the Ivy League, shadowing head coach of Yale men’s basketball James Jones.
It’s sports journalism in the tradition of George Plimpton. But above all, it’s a celebration of basketball, of participation in life, of gifted mentors and coaches, and of the proper approach to collegiate athletics.
When you start talking about the greatest coaches in basketball history, the conversation starts and ends with one name: John Wooden, who led UCLA to 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, had a lifetime winning percentage of .804, and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield as both a coach and player.
When the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference moved its basketball tournament from frequent host city Albany, then-Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos was perhaps more upset than even arena and city officials. Patsos loved the downtown experience, he loved Albany’s restaurants, and he loved the knowledgeable college basketball crowds that made mid-major basketball feel like the big time each March.
Now, after nine years at Loyola, where he took the Greyhounds from a six-win season his first year all the way to the NCAA Tournament in 2012, Patsos can call his favorite MAAC city home.
Several regional college basketball teams are making runs at the NCAA tournament this week.
Today at noon in Springfield, the Marist College women’s basketball team goes for its eighth straight MAAC championship against Iona, a longtime foe that has never been able to send the Red Foxes packing in March. Top-ranked Marist is in the championship for the 10th straight year and has beaten Iona in the title game in 2007 and ’08.
On the men’s side, the Iona faces Manhattan tonight at 9.
In the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder picked up their third straight win last night to pull within 2 ½ games of first-place San Antonio in the NBA's Western Conference. The Thunder downed the Knicks 95-94 in New York.
The only other NBA game last night had Denver beating the Los Angeles Clippers 109-92. It's the seventh straight win for the Nuggets and their 12th in a row in Denver. They own the league's best home mark at 27-3. The loss drops the Clippers five games off the Western Conference lead.