I wrote a history of Catholic college basketball that starts with Naismith and ends with the 2020 tournament being canceled. The book opens with an interview of Sister Jean on the day after her 100th birthday in 2019, back when we still did such things in person. It’s my first book, it’s called Miracles on the Hardwood, and it comes out today.
You might be saying, “But my team isn’t Gonzaga, and it’s not a non-UConn or -Butler Big East team, and in fact it’s not any other Catholic team either.”
Well, me too. I’m a graduate of a huge public land grant university, and I live and die with every bounce of the ball for its basketball team. But in the course of writing a book about the 12 percent of Division I that’s Catholic, I learned a great deal about the sport I love.
I learned why men’s college basketball in the United States is played in halves, while most of the rest of the world — amateur and professional, men’s and women’s — uses quarters.
I learned that in the 1960s John Thompson ran a 4-H program in Washington, D.C., and told the Washington Post, “Our kids don’t need to know how to make Indian headbands, they need to know how to survive in the city.”
Speaking of Thompson, the 15 coaches selected as finalists in recruiting Patrick Ewing arrived at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in September 1980 in alphabetical order according to their school names.
When the three-point line was introduced in 1986, Bob Knight told the press, “I don’t like the damn rule.”Continue reading