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The CAA Book Club

October 20, 2011

Yesterday we tackled the CAA coaches’ favorite basketball movies. Today it’s books.

There was no Hoosiers-like popular choice, but a couple coaches referenced Pat Riley’s book (I’m assuming they meant The Winner Within, but neither knew the name of it).

“I use it a lot when I talk to my guys,” Brusier Flint said. … I always reference it. … [The message is] don’t talk about injuries. Don’t make the team miss the guy that’s out. How to deal with a star on the team and how to treat people, things like that.

Blaine Taylor is a Riley reader as well.

“It parallels life business with basketball. The basketball books that I hate are the ones that, January 7th: I got up, I had brunch. Had shootaround. Went and played University of Arizona. Post-game meal: spaghetti. Calipari and some of these guys write those books. Like, oh jeez. Get a life if you read one of those books. It’s like reading somebody’s diary.”

I’m praying Old Dominion plays Kentucky in an NCAA Tournament some day and Taylor tells John Calipari, “Hey, your book sucks,” while they shake hands.

As you can imagine, books by coaches are popular among coaches. The best college coach ever? John Wooden. Apparently his writings are valued too.

“I always refer back to them on a regular basis, the John Wooden books, and he has five or six of them out there,” Bill Coen said. “And they relate to life, they relate to basketball and they link the two. There’s so much wisdom in there and probably the greatest coach who’s ever coached in college. If you go back there, his wisdom is very simple and direct and it’s very useful.”

Shaka Smart is partial to another legendary coach’s teachings. His favorite book is Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson.

I was surprised initially surprised, because I think of Smart like this and think of Jackson like this, but Smart said there are definitely some similarities between the two coaches.

I’m really into the spiritual stuff like he is,” Smart said. “I’m my own guy. He’s got 10 or 11 NBA championship rings, so he’s a good guy to emulate.”

Only one coach actually had a copy of his favorite book handy when I asked. That was Buzz Peterson, who pulled a beaten hardcover of The Carolina Way out of a black bag.

“It always stays with me,” Peterson said of his former UNC coach Dean Smith’s book. “It never leaves me because there’s so much in here and I respect the man a lot … I correlate things in here to my team.”

Matt Brady tries to correlate what he reads to his team, but it isn’t from a basketball book, per se. He said he reads books like Outliers and Good To Go – practical books in which life lessons can be extracted.

“That’s the genre that I read,” Brady said. “I read stuff like that, that applies to athletics but is not necessarily about athletics.”

I mentioned Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule from Outliers – which basically says that it takes a human being 10,000 hours of practice to perfect a skill — and Brady talked about how he sees it, related to his sport.

“To me, ordinary people can do extraordinary things if put in the right situation, or more to the point, if you’re willing to put the time in,” Brady said. “To me, the Beatles, who are my favorite group, they were not a group that was destined for greatness until someone needed them to play 300 nights a year, and they honed their craft. … To become great at anything, it’s all about time.”

Paul Hewitt said he’s more interested in baseball books, citing The Summer Of 64 and The Last Good Season. Ron Hunter said he only reads religious books.

Back on the basketball track, Pat Skerry – a Medford, Mass., native –offered Basketball Junkie by former Boston Celtic and Fall River, Mass., native Chris Herron.

Monte Ross’s said A Season On The Brink while Mo Cassara claimed another John Feinstein work: The Last Amateurs

“It’s about the Patriot League before anyone had scholarships,” Cassara said. “I love that book. I think it details what college basketball is, or should be all about.”

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