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Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four Paperback – Feb 2 2007

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 36 reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Enjoyable, but repetitive Feb. 2 2006
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Any fan of college basketball will enjoy this book from John Feinstein. It is a remarkably quick read filled with interesting anecdotes and stories from previous Final Fours and different perspectives from the 2005 Final Four in St. Louis.

However, I felt there were two fairly significant flaws in the book. First, the book is remarkably repetitive. Within the first 15 pages of the book I learned that the Duke class of '86 was Coach K's first "great" recruiting class, that they had a great team in '85-'86 and were stunned, disappointed and impacted by losing in the Final game to Louisville. Great. But I did not need to hear versions of literally the same sentences 3 or 4 more times in the book. Likewise, outside of Harry Potter, I never thought I would see the phrase "Lord Voltemort" 3 or 4 times in a sports book. These were not the only examples.

It seemed that this was a very good 220 page book extended into 330 pages. The book felt like it was made of discrete chapters, but not to be read together due to the repetition. I am no literary critic, but I am curious about the editorial decision to compose the book in a way that so frequently repeats the same stories.

The second, and perhaps more disappointing critique, is that it is not as interesting as I had hoped. Missing from this book, that likely will be read by fairly serious college basketball fans, is any sense of basketball strategy that the Final Four coaches employed during the 2005 games. I presume Feinstein did not have access during the tournament or after to the coaches that could have added detail to the game flow and strategy. With a greater level of "technical detail" the book would have been more interesting to me.

In the same vein, there are a number of anecdotes about various major coaches...all of whom are generally viewed in a positive light. I am sure they are decent, good people and tremendous basketball coaches, but there is not much that grabs you. There were multiple references (again) to Rollie Massimino and his falling out at Villanova, but no flesh on the bones. The NCAA and to a lesser extent the media (sports talk radio) come off as bad guys, but the coaches are treated gently. Feinstein seems to capture all the right folks and hear their anecdotes, but is not as incisive as hoped.

The best part of the book, in my opinion, is where we see strong research and opinion from the author. The chapter on the referees is enlightening and humorous. The chapter on the selection committee is even better. While respectful of their efforts and challenge, Feinstein posits and defends opinions in a manner that is engaging and interesting.

All in all the book is enjoyable; a quick read and worthy of getting fans ready for Selection Sunday. However, I felt the book was unnecessarily repetitive, lacked a component of 2005 Final Four "game strategy" and was overly deferential to the coaching "storytellers".
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Very disappointing Feb. 4 2006
By Arthur Valentine - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Feinstein's books are getting lazier and lazier. As he has gotten older, his access to the a-players is better and better; his diligence worse. This one has a few good anecdotes, but those are outweighed by the lack of flow and repetition throughout.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Big hoops fan, but this book doesn't cut it Feb. 23 2006
By Cajhawk - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I love college basketball. John Feinstein's book provided some interesting and fun insights into the workings of the NCAA Tourney. Unfortunately, his editor did nothing but "word-smith" this book from notes. How else can you explain telling stories that were in the book 3 chapters ago magically reappearing! I liked the information, but the book was SOOO repetitive it killed me. Did I mention it was repetitive?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Second Run March 19 2006
By Docmorrison - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Very superficial look at the basketball scene, I suspect much of the material was taken from his earlier books and didn't make it into them so he put the remainders in this book. Stories somewhat entertaining,alot of them ring of truth from my experience coaching BB in HS but would like to see some new material for serious fans.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Some interest, considerable repetition March 25 2007
By Danton M. - Published on
Format: Paperback
The portions of this book about how the "selection committee" works and about refereeing in the Final Four are interesting, full of information I have not read before. I agree with Feinstein's comments about the favoritism of the "power schools and conferences" over the smaller, lesser-known schools--excuse me, "institutions," in the words of the NCAA. The chapter about the interminable waiting on Sunday and Monday before the championship game is played will have me looking at that day differently this year--though since we're talking about "student-athletes" who are missing loads of school, I wonder if any of them do any studying for their missed classes. . . Yeah, right.

However, the book needed more editing. Mike Krzyzewski's foreword doesn't say anything that isn't said later in the book, offering little insight worth the time to read it. Nothing is said about the academic challenges facing the players who are on the road for days at a time. I, for one, would be interested in seeing something about that. Also, more from the coaches on strategy during the games could have offered insight.

That said, it's full of entertaining stories from the years of the tournament and worth a quick read.