From Publishers Weekly
The Bob Hurley profiled here isn't as well known to the average sports fan as his son, Bobby, the Duke University basketball superstar. But the elder Hurley's profile should rise quickly, thanks to sportswriter Wojnarowski's fine and detailed look at the "miracle" Hurley has achieved as coach for more than 30 years of the men's basketball team at St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City, NJ. Wojnarowski provides an excellent look at the phenomenon of the school itself, which Hurley and two Felician nuns managed to keep open even after it lost funding from the church, educating "the poorest of the poor" (more than 50% of the students' families lived below the poverty line). He delivers a finely etched portrait of Hurley, whose passion and drive enabled him to construct "a national powerhouse program out of an enrollment that struggled to stay at 200" and keep the school's decade-long streak of 100% college acceptance. But Wojnarowski's main focus is on the 2003-2004 season, in which a varsity team that Hurley considered "the most academically, athletically and socially underachieving in St. Anthony basketball history" overcame its "dysfunctional" nature and had an undefeated season. Wojnarowski's sensitive, insightful look at the social backgrounds and emotional development of the varsity players-and Hurley's remarkable understanding of them-will keep readers riveted throughout this book, which is one of the best recent pieces of sports journalism.
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In 31 years as head basketball coach at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, New Jersey, Bob Hurley has won 22 state titles. One might expect St. Anthony to be a sprawling urban campus with thousands of students from which to cull elite basketball players. On the contrary, it's a tiny school, constantly on the edge of bankruptcy and held together by a determined band of Felician nuns. Nearly all of Hurley's players have attended college, many on basketball scholarships. New Jersey sportswriter Wojnarowski chronicles St. Anthony's 2003-04 season, which began with a group of players Hurley categorized as undermotivated and unfocused. They weren't for long. The season was a success, and the four seniors all accepted scholarships to Division I basketball programs. This inspiring account of good people making a difference one step at a time stands as a compelling counterpoint to Ian O'Connor's The Jump
(p.1129), in which basketball talent is exploited at various levels for the profit of all but the player. Wes LukowskyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved