Thursday, June 5, 2014

Inexplicable Book Review: Don’t Put Me In, Coach

Don’t Put Me In, Coach is as sophomoric with its humor as you would expect, since it’s written by (at the time) a 25-year-old dude. It’s the type of writing that is as generous with its swearing as it is with its poop references. Then again, I’m not above poop references, so it had quite a bit of appeal to me.

Mark Titus, the author of said book, spent four years as a benchwarmer for the Ohio State men’s basketball team, so most of the book is devoted to his view of a Top 25 and national championship contending club. The book is at its best when it focuses on this sort of “inside look,” like when he’s talking about accommodations at the Final Four, or all of the horrible times that naked teammates tried to fight him. Thad Matta comes off as a pretty interesting and funny dude as well.

Also, Titus is eerily accurate in anointing Evan Turner as The Villain. I mean, I’m positive that at the time he was writing, it was meant as more of a tongue-in-cheek title for Turner. But since then, Turner was taken second in the 2010 NBA Draft, and disappointed immensely in his four years years with the Sixers. He got traded to the Pacers this year and basically wasn’t playing by the end of the year, logging only about four minutes in a season-ending series against the Heat. Titus wrote about pissing off the hyper-competitive Turner in practice from time to time, and perhaps shockingly, he allegedly got into a fistfight during a Pacers’ playoff practice with Lance Stephenson. 

So, having this knowledge in my head as I read, why yes, it was awesome to read that Titus and Turner didn’t exactly see eye to eye. However, the book as a whole is a little less entertaining than three other basketball books of similar content, which I’ll recommend now:

- The Cockroach Basketball League by Charley Rosen. The initials of this book are CBL, and that’s not a coincidence. This is a thinly veiled fiction / non-fiction book by Rosen, who coached in the CBL and also served as an assistant for Phil Jackson for many years. It’s basically like a book form of Will Ferrell’s Semi-Pro, and generally better, although the book that that movie most clearly cribbed from was…

- Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association by Terry Pluto. I’ve read this book cover-to-cover about five times, and it’s probably my favorite sports book of any type. It captures the lunacy of minor league basketball far better than Ferrell’s movie, which is surprising, considering that it’s non-fiction and completely by the book reporting.

- Can I Keep My Jersey? By Paul Shirley. The overall impact of this book was probably stunted by Shirley making some (depending on your perspective) Libertarian or horrible remarks about Haiti following the 2010 earthquake there. He was removed from the ESPN rotation of freelance columnists shortly after. However, his book is a pretty sharp look at life on the basketball fringes, as he bounces from the end of NBA rosters to playing in Europe and Russia. (A similar book about Chinese basketball leagues, Brave Dragons by Jim Yardley, is also good reading, but it did come out about five years after Shirley’s book.)

The image of the book is from Amazon. dot com.

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