Prolific sportswriter John Feinstein is back with Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four. The book is structured around a typical week at the NCAA semifinals and finals, but that's merely a framework to let Feinstein talk to some of his favorite basketball personalities and share some good stories. Feinstein obviously enjoys the company of basketball people, and he gets them to open up. Everyone from Bill Bradley to Mike Krzyzewski to a UNC benchwarmer gets a chance to talk about the Final Four. The conversations go in a variety of directions, such as when former coach George Raveling explains why he owns the notes that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used in his 1963 I Have a Dream speech in Washington, D.C. (Raveling was a bodyguard who stood behind King during the speech).

The format also gives Feinstein a chance to express a few opinions along the way. For example, he rips the concept of a play-in game, in which the 64th and 65th-ranked teams square off away from the rest of the tournament (the game is played in Dayton, Ohio) for the chance to get beaten up by a top seed in the first round. Feinstein would rather see the field simply go back to 64, or failing that, have the last two at-large teams meet for a full-fledged spot in the Big Dance.

If I had the chance to trail anyone around the Final Four, Feinstein would be near the top of my list. Since that won't happen, this book is an excellent substitute.

Budd Bailey works in the sports department of the Buffalo News.

comments powered by Disqus