Butler Books (www.butlerbooks.com)
Taking The Shot, writer Michael Kruse’s account of Davidson’s magical NCAA run, takes on the characteristics of the team it documents. Davidson’s charge into the Elite Eight last season was an exhilarating - even life affirming - experience that most didn’t want to end. The same can be said about this book.
Kruse is a writer for the St. Petersburg Times and, more importantly, a Davidson alum, so this story is near and dear to his heart - and it shows. Considering most people reading the book knows its final outcome - Jason Richards missed a last second three-pointer against Kansas in the Elite Eight, leaving the Wildcats’ two points short of the Final Four - Kruse does a wonderful job of not just describing that moment, but going into background details on the players involved, coach Bob McKillop and the faithful Davidson students, fans and alum living that moment with the team. Along the way we learn why this was more than just a basketball team playing in a game and why the whole Davidson story captured the imagination of the nation.
The history of the basketball program at Davidson comes into focus, from the lofty highs during the 1960s when Lefty Driesell’s squads were a national power right up to the current regime led by McKillop. Most readers won’t know how tumultuous the early days under McKillop were, and what an egotistical tyrant he was at the time. And of course there is plenty of ink devoted to college basketball’s sweetheart - Stephen Curry - which does nothing to dissuade the notion that he is a fabulous player but an even better human being.
Supplemented by wonderful color photos, Taking The Shot is a book all readers of CHN should have in their collection. The only real beef with it is its length - at 62 pages (168 pages including bonus material) the book is too brief - just like Davidson’s NCAA run last year. With any luck this year’s team will supply the author with enough material for a sequel.
4 out of 5 stars