Every year, the Oakland Athletic League is home to some of the best high school basketball in the nation. It is also a place where basketball games clash with gang turf wars, and players struggle not only to get to practice and make grades, but to just survive. Skyline is a gripping look at an inner city basketball team. 8-page insert.
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Sportswriter Keown's offers a proficient chronicle of the 1992-1993 basketball season at Oakland's Skyline High School, a place so prone to violence that there are no proms or dances, fans and gangs attack players, and ``every game is a retribution.'' Hired just two weeks before the season, even Shawn Donlea saw his first head coaching job as hardly a dream come true. He'd be paid $3,300 to coach both the junior and senior varsity. A white man with no experience of the inner city, his ``basketball knowledge was vast, but it was university-bred'' and had little relationship to the in-your-face street game played by his new charges. With a mediocre preseason, Skyline had little chance of making the playoffs in the tough Oakland Athletic League (OAL). Donlea and his players got off to a rocky start: ``They don't listen, and I'm all talked out.'' He had plenty of talent to work with (though as Keown notes, some of the school's best players were academically ineligible), including senior Will Blackwell, a Parade football All-American; David Strom, a 5-foot-11-inch point guard, the only white player in the OAL; and high-scoring, trash-talking Jason Wright, whose ``style'' conflicted with the coach's ideas of team play. The Titans won their share of games and qualified for the playoffs when Blackwell went down with an injury. He returned in time for a second meeting with Castlemont and scored 28 points, with 16 rebounds. A low point came against rival Fremont when they blew an 18-point lead and Donlea and Wright got into a shouting match. Relations improved when Skyline got revenge by beating Fremont in the first round of the playoffs. They fell to McClymonds, a state-ranked team with a 24-0 record. The season ended with tears of reconciliation and with the coach and young Wright enthusing about ``next year.'' Keown is especially good in his profiles of the kids, their families, and the conditions in which they live. His treatment compares favorably with Daniel Coyle's Hardball (11/15), a look at baseball in the Chicago projects. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
Skyline is one of six high schools in the Oakland Athletic League, where the basketball competition is considered among the toughest in the nation and where the athletes face the same circumstances that plague inner-city kids all over the country: poverty, drugs, crime. Keown, a San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter who attended almost every Skyline practice and game during the 1992-93 season, offers an up-close view of one season with the team. The book's focus is the initially uneasy relationship between the Skyline players and their first-year head coach Shawn Donlea. A driven young man with a master's degree in sports psychology, Donlea is white, suburban born, and committed to the idea that basketball should be a disciplined pursuit. The players don't see it from Donlea's perspective. Basketball plays a large role in their lives, but so do guns, gangs, drugs, and turf wars, all of which often spill into athletic arenas. As the season wears on, players and coach edge toward a middle ground where they can benefit from his on- and off-court discipline and he can relate to their lives and need for self-expression on the court. Similar in content to The Right Kind of Heroes (1992), Kevin Horrigan's account of Bob Shannon's East St. Louis, Illinois, football dynasty, this tough-minded yet empathetic book is equal parts basketball and sociology. Keown puts names to the too-often nameless faces of the young urban poor and forces us to see their lives in a new way. Wes Lukowsky
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Book Description Macmillan General Reference, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0025623052
Book Description Macmillan General Reference, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110025623052
Book Description Macmillan General Reference. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0025623052 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.1012809