Basketball Book Reviews

You’ll notice the first three books on this list of our basketball book reviews are all written by Dick DeVenzio. Dick was an Academic All-American basketball star at Duke University. He is called by many basketball people one of the smartest players and most clever ballhandler every to play the game. After college he went on to play basketball in Europe and South America and teach the game in over 5 different languages. All this success and his height was only 5’10”.

My most favorite and admirable aspect of Dick DeVenzio was not his basketball skills, but his academic achievements. Winning a $500 dollar essay contest in high school and becoming a literature major in college. It is rare to see successful student athletes. His writing abilities allows his young basketball readers to learn the finer points of the game by presenting his ideas in a clear, creative, and memorable fashion.

He also began the long running and nationally acclaim Point Guard College, a camp specifically geared towards mastering the position. The camps spend 50 percent of their time in the classroom learning and 50 percent of their time practicing what they’ve learned in the classroom.

Stuff! Good Players Should Know
By: Dick DeVenzio

Stuff! Good Players Should Know is considered one of the best books ever written for basketball players. Written in 1984, it is still one of the best selling basketball books on Stuff! is written with common sense ideas and special tips that cannot be found anywhere else. Why is this? It is because the author Dick DeVenzio came up with the concepts and terms himself! A couple examples are SOFO which mean Spin Off the First Obstacle with rebounding and Fling which the name for a play that scoes against a zone every time.

Stuff! Good Players Should Know will answer questions such as:How do you guard a stronger player? How do you set up a game winning steal?How do you strip a rebound?How do you recognize defensive changes?How do you practice shooting for maximum game effectiveness?How do you improve quickness?How do you score with a strong-handed dribble while going to the weak side?

My favorite part about this book is it preaches leadership and good sportsmanship. Too often in today’s basketball, players are mouthing off to refs, disrespecting their coaches, and yelling at their own teammates on the court. Stuff! teaches players the consequences of that negative behavior on the court. Most importantly, Devenzio’s first book shows them how to be leaders on the court, not only leading by example, but leading by speaking to other players with positive motivation and guidance.

Buy the book: Stuff Good Players Should Know

Think Like a Champion: A guide to championship sports performance for athletes in all sports
By: Dick DeVenzio

Think Like a Champion is a great book that can be applied to any sport, not just basketball. The book covers everything from overconfidence, and playing with teammates you don’t like, to slumps, academics, and how to increase speed and quickness. Dick Devenzio’s book is broken down to 122 short sections that athletes commonly encounter. It is filled with common sense ideas that athletes easily forget.

For example, how important a player’s attitude is and how to deal with teammates with poor attitudes. And if a player wants to become a leader on the court, they must be a leader off the court as well. A few examples of this are solid academics, goal setting, and positive encouragement. All of which is discussed in Think Like A Champion.

I believe this excerpt sums up the theme of the entire book: “Chuck DeVenzio, a very successful baseball and basketball coach from the 1940’s to the 90s, once astounded his players, his assistant coaches, and his son(the author of this book) when he said, just before a big game ‘I hope the floor is real slippery tonight or the ball has too much air.’ Why did he hope for bad conditions? He wanted the other team to be distracted, to be bothered by the conditions, and to have excuses for failures throughout the game. And what about his own team? He never worried about conditions having a negative impact on his teams. He spent every day of his coaching life teaching athletes to be tough, to accept whatever conditions existed and to adapt, not make excuses. ‘You have to embrace the conditions,’ he said, ‘not complain about them’.”

I find this excerpt to be so true. If you play basketball long enough, you’ll hear every excuse in the book about why teams lose. The truly great teams don’t make excuses. They become champions because they Think Like a Champion. And that is what this book is about.

Buy the book: Think Like a Champion

Running The Show: 88×44
By: Dick DeVenzio

Running The Show: 88×44 focuses on what it takes to be a real leader on the basketball court. Basically, the book answers the question: How can a player make everyone around him better and do the little things that lead to championship performance?

The explanation of 88×44 is that players should imagine the basketball court is only 88 feet by 44 feet( instead of the normal 94×5) so they never accidentally step out of bounds. Players constantly make careless turnovers by stepping out of bounds. Dick DeVenzio says this should never happen, players just need to imagine that court is smaller than it really is. If you’re being guarded, move past your defender in the middle of the court not by the sideline. Every time you see someone get an out of bounds call, just think 88×44.

Read this book if you’re a coach or player who wants to maximize his or her leadership abilities and start Runnin’ the Show.

Buy the book: Running the Show 88×44


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