NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Author Ed Breslin's love of basketball goes back to his days as a child playing "Biddy Ball" with eight-foot-high baskets at the Big Brothers Club in Philadelphia. His passion and knowledge of the game shine in his latest book, The Divine Nature Of Basketball, My Season Inside The Ivy League.
Breslin spent the 2011-12 season shadowing Yale head coach James Jones and the Bulldogs from the first practice to the final game.
"I had been toying with the idea of writing a book on Ivy League basketball and its throwback charm and unmatched intensity for a few years," Breslin says. "Then on the advice of a friend, I went up to see what he called `Yale's gymnasium' about which the friend had raved. When I walked through the main doors onto the gallery overlooking the court, JLA riveted me. As I say in the book, it is the most beautiful venue for basketball on the planet."
Breslin returned to New Haven for the Yale-Harvard game in 2011, and that convinced him it was time to move forward with the project.
"Yale upset the Crimson, and boom, I was hooked on Yale basketball," he says. "The crowd noise, the intensity of play. It reminded me of the Big Five games in the Palestra when I was a boy. I emailed my congratulations on the victory to Coach Jones and before I knew it, we were corresponding about a book on Yale basketball."
Breslin chronicled what was a very successful season for the Bulldogs, who won 19 games, were in the hunt for the Ivy title until the final weekend and advanced to the CollegeInsider post season tournament. Breslin also took readers behind the scenes, providing a look at the rigors of both coaching and playing in the Ivy League.
"What most impressed me with the Yale Basketball program was James Jones," Breslin said. "When I attend a game, I intensely watch the coaches. James was always in charge of himself and his team was in his charge."
Breslin also came to appreciate the role Yale plays in the city of New Haven.
"The Yale community is the bedrock on which New Haven is built," he said. "Yale has an inexhaustible concern to share whatever benefits it can to improve the quality of life for all residents of the city. I loved Yale's commitment to the school children and other youngsters in allowing them to use the educational facilities on campus as well as amenities like [Payne Whitney Gym]. Yale is really the alma mater of everyone in New Haven in the original Latin sense of the phrase."
The Divine Nature of Basketball: My Season Inside the Ivy League by Ed Breslin. Copyright 2014, Sports Publishing, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., is currently available in bookstores and on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and Indiebound.org.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity