People in North Carolina have long been convinced that nothing else in sports even approaches the excitement of college hoops in their state. In this methodical account of the storied basketball history of the Big Four schools listed in the subtitle, Menzer, a sportswriter for the Winston-Salem Journal, details more than 50 years of coaches, competitors and roundball culture. He looks at modern legends such as recently retired UNC coach Dean Smith, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Michael Jordan, whose high school principal encouraged him to attend the Air Force Academy instead of North Carolina so he would have a job after college. But tales of the schools' early histories provide the greatest rewards. Everett Case, the innovative N.C. State coach of the 1950s, was nicknamed the Old Gray Fox and was the first to make a spectacle of pregame introductions and to install an applause meter at his home court. His rival was the dapper UNC coach Frank McGuire, whose "underground railroad" of top recruits from his hometown of New York culminated in an undefeated national championship season in 1957. But as the programs grew, so did the pressure. Bones McKinney, a lanky Wake Forest coach who brought his team to the NCAA Final Four in 1962, gulped a case of Pepsi and, eventually, a handful of barbiturates daily just to try to endure the pressure. For all Menzer's exhaustive reporting, however, the book lacks the powerful writing needed to let the reader feel what is being described. Much like the stalling offense devised by Dean Smith from which the book takes its name, Four Corners is effective but less than thrilling.
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