Friday, July 16, 2021

Literary Reviews for Madness: The Man Who Changed Basketball

Miles Ryan Fisher, Italian American Magazine

Before there was Bob Cousy, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan, before there was the three-point shot, slam dunk, and alley-oop, the game of basketball was simple and on the cusp of many changes. Author Mike DeLucia takes us into how this evolution began, honing in on one player by the name of Angelo "Hank" Luisetti. 

While Luisetti is far from a household name, DeLucia's story shows just why he should be. Born to Italian immigrant parents, Luisetti grew up in San Francisco, where he was introduced to basketball by a local high school coach who later teaches him the one-handed shot, the precursor to the jump shot. This revolutionary shooting style and Luisetti's pure ability take him to Stanford University, where he becomes College Player of the Year in 1936 and is eventually inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. 

A tale reminiscent of Clair Bee and Matt Christopher classics, Madness strikes the right balance between a book that's ripe for young readers yet engrossing for readers of all ages. Family tension is at the height of the novel as Luisetti's father, Stefano, has difficulty understanding the value of basketball and education over manual labor. Depicting the struggles of young romance and the importance of a mentor, the story is grounded in a typical Italian-American upbringing--though with Luisetti's prowess on the court, it is anything but typical. 

In the story's finale, Stanford University takes on Long Island University, pitting the weaker West Coast against the dominant East Coast at Madison Square Garden. The epic ending is, as is DeLucia's writing, never short on drama and tension--and might even convince readers that Hank Luisetti was the Joe DiMaggio of basketball. 

Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

Madness: The Man Who Changed Basketball by Mike DeLucia is based on a true story about the little-known fact of how one man changed the history of basketball. The year is 1926 and ten-year-old Angelo "Hank" Luisetti is among a crowd of spectators at the Galileo High School Gymnasium in San Francisco. A less popular sport compared to baseball and football, basketball players at this time strictly follow the stop-set-shoot philosophy and generally pass and shoot the ball using two hands, which made the game less of a thrill. Of Italian origin and groomed to inherit his father's business, Hank develops a love for basketball that will take him to Stanford University to become their star player. His innovations will later be considered as the start of a new era for this now highly popular game. 

Mike DeLucia's Madness: The Man Who Changed Basketball is obviously a tribute to Angelo "Hank" Luisetti and it is richly well deserved. It is fascinating to learn about this young man who pioneered the running one-handed shot and helped make basketball the exciting and popular game that it is today. Mike DeLucia traces Hank's story with surprisingly meticulous detail and the result is a vivid picture of an unassuming young man that made an important mark in basketball history. What makes Madness an engaging read is that when readers turn the pages of this book, they somehow get to personally know the man whose significant contributions to basketball history are largely ignored; his hopes, dreams, and struggles. So the next time we enjoy watching a thrilling basketball game, we can thank Hank Luisetti for it.