The 227-page book chronicles the 100+ year old program from it's humble beginnings to the heights of the national championship season.
"It's just about the history of Arizona basketball," he said. "It's a bunch of anecdotal stories about this thing happened on this date. It's just a long look at the history of Arizona basketball."
"Tales" is a collection of short, anecdotal stories accumulated by Tucson Citizen basketball beat writer Steve Rivera. Although the book has a heavy emphasis on the Lute Olson era, the book does a great job delving into the vast history of the Wildcat basketball program.
It is perfect bathroom reading. That is not meant as an insult, the book is very well done. It is just an easy read because of the way it is laid out. Instead of writing long winded, history text accounts, Rivera instead chooses to use brief, poignant stories to paint the larger picture of the program. Each story ranges from just a couple paragraphs, to three pages. You can sit down and read just a few stories, or settle in and digest a few eras at a time.
Rivera spoke with over 65 people, mostly former players and coaches, in researching the book. The wide variety of people and personalities is what gives the book it's voice. "Tales" does not only focus on the big names and the superstars, but on all the many characters who wore the cardinal and navy.
A lot has happened in 100 years and Rivera delves into it all. From the humble beginnings when students bought a ball that went flat on a dirt court, to cutting down the nets in Indianapolis. Obviously there is great attention to the successes of the Olson era, but you can tell in reading that Rivera has some affinity to some of the older teams, especially the post-war teams of the late 40's and early 50's.
The book also includes a number of photographs. It is fun seeing old shots of Bruce Larsen prowling the hardwood at Bear Down gym or seeing the changes in uniforms from the 40's to today.
This is a very nice collection of stories. A great history lesson and a great reminder of all that has happened to Arizona's storied program. It is a great gift for Wildcat fans young and old. Whether you started watching with Lincoln Richmond or Richard Jefferson, odds are you'll learn a thing or two from the book.
If you can't make the signing, Tales from the Arizona Wildcats Hardwood is available at bookstores all over Tucson, and other retailers such at the McKale Team Shop, Costco and Sam's Club. For those outside of Tucson, you can order it from Amazon.com or from sportspublishingllc.com.