One of the benefits of writing a book like the Madness of March is that I get to meet some people who I have often admired from afar, but who I'd never have had an opportunity to talk with, had it not been for the book. A few years back I met Bill Rafferty, for example, the long time ESPN announcer who had formerly been the Seton Hall coach. We were in the media room prior the MAAC tournament championship and it was a kick to talk with him as I might converse with any sport fan.
Readers of the book might remember a short section about half way through that describes a well oiled "pundit's" declaration that it was always wise to bet the dogs. On page 111, there is a reference to the game in 2005 when the University of Vermont stunned Syracuse University. The University of Vermont then was coached by Tom Brennan who always struck me as a down to earth good guy who never took himself too seriously. He is self-effacing but three years in a row, the University of Vermont won the AmericaEast and received the automatic bid to go to the tournament. After beating Syracuse in 2005, Vermont did not embarrass itself in the second round game and with a ball bouncing this way instead of that, might have advanced to the sweet 16. After retiring, the coach went on to become an effective ESPN commentator and I always found his comments on target and not self congratulatory. Some announcers wait for the ball to go through the hoop before they opine that a shot was wise. I like the guys who are not spending all game stroking themselves for their wisdom.
A couple of weeks back I sent Coach Brennan a copy of the book. I thought he might enjoy the reference to his Vermont team's success. He wrote back and told me that he liked the book and thanked me for sending it to him. I got a charge out of receiving the note. Then on Monday there was a phone message for me in the office telling me that he would be in town and maybe we could get together. Unfortunately, I would not be able to meet him when he came to Boston, but I returned the call.
We got to talking about basketball and it was a joy to be on the horn with him. He knows more about basketball than half the coaches still on the job, but he kept poo poohing his successes. After we reminisced some about prior years' games, he asked me if I would be available to be on his radio show and I was, of course, delighted. So, the next morning I was on the air with the coach talking about the Madness of March. I have done these interviews in the past, but Coach Brennan was one of the few who had actually read the book through. On the program, he read a couple of sections, asked me to comment on them, and laughed appreciatively when we discussed some of the quirky folks one meets in Las Vegas
Anyone who has ever written a book knows that there are days when you want to slam the computer into the wall, but a residual of the toil with this book at least is to meet class acts like Tom Brennan.