Spanning the Game

By Ralph Miller with Bud Withers


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        Another book purchased from a dollar store.  Another excellent book from the dollar store.  The book covers Miller's life, growing up in Chanute, Kansas, where he became one of the greatest athletes in Kansas high school history, his years as a 2-sport star at the University of Kansas in the 1940s.  It also covers his coaching tenures at Wichita State University (then Wichita University), Iowa University, and Oregon State University.  He built all 3 programs up, and the discerning NBA fan will recognize many of his players, such as Dave Stallworth, Nate Bowman, (both Knicks), Gene Wiley (Lakers), "Downtown" Fred Brown (Sonics), Gary Payton (Sonics), A.C. Green (Lakers), Steve Johnson (Trailblazers), and you will see how he uncovered many of these "diamonds in the rough".  He covers his coaching philosophies, and how Forrest "Phog" Allen influenced him, and his dislike of the bounce pass.

        He also covers his misperception by the press of him as a cantankerous old man, and he covers how at each university he coached at, he would tell the fans to buy the tickets while they could (and a few years later, the games would be sold out, as Miller would build a contender and the games would be sold out).  He covers the building of Henry Levitt Arena in Wichita, which many thought was too big for the school.  The arena became known as "Miller's folly", but it turned out to be too small (and it still sells out today!)  He also covers the upsets that many of his teams faced in the NCAA tournament and his views on the NCAA in general (rules and regulations).  He also covers the years in which he had to play John Wooden's juggernaut UCLA teams in conference.  At the end, he ranks the toughest arenas he had to play in, best defensive players he coached, etc.  Miller went on to coach until he was 70 years old and was inducted into the basketball hall of fame in 1987.  Good read.

Introspection: 4
Insight: 4
History: 1940s-1991
Readability: 3

Ralph Miller:  Spanning the Game.  Ralph Miller with Bud Withers.  Sagamore Publishing.  1990.    

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