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The Inside Track

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October 15, 2002|--Steve Rom

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, heard, observed, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here. One exception: No products will be endorsed.

What: "Bucking The Odds"

Author: Ralph Paulk

Publisher: Sports Publishing, L.L.C., Champaign, Ill.

Price: $22.95

Fans of the Ohio State men's basketball program never could have imagined in 1997, after the Buckeyes' fourth consecutive losing season, that a little-known coach named Jim O'Brien could turn around their tradition-rich program.

A year later, the Buckeye faithful still couldn't imagine it. Ohio State went 8-22 in 1997-98, O'Brien's first season. Yet by 1999, fans in Columbus were singing a different tune.

Ohio State, in O'Brien's second season, went 27-8, finished second in the Big Ten and made it to the 1999 Final Four. A semifinal loss to eventual national champion Connecticut ended Ohio State's dream season.

The Buckeyes' achievements under O'Brien inspired Ralph Paulk, former Ohio State beat writer for the Akron Beacon Journal, to write this book, his first. Paulk, now an author and freelance writer, provides an in-depth look at O'Brien's revitalization of Ohio State's program.

O'Brien, voted the 2001 coach of the year, recently became the widowed father of two after his wife, Christine, died of complications from Hodgkin's disease.

"If I had an 18-year-old son, I would want him to play for Jim O'Brien ... because he would play for a man of impeccable integrity," friend Dave Gavitt says.

Hall of Famer Bob Cousy, who wrote the book's foreword and coached O'Brien as a player at Boston College, says, "He doesn't engage in spin. The result has been an outstanding coaching career."

And a lot of happy Buckeye fans.

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