First there was Street & Smith’s. (I still have my copy with Calvin Murphy from his Niagara days on the cover.) Then there were all the knock-offs: SI, Dick Vitale, etc. Then, down from heaven, came Blue Ribbon Basketball. The Old Testament begat The New Testament which begat The Bible. Now that’s all there is because when it comes to information on teams, players, conferences, the whos,, the hows, the whats in Division I Men’s Basketball, that’s all you need. Order yours, wait 3-4 days, call in sick and spend a day, then half a weekend with the book and salvation will be yours. (When the games begin, just make sure you keep the Big Book, i.e., Blue Ribbon, near the remote.) By the way, every Division I hoops’ office has it on a handy shelf, ready to reap its bounty. Guess that’s a pretty good endorsement.
Here’s an excellent excerpt from their web-site that tells you what goes on in the book:
How to Read Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook
“The book is designed in two separate parts. The front contains an exhaustive analysis of Blue Ribbon’s preseason Top 25. These stories are anywhere from 4,000 to 5,500 words in length and broken up into distinct sections.
COACH AND PROGRAM sums up the state of the program and the head coach.
Next comes PROJECTED STARTERS, where Blue Ribbon writers do their best to predict what five players are likely to open the season in the starting lineup. This information isn’t pulled out of thin air, but usually based on a conversation with a team’s coach. KEY RESERVES follow, and finally, other players on the roster and recruits. At times, an incoming freshman or transfer will be projected as a starter.
The story begins its final descent with Questions and Answers, quick one- or two-sentence opinions of a team’s perceived weaknesses (Questions) and strengths (Answers).
Letter grades come next. These letter grades aren’t a comparison of a team against other teams in its conference or around the nation, but rather an analysis of its own strengths in four key areas: BACKCOURT, FRONTCOURT, BENCH/DEPTH and Intangibles.
Finally comes the BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS, several paragraphs that tie the entire package together and tries to forecast how a team should fare.
Mingled throughout the story are two graphic elements: the current schedule and the previous season’s results.
In addition to the Top 25 report, Blue Ribbon contains a full story, ranging from 1,000 to 2,500 words, on every other Division I team in the country. The book lists each conference alphabetically, and each school in the various conferences are listed alphabetically.
The stories differ from the Top 25 because they aren’t as exhaustive in terms of player analysis. But each are thorough, our information gleaned from thorough research and a conversation with the head coach.
The stories end with letter grades (see above) and the BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS . . . ”