Fictional Final Four features Trojans

Published 4:21 pm Monday, March 5, 2012

Have you ever dreamed of seeing Troy play in the Final Four? Trojan basketball fans now have that opportunity.

A novel by award-winning author Paul Volponi titled The Final Four pits the Troy Trojans against the mighty Michigan State Spartans in a contest to play for the NCAA national championship.

Though a fictional scenario, Volponi chose Troy after watching nationally televised athletic events with the Trojans fighting toe-to-toe with, often, a more talented opponent.

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“I’ve seen Troy play basketball and football on TV taking on a greater power,” Volponi said. “I would find myself rooting for Troy, rooting for the underdog.”

The underdog story is one that fascinates many, but Volponi feels the heart of an out-matched basketball team is a special one.

“Underdogs are what make the Final Four special,” he said. “I think basketball is a great part of life because of the different types of people you come across.”

The Final Four follows four players from both Troy and Michigan State. Junior Roko Bacic, a junior guard from Croatia, is Troy’s floor general who is a high-energy type player. Bacic has the daunting task of guarding Michigan State’s freshman phenom, Malcolm McBride, who has his eyes set more on the NBA than a national championship.

Crispin Rice is Troy’s 6-foot, 10-inch center. After sinking a last second shot to win a game in early February, Rice found his girlfriend; a cheerleader named Hope Daniels, and proposed courtside. That is where the Trojans amazing Cinderella journey to the Final Four begins as the team steamrolls through the remainder of its season.

More than a battle between Trojans and Spartans, more that a contest between David and Goliath, The Final Four is a story of players from different backgrounds coming together to play the same game on the same court in a clash of personalities and wills that, in the end, find a connection with one another while duking it out in possibly one of the greatest college basketball games ever played.

“There is no better way to connect with someone than to hit them for an open layup,” Volponi said. “That’s what happens in the book. Players from completely different backgrounds find themselves with a connection on the court.”

The book can be purchased through popular retail outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Google Books.

Volponi is a resident of New York where he also teaches. For six years, he taught incarcerated teens on Rikers Island to read and write.

The Final Four has received praise from notable head basketball coaches including Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun and Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon.