Based on the non-fiction best-seller about Hoosiers basketball coach Bobby Knight, this unimaginative adaptation (the first original film produced by cable sports network ESPN) will neither convert critics nor give fans a new perspective on the salty coach. A former military man, Knight (Brian Dennehy) brings battlefield discipline to his job coaching the Hoosiers, Indiana University's highly regarded team. Though at home he's the devoted single parent of a teenaged boy, he's a tyrant at basketball practice. His coaching style favors censure before praise and his players aren't the only ones on the receiving end of his tirades: If he doesn't like a referee's call, he hurls a chair across the court and gets away with it! Knight is unrepentantly disrespectful to the university's Dean and other teachers and remains oblivious to the deleterious psychological effects of his brutality. As long as the team keeps winning, no one is willing to stand up to Knight, but as the 1985-86 season approaches, he's under pressure more pressure than usual because his team roster is unusually rookie-heavy. Ever the harsh taskmaster, Knight unload his most severe criticism on Daryl Thomas (Michael James Johnson), whom he feels has the most promise. A traditionalist to the core, he forces idiosyncratically talented Delray Brooks (Al Thomas) to adopt a style of shooting hoops that's more to his liking. But this time, Knight experiences some unexpected setbacks: Stellar player Steve Alford (James Lafferty) is suspended because he posed for a charity calendar, and the Hoosiers are soundly trounced by rival Michigan State. Director Robert Mandel effectively captures the game-time excitement of college basketball, but founders on this docudrama's dramatic segments. The film neither deifies nor demonizes Knight, but all too quickly settles into a routine of dramatizing his bad behavior. The decision to end the film before some of Knight's most controversial outbursts was an unfortunate one. In 1987, Knight was accused of choking a player and confronting such extreme behavior might have forced the filmmakers to take a stand.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: R
- Review: Based on the non-fiction best-seller about Hoosiers basketball coach Bobby Knight, this unimaginative adaptation (the first original film produced by cable sports network ESPN) will neither convert critics nor give fans a new perspective on the salty coach… (more)