What People Are Saying About Prof Blood and the Wonder Teams: The True Story of Basketball’s First Great Coach

Prof Blood 
and the Wonder Teams

The True Story of Basketball's First Great Coach

by Dr. Charles "Chic" Hess
foreword by P.J. Carlesimo



Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go back in time and experience the early days of basketball? Prof Blood and the Wonder Teams takes you there. The story is meticulously researched, complete with lineups, line scores, newspaper clippings and advertisements. As you pore through the information, and add just a little reflection and imagination, it isn't hard to picture yourself in one of those cramped little gyms with the backboards nailed flat against the walls, watching long-socked, knee-padded players pass around that over-sized basketball.

It was fascinating to read about how these early games were structured and compare them to modern basketball. Among other insights, you will gain an appreciation for how much rule changes have changed the game for the better. For instance, every time a team scored, there was a center jump. Prof Blood clearly understood the importance of that rule. Passaic High School teams had a tall, gifted leaper who controlled these tips and Blood's teams executed well-rehearsed plays to take advantage of them. Imagine yourself facing such a squad, unable to get the ball back after your opponent scored again and again. No wonder the scores were so lopsided! Sometimes Passaic won by a hundred points or more. Teams then were also able to designate one player to shoot all free throws. Rest assured that Prof Blood's teams had such a specialist. Add these strategies to their well-developed passing game and full court pressure defense and you can see how they were able to overwhelm the high school (and some college) teams of their time.

Passaic High School brought national attention to their community as they built a 159 game winning streak over the span of six seasons. With winning comes notoriety, however, and Prof Blood and his team were forced to deal with both public pressures and internal political strife. Author Dr. Chic Hess chronicles their journey with stories and box scores for each game. As you follow that course, you'll witness another journey as well, and that is the maturation of the game of basketball during these years as teams sought success by emulating Passaic's style of play. 

It is inevitable that folks will compare Prof Blood with John Wooden, whose UCLA teams were unbeatable for a time. This book, too, devotes a chapter to the many striking similarities between the Blood and Wooden. I have read Wooden's books and have been inspired by his philosophies and have studied his drills and strategies. I wish it were possible to also read first hand of Prof Blood's philosophies and study his renowned passing game, but he passed away 49 years ago. I am grateful to Dr. Chic Hess and his extensive research for bringing Coach Blood and his accomplishments back to life, in a sense. A principled, disciplined and astute basketball figure, he certainly would have thrived as a coach today.

Why not treat yourself to a trip into hoop history? No matter where you have played or coached, you'll find some of your basketball roots reach all the way back to New Jersey. I whole-heartedly recommend Prof Blood and the Wonder Teams for anyone interested in basketball or curious about this dynamic period of our country's history.

Steve Jordan