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Dare to Dream

How James Madison University Became Coed and Shocked the Basketball World
Lou Campanelli. With Dave Newhouse

BUY Paper · 240 pp. · 7 × 9 · ISBN 9781938086342 · $24.95 · Nov 2015

In 1971, Madison College was a small-town teachers college with around 3,000 students, most of them female. To elevate the college’s visibility and to appeal immediately to males, new president Dr. Ronald E. Carrier sought to build a solid men’s collegiate athletic program. He hired a young, energetic, ambitious, and fast-talking yet untested basketball coach from New Jersey--Lou Campanelli.

Dare to Dream, a collaboration between Campanelli and veteran sports writer Dave Newhouse, tells the amazing Hoosiers-like story of how Campanelli, within ten years, created a basketball program out of almost nothing, building it into a powerhouse. Coach Lou’s teams were known for their innovative flex offense, relentless half-court man-to-man defense, and a never-give-up attitude that led not only to conference, state, and division championships but also to historic and nationally significant upsets in the NCAA tournament against Ohio State, West Virginia, and Georgetown--as well as a down-to-the-wire two-point loss to the University of North Carolina national championship team whose roster included future NBA stars Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, and James Worthy.

In this fast-paced and compelling book, we share in the passion, integrity, and dedication with which Coach Lou recruited, coached, and mentored his players--most of whom were overlooked or passed over by the traditional basketball powers.

Dare to Dream is the story of how sports transformed not only the lives of student-athletes but also a small, largely female school in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia into a major regional university within just one decade. It is a story of how academics and basketball provided the foundation for JMU’s current legacy as one of Virginia’s most distinguished public institutions of higher learning, just as Dr. Carrier and Coach Lou had dared to dream, more than forty years ago.

Distributed for George F. Thompson Publishing


I know that everyone will enjoy reading Dare to Dream. It is one of the truly great stories in college athletics. When you read about this journey, you will feel the excitement and pride Lou Campanelli had in building this program. You will be reading about a person with great integrity, someone who understands the game of basketball and building a team able to work together for a common goal.

Roy Williams, Head Basketball Coach, University of North Carolina

Coach Lou is the quintessential coach. His knowledge and enthusiasm for the game is legendary. To watch Lou’s half-court man-to-man defense and his flex offense at James Madison University just made me smile.

Garry St. Jean, NBA analyst and retired NBA coach and executive

It all started out as ‘Dolley’ Madison College, an all-girls’ school, when a decision was made to go coed and change the name to James Madison University. Lou Campanelli, one of the most innovative college basketball coaches, took on the challenge with the help of JMU President Ronald E. Carrier. Five years later, JMU was in the NCAA tournament knocking off Georgetown and playing eventual national champion North Carolina to a two-point game. His commitment to his players and institution, along with his cutting-edge basketball defenses, were light years ahead of his time.

Rollie Massimino, Head Basketball Coach, Villanova University, 1973-1992, and 1985 winner of the NCAA national championship

I lived this great adventure with Lou Campanelli from the beginning, and to watch the program grow and develop over the years was truly amazing. When it came to basketball, Lou was the most fundamentally sound coach I’ve ever been associated with. No shortcuts, no cheating, just integrity, keeping things simple with great execution—these guiding principles were integral to his recipe for success.

Mike Fratello, NBA analyst and NBA Coach of the Year

If there ever was a coach who had a love affair with basketball, it’s Lou Campanelli. When you look at his accomplishments, it is truly amazing. His players played hard and played together with great defense. To this day, his love for basketball has not lost its flame.

Lou Carnesecca, retired Head Basketball Coach, St. John’s University, two-time Basketball Coach of the Year, and 1992 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Lou was very passionate and enthusiastic about the game, even as a high school coach. He knew in his heart he wanted to be a college coach, and he achieved his goals with great success.

Hubie Brown, NBA analyst, two-time NBA Coach of the Year, and 2005 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Lou Campanelli’s story of James Madison’s persistent march from obscurity to the bright lights of the NCAA tournament is both heartwarming and inspiring. Campanelli later took Cal to the postseason for the first time in almost thirty years, but nothing matches his passionate story of the innocent rise of the JMU program. Dare to Dream is a wonderful read.

Jay Bilas, ESPN basketball analyst and author of Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off the Court

Appealing to both the casual sports fan and diehard Dukes, Dare to Dream tells the underdog story of JMU’s program as only a coach can: passionately, with all the painful details of each loss included.... [A] unique history... [and] a quick read for sports fans that’s bound to cure the April blues and return them to March Madness.

Roanoke Times

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