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Book written by UI alumnus sparking Hollywood interest

Book written by UI alumnus sparking Hollywood interest

What attracted Dan Manoyan of Kenosha to tell the story of a championship high school basketball team in Illinois is what has that story poised to become a Hollywood film.

Manoyan, a retired Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sportswriter, wrote the 2007 book “Men of Granite” about how a group of poor boys of immigrant parents in Granite City, Ill., came to win a state title in 1940.

“I was drawn to the fact that there were so many ethnics on that team,” said Manoyan, who grew up in Waukegan and is a graduate of the University of Illinois. “I am half Armenian myself and there were four Armenians on the team. Plus Andy Phillip, whose real name is Andras Fulop, who is Hungarian, and a couple other guys were Yugoslavian and Macedonian. You just don’t see that, especially in southern Illinois, which is basically pretty rural.”

Overcoming poverty, soaring beyond class and defeating bigotry in a tough steel town are all elements of a story Manoyan first learned about when he was reading a history about the Illinois State High School Association basketball championships.

Manoyan was encouraged by a screenwriter to shop the book as a film.

“I’ve always thought ‘Hoosiers’ was the greatest sports movie ever made,” Manoyan said. “And I thought this story was comparable in content, if not better than ‘Hoosiers.’ This is a similar story about an underdog high school basketball team that wins a state championship against steep odds. ‘Hoosiers’ was about a little school overcoming big schools. These (Granite City) guys had a lot more to overcome. They weren’t accepted in their own hometown. They were second-class citizens.”

Read more at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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