Back in 1951, a hick high school basketball team could achieve self-respect just by getting into the State Finals. Or so this cloyingly nostalgic sports movie would have us believe. Hackman plays the belligerent coach who, in knocking the underdogs into shape, is absolved of his past sins. Actually, the film starts promisingly, with his entry into the tight-knit rural community complicated by suspicion and by his prickly relationship with fellow-teacher Hershey. There's also a brilliant cameo by Hopper as the sometime player turned town drunk whom Hackman redeems by taking him on as his assistant. However, once Hackman's uncompromising integrity lures the team's recalcitrant star player out of self-imposed retirement and the team hits a winning streak, it's just a case of going through the hoops.