On one of those rare occasions when he was alone, unbothered, in his office, the coach sat listening to Pavarotti. Interrupted then, he reluctantly turned off the music. "Love songs," he said wistfully to the interloper. "All the best love songs come from Naples." This is one of those, of a sort.
East of Naples, in the mountains, in the province of Avellino, sit two small villages. One of them is so small, in fact, that it is almost impossible to find, hidden as it is in the Calore valley, surrounded by vineyards, watched over by its patron saint, San Marciano. It is called Taurasi.
Forty years ago a five-year-old named Mario Taurasi left the hamlet of his name. His parents took him to Argentina, where he grew up, and then, in 1980, he took his wife to California. Their daughter, Diana Lurena, was born shortly thereafter, and a few years later, in the fourth grade, she took up basketball. It was immediately apparent that the kid had a facility for the game.
About 30 miles from...