Welcome To Court Vision

I'm Bill Ferrara and welcome to the right side of my brain. While science may tell me that I only use a minute area in the left side of my brain...I like to think that as a man working in women's basketball that my analysis of the game comes from the right side.

Just let me dream OK.

That being said, this blog..."Court Vision" (that you will all grow to love and hate)...will be my way of analyzing and sometimes venting about anything and everything in women's basketball.

Why should you read something that a male assistant coach from Central Michigan University has to say?

Quite frankly I don't know.

I like to think that with all the garbage out there on the web that instead of reading about Britney and Paris you could maybe read about Britany Miller and Courtney Paris.

Or you could just play solitaire.

The truth is I think that I have watched more basketball then any 25-year-old on the planet. I'm not joking...ask my Mom. Well, don't ask my Mom, that would just be really weird if you called my Mom.

So reason No. 1: I've watched a lot of basketball...duh...so have you.

Reason No. 2: I've been lucky enough to work under some great coaches in my young career. As a graduate student at Florida I learned under a national championship-winning coach in Carolyn Peck.

Scouting a game with her was a ton of fun...and despite her tough exit from UF after watching her prepare the Gators for Tennessee and LSU; you'd have a tough time persuading me that there is a better big-game coach then Coach Peck.

After our NCAA Tournament appearance (and I do mean appearance...we -UF- got monkey-stomped by New Mexico...and to this day I can't tell you what happened in the first half of that game...I still think a security guard in the arena at Tucson hit me from behind with his flashlight. I mean, he had an eyepatch on...you know he was up to something), Nell Fortner at Auburn came calling for me...which was great for two reasons:

1) Here's an Olympic Gold Medal Winning coach calling me...on my cell phone...that was pretty cool and
2) I was soon to be unemployed.

Though Carolyn worked under Nell they saw the game completely differently which turned out to be great for me and my development as an aspiring coach. Coach Fortner and her staff at Auburn watched a lot of film. The best part about my time at Auburn was I got to watch film everyday with coach Fortner, assistant coach Kerry Cremeans, former Wade Trophy award winner Daedra Charles-Furlow and former University of Michigan head coach Sue Guevara. Those are some experienced sets of eyes right there.

And after our season at Auburn ended in the WNIT Elite 8...I just figured I'd get ready for nice calm offseason in Alabammy.

All that changed when Sue Guevara ended up getting another head coaching opportunity at Central Michigan University.

So then the kid that watched every college and NBA game his eyes could handle...went from kid to coach...and that's why you should read this.

Not good enough? Well too bad...you can go back to Minesweeper now. Or you could keep reading about why Auburn is going to go from WNIT Elite 8 to NCAA Tournament Elite 8...in ONE YEAR!

Jeff Lippman in "She's on Fire" has already talked about Auburn's new "Big 3." They would be Dewanna Bonner, Whitney Boddie, and Sherell Hobbs. Boddie is the most underrated point guard in the nation. Hobbs is a penetrator that owns the baseline (drive and pull-up j). And by now all of you know about Bonner.

Bonner has one of the best nicknames in women's basketball...BIG SKINNY. She's 6-foot-4 and 130 pounds. Yep...she's BIG and SKINNY alright. So skinny that Boddie calls her "Stix." The point of this whole rant is that Bonner is not a post player...she is a guard. Auburn's big 3 are all guards. They have no post game. They start four guards (the fourth being a poised left 3PT shooter named Tamela McCorvey).

Their fifth is usually Travesha Jackson or Jordan Greenleaf...both are undersized posts...but that's where the comparisons end.

Greenleaf is a defensive stopper and hustle player. While Jackson is an offensive minded 3/4 that plays
the 5 for Auburn.

So how do you win with no low post game? Don't ask Sheri Coale at Oklahoma (she hasn't had to worry about that for a while now huh?). You really have to think outside of the box if you are faced with this
question. I've asked a lot of coaches in the women's game this very question...and the answer that
I receive the most is "You don't."

Well I beg to differ. And I have begged to differ for a few years now. If you've read since the beginning of this monster post you know that I watched a lot of NBA in my day. Nell Fortner and Auburn did just that this summer. Nell has always run set plays (she's the type of coach that likes to expose mismatches on the floor...I.E. if a defense is switching she loved to run ISO plays for Dewanna Bonner to post up on smaller guards). This season, Auburn has turned to that same European style of play that the Phoenix Suns have run since Steve Nash's arrival and that the Phoenix Mercury also adopted under Paul Westhead (in case you missed it they won it all).

During the summer of 2006, Coach Fortner flirted with the idea of adopting this style. She went out to
Phoenix to watch the Mercury practice. Last season Auburn was best when they got out and ran on
opponents. So that's just what they are doing...even without a post game! What is this Phoenix style of
play you ask?

Well it has basic principles:

1) Sprint the floor for 40 minutes...made basket or missed basket.
2) In the half court Phoenix likes to run lots of on-ball screens and dribble handoffs...this works to
Auburn's advantage with great guards like Boddie, Hobbs and Bonner coming off handoffs and on-balls.
3) Score in less 10 seconds. Both the Mercury and the Suns live by the "Seven Seconds or Less" rule...that means inbounding it quick...and getting the ball up the floor.
4) If you have an open shot you have to take it.

Auburn is not the only team that has adopted this strategy...this is definitely a trendy style of play. Let's be honest here, it's fun to watch. Have you ever seen a Phoenix Suns/Golden State Warriors game? No?
Well I know you've watch the Mercury. They are fun to watch. The thing about this style is that you have to have the players to run like they do.

This style wouldn't be appropriate for an Oklahoma or LSU. It's only fun to watch if you have people that can run and play off the dribble. That's why it's a pro-style offense. Two of the big three will be playing at the next level (Bonner and Boddie)...so it works for them.

In fact it's perfect for them:

Steve Nash = Whitney Boddie
Raja Bell = Tam McCorvey
Grant Hill = Sherrell Hobbs
Shawn Marion = Dewanna Bonner

Auburn is now 8-0 after beating Arizona State at ASU. Can they carry this into 2008?

Pat Summitt, Van Chancellor, and Andy Landers just sent their video coordinators to get some Phoenix Suns film.

Comments

Awesome court vision! Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading more.

Great job!

Super article!! Let's hope the competition is slow to catch on to this great offensive scheme. Even if they do it may not matter.

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Bill Ferrara Bill Ferrara
CMU assistant Bill Ferrara gives his inside opinions on women's hoops.