Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pink Whistle: McNair 19, Ferris 17

A view of the McNair bench during their contest with Ferris High School. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

In a new feature to the site, Ray Floriani opens the door to his travels and experiences as a girls' basketball official in his native New Jersey, profiling the games he works in his "Pink Whistle" diary. We hope you enjoy his recollections.


Jersey City, NJ - The eight-mile trip from my Lyndhurst home to the Ferris High School gym afforded the opportunity to pass a few well known locales: Saint Peter’s University, right on Kennedy Boulevard. Off Montgomery Avenue, Hudson Catholic High School, a prep power in boys basketball. ‘Historic’ McGinley Square and the old Jersey City Armory, home to Saint Peter’s decades ago.

On tap was a junior varsity girls' game between McNair and Ferris High School. The varsity preceded our game, and there was a chance to catch some action before preparing for our game.

Our locker room had no running water. Welcome to Jersey City. One coaching friend said you could write a book about the legend and lore of Jersey City basketball. He’s probably right, but for tonight, an article will suffice.

Walking onto the floor, I ran into Amanda Rosado. A varsity assistant, Amanda, who starred at St. John Vianney in New Jersey and later Monmouth, coached the JV the last two years. She is now a ‘full time’ varsity assistant. I loved working for her and jokingly said, “Amanda, you deserted me, but I will get you in my article.”

The first half sees both teams zoning. It Is interesting to see how both attack the zone. Ferris, with a 5-11 center, tries to involve her as much as possible; if not as a target to score, then one to get a pass and dish to a wing. Shooting percentages, I am sure, are not too high. Ferris leads 9-6 (no misprint) at the half.

The second half sees both teams falling into a tentative mose against the 2-3 zone. Perimeter passes are made, but looks inside and crisp ball movement are lacking. Remember, though, it is JV, and a learning experience. On one sequence, Ferris changes zone offense to get a baseline ‘roamer.’ She gets the pass and buries a 10-footer.

Our game was a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. It all came down to five seconds to go. Ferris trailed by two and inbounded after a foul at half court. The Ferris guard took the inbounds, and I thought she might pull up for a potential game-winning three. Instead, she made a hesitation move, then stopped for an open 15-footer. The shot appeared to have ‘eyes.’ Instead, it hit the back rim  and on the rebound battle, the buzzer sounded. McNair survived, 19-17. A few postgame thoughts:

- Neither team pressed. Down two late, Ferris did pressure to try to get the ball back. Outside of that, it was a half court contest. To be kind, neither team had an overabundance of skills. Not pressing was the ideal approach. Pressure can get you in foul trouble, leave you susceptible to easy layups and create havoc; not the good Shaka Smart havoc, but the negative, a terribly ugle game or ‘scrum,’  which lends itself to a non-learning experience. In this game, the setting was half court, and without a doubt, both teams learned from it.

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