Can we expect a Ferry-tale ending?
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 22:04
For those expecting Jim Ferry to be a savior of the men’s basketball program, be prepared to wait at least a few years.
Ferry’s hiring is an exciting one for the Duquesne community, and he brings along with him the post-season experience that Greg Amodio sought out when he began the search for Everhart’s replacement three weeks ago.
But don’t forget: this is a squad that just lost its best player (McConnell) in a transfer to Arizona and its sixth man and second-best ball handler in Mike Talley. Ferry hits Amodio’s target marks in organization, character and recruiting ability, but he won’t have much to work with, and it could be a potentially slow start for him on the Bluff.
Following Ferry’s takeover of LIU-Brooklyn’s program in 2002, his team’s best finish in his first six seasons was 15-15 in 2007-08. Granted, the squad was a brutal 5-22 the season before Ferry came, but he didn’t have instant success.
Despite the recent turmoil in the basketball program, Amodio is confident that the draw of the Atlantic 10 will help Ferry build a team quicker here than he did in New York.
“It’s not going to take as long as it did [for] LIU to get it done here, just because the assets we can offer are so much greater,” Amodio said.
Ferry was sold on Amodio’s vision and commitment to the program, which has increased the basketball operating budget by more than 70 percent since the hiring of previous-coach Ron Everhart in 2006.
Amodio was also looking for a coach with strong recruiting abilities and retention of players among his team, something Everhart struggled with in six seasons on the Bluff. Ferry assured those needs would be met under his tenure.
“The recruiting process has already started. Not just with Donovon [Jack], but with everybody else as well,” he said at Thursday’s press conference. Despite Ferry’s meeting with Jack last Friday, the 6-foot-9 recruit from Reading, Pa., was released from his commitment Wednesday. (See the story on page 2.)
As for the on-court product, when Ferry gets his roster in place, don’t expect a complete reversal from what fans have become used to in the Palumbo Center.
“I always liked to play up-tempo, play an exciting style of basketball,” Ferry said. “We recruit to my philosophy. Then you make adjustments to the players that you do have. But it is something that we like to do.”
His team was third in the nation in scoring with 81.9 points per game last season, and he likes to recruit “versatile athletes” and players who seamlessly slide from guard to forward and forward to center. That philosophy is not so distant from that of Everhart’s, who depended on aggressive, fast and unselfish offensive schemes, but took more chances on the defensive end.
John Templon, who covers Ferry’s former team in addition to five teams in the New York area for his blog Big Apple Buckets, said Ferry will take Everhart’s athletes and make them better, while finding his own.
“Athletes will want to play in Ferry’s system. He’s also a good coach in terms of development. It seems like players improve during their time at LIU,” Templon said in an e-mail to The Duke.
As for adding size to the front-court, don’t expect much of that either.
“Due to the nature of Ferry's system, taller players typically aren’t the best fit,” Templon said. “You have to be able to handle the ball on the perimeter even as a forward in this offense.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the second signee from this fall’s class, 6-foot-3 guard Willie Moore has decommitted and is no longer considering Duquesne. That leaves Ferry with some holes to fill and the recruiting season already well underway.
Ferry is known for a pipeline of recruits out of Texas, and is likely already testing the waters to fill Duquesne’s needs.
You certainly can’t hand out grades for Ferry’s performance a week in, but with the current roster, Ferry will need much more than a week.
But as the confidence Amodio has shown and the excitement Ferry has to get started, both understand the goal is nothing less than returning to the nationally competitive teams of the ‘70s.
“The expectations are high and they should be. I think this is a special place,” Ferry said.