Feb 14, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Duquesne Dukes guard Derrick Colter (1) brings the ball up court during the first half against the Temple Owls at the Liacouras Center. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

2013-14 Duquesne Myths: The Ferry Offense

This week, I’ll present a series of posts meant to dispel some of what I see as myths, misunderstandings and false assumptions surrounding Jim Ferry, his system and the current state of the Duquesne basketball. This is the fourth piece in the series.

Whenever I talk about Ferry’s philosophies, I always refer back to this handy .pdf from Jim Ponchak of Hoop Scoop summarizing a coaching clinic the former LIU coach presented at. I’ve often cited the Ponchak notes when discussing the lineup structure Ferry prefers, but I’ve never addressed the general game plan he lays out over most of the thirteen pages. If you haven’t downloaded and read the .pdf the twenty other times I’ve posted it, do yourself a favor and have a look. For those of you afraid to download things or if you’re happy to just take my word, Ferry wants his teams to try scoring in the below order:

1) In transition

2) Secondary Break

3) Half-Court Entry

4) Late Clock Play

5) Get to the Foul Line


The Ferry offense begins with defense. In order for it to work effectively, the team must cleanly grab opponent’s misses at the other end of the floor. As I’ve mentioned time and time again, bigs in the Ferry system need to dribble and pass well enough that they can trigger the break. They either need to get the ball to a guard or handle it themselves if they have a clear lane.

Scoring in transition doesn’t mean hitting the easy lay up. It could mean passing off to another player heading to the basket. It could mean penetrating and kicking to an open wing for a three. It also could mean holding up and waiting for a trailer who’s crashing the lane with a full head of steam.

It could also mean making the smart play and setting up the half court offense.

Half Court Entry

Once the Ferry offense backs out of the transition, they’ll move to some type of wing entry whether they’re facing the man or the 2-3 zone. Against the man, I suspect the team will try to get the ball in the post to either the 4 or the 5. Remember Ferry wants his big men making plays. The offense will flow through them and with the ball inside, they’ll have the option to make a post move and try to get to the basket themselves, or kick back outside or to their opposite interior number.

Against the zone, Ferry will employ a high wing entry where the “4” will serve as the zone buster standing near the free throw line in between the 2 defenders up top and the 3 in the post. If the season ticket holder practice indicated anything, Ovie Soko will play the “4” this year. The point guard and wings will move the ball around the perimeter until the top of the defense leaves space for an entry pass to the “4”. With the ball, the zone buster then has the option to take a jump shot, kick back out to the perimeter, face up and drive the middle of the zone, or push it into “5” cruising the baseline.

Having a skilled big man like Ovie roaming the middle of the zone makes it very difficult for defenses who rely on it. Often times, the zone buster is played by a small not a power forward. Last year, Quevyn Winters manned the position. The year before (and the only season Ron Everhart used the high wing entry to break the 2-3) Sean Johnson held the job and performed admirably. Those guys are 6’5” and 6’2” respectively. Neither predecessor could attack the post the way Soko will thanks to his extra bit of height. When teams execute the wing entry well they take away, the 2-3 as an option.

Half Court Plays

Ferry’s sets depend on ball movement, running off the ball and screens. We already saw a lot of the double high screen last year during the season. We saw more low post screens and crossing runs by the guards at the end of the season. I expect to see even more this year now that Ferry has the guys he needs in place to execute. Martins Abele set very good screens but he stood alone in that department. Soko, Jordan Robinson, Isaiah Watkins, LG Gill and Dominque McKoy should all get the job done. Having more weapons in general doesn’t hurt either.

If Ferry’s plays aren’t designed to get people in scoring position, they’re at least designed to get them to the line. If the Dukes draw more fouls than they concede by about a 1.5:1 margin, they should put themselves in position to win.

I should have listed crashing the offensive glass above as 6). Look for the Dukes to make life difficult for opponents if they miss their shots.


I’m speaking in very general terms today and naturally, the actual offense will look much more complex than the one I described. However, I wanted to give people an idea of what to expect. We got a preview of what we’ll see from a Jim Ferry team last year. This year I think we’ll see the feature.


Tags: Jim Ferry Offense

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