Ford learns from a master
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 10/11/2005

After several weeks of being the teacher with his new team, University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach Travis Ford took on the role of a pupil last week.

Ford and a handful of other college coaches traveled to the New York Knicks training camp in Charleston, S.C., for lessons from coach Larry Brown.

''It was fun to go watch, to learn a couple things, pick up a few things. It was good overall,'' said Ford, who went to Houston last year with Jeff Van Gundy for four days. ''You just go to refresh yourself. You pick up drills and a lot of different things.''

Ford was among a handful of high-profile college coaches observing Brown, including Billy Donovan. He and Ford have been close friends since Donovan was an assistant coach and Ford was a player at Kentucky.

''We sat and talked one day. It's always good'' to see him, Ford said.

Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson, Connecticut assistant George Blaney and former Virginia coach Pete Gillen also were in attendance. Ford said Brown seemed to enjoy the audience.

''He's one of the best I've ever seen as far as accommodating the high school and college coaches. He's a true teacher of the game,'' Ford said. ''I was very interested in seeing Larry Brown, who I'd never been around before. I was anxious to watch him.''

Ford said he's already planning on installing some of Brown's techniques.

''We'll put in a few. They had a lot of fast-break drills that I like that were very good,'' Ford said.

TRANSITION - Ford this week is finishing individual instruction and conditioning before practice begins full-time this weekend.

He said the first year of teams being allowed to do off-season practice together was a learning experience.

''I think we'll get better every year. This was kind of a work in progress for us figuring out how to get team work in as (well) as individual work,'' Ford said. ''It's new for everybody. That seems to be the general consensus for everybody. That was a big topic among the college coaches (in Charleston). Everybody is trying to figure out what works best.''

A PLEASANT SURPRISE - Ford listed Boston University transfer Etienne Brower as one of the happy discoveries of the fall workouts.

''Etienne Brower was one of the pleasant surprises,'' Ford said. ''We saw just how good a basketball player he really is and what great shape he's in.''

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.


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