Ferns fall for 'lifting' strategy

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 07:14 23/05/2012

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It will continue to be up, up and away for Anna Harrison when she swaps the Northern Mystics for the Silver Ferns later this year.

So impressed was national coach Waimarama Taumaunu by the success the Mystics enjoyed with the "Harrison Hoist" on Sunday that it will become a tactic employed by the New Zealand team too.

"When you've got a proponent as good as Anna, it would be foolish to rule it out," Taumaunu said yesterday.

"It's certainly not going to be the only part of our defensive game, but I certainly think it would add a significant dimension to it, which would be great."

For a host of reasons, Taumaunu said, lifting a defender to block or intercept a shot had to be a ploy used sparingly. But she was excited about how well the Mystics managed to execute it, in their win over the Melbourne Vixens, and had no sympathy with the view that resorting to this method of defending a shot was a touch unseemly.

"Definitely you're looking to play within the bounds of the laws, but you are also looking to get the ball and from my perspective, therefore, it's an innovative use of skill," Taumaunu said.

"It's not easy and very few people can actually do it. But I don't have any underpinning disapproval of it not being in the spirit of the game. I think it's absolutely in the spirit of the game, in terms of the innovation. It's now for the shooters to find things to do about it."

Taumaunu believes other trans- Tasman franchises will attempt to emulate what the Mystics did, before the season's out. "But I'd challenge them to have someone capable. Because it's just a boost and it's helped by the fact that Anna has an outstanding standing jump to start with," she said.

On a New Zealand front, Harrison's Mystics team-mate Kayla Cullen who, ironically, was one of the players doing the lifting on Sunday, might be another with the ability to do it. Cullen has a good vertical leap and the sort of frame that could easily be lifted.

Other than Cullen, New Zealand's franchises don't really possess a defender who you might call an obvious candidate. "I looked at a few people over the weekend and there are one or two I think could probably do it well," Taumaunu said.

Then there's the idea, legal, of shooters lifting shooters.

"You can also jump shoot in netball but most shooters haven't done that either and one of the reasons for that is the jump shot isn't as reliable as being able to stand," said Taumaunu.

"We have shooters delivering 90 per cent-plus week in week out, so accuracy is hugely important in netball. Two shooters working for one shot puts all your eggs in one basket and it takes away your rebounding capability and it may give you a reasonably unstable base to shoot from . . . I suspect it would lower your accuracy." Fairfax NZ

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