When they first showed me a video of Sanaa playing, I said, it be going to take a lot of work, " says WNBA coach Colleen Matsuhara
, who was Lathan's coach and one of the film's technical advisors.But then I saw how focused she
was about learning the game.She
read books, watched videos and really lived it 24 hours a day.She
had the attitude you would hope to find in any basketball player -- it was really a lot of fun teaching her..
Basketball advisors Colleen Matsuhara
, the assistant coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks who had given Sanaa Lathan her
intensive training, and Steve Spencer, an assistant coach with the UCLA men's basketball team, supervised practice sessions with principal cast members.
Sanaa Lathan's training, which went on longer than anyone's, also got her
coach involved in the acting process.When she
came to watch the Sparks practice, or when she
would come to the games, says Matsuhara
was really focused on watching their facial expressions and body language.The next time we would practice i would say, OK, Sanaa, remember how so-and-so acted after she
scored a basket.'.
In one sequence, Prince-Bythewood even wrote a voiceover that takes the audience inside Monica's head during a crucial 20 seconds at the end of a game, dramatizing her
strategic thinking and efforts at self-control : the all-important mental side of the game that can not be shown on TV.
The director routinely joined in on daily practice sessions, reluctantly cutting down on her
normally intense playing schedule to do so.Gina's a basketball gym rat, Matsahura said affectionately.When I told her
I thought she
could have walked on the court and made the UCLA basketball team, she
said, I wish you have not told me that.' And I said, Well you can not ever get those years back, but you be living your dream through this movie.'.
One of the more exciting parts of the shoot was an evening spent filming a scene at the Great Western Forum for a WNBA game between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Washington Mystics.