Forward thinking for Spirit

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 08-Dec-2017

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Maddy Wild could be one of the Spirit's young brigade to benefit from increased opportunities. Photo: Andrew Perryman.
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WITH eight games remaining in the WNBL season and the team resigned to a fate that doesn’t include playoffs, the time has come for the Bendigo Spirit to cast an eye toward the future.

Bendigo played Melbourne last night before it faces up to Townsville at home on Saturday night, but the Spirit were sitting five games behind the postseason spots with eight to play heading into the round.

The numbers simply don’t add up, and coach Simon Pritchard said this week that he would spend time through Bendigo’s unrelenting December schedule assessing various factors ahead of next season.

Young players will come into that equation, and no doubt whether the likes of Kara Tessari, Ebony Rolph, Ashleigh Spencer and Ash Karaitiana have the potential to contribute in the future at the national level.

It will also likely include an assessment on whether to bring back players such as Gabe Richards, in the twilight of her career.

“There is an element of that, we can’t look too far ahead in terms of who we’ll need next year until we have a budget and can plan for that and that is something that doesn’t happen until next year,” Pritchard said.

“But we need to give Kara more opportunity, the same with Eb and quote a few of the girls. We do have to assess their development and their potential.”

Bendigo’s form in the past three weeks has rebounded from a mid-season swoon that saw it lose four games straight. 

The Spirit went down to Dandenong at home last Saturday by seven points, following a 10-point loss to the Rangers a fortnight ago.

Forward Nadeen Payne says wins aren’t far away.

“We are so close, that’s the frustrating thing but also what you take some hope out of,” she said.

“I feel like we’re not being outplayed as much as we are just making poor decisions that are costing us at the other end.”

Bendigo will target fixtures against Canberra and Dandenong this month as games it believes it can – and should – win.

But it may have a bigger role to play in the changing landscape that is the WNBL playoff picture.

“I want to shape the finals, that’s definitely a focus,” Pritchard said.

“The results this year have shown that you don’t need to be far away from your best to lose and lose big.”

“So while we need to bring our best every game I think every other team will need to bring their best to beat us as well.”

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