Canberra Capitals turn to ACT boys for training help to end WNBL woes

Capitals’ coach Carrie Graf says she won’t think about her WNBL future until after the season. Photo: Rohan Thomson Canberra Capitals player Stephanie Talbot returned to Canberra this week after a tour of Brazil with the Opals. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Canberra Capitals coach Carrie Graf says she won’t contemplate her WNBL future until the end of the season as the club battles to end a 16-match losing streak.

And the Capitals’ disaster season took another twist this week, with Graf forced to call in training reinforcements from the ACT under-16 and under-18s boys teams to ensure there were enough players to practise against.

The winless Capitals face a brutal two-game Queensland tour this weekend, with less than 24 hours between their matches against South East Queensland and the Townsville Fire.

The Capitals have battled through the worst season in the club’s history and Graf’s contract expires at the end of the WNBL campaign.

Club officials have launched a review into the team’s operation and it remains unclear whether Graf will stay in her position beyond this season.

Graf has led the Capitals to six of their seven WNBL championships, and said: “My contract is up at the end of the year, so we’ll see what happens.

“In the thick of this season I haven’t sat down and thought what’s next. You’re not in high performance sport to come last, so of course it’s tough.

“For me, as with the group, we’ve got to finish out this season. At the point we’re at, struggling to get a win, over-focusing on results is not right for us.

“This team has five weeks to do our job as basketball players and coaches and to try to keep the pressure off … are younger players still getting development and are we still doing the work?

“As the review gets processed, I’m sure I’ll sit down with [University of Canberra Union boss Joe Roff] and chat about where things are heading for me and where they’re heading for the organisation.

The Capitals have been forced to overcome hurdles throughout the year, starting before a game was even played.

Kathleen McLeod and Ann Wauters pulled out of contracts before the season, while Lauren Jackson has been released from her deal and Hanna Zavecz retired.

A delayed move of shifting home games to the Canberra Convention Centre and a fire at the Tuggeranong Basketball Stadium added to the woes.

The Capitals’ preparations this week were thrown a curve ball when Jess Bibby injured her leg and Abby Bishop and Stephanie Talbot returned from an Australian Opals tour of Brazil.

Bibby, Bishop and Talbot were rested from training, leaving Graf with seven players  at practice.

That’s when she turned to the junior boys to offer a helping hand as the Capitals attempt to dig themselves out of a rut.

“We had boys in all last week and we’ve got them in again so we’re going against bigger bodies than us, but it doesn’t get any easier,” Graf said.

“Your numbers at training affects your ability to practise and when your roster is decimated, it makes it tough.”

Bishop and Talbot at least got to taste some success with the Opals, winning all games at an Olympic Games test event in Rio.

But the pair have jammed in four games and 21 hours of flight time into less than two weeks and then fly to Queensland for a double-header.

The Capitals requested for the game against Townsville to be moved forward to allow them to fly home on Sunday night, but they will stay in Queensland until Monday.

“They’re going to be jet-lagged, but maybe on a bit of high as well. We need them to play two big games with big minutes on the weekend, that’s more important than running them through it at training.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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