Despite not having lost to Dandenong at home since 2010, Bendigo Spirit coach Simon Pritchard doesn’t think his side completely has the measure of the Rangers as the WNBL’s top two sides get set to renew their rivalry on Sunday.
Both games between the Spirit and Rangers this year have gone Bendigo’s way, the first a dour defensive struggle on the Spirit’s home floor before an offensive showcase of a return leg in Dandenong that Bendigo won 94-85.
With the season series already in the books, Bendigo is looking to sweep the Rangers when they meet in Bendigo on Sunday, but Dandenong has hit form of recent weeks.
“We’ve performed very well against them in recent times but they’ve also not been at their best in a few of those games,” Pritchard said this week.
“We have had some things that work well against them and a lot of our players are familiar with theirs, but by no means are we expecting that they will always play poorly because they have a lot of talent.”
Dandenong sit atop the league ladder on the back of a three-game win streak, but play Sydney on Saturday night in what is likely to be a bruising encounter against the rough-and-tumble Flames, who are fresh off a win against the Spirit.
The Rangers have only played two of their 10 games so far this season away from the comforts of home, and Bendigo is an environment that Dandenong teams of the past have not enjoyed.
Bendigo has also sought to exploit a lack of physicality from the Rangers in the past, evident in holding Dandenong to 45 points when they met in Bendigo earlier this season.
“They run the same sort of stuff every week whether it works or not, so I guess for us we know what to expect a lot of the time,” Pritchard told the Weekly.
The second-year Spirit coach said that containing Sara Blicavs and Stephanie Cumming will be key.
“We know that a lot of their actions end up in their hands, even if that isn’t where they start, so we need to be alert to that and make them work really hard, no matter who is guarding them,” he said.
Sunday’s game tips off at Bendigo Stadium at 3pm, and is Bendigo’s second last home game before the new year.