Approaching her 150th WNBL game this Saturday against Sydney Uni Flames, Bendigo Bank Spirit forward Nadeen Payne is confident her best is still to come.
The 23-year-old says she has been reasonably happy with her form in her first season with the Spirit, but freely admits her shooting has been a little inconsistent.
“I am a much better shooter than I have been producing in some games …. (it’s been) inconsistent,” she said.
“But I have been happy with my rebounding and a lot of other little things I have been doing.
“But there’s always room for improvement.”
Payne is averaging 4.77 rebounds a game, a career-high and well above her 3.3 career average.
The consummate team player, Payne said she was trying hard not to concentrate on her milestone, but rather getting a win over a Flames team that has caused the Spirit plenty of heartache this season.
“We really need to get the win against Sydney this weekend before we head into the Christmas period,” she said.
“If we can get Sydney and Canberra (December 16) then we are looking pretty good.
“Sydney are just a different team, they are very physical, but they are definitely beatable and with the few adjustments we are making at training this week we should be on track.”
The Townsville-born 23-year-old has battled plenty of adversity during her time in the league, from missing the 2014-15 season after injuring her knee while playing in Tasmania during the winter season, to being part of financially-strapped Townsville and South East Queensland teams which against the odds qualified for finals.
She feels she is better for the experience and even gladder to have landed in a good situation in Bendigo.
“Everyone on this team is great and good people and when you are enjoying your basketball and having fun, that’s when you play your best basketball,” the former Australian junior said.
“We need to try and keep that up.
“I definitely think we’re a top four team and we’re eyeing the top two.”
Payne, who played her first WNBL game for the AIS as a 16-year-old, said the league had improved leaps and bounds in the last decade.
“The quality of imports we are getting into the league has risen a lot … there’s WNBA players and a lot of the Opals stayed through last season as well,” she said.
“It’s a really tough league.
“And the quality of juniors has stepped up too.”