THE Bendigo Bank Spirit will continue to manage some injury concerns ahead of Friday night’s round three WNBL clash against Dandenong Rangers. Star centre Gabe Richards is recovering from a knock to the head sustained during training on Tuesday night, while guard Heather Oliver is battling a nurse injury.
Coach Simon Pritchard said he expected both players to take to the court in Dandenong. The game against the so far undefeated Rangers (2-0) will be the first of two games for the Spirit (2-1) this weekend.
They host the University of Canberra Capitals at Bendigo Stadium on Saturday night. Pritchard said Richards, who is averaging 14.6 points and 10.6 rebounds, was nursing a nasty bump on a forehead after a training mishap with import Joy Burke.
The two-time All-Star team centre missed work on Wednesday, but was expected back on court for the Spirit’s main training session on Thursday night. Pritchard said the Spirit would need to “pick their moments” against a tall and athletic Rangers team, spearheaded by import forward Annalise Pickrel (16 points, 10.5 rebounds) and centre Alex Bunton (9.5 points, 6 rebounds).
“Their height is something we’ll need to have a strategy to work around,” he said. “We’ll need to be quick, but quick at the right times. “We don’t need to run the whole time, as they are also athletic – they have both – they are tall and quick.”
Guards Belinda Snell (11.6 points), Kelly Wilson (10 points) and Kerryn Harrington will have a big job against Stephanie Cummings (15 points) and Tenaya Phillips. Pritchard was understandably thrilled with his team’s well rounded performance during last weekend’s string win against Perth Lynx.
“It was good to have an inside and outside game, we were scoring with Gabe and we were scoring with Kelsey, and as they were collapsing we had our perimeter players making their open shots,” he said. “Kerryn hit two of three good three (pointers), Snelly hit four or five and was really humming. “It was nice to have that combination game and hopefully we can continue that this weekend.”
The Spirit’s game against the Capitals tips-off at Bendigo Stadium at 7pm Saturday.