JCU Townsville Fire captain Suzy Batkovic has singled out Darcee Garbin ahead of this week’s opening road trip of the 2016/17 WNBL season.
Having won a WNBL championship during her maiden season with the Fire, the 22-year-old looks poised to take the next step in her career after enjoying elevated minutes under new coach Claudia Brassard.
During the 2015/16 season, Garbin averaged 5.2 points and 3.1 rebounds backing up Batkovic and Opals forward Cayla George.
However, with an expanded role this season, the Kalgoorlie-product has doubled her production, averaging 11.5 points and 6.5 boards through the opening two rounds of the season.
With Dandenong and the Sydney Uni Flames on the horizon, Batkovic is expecting her running mate to continue her hot form, with the best still to come from Garbin.
“I think back to her first year, she’s definitely come back in leaps and bounds,” Batkovic said.
“Her game has definitely gone up (another level), she’s gotten stronger – especially under the basket which is something she needed to work on – but if she gets bumped it doesn’t matter whether a foul is called or not, she’s going to get that bucket.
“And in the last game I think she proved that…she’s definitely doing a really good job and she’s definitely becoming a lot more consistent.”
Following the departure of George, who led the league in rebounding last season, Garbin’s minutes have risen from 15 to 22 and she continues to form a lethal front-court partnership with Kayla Standish and Batkovic.
Despite battling with her star-studded teammates at training each week, Brassard likes what she sees from the former under-19 Australian player.
“Darcee is certainly making a name for herself. She’s been consistent and she’s been killing it at training all week too,” Brassard said.
“Two weeks in a row the bench has beat the starters (at training) the day before a game and she scored about 80% of the points again.
“She was just more hesitant last year to take shots from outside, whereas this year we’re pushing her aside and making sure that when you’re open from that three point line then shoot them.
“She’s a competitor, but she does all the hard work so it’s definitely paying off.”
The Fire face the Rangers in Melbourne from 6.30pm on Friday before backing up against the Flames in Sydney from 6pm on Saturday.