NZ Jnr Tall Ferns feeling confident
Up against teams from China, Australia and the United States, the young Kiwis weren’t able to find victory, but returned home with a better idea of what they needed to improve.
“I feel a lot more confident now, since we came back from China,” says Fuller. “That tour exposed us in a couple of areas that I wasn’t happy about, so we made some changes and brought in some other players that addressed those needs.
“We struggled at point guard and our power forwards never quite had enough of a physical approach – the US and China just out-muscled us.”
A key change sees North Harbour guard Brooke Blair shift across from the point into her natural shooting slot.
“She’s a perfect ‘two’, but running the point took her out of her game – Brooke’s worth 20 points a game to us.”
Fuller and his staff also identified other areas that needed addressing through individual improvement, and sent players away to work harder on their skills.
Blair, Waitakere West Auckland forward Penina Davidson, Waikato guard Rhaiah Spooner-Knight and forward Stella Beck of Hutt Valley were all standout performers for their respective teams at the recent Women’s Basketball Championship.
Davidson averaged 15 points and 9.2 rebounds in leading the Rangers to the final, while Beck was named Young Player of the Year.
But Fuller knows that many of the Australian team are used to a whole different level of play in their WNBL. Some were part of the Emerging Opals outfit that beat the Tall Ferns during their Olympic qualifying build-up.
“I think we’re in with a good shot if we run our sets well and play the defence we want to,” he insists. “But if it goes to three games, it’s going to be hard.”
The JTFs gather in Palmerston North over the weekend to prepare for the Oceania championships, that begin at Te Rauparaha Arena on Thursday.
Junior Tall Ferns Roster
|Aaliyah Ah Kiong||Hawke’s Bay||Guard||1.60m||May 5, 1996|
|Stella Beck||Hutt Valley||Guard/forward||1.77m||September 25, 1995|
|Brooke Blair||North Harbour||Guard||1.69m||October 8, 1994|
|Jaime Campbell||Marlborough||Centre||1.89m||July 12, 1994|
|Penina Davidson||Waitakere WA||Forward||1.89m||September 2, 1995|
|Makayla Daysh||Tauranga City||Forward||1.83m||October 10, 1995|
|Deena Franklin||North Harbour||Forward||1.86m||February 5, 1995|
|Morgan Hunter||North Harbour||Guard||1.70m||January 21, 1994|
|Dionne Martin||Waikato||Forward||1.82m||August 18, 1995|
|Chelseah Savage||Waikato||Guard||1.68m||March 19, 1995|
|Rhaiah Spooner-Knight||Waikato||Guard||1.77m||December 1, 1994|
|Jaimee-Lee Tito||Te Tai Tokerau||Guard||1.68m||February 5, 1994|
Coach – Sean Fuller
Assistant coach – Brent Matehaere
Apprentice coach – Mel Bennett
Manager – Maryellen Bezzant
Physiotherapist – Emma Pene