13 January 2023

Optimism follows the UC Capitals upset win over the Bendigo Spirit

| Tim Gavel
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Spurred on by the crowd, the UC Caps won against the Adelaide Lightning in 2018/19 grad final. Photo: Jennifer Andrew

The UC Capitals have a rich history of premierships, but past seasons show that there is often a build. Photo: The UC Caps in 2019 playing against the Adelaide Lightning at the AIS Arena. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

Casting an eye over the UC Capitals’ history, what becomes obvious is the build towards a premiership-winning season.

The Capitals have struggled this season, but they have finally ended a 12-game losing streak with a courageous 92-85 victory over the Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre.

I say courageous, not only because of the fortitude required when you are struggling, particularly with the weight of 12 consecutive losses to start the season, but because the Caps beat a team far higher on the ladder. The Caps also were without three key players.

Alex Bunton and daughter Opal Bunton at the UC Capitals’ season 2022/2023 launch Photo: Liv Cameron.

Alex Bunton, Britt Smart and Alison Schwagmeyer-Belger were all unavailable resulting in an inexperienced line-up taking to the court.

Kelsey Griffin

Kelsey Griffin in the days when she played for the UC Capitals. Photo: File.

Somehow the Capitals got the job done.

It took a herculean effort to beat Bendigo – and it must have been emotional for many.

Among those turning out for Bendigo was Kelsey Griffin, a two-time Capitals premiership-winning player now lining up for Bendigo.

As it turned out, Griffin had a minimal impact during her time on the court.

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So how did the Capitals turn things around?

For starters, it is obvious there is plenty of self-belief within this squad.

It’s hard to find a better young player in the WNBL than Jade Melbourne, who effectively took control of the game.

Woman holding a basketball

Jade Melbourne: fired up off and on the court. Photo: UC Capitals Facebook.

Credit must also go to Capitals’ first-year coach Kristen Veal who refused to allow the previous 12 games to become a burden.

Veal will take comfort in the knowledge that with so many off-season changes in personnel, she has established the basis for a good team.

It is also worth considering a passage of the Capital’s history when looking to the future.

Kristen Veal at the UC Capitals’ season 2022/2023 launch. Photo: Liv Cameron.

In the 2015/2016 season, the Capitals won just two games from 24.

A few years later, they went on to win the premiership in the 2018/2019 season following a couple of key signings by then-coach Paul Goriss, proving, if nothing else, that anything is possible.

Kristen Veal has the makings of a good team. The victory over Bendigo is essentially the start.

The UC Capitals take on the Melbourne Boomers in Melbourne today. Their next home game is against the Southside Flyers on 21 January at Royal Theatre, National Convention Centre. Tickets from Ticketek.

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