University of Canberra Capitals coach Paul Goriss has embarked on his most ambitious recruiting drive to date in a bid to break the club’s WNBL finals drought, which stretches back to 2011.
Gorris has overhauled the Capitals’ roster with a number of big names coming to Canberra including Opals’ stars, Kelsey Griffin and Leilani Mitchell, coupled with the return of Marianna Tolo. There is also WNBA player Kia Nurse and the likes of Lauren Scherf and Maddi Rocci returning for another season in Capitals colours.
On paper, the Capitals’ line-up is probably the strongest it has been for many seasons, but as is often the case, the key is to have this ‘all-star’ side playing as a team.
It may not be until a few rounds into the season that we will see the best of the Capitals.
Mitchell, Griffin, Tolo and Kristy Wallace have been recovering from injuries – and in the case of Tolo and Wallace, knee reconstructions – which need to be treated with caution.
While the playing roster has the appearance of an ‘all-stars’ team, quite possibly the key signings for Goriss are in his support staff. The recruitment of Phil Brown is a masterstroke. Brown has enormous experience coaching throughout the world including a WNBL title with the AIS in 1998/99.
Add AFLW premiership-winning coach Bec Goddard and WNBL veteran Carly Wilson to the mix and you get the impression it is starting to come together for the Capitals.
Kelsey Griffin and Marianna Tolo have also been unveiled as co-captains at the team’s season launch on Wednesday night (10 October). Coach Paul Goriss has turned to two of the most experienced players to guide the new-look roster this season. Gorris said both stars bring great leadership quality as previous championship winners in the WNBL.
“To have these two lead the team for this season is really important both on and off the court,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for two better people, who are well respected around the playing group and around the league.
“Both bring that element of toughness and winning which is something we need in our locker room. At times, we need those people who are going to fight and dig in and keep others accountable.”
Another component is the community support. Once again the role played by Richard Rolfe has been crucial through his business, Audi Canberra. His support for Canberra women’s sport is one of the reasons why the ACT leads the way.
Round 1 WNBL
The University of Canberra Capitals vs Sydney Flames at Sydney Uni, 12 October, 7 pm