NEW Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits coach James Ballinger says he’s hoping his beleaguered squad can force an up-tempo, aggressive style of play.
The Lady Bandits unveiled their new coach yesterday, along with US imports Rachel Maenpaa and Lonnika Thompson.
Despite the Border club coming off a one-win campaign and having lost their best local player in Alex Duck, Ballinger was confident he would be sending out a competitive squad this year.
“I’m delighted to be here after a long month, waiting for this to happen,” Ballinger said.
“Not really any expectations, we’ve only had one run as a group last night, so for us it’s about getting competitive and better each day.
“For us, we’re definitely going to have to be aggressive, we can’t afford to sit around and let the opposition come at us.
“We’re going to have to get up and force the pace a little bit and hit the open shots we get.”
Maenpaa is a 185-centimetre forward who has spent the past three seasons playing in the Queensland Basketball League for the Brisbane Capitals, Northside Wizards and Bundaberg Bears.
The Wisconsin native said she would provide plenty of scoring, rebounding and aggressive defence.
“It’s great to be here, I’ve really enjoyed myself so far,” Maenpaa said.
“I’d been in Queensland for a while and hadn’t really been outside of there that much and I was looking for a new experience.
“I’ve enjoyed playing in Australia, it’s a beautiful country and I plan to stick around here a while.
“What I’m hoping to bring to the team is a lot of aggressiveness and hopefully a winning mindset.
“I can score, rebound and play defence; I do a little bit of everything I guess.”
For Thompson, a 163-centimetre point guard who played collegiate ball at the University of Florida, defensive intensity will be her calling card.
“I know it wasn’t a great season here last year but I’m not really worried about that,” she said.
“At practice yesterday, I thought our chemistry was pretty good, just for my first day here.
“I’m very aggressive, I like to pass and shoot and I’m feisty on defence.
“I love defence, I think that’s where you win a ball game, by playing defence and being aggressive.
“People see a little frame and they don’t think much of it, not knowing me, I think it will be a good thing to give other teams a challenge every night.”