ALBURY-Wodonga Lady Bandits coach James Ballinger says it’s put up or shut up time and his struggling squad needs to “come out swinging” against the Kilsyth Lady Cobras at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre tonight.
With a 1-14 record and a 12-game losing run, the Border club goes in to the clash as rank outsiders against a Lady Snakes outfit sitting just one game from top spot in the SEABL South Conference standings.
Kilsyth defeated the Lady Bandits handily in round six and has since added Australian WNBL pivot Louella Tomlinson, giving it another quality presence around the basket at both ends of the floor.
“Defensively they are very good,” Ballinger said.
“Just a tough team and it’s a huge challenge, no doubt.
“But it’s also an exciting challenge for us, one we should embrace.
“We haven’t had good results, been up and down and very patchy, but we’ve had some good moments too.
“So we need to come out swinging — if you can’t get up for a SEABL game I would question why you’re doing this.”
With just the solitary victory and numerous heavy defeats, Ballinger’s patience has been sorely tested this season and the second-year mentor admitted any criticism would be fully warranted if the Lady Bandits’ insipid displays continued.
“If we don’t come to play, all this rings hollow,” Ballinger said.
“At 1-14, people will take potshots at us but I’m generally upbeat and positive and I don’t see a reason to stop now.
“We’re nowhere near where we want to be so we need to put up or shut up and focus on this week’s task at hand.”
A glimmer of hope for Albury-Wodonga has been the improved form in recent weeks of under-fire import Rachel Maenpaa.
The second-year forward has averaged 21 points, 11 rebounds and four assists over the past two outings after a poor start to the season.
“It wasn’t just offensively, it was about her sticking to defensive plans,” Ballinger said.
“It’s hard to be a scorer when you’re on the bench because of ordinary defence.
“But she’s picked up her defensive intensity and as a result is on the court more and scoring more.”
Tip-off for the women’s game is 6.30pm with the men’s game to follow at 8.30pm.