WNBL legend returns to bolster Capitals staff

The Canberra Capitals will go back to the future in an administration reshuffle, appointing former skipper Lucille Bailie as the WNBL club's interim general manager.

Bailie signed a short-term contract on Tuesday and will replace outgoing boss Matthew Phelps, who is set to move into a role at Cricket ACT.

Bailie's arrival coincides with the University of Canberra's review of its sports programs in a bid to make improvements after buying the Capitals' licence three years ago.

The ongoing review could involve input from former Capitals coach Carrie Graf, who was a pioneer for women's sport in Canberra and is the most successful coach in WNBL history.

Bailie and Graf were inducted into the Basketball Australia hall of fame two weeks ago and the respected duo could help reignite the Capitals as they chase a drought-breaking finals spot.

Bailie will juggle the Capitals' job with her role as the chief executive of the Physical Activity Foundation.

"I am excited and it all seems very logical. If you live in Canberra, I think everyone has a soft spot for the Caps," Bailie said.

"I'm flattered to have been asked to help out until the end of the season. I know the team, know the game and know a lot of the key stakeholders, so I will make contact with all of those.

"It's nice to have a look at the engine room of the Caps and bring some of my skills to the business end ... there's already a great groove and team there. I'll support them and maybe push them a little bit to stretch our targets."

The University of Canberra bought the ownership licence to the Capitals and in 2014. It was one step in Graf's vision to have a full-time professional women's team in Canberra.

However, the Capitals have not made the finals since 2011 and six-time championship winner Graf finished her coaching tenure at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Graf is widely regarded as one of the most influential voices in women's sport and will provide invaluable input if the university invites her to offer advice as part of a potential restructure.

Bailie is solely focused helping out as much as possible in a short stint until the end of a condensed WNBL campaign.

Lucille Bailie, second from left, in her playing days.

Lucille Bailie, second from left, in her playing days. Photo: Ben MacMahon

Bailie led the Capitals to the 2003 WNBL title and retired in 2004 after 377 games.

"It's a treat to be in the back end with the insights you gather as a player, administrator and a chief executive of another organisation," Bailie said.

"Right now there's a resurgence in women's sport, and that's exciting. I'll have to get my head around it quickly to support the season and see the season out in the interim.

"With the team here at UC, this is the perfect opportunity to help Carrie Graf's vision come to life. We have everything at our disposal to help this team be as good as it possibly can be."

The Capitals are clinging to their fading play-off hopes after a string of heartbreaking losses to start a rejigged season.

They sit just three wins outside the top four despite losing their past seven games, but need to get back to winning ways when they play the Perth Lynx.

The Capitals have been battling a hectic schedule in the past three weeks, which has limited them to just three training sessions.

"We've got to tidy up our decision making and our defence," said coach Paul Goriss.

"It's the difference in winning or losing a close game. If you're on your game you can take home a win, but in the last couple of weeks we haven't put ourselves in that position."


Saturday: Perth Lynx v Canberra Capitals at Bendat Basketball Centre, 9.30pm.

This story WNBL legend returns to bolster Capitals staff first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.