BENDIGO Spirit coach Bernie Harrower has nothing but fond memories of the Albury Sports Stadium.
Looking ahead to this Saturday’s WNBL clash with Canberra in Albury, Harrower is hoping his almost invincible record on the Border will hold him and his team in good stead against the two-time defending champion Capitals.
Harrower, the only coach of the Spirit in their four-year WNBL existence, was previously at the helm of the Bendigo Lady Braves in the SEABL and can only remember one loss to the Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits, a season-opening defeat in 2007.
In what Harrower hopes is a bit of an omen, the Lady Braves shook off the shock defeat and went on to claim a second successive title.
“It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to Albury, now that I’m not coaching SEABL,” Harrower said.
“I think most of the time we won when we came there, I can only remember one loss and that was the year we won the championship so I do have good memories of Albury.
“That one loss was an ugly game for us I remember, we had a bad start to the year and went on to win the title so hopefully a bit of coincidence there can mirror this year a little bit too.”
Harrower admitted the league-leading Capitals represented a massive test for the fifth-placed Spirit.
“Canberra are going to be a big challenge for us, no doubt,” Harrower said.
“We’ve been on the road now for four games and we’ve still got two more to go on this six-game road swing and we were in Perth and Adelaide last weekend and now Albury this weekend, so there’s a lot of travel involved.
“We’ve got to make sure we do our recovery the right way and rest our players and make sure we’re up for this game.
“We know we can be super-competitive against Canberra, in the four years we’ve been in the league we’ve taken games off them twice so we know we’re good enough.
“If we can shoot the ball the way we did last weekend, we’re more than capable of causing an upset.”
Harrower also applauded Canberra’s plan to build an on-going relationship with the Albury-Wodonga basketball fraternity.
“I think it’s a sensational thing that Canberra are trying to do, Albury is a basketball town and always has been,” Harrower said.
“It’s one of the reasons why Bendigo went so hard at getting a WNBL team, we’re a basketball town.
“And the one thing we have in the regional centres like Bendigo and Albury, is the media coverage for women’s sport is just sensational. You can’t get that in capital cities.
“And maybe that’s something the league needs to look at, maybe having more teams in regional centres so we can get that sort of media exposure for the league.”