POINT guard Casey Ardern has gotten the nod to start from Lady Bandits head coach Jim Wilson for this weekend’s road double-header.
It’s been a tough stretch for the Lady Bandits after a promising start to the season, with injuries to Emma Mahady, Olivia Barber and Molly Rice largely to blame, but Wilson praised the resilience of his young squad.
Barber will play this weekend having been cleared after a concussion, while Rice returned from a broken nose a fortnight ago against Sandringham.
“We can’t really afford to have anyone out injured, we don’t have the overall depth,” Wilson said.
“Our depth is developing, so over the last month we’ve been able to give some minutes to some other players, like Jade McCowan and Charlotte Beavan.
“Casey has earned more minutes, consequently she’s going to start this weekend, which will be a real test as far as where she’s at.”
Casey is starting to pick her spots, when she can score and when she can’t.Jim Wilson
The 15-year-old has impressed despite being undersized, and will once again face an uphill battle against WNBL-calibre guards from Diamond Valley and Dandenong.
Abbey Wehrung was on the Opals’ radar before the Commonwealth Games before joining Diamond Valley for their inaugural SEABL season, while Dandenong’s Tess Lavey and Tess Madgen have also starred for the national team.
“Both are WNBL guards, they’ve been in Australian junior teams, all that sort of stuff so for Casey to check them is going to be a good battle for her,” Wilson said.
“She’s starting to pick her spots, when she can score and when she can’t.
“Sometimes she’ll get a bit too deep, get a shot blocked or get into trouble, but that’s part of learning – she’s 15.
“I’d still expect Kristi (Mokube) and Emilee (Harmon) to do the lion’s share of work inside.”
Mokube also scored some praise from Wilson, who expected her to have a brig impact heading into the second half of the season.
In her first season in Australia, Mokube has averaged 16 points and nine rebounds per game, adjusting well to the game of fellow import Harmon.
Wilson said the range on Mokube’s shot was something that had set her apart.
“She’s been good – I think her skillset is really good, good range on her shot for a big, she’s strong and aggressive,” he said.
“I think from a scoring point of view, when she picks the right shot and the right play, I don’t think anyone can stop her.
“It’s a matter of getting reward for effort.”
The head coach said her job was made easier by the fact she understands the bigger picture with regards to the team’s development.
“The team is young, Kristi is young, but she’s done well.
“If you were to put her on a team like Bendigo, where they have six or seven genuine SEABL stars, she’d still put up similar stats.”
The Lady Bandits face Diamond Valley on Saturday night before tackling Dandenong on Sunday.