BASKETBALL WITH KRISTEN VEAL
Join VixenSports as we follow the talented Kristen Veal from the University of Canberra Capitals!! Kristen will share her basketball experiences with us, right here!! With a career spanning 17 years…and still going…Kristen knows all there is to know about Basketball!!!ABOUT KRISTEN VEAL
So as it has seemed to go the last few years with the Capitals, we are scratching our way up the ladder and hopefully into a finals spot as the 2014/15 season draws to an end. A predicament all of us doubt would have been the case if we could’ve exploited our experienced veteran group rather than succumbing to a string of unfortunate injuries and illnesses. In saying this though and without getting too far ahead of ourselves, firstly, maybe this is a finals blessing in disguise, and secondly, imagine the possibilities for the 2015/16 season!
But back to the task at hand, 4 weeks left, 5 games, 4 of which are against teams ranked higher than us, 1 not, but just as dangerous. The math? Gees who knows, 5 wins you would say would almost guarantee us a crack at the finals. 4 wins puts us in a good position. 3 wins, speculative. 2 wins would mean a top four team basically packed up early and went to Thailand for a holiday. 1 win, ‘LOL’ fat chance. The short of the long is we need to win the game in front of us, then the next and so on… we do that, we make finals and from there anything can happen.
In my mind a massive portion of credit should go to some Caps names that rarely get mentioned around the superstars and veterans of the team. Players that are the undeniable explanation as to why we are even in the mix this year, players that have carried the training workload, the unpredictable minutes, the important games for the first two thirds of the season and offered selfless support no matter how difficult it has been personally. The success of a team is not solely based on it’s superstars, it is based on the depth and breadth and willingness of all. Without Al Coddington, AbiWehrung, Ellie Junod, Sarah McAppion, Sammy Norwood and Tara Hay we are not a successful Capitals team, but with them we have a real shot of making finals. This year and next! Exciting!
The Canberra Capitals round 7 match up in the Women’s National Basketball League last weekend saw us take a home game to Albury at the Lauren Jackson Stadium against Adelaide. Even though Adelaide has notably been struggling so far this season, our need for a win was just as high. Knowing that there are no easy wins this season along with the quality of players on Adelaide’s roster, it was fairly obvious the relief at the end of the game when the buzzer sounded and the win was officially recorded. But in case it wasn’t obvious… the relief was enormous!
A mentionable performance from Abby Bishop was well backed up by almost everyone at different times in the game. A couple of 3’s in the first half from Bibby to keep us in the contest. Talbot stepping up defensively on Opals star Laura Hodges. Wilson jumping from defensive assignment-to-assignment and hitting open shots. Weihrung closing out the game with composure well above her years. A real team effort was needed this week whilst managing injuries and that’s what we got.
This week we face Melbourne at our old home stadium down at Tuggeranong… hopefully we can reproduce one of those epic grudge matches that were so commonly played down there!
We definitely needed a quiet and steady win against a much improved and possible finals contender in the West Coast Waves last weekend, and that’s what we got. After West Coast knocked off Bendigo 2 nights prior, I’m sure the whole league had their ears pricked up for our Sunday game… I know we sure did.
Just as important as the win, Sunday’s game was an opportunity to wear a special made Camo uniform to honor and show support for ‘Soldier On’ in recognition of Remembrance Day. It’s hard not to give your all when you’re playing for something much bigger than yourself, and that’s what we did from minute 1 to minute 40. The league has allowed us to wear them again this weekend in the Caps v Waves re-match, which will be ABC’s TV game of the week in a more national tribute to Remembrance Day.
Currently sitting at 3 wins and 3 losses with a number of players to come back into the lineup is in all reality a good position for us. But whilst we wait for injuries to heal the rest of the playing group is establishing some momentum and cohesion and on some nights producing an exciting style of play. Abby Bishop has been phenominal, Carly Wilson a rock, Steph Talbot a monster and local Al Coddington a 2014 revelation. This weekend will be a grudge match, more important than last week and a battle to the end. It should be thoroughly enjoyable!
2014/2015 Women’s National Basketball League season started this past weekend and for me at my new club the Canberra Capitals we played an away game and a home game. Winning the first game against The Melbourne Boomers and narrowly losing the second game to The Sydney Uni Flames. This was a disappointing loss as we were desperate to get the double and start the season by winning as many games as possible before Lauren Jackson rejoins the playing group.
Another reason we wanted both wins was to celebrate Jess Bibby’s milestone event of playing 350 games in the WNBL. We celebrated her 350 game at home on the Saturday night, with t-shirts, a framed jersey and publicacknowledgement, Bibby celebrated with 18 points in the first half and keeping us in the game. Jess had a 3 point shot on the buzzer to send us into overtime in agame we probably didn’t play well enough to win, it missed by an inch, Bibby couldn’t have been more sure it was going in!
All in all with a disruptive preseason, splitting the opening weekend was a good start, there’s no doubt that this will be the most competitive WNBL season i’ve seen in a long time. The first round saw many interesting results, hopefully this will ccontinue throughout the season and keep everyone guessing coming into finals.
At the end of the WNBL 2014 season, my team the Logan Thunder folded due to financial difficulties. For any team-sport professional competition it’s a big loss to lose a team, a loss that extends from the National League all the way to the basketball, local and state communities. Whilst everyone may see it as a loss especially for the Logan community, the Thunder were in fact South East Queensland’s only current professional basketball team and the 4th to fold in the last 15 years. Personally I know there is a love for the game in QLD, great supporters and some genuine talent that we will enviably see on a professional and national level. Hopefully in the future we can give the kids another South East QLD team to aspire to play for.
Since then, I have taken up an assistant coaching role at the new COE (Centre of Excellence) in Canberra. This new model replaces the old AIS program that I was lucky enough to have been a part of as a player back in 1996 through to 1998. The COE model aims to develop promising young talent alongside slightly older players identified as ‘emerging Opals’ (national players), with the ultimate goal to win medals at world events. Working at the COE with experienced and dedicated coaches such as Paul Goriss (Women’s Head Coach), Adam Caporn (Men’s Head Coach) and the National Head Coaches and Shooting Coach is an unbelievable opportunity.
Relocating to Canberra for the winter has also given me the opportunity to continue playing in the WNBL for another year, with the University of Canberra Capitals. I played for Canberra for 5 seasons over 10 years ago and am looking forward to playing alongside old friend and teammate Lauren Jackson again. The team is made up of many players I am also very excited to play with such as Abby Bishop, Carly Wilson, Jess Bibby, Stephanie Talbot (currently at the COE) and old teammates Hanna Zavecz and Michelle Musselwhite. If anyone is around in Canberra for the summer come along to some games… should be like the good old days… or better!Season 2013/14
For detailed information about the WNBL, please click here www.wnbl.com.au