COCKBURN Cougars coach John Triscari was happy to be playing the Perry Lakes Hawks in the Women’s SBL quarter finals, felt a lot of their plans worked well in the Game 1 loss and is confident of two wins this weekend to advance.
The Cougars might have finished the regular season in eighth position to book in the quarter-final match up with the minor premier Lady Hawks, but Triscari always felt it was a match up that best suited his team compared to the Mandurah Magic and Lakeside Lightning.
Triscari’s faith in his team was looking set to pay off midway through the third quarter in Game 1 last Friday night at Bendat Basketball Centre as well with Cockburn opening a lead and taking Perry Lakes out of its game.
But the Hawks were able to turn the tide on the back of some hot shooting from Toni Edmondson to claim the 83-68 victory.
That leaves the Cougars with a big task ahead to win twice this weekend against the Hawks to advance to the semi finals starting Friday night at Wally Hagan Stadium.
Triscari’s faith in his team remains strong heading into the weekend.
“The positives were that the game plan was great, our scouting was on the money and we just lacked a little bit of concentration,” Triscari said.
“That’s all that I said to the girls afterwards, that we’ve got them and we just have to regroup and refocus at training, get right through our offences and stop taking early shots. If we do that I believe we can beat them.”
With imports Lindsey Doucette and Kersten Mitchell with support from Vanessa Michael and Steph Jones, the Cougars do have the big bodies to match the size and quality that the Hawks possess inside from Nat Burton, Sarah Donovan, Emily Burton and company.
But it’s the back court where Triscari feels the Cougars can get the edge led by aggressive duo BJ Moyes and Taryn Priestly as he looks to capitalise on the areas he feels they can get on top of the Hawks in.
“I like that aggressive defence and I personally think we need to up it a little bit more, and I believe Perry Lakes will struggle against that but we’ll see what happens,” Triscari said.
“I was actually very grateful that we finished in eighth spot because Mandurah is playing really well at the moment as are Lakeside, but I considered we matched up really well on Perry Lakes. I don’t believe the score in Game 1 was a good indication of the game.”
Comparing his Cougars team to that of 12 months ago when they also finished eighth and lost in two games in the quarter finals to the Joondalup City Wolves, Triscari has no doubt they have improved significantly from there.
It’s hard to argue that the Cougars are vastly more competitive against the top seed this time around and Triscari is proud of the way his group has come together no matter what happens this weekend.
“They are a really good bunch of ladies, they work hard and they have a lot of questions, but still put the work in. I’m really proud of them and I think they have come a long way. Hopefully I’ll be around next year, we’ll see what happens,” he said.
“I think we’ve definitely improved and there’s been a lot of development we’ve done, and we have two different Americans this year.
“Next year we face some real tough decisions because we have a heap of really good kids coming through so we need to decide what we’re doing and how we’re going to operate, but I definitely think we are in a much better position this year than we were last year.”
Triscari couldn’t be happier with what Mitchell and Doucette are providing the Cougars in the front court as imports as well in the second half of the season.
That’s as much as for their production on the floor as their attitudes and leadership off it.
“Lindsey is just a quiet achiever and she had another good rebounding night, especially with offensive boards when she was getting after them. And Kersten just battles away. She plays like a guy which I mean as a compliment and she’s tough,” he said.
“I’m really pleased with them and apart from that, they are beautiful people. They’re easy to get along with and they’re not your obnoxious Americans who think they know better. They listen to what you’re saying and try to execute the best they can.”
Triscari is clearly showing that his passion for the game and the SBL remains as strong as ever.
On the back of his time coaching the Australian Gliders national wheelchair team, he has enjoyed being back involved in the league the past two years with the Cougars.
He is proud of the growth and development made the past two years and is looking forward to the chance to continue that.
“I’ll have discussions with the club over the next month and we’ll see what direction they want to go in. if they are happy with me then we’ll continue, if not then we’ll see what’s on the horizon,” Triscari said.
“My passion for the game and this league remains strong, which hopefully I’ve shown this year. I’m a bit older and wrinklier now, but I wanted to coach back in the SBL again because I wanted to give something back.
“Basketball has been great to me and when I was coaching the Australian side with four years of travelling the world, I still have that same passion. Hopefully everyone sees that and we continue, and see what happens.”
Photo by Belinda Pike (Croc Photography)