THE return of Jasmine Martin, the addition of some size and experience from East Perth and the arrival of a new big and athletic import all has Stirling Senators coach Glenn Clarke confident of further improvement in 2018.
Clarke took over as Senators coach ahead of the 2016 season and that was a building year to start building a successful group for the future with the fruits of that starting to come through in 2017.
Clarke took Stirling to a fourth place finish at the end of the regular season in an impressive performance before coming up against his old team Willetton and good mate Simon Parker who beat them in the quarter finals.
That left Clarke with some thinking to do on where the Senators came up short and the immediate answer was some depth, size and toughness on the inside.
So coming into 2018, he has gone out and secured the signatures of Jodee Sontay and Nicole Jorre De St Jorre from the East Perth Eagles to add some size, experience, toughness and two strong all-round proven SBL performers.
The loss of Kisha Lee did leave a hole but once she signed with the Cockburn Cougars, Clarke reset his focus on getting a bit more of a versatile import who could play anywhere from three to five. That’s where the signing of Janee Johnson came in.
With the expected continued improvement of Rebekah and Hannah Throns along with Caitlyn Jones and Georgina Harding too combined with the ever-reliable Amber Land inside, there’s plenty of reasons for Clarke to be feeling good entering 2018.
“As long as I can get everyone singing by the same hymn book I think we can have a good year,” Clarke said.
“Pre-season was very good for us and the imports arrived a couple of weeks ago. We also have a couple of good inclusions now and we’ll look to build on what we did last year.”
While Kisha Lee didn’t return for the Senators, Clarke did want to get back point guard Jasmine Martin and was delighted to do so.
Combining her return with the additions of Johnson, Jorre De St Jorre and Sontay, and Clarke is happy that the problems he saw by the end of 2017 will be fixed up in 2018.
“We made sure we got Jasmine back. She is just a good, strong, solid player who is a great club person and an all-round great person to have in your team,” he said.
“She (Johnson) certainly has a bit of grunt about her and we needed someone to take Kisha’s place, but I needed them to play the four and five spot to help Amber out. This time with Jodee Sontay’s arrival along with Nicole, it gives us a lot more firepower inside.
“We have a lot more depth with our bigs now this year. I’ve got Amber who can play the five, Jodee can play the four, Janee can play the three and then I can put Janee in the four or five spot and give Jodee Sontay a rest too.
“I have three rotations there with our bigs and that’s what hurt us last year with Simon’s Willetton team. He had a good rotation of three big girls and I just couldn’t match it.”
It’s not just about the experienced brigade for Clarke though. He has put in some strong work developing Stirling’s young players the past two years and certainly plans on continuing to give them opportunities.
“We’ve got Caitlyn Jones and Georgie Harding who have come through the ranks and they’ve got taller, and are filling out now that we have got them in the gym,” he said.
“They will take on a bigger role this year now because they did a good job for us last year and it’s all about that apprenticeship.”
Clarke, too, now that he is entering a third season with the Senators is feeling more at home at the club and he couldn’t be happier with the support he’s receiving.
“This club is 100 per cent supportive of me and they are always asking of what I need and I’ve had no issues at all with regards to finding players or signing players from anywhere,” Clarke said.
“They couldn’t have been any better for me and I’m very appreciative of their support.”