YOU never quite know how any team will respond to a loss until it happens and Joondalup Wolves coach Charles Nix couldn’t have been happier with the way the Lady Wolfpack responded to their first loss of the Women’s SBL season.
Nix has made the move to coach the Wolves this season on the back of a success start to his time in the Women’s SBL in 2018 when he took the Perth Redbacks to the semi finals and a second-place finish at the end of the regular season.
That was on the back of playoff runs at both the South West Slammers and Perry Lakes Hawks in the Men’s SBL, but it was a full-time role at the Wolves that enticed him north and he’s fully embracing everything about being in green.
That included donating shaving his trusty beard on Saturday night in the name of charity with that ending up raising for $1300 for the Cancer Council of WA.
It was also a winning night on the floor for the Lady Wolfpack who beat the Perry Lakes Hawks 69-59 before they backed it up on Sunday afternoon with an 80-66 defeat of the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
That was just the response that Nix was after following his team’s first loss of the season, going down by 20 points on the road the previous Friday night against the defending champion Lakeside Lightning.
Looking back now, Nix has no doubt he and his players learned plenty from that loss to the Lightning and he was delighted with the response last weekend to get the two wins against the Hawks and Eastern Suns.
“We knew that we were going to have ups and downs through the year and this might be an unpopular opinion, but Lakeside did us a bit of a favour and showed us how to play,” Nix said.
“They showed us where some of our deficiencies are so we worked really hard during the week to try and fix them, and we came out this weekend and were able to take away two good wins.”
While the Lady Wolfpack started the season so impressively with the wins against Perry Lakes, Warwick and East Perth with the additions of Kayla Steindl, Mikayla Pirini, Amber Land, Georgia Denehey and Isabelle Miotti over the summer, sometimes winning covers up a lot.
That’s where Nix feels the loss to the Lightning was a blessing in disguise and opened up plenty of things to learn from, which they worked on last week and then responded impressively with the two wins.
“You can hide so many things when you’re winning because obviously everyone is getting results. It’s when you lose that people tend to take a really good hard look at themselves and what’s working, and what’s not. Sometimes a loss helps,” Nix said.
“For me personally and the players individually, and for all of us as a team, we saw where some of our deficiencies were and tried to lock down on them. We made the appropriate amendments this weekend.”
While Steindl and Pirini are entrenched in the WNBL having made the move to join the Wolves this season and Land is a seasoned SBL performer having come across from the Senators, Denehey and Miotti have come to the Lady Wolfpack to try and further their careers.
Denehey and Miotti had been making solid progression with the South West Slammers and Cockburn Cougars respectively and had earned development roles on the back of that at the Perth Lynx.
But with a desire to earn full WNBL contracts and to further advance their careers, that’s something that Nix hopes he can help them realise by bringing them to the Wolfpack on top of obviously playing well in green.
“Both girls have ambition and work really hard, and they are always doing the extra stuff to get to where they want to,” he said.
“Hopefully by the style of play that we play and the direction that myself and the other coaches are giving, we can help them get to where they want to get to.”
Helping the Wolves’ players be successful and for Nix to be supported is a strong coaching staff as well.
That includes Tim Rendulic, Steve Matthews, Brian Abbey and Corry Easther, and Nix has no doubt that having such a strong group of coaches around him helps his coaching but also the team’s development overall.
“It definitely helps me having such a good support staff because you can see that they have comfort and trust in me, and the decisions I make. So instantly I’ve got some support to start with,” Nix said.
“Then with the players, just having people who have been involved for a long period of time and know my style of play, and have helped other athletes get to where they want to, really helps and gives them confidence and hopefully will help those girls elevate to the level we think they can.”