Original Article: NBL1.com.au
Nunawading Spectres coach Paul Flynn has praised NBL1 for how much exposure and attention it has drawn towards women’s basketball in Australia.
With the live streaming of all games, automated video highlights and an increased social media presence, Flynn has explained how players at all different stages of their career felt recognised and acknowledged in NBL1.
“I think it was an incredibly positive reaction across the broad regardless of whether they were established WNBL players or potentially fringe players or players looking to go to college,” Flynn said.
“Whilst it was across both men and women, I feel on the women’s side of things, it certainly provided all of our players a far greater profile.
“Particularly for your fringe players, the ability for WNBL clubs to actually see footage on a regular basis, whether that be a full game or highlight clips, it created a profile for our players that may have otherwise sat below the line in terms of being able to get noticed.
“Even for established WNBL players, you’re talking about Maddie Garrick and players like that, they received a lot more exposure through NBL1 than what they had previously been able to get in any league, whether it be top tier leagues or the old SEABL.”
Along with his role as Spectres coach, Flynn also works as an assistant coach with the Melbourne Boomers WNBL side. Working both roles has enabled Flynn to assess how NBL1 has been able to help WNBL teams build their rosters and scout players who they’re thinking of signing.
He believes the ease in which NBL1 games can be watched has allowed WNBL teams to become more advanced and detailed in their recruitment, ultimately creating a better product for both leagues.
“It’s a fairly integral tool for us because in the past, and you see this when players are looking to go to college, there’s always a highlight tape and then maybe a hand selected one or two of their best games of the season,” Flynn said.
“With NBL1 footage being so easily accessible on YouTube, it’s up to us to pick which games we want to watch, we are not reliant on a player making their best game accessible.
“We can go and do a random selection of two or three games and see them in different environments. It gives us a better picture of a player’s all-around performance.”
Nunawading are one of the powerhouse clubs in NBL1 and their 2020 women’s roster had the potential to contend for a championship.
Seasoned WNBL stars Cayla George and Maddie Garrick headlined the squad which also included the likes of Izzy Chilcott, Rachel Antoniadou, Rachel Brewster, Jacinta Vandenberg and Megan Mullings.
George was poised to be a clear MVP contender as the Australian Opal was set to use NBL1 as an important lead-up tool to the now postponed Tokyo Olympics.
Flynn says signing a player of George’s calibre to an NBL1 roster can be a complex task but if there is enough trust and level of understanding between both parties, it can be achieved.
“We knew bringing in Cayla, she was going to be a huge value add for us but she wouldn’t be around for a large chunk at the back end of the season but a key for us was she was going to be back for the playoffs,” Flynn said.
“The Olympics were priority and focus number one for Cayla. Our opportunity was to keep her playing in a game environment but not going overkill and burning her out before the Olympic campaign.
“My relationship, having worked with Cayla at the Boomers, obviously helps in that scenario. There is a level of trust given our working relationship. We are pretty tight.
“When looking to add her into the Nunawading frame, we sit down and say alright, what are your objectives, and this is what we need. Is there some common ground there, can we help each other and then you build it around that.
“The beautiful thing is she would have been living locally, Maddie would have been in a similar scenario.
“On these days during the week we have organised individuals for them to come in, we are going to keep your minutes at a certain level during the regular season as you go into Opals or as you’re coming out of an Opals camp.”
Flynn added it is a fine line though, as the last thing the club would want to do is overwork a player and then cast doubt over their Olympic performance.
“We will taper them or sit them out of games if need be to make sure they’re ticking off their focus points. If you help them in that regard, then there’s not going to be an issue post Olympics with them coming back and helping,” he said.
“If you burn them out and they go across to Tokyo and their tournament doesn’t play out the way they had planned, the fatigue and the post tournament blues probably weigh on them a little bit more.
“Then all of a sudden, your finals campaign gets jeopardised. It comes down to communication at the beginning of the process and making sure you can mutually benefit from the program.”