Canberra Capitals skipper urges coaching hunt to end ''as soon as possible''

Canberra Capitals captain Carly Wilson has urged the club to appoint a head coach as soon as possible to avoid giving WNBL rivals a head start on recruitment.

Canberra Capitals captain Carly Wilson wants the coaching hunt to be completed ''as soon as possible''.
Canberra Capitals captain Carly Wilson wants the coaching hunt to be completed ''as soon as possible''. Photo: Jay Cronan

Wilson and fellow Capitals star Lauren Jackson described the end of Carrie Graf's long tenure as sad after she announced last week she would step down at the end of the season after 15 seasons and six championships.

But Wilson said the club could not afford to drag its feet in finding a successor, with most top-line players already negotiating contracts for next season and beyond.

Carrie Graf will leave the Capitals at the end of the season.
Carrie Graf will leave the Capitals at the end of the season.  Photo: Elesa Kurtz

"Two or three months down the track [to appoint a coach] is going to be two or three months too late," Wilson said.

"We need that decision to be made as soon as possible because recruiting is probably the most important part of starting again, and trying to get this team back into finals contention.


"Players are going to want to come to a place that's established, which has a culture and vision, and without a coach that's impossible."

Young guard Abbey Wehrung is the only Capitals player under contract for next season, with Australian Opal Stephanie Talbot and last season's Most Valuable Player Abby Bishop the priorities to retain.

Wilson has spent seven of her 16 WNBL seasons under Graf at the Capitals, and admitted the significance of her departure would not sink in until the end of the season.

The Capitals are winless after 20 games and host Dandenong Rangers on Sunday afternoon at AIS Arena.

Graf's announcement, combined with WNBL games record holder Jess Bibby's retirement, will be motivators to try to break the duck.

The squad is also striving to impress and playing for contracts as the coaching hunt begins.

"The biggest emotion I have is probably sadness because it's an end of an era and it's going to be so different having the Capitals without Graffy at the helm," Wilson said.

"We don't know who the new coach is going to be, and we don't know if that coach is going to want any of us to stay around.

"They may want to come in and change things around completely, it's all up in the air, so the next four games is a good opportunity for people to put it all out there and see what happens."

Wilson hopes Graf remains at the club in some capacity after stepping down mainly for family reasons, but would understand if she wanted a change of scenery.

"I would love her to be able to stay around because I think the club needs her to stay around," she said.

"But I also see why she might want a clean slate and start somewhere new, because 15 years is a long time to be at the one club."

Jackson was given an early release from her lucrative Capitals deal due to injury, and is yet to make a decision on whether she retires or shoots for a fifth Olympics at Rio.

"There's a lot of decisions which have to be made fairly soon. Like Graffy, I just have to make a decision and go with it," she said on ABC radio.

"I got an infection in my knee joint just before January and was in hospital for a couple of weeks. I'm still on antibiotics for another month trying to get the infection out.

"Graffy has seen the club through the best and worst of times. It's sad because everyone in this town identifies Graffy with basketball.

"She's been my coach since I was a baby."


Saturday: Canberra Capitals v Dandenong Rangers at AIS Arena, 3pm.