Capitals confident without star as Flames flicker out
The Canberra Capitals say they can make a mark on the competition without superstar Lauren Jackson. Photo: Colleen Petch
The Canberra Capitals want to ''leave our mark'' on the Women's National Basketball League without Lauren Jackson and are preparing to go on their two-game Queensland road trip without their superstar recruit.
Jackson landed in Australia yesterday morning and could join her teammates as early as tomorrow after completing her duties with the Seattle Storm in the US.
However, the four-time Olympian is battling injuries and the Capitals will wait until she arrives in Canberra before making a decision on when her first game will be.
Canberra coach Carrie Graf had hoped to take Jackson to the games against the Townsville Fire and Logan Thunder, even if she plays in a limited role.
There is little doubt her impending return will bolster the Capitals and boost team confidence.
But guard Carly Wilson says that the Capitals have a point to prove before Jackson gets on the court and their round-one victory over the Sydney Uni Flames was crucial for confidence.
Despite missing Jackson, the Capitals beat the Flames by 13 points in Sydney on Saturday night.
''Our plan is that we have to leave our mark on the league and get the Capitals back on track before Lauren comes back,'' Wilson said.
''Then she can just fit back in and we'll roll along. We can't have the mentality that things will happen when Lauren gets here.
''We've got to go with what we've got … the best thing for us is to just prepare as if she's not playing [this weekend] because we don't know what's going on and I'm hoping she can play whenever she can.
''We don't want to put pressure on her when she comes back in and [winning without Jackson] makes the league know we're going to be a good team, with or without Lauren.''
Jackson has signed a deal believed to be worth close to $1 million to play in Canberra for three of the next four WNBL seasons.
The 31-year-old has had a hectic year that started in Europe and continued at the Olympic Games in London before helping Seattle into the Women's National Basketball Association play-offs.
The workload has taken a toll on her body, with hamstring and lower back problems.
But the Capitals are confident she won't need surgery and will be ready to play once she has recovered from any lingering niggles.
Wilson said beating Sydney erased any lingering doubt about the team's championship credentials.
Graf has urged the 30-year-old to be more of an attacking force this season and Wilson responded with 16 points in round one.
''Graffy said even though I'm old, and have played 1 million games, that she's still going to yell at me if I don't shoot it enough,'' Wilson said.
''After the game, she was high-fiving me.
''In the games when Lauren's not here, I'm going to have to step up and take a bit more of the [scoring] responsibility.''
Friday: Townsville Fire v Canberra Capitals, at Townsville RSL Stadium, 8pm.
Saturday: Logan Thunder v Canberra Capitals, at Logan Metro, 9.30pm.