Capitals need to keep Rangers outside the arc
Sam Norwood, Alex Bunton, Alice Coddington, coach Carrie Graf, Mikaela Dombkins, Tessa Lavey and Lauren Jackson model the Capitals' centenary kit. Photo: Karleen Minney
Former Canberra Capital Narelle Fletcher says the struggling side must force Dandenong to beat them from the three-point line if they are to have any chance of pulling off a huge upset at AIS Arena on Friday night.
The defending champion Rangers' up-tempo offence and ability to penetrate has helped guide Dandenong to four wins in their last five meetings with Canberra.
In their only three losses this season, all to competition leaders Bendigo, the Rangers misfired beyond the arc, failing to hit a three-pointer in two of those games.
Desperate to right the ship after seven straight losses, the Capitals (5-10) are despised underdogs and need to win to keep their almost extinct finals hopes alive.
''I wouldn't mind seeing the Caps go to a bit of a zone [defence] here and there. If they're going to beat them from the three-point line then so be it, but don't be beaten on lay-ups,'' Fletcher, who commentates on WNBL games for ABC TV, said on Thursday.
''They [Dandenong] are good perimeter shooters, but they're not great three-point shooters. Dandenong are pretty good just inside the three-point line, but take them back another step and all of a sudden it's a bit tougher.''
Fletcher said Canberra's lack of size defensively was a major issue.
Centre Marianna Tolo, the club's player of the year for the past two seasons, is playing in France, and superstar Lauren Jackson is still battling with a chronic hamstring injury.
''In previous seasons they've had the luxury of being able to really challenge on the perimeter, knowing they've got a Marianna Tolo inside who's either going to be there to help, or to at least challenge some shots and make their guards think twice about going to the basket,'' Fletcher said.
''They don't have that any more. All of a sudden the guards are playing with a similar mindset of challenging at the perimeter, but they get beaten - they're getting beaten all the way to the basket.
''Bendigo have got a genuine inside threat in [centre] Gabrielle Richards, and Dandenong's biggest weakness is probably [handling] a real massive, big threat inside.''
Bendigo lynchpin and Australian Opals point guard Kristi Harrower said it was difficult to pinpoint a specific reason behind the Spirit's unrivalled success against Dandenong.
''We don't play a lot of zone against teams, I think it's just our communication in defence,'' she said. ''We don't have a full-on defensive stopper, but because we pride ourselves on our 'd' it's a real team effort. It's more that we just match up well with Dandenong across the floor I think.''
While the season has been far from perfect, the Capitals have been bestowed the honour of tipping off the sporting celebrations of the city's centenary on Friday night.
The squad ventured to Mount Ainslie on Thursday to unveil the yellow singlets they will wear against Dandenong, to help commemorate Canberra's 100th birthday.
With her side looking likely to miss the WNBL finals for a second straight season, coach Carrie Graf is hoping a change of uniform will bring a change of fortune. ''At the moment I hope anything would spark us into a winning streak, but for us to be a part of the centenary celebrations and tip off Canberra's sporting celebrations is great for us,'' she said.