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Graf's future with Capitals hinges on Games review

The Capitals are keen to hang on to coach Carrie Graf.

The Capitals are keen to hang on to coach Carrie Graf. Photo: Colleen Petch

The Canberra Capitals want Basketball Australia to fast-track its post-Olympic Games review so the WNBL powerhouse can secure its future with coach Carrie Graf.

The Canberra Times can reveal Graf officially started contract negotiations with the Capitals on Wednesday, with her Australian Opals and WNBL deals finishing at the end of the season.

However, the biggest stumbling block will occur if Basketball Australia opts to make the Opals coaching position a full-time job.

Graf has worked with the Opals and Canberra for the past four years since winning the job at the end of 2008.

In that time she has led Canberra to two WNBL titles and the Opals to a bronze medal at the London Olympics.

And until Basketball Australia decides on the coaching structure for the national team, it's unlikely the Capitals and Graf will be able to progress in negotiations.

Graf has been the Capitals coach for almost a decade, building the club into one of the strongest in the WNBL, with six championships under her watch.

Graf and Basketball ACT chief executive Tony Jackson have discussed her future.

The Capitals are keen to keep Graf but they want Basketball Australia to speed up its review process to give the supercoach a clearer picture of the future.

''I was hoping the Opals review would be finished now so that Graffy would know where she is at in regards to that position,'' Jackson said.

''First of all we just need some time frames we can work off to give us some direction with where the discussion will go.

''I'm hoping BA finish their stuff by the end of the year - we don't want it to drag into January. We don't want it weighing on Graffy's mind during the season, so we'll probably reconvene before the Christmas break.''

Graf's focus is on leading the Capitals back up the WNBL ladder and ending a three-match losing streak when they take on the Sydney Uni Flames on Friday night.

If they fail to topple the Flames, it will be just the second time in five seasons the Capitals have lost four games in a row.

But while her team has struggled to hit top form in recent weeks, Graf insisted it was not time to panic.

The Capitals are sixth on the ladder and are just one win outside the top four.

It is still hoped star recruit Lauren Jackson will be fit to play after Christmas, but Graf said the four games before the mid-season break were crucial.

''We don't look at it like losing or winning streaks, for us it's about going to Sydney and getting a win,'' she said.

''We'd like to think we can go into Christmas with four wins and we have to start that with a win in Sydney. It's not desperation stakes, but we can't perform how we did against Logan last weekend. Finishing 4-0 would be perfect going to Christmas; 2-2 is a minimum and 3-1 is a bloody good result to keep ourselves in that pack going into the lead-up to finals.''

The Capitals have been struck down by injury and illness this week, but Graf is confident Michelle Cosier, Alex Bunton and Nicole Hunt will all be fit to play the Flames.

■ MEANWHILE, the Canberra Gunners have landed an off-season South East Australian Basketball recruit after signing former NBL player Jeff Dowdell.

Dowdell, 25, from Shoalhaven, played six years in the NBL with Perth, Townsville, Adelaide and Cairns. He will add experience under new coach Cameron Barnes.

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