Underdog tag will help Caps: Sharp
It's not a tag the Canberra Capitals are accustomed to, or even welcome.
But former captain Eleanor Sharp believes the team can use its newfound underdog status to its advantage and emerge from its mid-season hole.
Sharp knows from personal experience the burning competitive streak of Canberra Capitals coach Carrie Graf.
The seven-time champions are at 3-7, but Sharp insists the lower external expectations could work to their advantage.
''Graffy can do great things with highly talented teams, but can also do that with the underdog team too,'' she said.
''In some ways it can be tough being the team that's supposed to win and have that target on your back and expectation.
''It can be easier sometimes being the underdog and claw your way back.''
Sharp, who captained Canberra to the 2005-06 WNBL championship, said Canberra could still make the play-offs.
But she said perseverance was required as the new-look Capitals try to find their feet.
''Of course we like to see the winning Caps, but sometimes there's periods of growth and development,'' she said.
''They're not far behind, you can just see the classic traits of a group that's still new playing together, but in years to come it will pay off.
''It's just a patience thing, but as the Caps and Carrie Graf have proven over time, you put her method in place and it'll work.''
Centre Suzy Batkovic's move to Adelaide means Canberra has conceded a size advantage to most of its opponents this season.
Batkovic is arguably the form player of the competition, averaging more than 25 points and 10 rebounds a game.
Former Olympian Natalie Porter has helped fill that breach, but work commitments will prevent her from playing for Canberra until the new year.
''Looking around the league I think height probably is an issue, losing Suzy is a big gap to fill,'' Sharp said.
''Teams are big these days and [centre Marianna] Tolo is doing a great job, so it's not all doom and gloom.''
Sharp backed bench players Hannah Bowley and Brigitte Ardossi to step up in Porter's absence.
''I think they're capable of it and do a pretty good job when they're on court, particularly Hannah who gives them a lot of value,'' Sharp said.
Canberra has the bye this weekend after beating struggling West Coast and AIS in the past fortnight.
The ''doomsday double'' road trip against West Coast and Adelaide awaits next week, before six straight matches at home.
''Our focus is now to regroup before the pre-Christmas hit, and we've got some big teams in that including [top-three sides] Sydney, Adelaide and Bulleen,'' Graf said.
''This [the bye week] is a chance to regroup and focus on some defensive work in particular for those teams.''