Canberra Capitals coach Paul Goriss is turning to the WNBA for guidance on how to help his championship-calibre roster bounce back from a global pandemic.
Goriss is speaking with Opals and Phoenix Mercury coach Sandy Brondello about how she is managing her players after the WNBA launched its season on the back of a short pre-season.
The Capitals will be blessed with their longest pre-season in recent memory when they report on October 5 for the start of a near-eight week lead up to round one.
But the biggest concern for Goriss will be managing his roster to avoid injuries given few will have played any basketball since the Capitals claimed their second straight WNBL title in March.
The season has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and is scheduled to tip off on November 20 with the grand final series to be played in late March.
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Abby Cubillo and Shakera Reilly are playing for the Canberra Nationals in the Waratah League, with their campaign to open against Norths at Belconnen Basketball Stadium on Saturday night.
Alex Delaney has joined Manly Warringah in the Waratah League, while Maddison Rocci will feature in the Queensland Basketball League.
But game time for the remainder of the squad looks unlikely, with veterans like Kelsey Griffin and Marianna Tolo to be managed closely.
"We're going to need that pre-season, just because most of the girls aren't playing and haven't played since the grand final game due to COVID and the leagues being shut down," Goriss said.
"We're going to have to be really careful with workload in that seven to eight weeks to prepare them for the season.
"The other codes around the country that are playing, and even all over the world in the WNBA, the amount of injuries [is large] because people are coming back and going from zero to 100 really quickly.
"I'm mindful of reaching out to people who have already been through that. I'm speaking to Sandy about how they have done that in the WNBA in their bubble, about how much time they spent in pre-season. I think they only had two weeks.
"It's a matter of planning with our own staff, physio, strength and conditioning, and recovery people, about the best plan for pre-season and making sure the girls getting through it are fit and healthy and without any injury.
Goriss is continuing to run workouts with the squad members in Canberra a handful of times a week while Delaney has visited twice from Sydney.
New signing Britt Smart has been left stranded in Melbourne, "frustrated" by the lack of court time she has been able to soak up since the WNBL finished.
Incoming guard Tahila Tupaea has arrived in Canberra for training and a chance to meet the Capitals' staff as she looks to put a tough injury run behind her and find some good luck alongside the reigning champions.
"I'm just having a break at the moment, trying to get the body right for the season coming up," Tupaea said.
"I'm really excited, I think Gorrie can really help me with that and the staff around here sound like they all know what they're doing.
"It's been a bit tough with everything going on. I've been able to get to the gym in mornings and afternoons, and I'm doing shooting workouts.
"Being locked up in the house, it's good to get out, and especially to come to Canberra, where I'm going to be for WNBL season."