Starting from scratch – that is the difficult task that has faced Amanda Aldridge as she works on putting the Altona Lady Gators back on the map in the Big V basketball women’s division 2 after a season in recess.
“It’s been a tricky first season for me,” Aldridge told Star Weekly. “I called on some of the old girls to come out of retirement to put the women’s side back on the mark.”
Altona has built a competitive squad, but depth is an issue. The Lady Gators have a thriving crop of juniors, but they are simply not ready. Aldridge will drip feed the youngsters into the top side in coming seasons, but recruiting will need to be a focus.
“I’m in talks with some players for next season already,” Aldridge said.
She is predicting that only four out of 10 of this year’s crew will return because the others will go back into retirement.
Altona goes into the Queen’s Birthday break with a 2-9 record after running out of steam in a 66-46 loss to Blackburn at the State Basketball Centre in Wantirna South on Sunday.
The Lady Gators have endured a rough trot with injuries and it has taken its toll.
“We’ve had some games where we could’ve won, but the past few weeks we’ve only been playing with seven players,” Aldridge said.
“Players are having to play a lot more minutes, so there’s fatigue … we’re not able to get the job done. We’re just sort of scraping by and that’s all I can ask of the girls.”
The biggest void has been that created by a foot injury to on-court general Lia Linigro, who faces a further month on the sidelines.
“That’s been a blow,” Aldridge said.
Veteran Emma Coyne has filled in admirably, but is not 100 per cent herself as she battles through a back injury.
Alysha Carden-David has been outstanding for the Lady Gators, averaging 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. She has come straight up from youth league and has made an impact as a small forward.
“She is just so well trained and drilled,” Aldridge said.
Stacey Procak, who crossed to the Lady Gators from Coburg with Aldridge, is a consistent performer with 11.7 points and 10 rebounds a game.
“I always give her a set task on some of the tough bigs,” Aldridge said. “She normally shuts down some of the key posts on the other team with her straight-up defence.
“I can draw her out the wings on offence with her shooting, so she opens up the key for the others.”