Craigieburn Eagles are looking forward to the challenge that awaits them in Big V women’s division 1.
Having claimed last season’s division 2 championship, the Eagles have been promoted in the off season.
They’ve kept most of their squad together, while adding depth and flexibility, and Eagles coach Ben Carroll is more than happy with how the off season has gone.
“We started back the week after Melbourne Cup,” he said.
“It was a bit of a slow start, but it’s been really good more recently.
“They really want to jump into the challenge and see where they sit.”
Naturally, in rising a division, the Eagles have looked to strengthen their side.
One key area that Carroll focused on was adding experience, while he wanted to reduce the predictability of his side.
“Last year we became a little bit predictable at times,” he said.
“This year I want to nullify the lack of flexibility through the group – to become more position-less is our goal.”
A couple of familiar faces head up the recruits for the Eagles.
Former Eagles Giulia Dinunzio and Eliza Stylianou return to the club having played elsewhere in recent years.
Stylianou will be a playing assistant coach.
Darcy Saunders, who played at Whittlesea with Dinunzio and Stylianou, has also come across.
Renai Fejo and Jada Buggs, who both played against the Eagles last season, have joined the side.
Carroll said the big signing was Christine Wylie. “She’s originally from Ballarat before she played college basketball.
“She hasn’t played the last two to three years. She’s a 6’5 centre.”
On the other side, four members of the Eagles championship winning side won’t be returning.
Allanna Procak and Stacey Procak have made the move closer to home and will play with Melton Thoroughbreds. Carroll said Maddi Campbell won’t be returning after a tough season with injury. The fourth omission and the biggest, is club legend Kellie Bailey-Lynn.
Carroll said there could be the possibility that Bailey-Lynn does see some court time this season, but that her role as assistant coach was her focus.
“Kellie is not retired as such, I don’t think she’ll ever retire,” he said.
“A lot of us have been pushing her to play on … but her family comes first. She’s still been around the side 75 per cent of the time.
“We’ll probably register her as a player, but it’ll be more an assistant coaching role than a playing role.”
Carroll said unlike last season, when they had expectations to be among the title contenders, this year they haven’t set any major goals results wise.
It’ll be the first time since 2016 that the Eagles have been in division 1.
“Once the whips start cracking better knowledge of where we are at,” he aid.
“We’ll be a very competitive group and we just want to bring it every week.
“We haven’t set anything in terms of wins and losses, as we have nothing to compare it with.
“The first month or so is about finding out feet and seeing where we are at.