Coach Graf wants more time with players ahead of London 2012
October 05, 2010, 10:46 AM AEST

 

WNBL Frontpage News

Opals coach Carrie Graf wants her best players to sit out a season of the American WNBA to remain in Australia to prepare for the London Olympics.

The idea has been floated in the past, but it would cost Basketball Australia a considerable amount of money to compensate the likes of Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and Liz Cambage.

Having seen Australia slip from defending champions to fifth at the basketball world championship, however, when the complete Opals group only came together two days before the tournament, Graf is pushing the idea hard.

"That's something I'd like us to work with Basketball Australia to get done for the London Olympics," Graf told AAP.

"Whether we can make it happen or not we'll see, but that's been in the plans and been presented and we've talked about it."

There's no doubt Jackson and Taylor suffered significantly from fatigue in the Czech Republic, with the two producing their worst tournaments for Australia.

Jackson's first major event was the 1998 world titles while Taylor debuted at the 2002 world championship and neither had finished without a medal until now.

Jackson, who won a championship with Canberra at the start of the season and another with Seattle in the WNBA, had two days off before heading to the Czech Republic.

Her shooting touch suffered badly, managing just 37 per cent from the field (37-of-100) and 17 per cent from three-point territory (5-of-29) to end the event averaging 13.4 points per game.

Taylor put up similar shooting percentages.

"They've played year-round for 10 years now and it shows," Graf said.

"They're 29, but they've probably got 35-year-old basketball bodies.

"We tried to manage their minutes and they tried as hard as they could, we played like Aussies, sometimes there's just no juice in the tank."

Jackson is relishing the chance for some time off.

"I'm definitely fatigued. No-one would doubt that for one minute," she told AAP.

"It's taxing. It's a long year and a very emotional year and a very good year in a lot of ways.

"Obviously this is a bit of a let-down.

"I've got almost a month off. Mum and dad are picking me up and I'm going down the coast and I'm turning my phone off.

"I don't think I'm going to get out of bed for a week."

Jackson needs a break before setting her mind to another Olympic campaign.

"London. It's funny because when I was in America I couldn't even think about the worlds because we were so focused," she said.

"Now it's been all about the worlds and you might have to ask me that when I get back to Australia and have a bit of time to breathe.

"It's an unbelievable whirlwind."


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