BDS Logan Thunder Head Coach Jason Chainey will be relying on the leadership and experience of mainstays Natalie Taylor and Emma Langford for the upcoming 2012/13 WNBL season after both inked one-year deals with the club.
Taylor, a New Zealand international and former Olympian, joins sisters Holly and Cassie Smith as well as captain Kristen Veal as the only four remaining players from the inaugural team, while Langford is one of five players from last year’s squad.
Faced with the challenge of coaching a new mix of players in his first year in the hot seat, Chainey said the duo’s experience at the club would be vital.
“Nat has the ability to bring valuable leadership to the group,” Chainey said of Taylor.
“She is one of those people that essentially says to her team mates, ‘Jump on my back and we are going to win this game’.”
“Emma is everything that our program epitomises – she has a great work ethic, has great ability, is a great team player and has a very calm demeanour.
“By her standards she had a quiet year last year so I am confident she will step up this year.
“We have got a number of new faces and while change is good, it is very challenging at the same time and I need all of the older girls to really help us get through this sort of adversity.”
Taylor, 30, narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics after the Kiwis were defeated by Argentina in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
But the Tall Ferns’ captain has moved on from the disappointment of missing out on what would have been her second consecutive Olympics campaign and has turned her attention to the upcoming WNBL season.
“I’ve been playing for the Ballarat Rush in SEABL since the WNBL finished last season as well as representative duties for New Zealand, so I’ve had a very full on off-season,” Taylor said.
“There have been loads of personnel changes in all of the teams this season, not just ours, so that will be interesting and something to look forward to.”
“Getting to know and learning to play with the new girls is always both fun and challenging and I’m sure we’ll get through the challenges and enjoy the fun times.
“Having been at the club since its inaugural year it is important to me to have some consistency where I am playing and the group I’m with so I’m glad to be back on the Logan roster.
23-year-old Langford, who came through the Australian Institute of Sport and boasts a stint with Adelaide Lightning and two years at Wyoming College, is looking to establish herself in her second season at the club after a fruitful off-season with the Ipswich Force.
“I’m excited to have another season with the girls who are returning from last season and to have Jason as head coach,” she said.
“I’m hoping to build and improve on last season and I want to play a bigger part and make a greater contribution to the team.”
Chainey remains on the hunt for a player to fill a reserve centre position behind lifeblood Holly Smith and is waiting to receive the official paperwork that will see a WNBA shooting guard join the side.
The Thunder will start their preseason training early next month.