CRAIG Allen was so keen to join the Perth Redbacks back at the start of 2019 because he loved the direction the club was heading in, and he’s excited to see it starting to come together as he strives for some consistency from his women’s West Coast Classic team.
Allen came on board to coach the Redbacks women in the SBL in 2019 and he wanted to be part of the innovations and progression the club was looking to make on and off the basketball court, and from grassroots level right up to the SBL.
He certainly can’t complain about how that is coming together and now while it’s not an SBL season in 2020, he’s focused on helping this playing group reach its potential during the West Coast Classic.
Allen certainly likes in the whole scheme of things where the Redbacks are heading as a club.
“There is a lot of intent at this club to move forward and there is a lot of effort and thought going into the direction that we want to go in,” Allen said.
“I think there is very much the intent of growing and to be honest one of the reasons I came across last year was because I could see where we wanted to go as an entire club.
“There’s a little bit more belief and momentum into where we can go so that’s exciting to be part of. The club is definitely going in the right direction.”
This is a remarkably young team that the Redbacks are putting out on the floor during the West Coast Classic, but that only heightens the presence, leadership and performance of leaders Jess Jakens, Denielle Lipscombe and Maddie Allen.
Two weeks into the competition and Allen couldn’t be asking for more from the trio.
“JJ and Del are Redbacks people and JJ is the heart and soul of our club and program, absolutely,” he said.
“Del is awesome as part of that group as well and when you add in Maddie, you couldn’t ask more from al leadership group than what we get from those three.
“They provide a really good example and you only have to look at what their performances have been, and sometimes you have to tell the kids to watch them, and listen and learn from them.”
Then there are the young players getting opportunities to show what they can do and already there have been exciting signs, albeit somewhat inconsistent ones, from the likes of Brooke Malone, Briana Bailey, Shenae Hartree, Ella Thornton-Smith, Sarah Allen and Eastern Suns recruit Chanah Crugnale.
“We are getting a bit of an insight into what their potential is too and then the next level as a coach is to try and turn that potential into something that works together,” Allen said.
“That’s really exciting to have our senior girls develop and nurture that development, and that’s a really exciting part of the group.”
Going back to the opening weekend of the West Coast Classic and the Redbacks lost to the Joondalup Wolves at HBF Arena on the Friday night by 36 points before backing up the next night again away from home to beat the Mandurah Magic by 33.
Allen didn’t feel there was a huge difference in how the Redbacks played, but it did highlight the difference in opponents they’ll be facing during the West Coast Classic.
“I actually don’t think there was a huge gap in our performances. We were up and down again similar to this weekend but I think there was a lot to get out of that Joondalup game first up,” he said.
“I think if we tidied up a few more things it would put us in a better position, and then against Mandurah we executed a little bit better basically. Apart from probably not getting the score on the board at different times, we were pretty good really.
“I think the balance of performances, we came away from the entire weekend with a lot of things to work on and build from. It’s all a work in progress really at the end of the day.”
Then last weekend it was another rollercoaster ride for the Redbacks with a 16-point victory at home over the Cockburn Cougars before a 20-point defeat against the Perry Lakes Hawks at Bendat Basketball Centre.
Allen hopes the gap now between the Redbacks best and worst starts to shrink as the West Coast Classic progresses.
“At times especially on Friday night I saw signs that we were taking further steps forward, then at other times I thought we were pretty average,” Allen said.
“I thought there was a few of our key markers that we let ourselves down in for a lot of time during that game, but then when we got our act together, we executed the way we wanted.
“Again the real gap in our performance between what we want to achieve and what we put on the floor, we need to be a lot more consistent than that.”