Coming to Redbacks a perfect fit for Maddie Allen

SHE is the reigning Women’s SBL Grand Final MVP, she has just had the best WNBL season of her career and Maddie Allen couldn’t be more excited about teaming up with Perth Lynx teammate Lauren Mansfield in 2020 for the Perth Redbacks.

Allen has been a revelation since making the move from Queensland to Western Australia. Initially the hope was that it would spark her WNBL career if she had a standout SBL season back in 2018.

Well that happened with the Rockingham Flames and led to her earning a contract in the WNBL at the Perth Lynx for the 2018/19 season.

She then took her game up another level in 2019 at the Flames. It might have been quite the rollercoaster season, but by finals time, they were on fire and won the Grand Final emphatically over the Warwick Senators with Allen at the centre of it all, named MVP.

Then she took that momentum into the WNBL season to earn more minutes and make a significant impact as a standout defender, strong rebounder and important all-round player on the Lynx roster.

But Allen was on the lookout for a new SBL home in 2020 and when she had heard how much Lauren Mansfield enjoyed her time at the Redbacks under coach Craig Allen in 2019, her decision didn’t take too long to be made.

She even made the decision without knowing Mansfield would be joining her, but now the fact she is provides a significant bonus and provides them the chance to be the best centre/point guard combination in the SBL in 2020.

“Playing with Loz is really fun. I’ve played with her all of my time in the WNBL now so I’m just excited to be able to work with her a little bit more at the Redbacks,” Allen said.

“I actually didn’t know that she was returning to be honest before I signed. But obviously she has spoken really well about Redbacks and highly about everything to do with the club.

“That was a big factor and then I knew there was a chance of her coming back, but it was more the impression the Redbacks made on her that rubbed off on me and now it’s a bonus that she’s back really.”

While now getting to play alongside Mansfield in the SBL and trying to get the Redbacks into the finals in 2020 is the focus, for Allen, the move to join the club was about much more than just that.

“I think I just really like the community at the Redbacks, it’s a real family sort of environment and that was something I wanted to be part of. Obviously the coaching staff are great people too so I’m exciting to be coming on board,” she said.

“I haven’t started with that community work yet, but I kind of think it’s just in my nature to do that and I’m pretty excited to get started. That’s a big part in why I went to the Redbacks because they do that and they make it pretty easy to get involved with all of that stuff.”

When Allen reflects now on her move west, it’s fair to say at the time she made the move her basketball career was at the crossroads. She needed someone to help harness her natural talents and in the end then Flames coach and Lynx assistant Ryan Petrik was the right person to do that.

The results have been obvious since but on and off the basketball court, it’s been the best decision Allen has ever made in so many ways.

“I came over mostly because of Ryan Petrik in the first place, he was a big factor in that and by making the move I wanted to try and see if I could get on a WNBL roster,” Allen said.

“Obviously, that worked out and I just really like living in Perth aside from basketball. It’s a really great place to live and I have no regrets about the move and I hope to stay here for a lot longer yet.”

Looking back on last season at the Flames, it was a year that had such high hopes coming into it with the front court of Allen, Darcee Garbin and Christina Boag, but new coach Craig Reynolds struggled to settle and they soon had to make a chance.

They went with 23-year-old Keegan Crawford and they brought in Alex Ciabattoni, and they started to click.

They just made the finals from seventh position and then beat the No. 2 seed Mandurah Magic in the quarter finals, the Perry Lakes Hawks in the semi finals and then thumped the Warwick Senators 85-56 in the Grand Final.

Allen was brilliant on the Grand Final stage with 17 points and 10 rebounds to earn MVP honours, but really just to win the championship was what mattered above all else.

“It was a long season that’s for sure. I think importantly I like to win and in the end that’s what we did,” she said.

“So when it comes to championship time, lucky enough we were able to do what we did last year and hopefully now we can do the same this year at the Redbacks. I know they were unlucky to miss out on playoffs last year but hopefully we can change that.

“I was pretty honoured to get that Grand Final MVP. We were a pretty deep team last year so we almost took turns of who would be MVP each game. It just turned out it was my turn for the Grand Final which obviously was pretty nice. But everyone else had their turns during the season and it ended up being a great team to be part of.”

Allen was able to turn that momentum from the SBL season with Rockingham into a strong WNBL season with the Lynx even if it didn’t quite go to plan as a team as they missed out on another finals appearance.

But the experience of proving she can play against some of the best basketball talent in the world will give Allen added bonus coming into this 2020 season with the Redbacks – not to mention she’ll be fully healthy too.

“I guess yes and no I was happy with how the last season went. Obviously I would rather be part of a winning team than get more minutes so hopefully that experience I got can help me play well and also help us have a winning SBL season,” Allen said.

“I think I was also carrying an injury from about December so hopefully that’s cleared up and I can move a bit better on the court too.

“But the ability to play against those calibre of players for those kind of minutes in the WNBL is definitely positive. Hopefully it translated into this SBL season. I’m more than ready to get back on the court now.”

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