We’re very excited to welcome back young gun Sarah Allen for NBL1 2021. 2020 was Sarah’s second season with the Perth Redbacks and with the pared-down West Coast Classic making point guard Lauren Mansfield unavailable, it was an opportunity for Sarah to step up. And step up she did.
As NBL1 Director Nathan Barns notes:
“Sarah had a substantial year of growth and development in 2020 and this was reflected in her ability to match it at the highest standard. In particular, what stands out in Sarah’s play is her defensive ability. Her ability to draw the offensive charge time after time shows her ability to read and adapt to the play.”
Coach Craig Allen (Sarah’s dad) had this to say:
“That whole scenario of coaching your own kid can be tough on both you as a coach, and on the player. Certainly I realise that I’m tougher on Sarah as a result than I am on the other girls, but my expectations of her are to overcome any perceptions of favouritism in being the daughter of the coach. Happily, she has been big and strong enough to overcome that these last two seasons.
We had a depletion in our guard rotations in 2020 without Lauren. Sarah stepped up along with Bri and I thought did a really good job. She and Bri shared our Best Defensive Player award so that shows how she filled the role we asked her to fill.
Sarah has worked really hard at her game and has made some incredible progression in the last 18 months to two years in particular. Hopefully, she can make further progression in 2021 and it’s exciting to have her as part of the young group we’ve got going forward with her, Shenae, Ella and Bri. My hope is hey will all be part of the group for a number of years to come and turn into the next Jjays and Dels of the future.”
As for Sarah, well she’s just thrilled to be back and despite originally coming from Willetton it wasn’t a difficult decision to return:
“It was definitely an easy decision to come back to the Redbacks. There’s more of a family feel here and we are always supporting each other. Even if you do something wrong and you get yelled at, it’s all done in a good way and it’s to make you better.
After being at Willetton for so long, it was hard at first obviously. But Redbacks has really become a close family, one that’s fun to be part of.”
On playing for her dad:
“I wasn’t actually going to come to Redbacks because I didn’t want to be going to a team just because my dad was coaching there. In the end, it was Michelle Fletcher who approached me to make the move and convinced me to come.
That said, I do like having my dad as a coach as he’s one of the best coaches I’ve had. It’s fun but it’s obviously hard sometimes too because we are family and he has to make sure there’s no favouritism towards me. I definitely do cop it a bit more at times but it’s all love so it’s all good in the end.”
Ultimately, you want to play where your game is developing and you’re improving and Sarah’s happy with what the Redbacks have been able to offer in that regard:
“I’m happy with the way my game is coming along and I feel like I’ve improved a lot. Two years ago when Lauren Mansfield played with us I learned so much from that even though I didn’t get as much court time as I did this year. But just from training with her and getting tips from her that helped my game so much especially coming into a new club. Then having Maddie Allen coming in this year, you just keep learning more and more.
It’s been a great opportunity to play alongside those WNBL level players as they don’t just come down and play, they put in the time to help develop young players like me. It’s a great experience to be part of.”
Is Sarah excited by SBL making the transition to NBL1?
“I feel like it provides that little bit more pressure because there’ll be more people watching, and it will be good to have that added exposure but it’s going to still have that good feeling of being the SBL. It’s going to be exciting to see what happens with it all.”