The UC Capitals have started to lay the foundations of their 2020-21 roster with the re-signing of Australian Opal, Marianna Tolo, for a third consecutive season.
The star centre and four-time champion is an integral start to head coach Paul Goriss’s roster having been selected as the Players’ Player by her teammates two seasons in a row after co-captaining the side to back-to-back championships.
Tolo was motivated to re-sign with the Capitals after the team’s recent success and a shift in her original plans for the year.
“It’s hard to say no when we have just won back to back. I had initially thought of going overseas but because the Olympics was postponed to next year as well as the ongoing coronavirus situation, it seemed like the perfect decision to make,” Tolo said.
In addition to Tolo, the club has announced a series of other re-signings including the 2019 league MVP and four-time champion, Kelsey Griffin.
Griffin had originally planned to start the offseason vying for a spot in Australia’s 3×3 team ahead of the Olympics, but she instead used the downtime to recover from shoulder surgery.
“This down time has been incredible for reflection. I have had a good chance to slow down and re-prioritise what is important to me. It’s been really good for me,” she said.
The signing of Tolo and Griffin ensures the team will have a wealth of leadership and veteran experience as the UC Capitals attempt a threepeat with Goriss acknowledging the duo as “the backbone of our team”.
“They provide the on-court grunt, leadership and work ethic that drives others to be better. They both have different styles of leadership that works for them but they are both so critical to our success.”
The UC Capitals have also secured Maddison Rocci, Keely Froling, Abby Cubillo and Alex Delaney. Gemma Potter has also committed to a return to the club if her college opportunity with the University of California, Los Angeles, becomes unfeasible due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, which is yet to be determined.
Goriss said that it was a priority to retain as much of the core group from last season as possible.
“Continuity in our roster has shown that it reaps rewards in successive championships,” he said.
“Having that core group returning helps in our team chemistry. They know how to win and the sacrifice and work it takes. They know how each other plays and their strengths, as well as our style of play.
“The WNBL is a very competitive and tough league, but with our core returning, it gives us confidence we can challenge for another Championship and be in the top four teams.”
Meantime, Goriss is after players to fill key roles previously held by imports Kia Nurse and Olivia Epoupa with Restricted Players ineligible to be signed by WNBL clubs for the upcoming season.
“It is obvious we will never be able to replace those two extremely talented international players with like for like. You can’t replace the League MVP and the MVP of the finals,” Goriss said.
“However, we will look at what players are on free agency and who are the best fit for us in terms of skill package, chemistry and culture fit and the strengths of those players, what they bring that would be unique to them and how they would fit into our team. We need prioritise defence and shooting or the ability to make plays.”
- Free Agency for the 2020-21 WNBL season opens at 1pm AEST today, Thursday 4 June, when the eight WNBL clubs will be able to begin negotiating with any Unrestricted Free Agents.
- The opening round of the 2020-21 WNBL season will occur 20-22 November 2020, with the final round to be contested 3-6 March 2021. Each club will play 21 regular season games – unchanged from last season – ahead of the semi-finals and grand finals series being played across March 2021.