After controversially walking away from the Bendigo Spirit last year, Tess Madgen has no regrets ahead of her return to Bendigo Stadium with Bulleen this weekend.
The Spirit’s MVP in her two WNBL seasons in Bendigo, Madgen disappointed many people at the club when she left to join Bulleen.
The 22-year-old believed the Boomers provided her with a better chance of playing for the Australian Opals and enjoying team success.
While the tables have turned so far this season – with the Spirit flying high on top of the ladder and Bulleen battling to make finals – Madgen’s happy with her decision.
“I’m loving living in Melbourne. I’m playing with about five girls I went to the AIS with – we’ve got a fun, young team – I’m really enjoying it,” Madgen said.
“I’m playing in a different role for Bulleen. We had two point guards that were injured at the beginning of the season so playing a new role it’s a lot different.
“But I’m learning a lot and I’m really enjoying the style Bulleen play – I think it really suits me.”
Madgen has already faced her old team-mates twice this season on Bulleen’s home court.
Bendigo won both matches and restricting Madgen was a key to the Spirit’s success.
The 180cm guard was held to just 10 points with six assists while committing four turnovers in the Spirit’s 70-69 victory in round two, before fouling out with nine points when Bendigo won 73-61 in the second game.
Madgen said she struggled emotionally against the Spirit and because her old team knew her playing style.
“Obviously it’s harder than playing against other teams, they know my game inside out so that’s made it tricky,” Madgen said.
“The first game I did OK, it was only my second game at point guard in the WNBL so obviously that was a bit tricky. But last game I had an absolute shocker.
“I got fouled-out right after half-time with a tech foul so that was no good.
“I think that game I was a bit too emotional about playing the old side, so if I take the emotion out of the game I should be fine.”
Bulleen will be below full-strength at Bendigo Stadium with centre Elyse Penaluna only rated a 50/50 chance and fellow Opal Emma McDonald out for the season, according to coach Tom Maher.
The Boomers will be desperate for a win to stay in touch with the top-four, while the Spirit will be keen to keep its stranglehold of top spot.
Not many pundits expected the Spirit to be on top of the table at this point of the season, but Madgen said she was not surprised by Bendigo’s success.
“They’ve put together a really good roster,” she said.
“I think Kelly (Wilson), Kristi (Harrower) and Gabe (Richards) have taken the reins and shown the whole league how to play as a team, they play really well together so it’s a credit to them.
“The way they’re playing now no one can really beat them. They always keep teams to a score they can score more than so I think they’re in really good shape for the rest of the season.”
Bendigo plays Bullen at 7.30pm on Saturday.