Bendigo Spirit expecting no surprises from tough WNBL foes Dandenong Rangers

FOCUSED: Bendigo Spirit star Kelsey Griffin drives to the basket against Adelaide Lightning at Bendigo Stadium during last week's season opener. Picture: CRAIG DILKS PHOTOGRAPHY

FOCUSED: Bendigo Spirit star Kelsey Griffin drives to the basket against Adelaide Lightning at Bendigo Stadium during last week's season opener. Picture: CRAIG DILKS PHOTOGRAPHY

A FAMILIAR foe stands in the way of the Bendigo Bank Spirit and a perfect 2-0 start to the WNBL season.

Dandenong Rangers are next-up for the Spirit, who were playing their best basketball late in last week's stunning overtime win against Adelaide Lightning.

The Rangers will arrive hungry for victory with a win of their under the belt in the season opener against University of Canberra Capitals.

While the encounter at Bendigo Stadium is the first between the two clubs for championship points, they did meet twice during the pre-season, at Werribee and Dandenong, for a win apiece.

Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said his side would be as prepared for the Rangers as they would against any team this season.

He's anticipating seeing plenty of zone defence from the Rangers, of the type which caught the Spirit a little bit off-guard last week against Adelaide

"We know we are going to get that this weekend and we are much better prepared for that," Pritchard said.

"We've handled their zone quite well in the past and been successful against it.

"But the thing about Dandenong is that they have real international-calibre talent.

"Sarah Blicavs, Steph Cumming, Ally Mallot Lauren Scherf and Amy are all athletes who have played for Australia at some time or another."

But it was Amelia Todhunter (26 points) and Aimie Clydesdale (22) who paced the Rangers in their win last weekend.

The challenge for Dandenong, according to Pritchard, would be being able to find a way to beat the Spirit a home, where wins have been hard to come by for visiting teams in recent years.

"Our key is keeping them to as low a score as possible with some great defence," he said.

"Our emphasis will be far more on the defence ths weekend than it is on the offence.

"The offensive side of things will hopefully take care of itself."

The Spirit had as wider spread of scorers as any WNBL team last week, led by import Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe with 16 points, Heather Oliver (15), Kerryn Harrington (11) and Kelsey Griffin (11).

Meanwhile, Rangers coach Larissa Anderson has backed her side to improve after struggling for patches last weekend against the Capitals.

“Every single player did nice things during patches of the first game,” Anderson said.

“This pre-season it felt like it was a rush to get the team ready and organised for that first game, it’s one of those games where you think you were a bit lucky then you take the win and move on to the next one.”

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