IF THE result of the second of two WNBL practice matches against Perth Lynx on the weekend is any guide, Bendigo Spirit will prove itself as a fast learner this season.
The Spirit were humbled by the highly-touted Lynx in Saturday’s match in Northam, about 100 kilometres north-east of Perth.
Less than 24 hours later – and at Rockingham, about 50 kilometres south of Perth – the Spirit staged a remarkable revival to win by three points.
Pritchard did not mince his words when he said the Spirit had ‘played woefully’ in their 31 point loss on Saturday.
“We were miserable all over the floor … really out of sync,” he said.
“That was their first pre-season game and they really got stuck into us and we didn’t adapt to the intensity and physicality of the contest.
“They were all over us and in our face and gave us no space whatsoever anywhere on the floor.
“Credit to Perth they forced us right out of rhythm. The first quarter score was 33-11 – they just pasted us.”
Pritchard said a disappointing loss had resulted in much soul searching from both coach and players, but steeled the group ahead of its 10am Sunday clash at Rockingham.
With seven-time WNBL championship player Nat Hurst, shooting guard Marena Whittle and Abbey Wehrung back on their game, the Spirit responded with resilience to topple the Lynx by three.
“We came out with a whole different mindset and much more intensity and put the pressure right back on them,” Pritchard said.
“We played with much greater poise and communicated much better.
“The change in approach was brilliant – we obviously didn’t get any more skilful in our sleep – but we applied ourselves well, particularly defensively.”
The Spirit headed west without forward Louella Tomlinson, who continues to battle a knee injury ahead of this Saturday’s season opener against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre.
Facing a race against time to catch their flight back to Melbourne, Hurst exited the game at three quarter time, while the bench was cleared with five minutes still remaining in the contest.
“The weekend as a whole showed we can deal with the hardship of travel, short turn-around, which happens on the road,” said Pritchard.
“There was a great deal of learning and the team is much better for it.”
The Spirit ended the pre-season at 4-4.