Liz Cambage has only been with Southside for two months, but her “massive” presence on and off the floor is set to steer the Flyers to great heights in the 2020 WNBL season.
That’s the opinion of Flyers captain Jenna O‘Hea, who has been blown away by Cambage’s impact on the team in such a short period of time.
O’Hea says her Opals teammate possesses a powerful aura, which has already come to the fore in practice matches ahead of next Thursday’s season tip-off.
“Teams are trying to double and triple team Liz, and she is still able to shoot over them because she is that much taller,” O’Hea said.
“It also allows us to get open off her as well because she just draws so much attention.
“She is also a very good and willing passer, so once we get used to where she likes to catch the ball and where the space is for us to move, I think it will be really good.”
O’Hea is rooming with Cambage inside the team’s North Queensland hub, which has given her a daily insight into one of the world’s best basketballers.
From keeping the team accountable via setting high standards to knowing when to have a bit of fun, the 2011 WNBL champion with the Bulleen Boomers understands how to achieve at the highest level.
O’Hea believes the Flyers are quickly learning how to live and play with Cambage.
“I’m rooming with Liz at the moment and we both like our alone time but when we get together, she is singing and dancing,” she said.
“When she is in the team environment she is switched on, but when we are back in the room she likes to chill and listen to a bit of music.
“I’m just rapt to be back in her presence again. I like her energy and we have a lot of fun together.”
O’Hea is expecting one of the most competitive WNBL seasons in history given the campaign will be played in a hub over an intense six-week period.
It’s why she won’t take any team for granted in the race for a championship.
“We’ve had a couple of practice games in quarantine and you can’t just rock up and expect to win,” she said.
“Every game is going to be really tough and I think some luck is going to come into it, in terms of keeping everyone healthy.
“There are a lot of games in a short time, so recovery is going to be key.
“I also think there are going to be missed shots just because of fatigue, so it will be all about who can keep their players healthy.”
Ins: Liz Cambage
Outs: Anneli Maley
X-factor: It’s impossible to go past Liz Cambage. On top of being one of the world’s best women’s players, Cambage provides an aura that will give the Flyers confidence that they beat anyone.
Ins: Tess Madgen
Outs: Monique Conti
X-factor: Ezi Magbegor. After claiming a WNBA championship with the Seattle Storm in her maiden season, Magbegor will be full of confidence to play with a point to prove.
Ins: Tahlia Tupaea
Outs: Kia Nurse
X-factor: Guard Maddi Rocci is primed to step up and she will be required to carry more of a load offensively this year.
Ins: Alanna Smith (out injured)
Outs: Nat Hurst (retired)
X-factor: Carlie Smith
After starring on the 3×3 stage for Australia with three medals, Smith is ready to star on the WNBL stage.
A standout player in her youth, she has had to battle her inner demons which saw her quit school and basketball, nearly derailing a promising career.
Smith recently played with the University of Sunshine Coast Rip City (USC) in the NBL1 North competition (QBL for this 2020 season) where in 2018 she averaged 13.75 points with 8.69 rebounds.
Ins: Sami Whitcomb (miss season due to birth of first child)
Mackenzie Clinch Hoycar
Outs: Nadeen Payne
X-factor: Katie Ebzery.
Ebzery is ready to lead Perth to higher honours after being named the club’s MVP last season.
She was outstanding in her second season at the franchise, averaging a team-high 16.3 points, plus 4.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.
Ins: Shyla Heal
Outs: Tess Madgen
X-factor: Shyla Heal. She may be 19, but the daughter of Boomers legend Shane Heal possesses all the skills to star for Townsville this season.
Sydney Uni Flames
Ins: Lauren Mansfield
Outs: Sarah Graham (retired)
X-factor: Funda Nakkasoglu.
Originally from Melbourne, the 24-year old guard got her first taste of the WNBL in 2012 when she joined the Bulleen Boomers on a rookie contract for one season. Most recently she’s been playing her first year as a professional for Galatasaray S.K. in the Turkish Women’s Basketball League – the same place her father is from and played professionally. She is also a member of the Turkish National squad. The young guard is looking forward to returning to Australia to continue her basketball journey in Sydney.
Ins: Cassidy McLean
Outs: Gabe Richards (retired)
X-factor: Carlie Ernst. It is her second year at the club, and she is ready to make a difference with her size and length.
Originally published as How Cambage’s ‘powerful aura’ will dominate WNBL