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Mystics on comeback trail after horror year

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This year might have been an horrible year for the LG Northern Mystics but CEO Julie Paterson believes that while the results this season have been hard to take, the team will be much better placed next year, and several years to come.

“Hand on heart, I think that because we had to give some of our younger players a massive amount of court time this year, we’re now a year ahead of most of the other New Zealand franchises, in terms of team renewal,” Julie told Our West.

The team, which is sponsored by The Trusts, knew at the beginning of the season that it faced challenges, with Anna Harrison out because of pregnancy, Temapara George retiring, a new captain and several key players struggling with injuries, but they believed they could rise to the challenge.

“I still believe that was true but nobody could have foreseen the horror run of injuries that effectively kneecapped the team’s defence” Julie says. In normal circumstances, the team would have developed their young, inexperienced players slowly and within the protection of the experienced players around them. As it was, the senior ranks were decimated by injury after injury, forcing the Mystics into fielding teams of younger, inexperienced players who at first, suffered the full blast of this take-no-prisoners competition.

It was noticeable, however, that performances improved significantly towards the end of the season and Julie attributes this to players getting past their initial lack of experience and showing real character to learn and take the game back to the opposition.

In terms of 2013 it was too little too late, but Julie believes that it did the franchise a favour in two ways. First, it turned inexperienced players into battle-hardened experienced players in very short order, putting the Mystics in a strong position for the 2014 season.

“Secondly, we were motivated to strip back everything we were doing, on and off the court, and look at everything with a critical eye; how we were training, playing, managing the squad, and all our other processes. It’s not easy but we’re a lot better for having done it,” she says.

Welcoming back Debbie Fuller as coach, has been a bonus. She knows the team and was able to hit the ground running with her planning for the year to come.“I expect there will be changes,” Julie says, “but they will all be for the good. They will enable us to go into next year confident that we are well set-up to succeed, not just next year, but for some years into the future.”