Adapting to new shooter Steel focus

Unorthodox new Steel shooter Lenize Potgieter. Photo: Getty Images
Unorthodox new Steel shooter Lenize Potgieter. Photo: Getty Images
The next three days ought to give Steel coach Reinga Bloxham a firm indication of just how much work is left to do before the ANZ Premiership starts later this month.

The Steel is taking part in a pre-season tournament in Otaki and its opening game is against the Stars this afternoon. It will also play the Mystics and the Pulse before returning home to polish off its preparation.

Bloxham has a mostly fit squad to pick from. Shooter Jen O'Connell is making her way back from an ankle injury but has made tremendous progress, while wing defence Courtney Elliott is recovering nicely from a leg complaint.

Their court time will be restricted but Bloxham plans to carefully manage everyone's court time anyway.

Of most concern to Bloxham will be how well the feeders adapt to the unorthodox style of new recruit Lenize Potgieter.

The star shooter is not the tall target O'Connell presents. But the South African is very athletic and uses her lateral movement to get into space.

"She is fitting in nicely ... it is just a matter of getting her out on court so we can see how she plays and what she can do," Bloxham said.

"The way she can receive the ball is quite different to most other shooters, so we will need to learn [her ways].

"She is a little bit unorthodox, I'd say. She takes the ball the opposite way to how we do in New Zealand.

"She takes the ball and turns into the defender but she has a really good ability to stretch herself out to get the ball and is quite explosive.

"Our players are used to playing with a tall shooter who can hold that space, so it is quite different."

The feeders will need to learn where to fire the passes and those combinations may take time to develop.

The Steel recorded two wins in warm-up games against the Tactix in Ashburton last weekend. While there were some early pleasing signs, there was plenty of room for improvement as well.

"What was highlighted for me is we still need that time on the court together to just build those connections and combinations.

"But we've got 10 really strong players who are saying `pick me', so I think that is a really nice headache to have."

Otaki pre-season schedule 

Steel v Stars, 4pm, today (Friday, February 8)

Steel v Mystics, 4pm, tomorrow

Steel v Pulse, 1pm, Sunday


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