Robyn Broughton hasn't gone so far as to distance herself from the Central Pulse's results.
But, in the wake of yesterday's 39-36 loss to the New South Wales Swifts in Sydney, the coach has declared that there's only so much she can do.
Broughton can, and has, devised gameplans to get the Pulse victories. When it comes to the crunch, though, winning or losing is up to the players.
"It's about making sure you put your foot down and that you're mean and nasty and hungry with the ball," Broughton said. "They're really nice people. But they have to get the meanness, that spirit, that Aussie attitude of `get out of my way'."
Yesterday's loss was the Pulse's fourth in six games, and third by a margin of four goals or less. The team is competitive, but not ruthless, and Broughton's at the point where she would almost prefer it if it was beaten by lots of goals, rather than a few.
"If you get that close, you should be able to put your foot down and go. Once they do it and once they break that cycle [of losing] and then they like the idea of winning, and they know they can win, I think they'll just go away because there's some good talent here."
After her team had made no early impression on the contest, captain (and birthday girl) Katrina Grant decided it was time to inspire them. Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and Joline Henry were soon on board, as the Pulse used suffocating defence to breathe some life into their own attack.
Once eight goals back, the Pulse were soon only one behind the Swifts as the match entered the final three minutes. Unfortunately, both shooters – Caitlin Thwaites and Jamilah Gupwell – missed chances to get the Pulse level and a winning chance was lost.
Grant said before the match that the team had spent a great deal of time discussing how it could start getting up in the tight ones.
From the outside it felt like the players were almost getting into mental block territory, but Broughton said "no".
"They've got to be really hard on themselves. They've got to look at it and have vital conversations about it because that [winning] is what you're out there for," she said. "You've got to be professional and if you're too nice about it, you're not going to win."
When it came to pulling people off court yesterday, Broughton definitely wasn't guilty of being too nice. Silver Ferns goal attack Paula Griffin, who followed Broughton up from the Southern Steel, was benched midway through the second quarter, while Ngarama Milner-Olsen and Daya Wiffen were tried and discarded in midcourt.
"She [Griffin] was having trouble out there and we needed to change the style of play and open the game up. I think Jamilah did a good job in that respect but her shooting stats [two from six] would have to be a lot better," Broughton said.
With nothing coming from goal attack, Thwaites (30 from 37) basically had to do all the scoring. Defeat means the Pulse are likely to have dropped to ninth place by time they host the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic next Monday.
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- © Fairfax NZ News
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