Wai-BOP Magic do homework before big test

TOUGH TEST: Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic players are reading up on  the Firebirds.
TOUGH TEST: Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic players are reading up on the Firebirds.

Just like being back at school, the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic players were handed homework on Monday night in the lead-up to a big assignment.

With their place in the trans-Tasman league preliminary final confirmed, the Magic squad spent time scouting their opponents - watching the major semifinal between the Melbourne Vixens and Queensland Firebirds.

It wasn't just the coaching staff doing the analysis.

"That's an expectation of our girls, that they watch the opposition," assistant coach Margaret Forsyth said.

"They're expected to take notes as well and pick up any crumbs that they can for themselves personally. We have a team approach but they're also expected to do their homework individually."

It took Forsyth more than an hour and a half to watch the match, with her constant pausing and note-taking, but she doesn't find that a chore.

"I think that's one of the really interesting parts of the job," she said.

With the Vixens getting up, the Magic will travel to face the Firebirds in Brisbane on Monday night.

"I'm quite happy to have another crack at [the] Firebirds, having lost marginally last time. I still think we have more to give," Forsyth said.

While she felt her side and the Firebirds were quite evenly matched, Forsyth noted their obvious strength being towering shooter Romelda Aiken.

"And their ball delivery, they've certainly got confidence on attack with such a big target at the end of the court," she said.

"And our strategy, like any team playing that kind of attack, is that you've got to attack the ball and you've got to attack the feeders and apply the pressure further up court. Once it gets close to the circle edge your job is definitely more difficult. And of course they've got strength and experience with Laura Geitz down the other end of the court."

Forsyth felt the Magic were still short of their best in their minor semifinal win over the NSW Swifts and it would be simple things that they needed to tidy up.

"We had some errors there at some critical times. I thought we responded better to those moments, but there's still room to take things up a notch.

"It'd still be our ball retention and that decision making at those critical moments. I think it's definitely got better and better over the last month or two. Our ability to score off our gains has improved and our rebounding ability has improved. I think those are really good focuses for the group."

The Magic have their first team training of the week tomorrow, with another on Saturday, before they fly out on Sunday morning.

Waikato Times