In a potentially ominous sign for Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic fans, their team returned from Melbourne last night having failed to win a game at the Summer Shootout pre-season tournament.
The Magic lost six and drew one of their 30-minute matches, with new coach Julie Fitzgerald looking to mould together a host of new faces this year.
While the results were sobering, the score counts for nothing at this stage of the season, and with all teams mixing and matching their combinations, it is hard to get a true gauge of where things lie.
The NSW Swifts were the only team to come out on the right side of the ledger in every game.
"I think we've made a lot of progress, and that's what you come to these tournaments to do," Fitzgerald said.
"I'm really pleased that we got to get so many of our young ones out there against different opposition. It certainly was a big awakening for them, a lot of them had never seen netball that intense before. So in that sense it was successful for us."
Fitzgerald felt the team had a steady improvement through the weekend in things like conversion rates from centre passes and turnovers, and their through-court play, but now needs to see "consistency of effort".
"We did some really good stuff at times, you'd sit back and you were really, really pleased with the passage of play, but we just weren't able to keep backing it up and be consistent, so that's what we're really going to have to sort out," she said.
All players got on court, for pretty much equal game-time, besides captain Casey Kopua, who is nursing her way back from ankle surgery, and was given 45-minutes of play.
"We had decided coming into this weekend that she would only play three half-games, so each day of the tournament she played half a game, and came out of it really well. She was busting to do a little bit more but we know that we have to be cautious," Fitzgerald said.
There were no other injuries to come out of the tournament for the Magic, whose squad of 13 has only five players returning from last year, with Fitzgerald citing the trip as a positive team-bonding experience.
The Magic were scheduled to have one further pre-season game, against the Mystics in Cambridge, however the Mystics have cancelled that, so the Magic's remaining pre-competition hit-out will be against a local men's team.
Their trans-Tasman league opener is against the Mainland Tactix in Christchurch on March 1.
AT A GLANCE
Magic's Summer Shootout results
Friday: Lost to Vixens 24-21
Saturday: Lost to Swifts 29-13 Lost to Tactix 26-20 Drew with Fever 29-29 Lost to Steel 30-29
Sunday: Lost to Firebirds 32-24 Lost to Mystics 34-20
- Waikato Times