Laura Langman is treating it like any other game.
But something just won’t look right when she lines up for the Northern Mystics against the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in Auckland on Monday night.
Waikato-born and bred, the midcourt superstar played 11 seasons with the Magic before deciding to join the Mystics for this year’s trans-Tasman league campaign.
It was a decision which followed the announcement that long-time Magic coach Noeline Taurua was retiring, and, as Langman put it, was too good a chance to turn down.
‘‘I went up there for a very specific reason,’’ Langman reiterated.
The 27-year-old Silver Ferns veteran wanted to get out of her comfort zone, work with new players and ‘‘establish a really seamless combination with Cattie [Cathrine Latu] and Ria [Maria Tutaia]’’, with this year’s Commonwealth Games and next year’s world champs in mind.
‘‘You never know if you don’t try, and you wouldn’t have wanted to get to the end of your career and not have taken up an opportunity,’’ she said. ‘‘And at the point in time when I was deciding it was probably an opportunity that wasn’t going to come around again. Although challenging, it’s been great for my development as a person and as a player.
‘‘So no regrets.’’
Langman still lives in Hamilton, travelling to Auckland for trainings on Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings, as well as games or the airport.
‘‘It’s just part and parcel of my week these days,’’ she said.
This is all between working at accountancy firm Deloitte and studying to become a chartered accountant.
While people are still adjusting to seeing her in blue, Langman is non-committal about whether a move back to the Magic will be on the cards in the future.
‘‘I can’t tell you that,’’ she said. ‘‘Who knows. I take it year by year. No-one might want me.’’
For now, it is all about turning around the Mystics’ fortunes after a wooden spoon in 2013 and a horror start to this season in Melbourne last weekend against what Langman described as a ‘‘definite top-four team’’ in the Vixens.
‘‘Hugely disappointed’’ was how she felt of the 58-34 thumping.
‘‘It kind of just shows that you need to hit the ground running in a competition like ANZ and you can’t really afford to have a lacklustre game like that.
‘‘We clearly showed we were off the pace, so it was a good wake-up call. And I think we all agree it was good to have it in round one, so we’ve got time to kind of make amends.’’
Langman felt her side’s through-court attack wasn’t as consistent as they would have liked, against opposition which pressured every pass, and the game snowballed out of control.
‘‘The ball that we were getting to our shooters was often very stressed. And that probably translated [to the poor shooting], and I certainly take responsibility for those shooting stats.’’
On the other hand, the Magic are coming off a brilliant round one, where they demolished the Mainland Tactix 70-46 in Christchurch.
‘‘They look really strong, they’re very consistent and they will put up a massive challenge for us,’’ Langman said, adding she wasn’t surprised with the new-look team’s performance.
‘‘I think sometimes that’s what makes you kind of connect and become a cohesive unit, all the change, so you establish very quickly what are going to be your commonalities.
‘‘With the experience that they’ve got throughout the court, I never doubted that they were always going to be a strong unit.
‘‘Obviously their confidence is high and ours is probably running a little low at the moment, so we need to get ourselves up for this game.’’
And for Langman, getting up shouldn’t be too hard, against her former team.
However, more than wanting to prove a point, she is putting all her energy into thinking about the Mystics. There hasn’t even been any banter from her phone to Casey Kopua’s or Leana de Bruin’s.
‘‘Honestly, we’ve been in this competition so long, it’s another game,’’ she said. ‘‘We played them in pre-season and that was no different.
‘‘More than anything we want to put out a product that we’re proud of. Sunday was not that. So certainly we need to get the confidence back up, that’s for sure. But purely focus on what is our job, what do we need to do, and just execute it.
‘‘And I think you can’t get caught up in who you’re playing or what they’ve done, you need to focus on yourself. So I’ve always been a big person on what our team needs to do, how we need to do it. So that’s where I’m at. I love Magic through and through, but I’m preparing with the Mystics for this week.’’
- Waikato Times