An Inside Look With The Lynx
The Perth Lynx have had one of their biggest off-seasons to date. With a changeover of ownership from the NBL’s Perth Wildcats, to the hands of Basketball WA, the welcoming of a new Head Coach and a shiny new roster being announced, the Lynx are as eager as ever to tip off the 2020-21 season.
We sat down with the team’s newly appointed Head Coach Ryan Petrik, to discuss how his induction to the role has been during the interesting times of COVID-19.
Petrik has been an Assistant Coach for the Lynx since 2015 and told us about his excitement landing the Head Coach role, and how the process of appointment.
“I’m excited, but it’s a bit daunting, especially with how the world’s going.
“As an Assistant Coach there is very little pressure in that chair, and you’re free to offer up as many ideas as you want. If they get accepted then it doesn’t work, then its not great but that’s why you’re in the assistant’s chair”, Petrik said.
“It’s a lot less responsibility in comparison to the Head Coach role. So, for five years I’ve had all these great ideas. But once you move over to the big chair, every decision that you make is going to get analysed by everyone and there’s no more second chances.
“So, it’s certainly a bit daunting, but also I am really excited. For five years I have tracked a little bit of everything, I’ve jotted it all down and saved a lot of videos of and ideas that might one day work if I became a Head Coach at this level. So now I have a treasure chest full of stuff accumulated over the years and will look to deploy it in 2020-21.”
In conjunction with beginning his new role as Head Coach, Petrik praises Basketball WA who have taken over ownership of the WNBL Club.
“It’s an interesting one, because I have worked for the [Perth] Wildcats for the last nine years. Four years with the Cats as Development Assistant, helping out with some trainings, nothing major and then the last five years on the Perth Lynx side, but within the same organisation.
“So, I’ve done nine years straight there but have never worked with Basketball WA. I wasn’t really sure what to expect and that was one of the questions I was asked early on – you were with the Wildcats for so long and have now gone back to Basketball WA. The last time Basketball WA were there it was the ‘West Coast Waves’ so how are you finding that? And my comment then, is probably my same comment now, it’s a blank slate, the West Coast Waves was different, this is not going to be that.
“They’re [BasketballWA] also all ears; the Perth Wildcats have an idea of how they want their programs to work and have the experience to do it, whereas Basketball WA don’t have a pro-team like the Wildcats in their back pocket. So, they’re all ideas, they’re all ears.
“Therefore, how do you want to do this? Where do you want to train? What do they want to eat? How do you want to do physio? How do you want to fill out your roster? It’s all a blank canvas.
“They’ve been fantastic, having spent so long at the wildcats when I heard we were going back to BasketballWA, I had my concerns. But five minutes into talking with Rob Clement (Basketball WA CEO), Evan [Stewart] (Deputy CEO) and Alanna this is clearly going to be different and very exciting with the direction they want to head in.
“Alanna has been amazing for a first year GM to land Ebzery, Whitcomb and Garbin as her first three signatures, that’s not bad going for someone who’s never done the job before, let alone during COVID, let alone during an organisational change. The front office has been great and it’s been really exciting.”
Whilst the implications of COVID-19 did not provide the ideal start for Petrik’s new venture, there were positives that could be taken from the experience particularly around slowing down, taking stock and ensuring a strong roster.
“It’s funny, we were pretty laser like with how we wanted to go about it at the very start. And then COVID-19 just slowed everything down, so again whether we’re on the right path or not we will find out further down the track.
“We were certainly very adamant that we wanted players A, B & C. We wanted to play a certain style and COVID bought everything to a halt.
“I got appointed before Free Agency was set to start back in March, I was appointed on the Friday, and messaging Sam [Whitcomb] back and forth Friday night, spoke to her in France on Saturday, was on the phone to her agent by Sunday, and this was all late March and yet we had to put the breaks on everything because of COVID.
“Eventually got there and sorted it out, but its just really slowed us down, and that’s been the frustrating part. I guess the really good part is that most of our plans have come off so far.”
Despite the crazy state of the world, Petrik has been able to fully cherish this experience, with an extended period of time off where he would usually coach State League.
“For me personally, it’s [COVID-19] given me a really nice three month reset. I coach a WA State Side League team in the WNBL off season every year which is how I know Sami [Whitcomb] and Darcee [Garbin] so well.
“The COVID break was probably perfect because it gave me two and a half to three months to sort out the roster for the organisation, take over becoming a Head Coach, and then the organisational change over, there was a tonne of work to do with Alanna [Burton] our General Manager.
“But that three months bought us a tonne of time I would not normally have. It gave me plenty of time for the recruiting, to look over what had gone right which was just as important as everything that had gone wrong in previous seasons.
“Then three months to game plan. So, if we get players A, B & C, what would the offense look like? What’s the best way to take down Canberra and Melbourne etcetera? It was a nice three-month boarder and had COVID not have hit I would’ve needed to have done it all anyway.
“It was just a really nice breather to get everything sorted out and so when we do take the court, we’ll hit it at full speed.”
The Perth Lynx have truly kicked off their 2020-21 campaign strong with a solid roster forming, including some big named returnees.
“Normally you take over a roster that has four or five players returning, so whether you want all those players or not, you’ve got them. But in the organisational change over we had no players on contract, so we literally got a clean slate.
“Who do you want as your Assistant Coach, who do you want as your marquee players? There was complete choice on the entire list from one to 10. That’s ultra-rare and super exciting.
“Second to that, very early on in the process it was, if were good enough to land Whitcomb, Garbin and [Katie-Rae] Ebzery, then that’s a no brainer.
“We also wanted to keep some of the pieces we lost aswell, but we understood we would have less money than previous years, so we may not be able to keep everyone but if we can get those three and then fill out a roster around them, then we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
The Perth Lynx have currently announced six players to their 2020-21 roster including – Whitcomb, Ebzery, Garbin, Maddie Allen, Alex Ciabattoni and Neseya Parker-Williams.