FRESH APPROACH HELPS POTTER TO DOMINANT SHOWING
Emily Potter shook off her foul frustrations, just worried about controlling what she could and the result was a dominant performance from the Canadian centre in Perth Lynx’s win against Adelaide Lightning that she’ll look to continue the momentum from.
Potter is playing her first season in the WNBL at the Lynx and it has been a period of adjustment just to get used to the way things in the league are playing differently to what she’s used to in Europe, the physicality and the way things are officiated.
There also isn’t as many genuine centres who like to play in the block and do their best work in a physical nature down low across the league so there has been times that Potter has found herself in foul trouble.
That was best illustrated last Wednesday night in the second game of that road trip for the Lynx against the Townsville Fire where she was limited to under 18 minutes as a result.
That led to a frustrating few days ahead of the Lynx returning home to play the Adelaide Lightning at Bendat Basketball Centre on Sunday, and Potter came out with an approach to cast those frustrations aside.
Part of that was to avoid putting herself in positions to foul on top of just not letting it frustrate her if she was called, and the result was her most dominant performance of the season for the Lynx.
Potter finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and two assists on 9/14 shooting from the floor and 7/8 at the foul line.
What was behind dominant showing
Understandably, Potter was pleased with her match-winning performance against the Lightning and she does give credit to not only her teammates for their faith in her, but also the mental adjustments she made to the foul situation.
“I’m pretty happy with that and I was coming off many games this season with foul trouble, I’m starting to learn and adjust, and just figure out how I can fit in within this system and team. I’m just trying to contribute any way that I can,” Potter said.
“I’ve been trying to adjust over the season and watch every single foul back over and over again to see what I can do. I’ve tried to be a little bit more reserves in the first half with my fouls, and just not risk it because I’d rather be on the floor.
“I’d love to be on the floor and be able to get some points and rebounds for my team. I can’t do that for my team when I’m in foul trouble so tried to be a little bit more reserved in the first half offensively.
“My teammates picked up the slack and helped me a lot, and if I’m not being super aggressive on some of my defence they’re there to pick up the slack every time.”
Picking your poison defensively
One of the most significant adjustments for Potter to make to try and avoid staying out of foul trouble was to do her best to not be in situations where the officials have a reason to blow the whistle.
That’s a mental adjustment in terms of Potter not necessarily challenging a player on the drive or at the rim unless she has a genuine chance of having a positive impact defensively.
If she’s going to be in a position where a foul is the likely outcome, then maybe it’s best for her to avoid that situation even if it means letting an opposition player get by her when in in the big picture it helps ensure she can stay in the game.
“I hate getting scored on and it’s about picking your poison really,” she said.
“I try to be straight up and if I can’t do my work early and someone gets me in a good spot, I’m going to have to concede rather than get a foul.”
Making adjustments on the fly
The Lynx have had to change plenty in terms of their game plan and style over the last couple of weeks since the injury to superstar point guard Aari McDonald.
It was a rough first game in Townsville against the Fire four days after she got hurt, but the second game in the Tropical Far North was vastly improved despite the loss again, and then the growth continued at home to Adelaide on Sunday.
Potter was pleased with the way the Lynx have adapted to being without McDonald for now and is backing her team to continue that leading into a playoff run.
“I think in the second Townsville game we did show a lot of grit and we led for almost half the game,” Potter said.
“That did give us a little bit of confidence and obviously they were our first two games without Aari.
“She’s a big piece so we did have to adjust so we did take away some positives from Townsville, and didn’t hang our heads too much so we could bounce back.
“There’s still so many games left in the season and we still do have high hopes of making it to the playoffs for sure.”
Impressive bounce back
Before those two losses in Townsville to close 2023 and open 2024, the Lynx had won four of the previous five matches so it certainly was anything but time to panic.
However, the Lynx did still have to pull together to get back to winning and Potter was impressed with how the team did that on Sunday to beat the Lightning before now being back on the road to face the UC Capitals this Thursday night.
“Coming off the two losses you always want to bounce back. I don’t know if we’ve dropped two in-a-row the whole season until then,” Potter said.
“Obviously Townsville’s a really tough competitor but I think we did a great job of not hanging our heads and found a way to bring a lot of energy.
“I don’t think our shots fell in the first half but we looked pretty good and there was good energy, good defence. When our defence plays well and we fly around, it fuels our offence really well.”