January 18, 2024 | Perth Lynx news

Perth Lynx coach Ryan Petrik will never question his team’s endeavour nor their fighting qualities, but at the same time he’s not interested in honourable losses as the race for a WNBL top four spot heats up.

It has been all about making adjustments on the go for the Lynx over the last five games since MVP fancy and superstar point guard Aari McDonald injured a knee early in the December 27 home game victory against the UC Capitals.

Four days later and the Lynx had to start a two-game stand in Townsville against the defending champion, league-leading Fire to end 2023 and bring in 2024, and the schedule hasn’t let up since.

It was back home to play, and beat, the Adelaide Lightning before the latest road trip with tight losses to the UC Capitals and the Sydney Flames.

The defeats only came by a combined nine points with the Lynx having their chances in both of them, but the reality is they were losses leaving the Lynx left fighting for their place in the top four.

Sunday’s loss in Sydney to the Flames was significant in the context of the season, though, because it keeps that race for a spot in the top four a hot one.

The Lynx remain in fourth spot currently at 9-7 but only just ahead of the Flames who are fifth at 9-8 while the Southside Flyers are only one game ahead at 9-6 in third position.

Then you have Townsville (12-4) and the Melbourne Boomers (10-6) still occupying the top two positions.

No honourable loss rubbish

The Lynx did find themselves down double-digits late in the third quarter on Sunday against Sydney at Qudos Bank Arena, but kept on fighting impressively and even hit the front thanks to Miela Goodchild with just over three minutes on the clock.

While the Flames ended up claiming the eventual 87-84 victory, there was a lot to like from the fighting performance the Lynx delivered.

Petrik does agree with that, but at the same time he’s not interested in honourable losses and winning is the thing that ultimately is all he’s after.

“I love how they fought back and that was kind of the message post-game, but we hate the honourable loss rubbish,” Petrik said.

“We lost the game and we came to win the game, and we want to be a no excuse program so we don’t like the honourable loss rubbish. I love how they fought and how they played, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”

Cleaning up offence

It’s been all systems go for the Lynx in recent weeks and that’s created a challenge in coming up with a new game plan in the absence of McDonald over the past five matches.

She has been the point guard with an offensive system set up for her and she was doing such a remarkable job that not only had she helped Perth to an 8-3 record in her 11 games, she had put herself right in MVP contention.

Then trying to work out how to play without her and having limited time on the practice court to put things in place with either three or four days in between the past five games has been a challenge for the Lynx.

Perth did manage to beat the Adelaide Lightning at home in that stretch but lost on the road to Townsville twice and then the Capitals and Flames last week.

However, now leading into hosting the Bendigo Spirit this Saturday night at Bendat Basketball Centre, the Lynx will have had a full week on the practice floor in preparation and Petrik is thankful for that.

“We’ve got some things to clean up offensively and clearly we’re mid restructuring our playbook with some personnel stuff going on so we’re still tweaking that,” Petrik said.

“At times it’s looking really good and at other times it’s really, really clunky but we actually have some practice time now.

“We’ve been playing every third or fourth day for a while so we’ve had no time on court to fix some things, but now we’ve got six days before our next game. That gives us a couple of full practice sessions to clean some things up and reset.”

Thoughts from Potter

Lynx centre Emily Potter is one of a host of new faces on the Lynx team that is having a significant impact this season, but she was a little hard on herself after Sunday’s loss to the Flames.

While Cayla George did have a significant impact in Sydney’s win, she’s also one of the best players Australia has ever produced and Potter herself still played well with 16 points.

She is averaging 13.1 points and 7.6 rebounds a game across the season in what has been a great learning curve in her first time in the WNBL, but she couldn’t be more thankful for the team she’s found herself on.

“She kind of kicked my ass, she had 28 points and I feel like I didn’t do a great job defensively. I feel like she was pretty much getting whatever she wanted and she’s a great player,” Potter said.

“It has been a learning curve this whole season for me. We had a whole six weeks of pre-season just learning the style that coach wants, and it is different to what I’m used to playing but everyone has been so on board and receptive to feedback.

“Everyone has been so nice to each other, almost too nice sometimes, and I feel like without Aari we’re missing a big piece right now and we’re trying to find our way.

“It’s been a bit up and down but we’re just going to keep chugging away and get back to as best we can for this next game. You’re going to see a lot more of us for the rest of the season that’s for sure.”