Canberra Capitals skipper Marianna Tolo has fired a warning to their WNBL rivals, declaring the most successful club in the league's history has finally developed a cutting-edge plan to end almost a decade of heartache.
The Capitals will start their season when they play against the Sydney Flames on Friday night, with an all-star roster taking its first steps to what Tolo hopes will be another championship dynasty.
The new-look Capitals: Marianna Toloa, Kia Nurse, Leilani Mitchell and Kelsey Griffin.Credit:Elesa Kurtz
But there's more to this Capitals rebuild than the marquee recruits, which includes the arrival of WNBA star Kia Nurse, and WNBL all stars Tolo, Kelsey Griffin and Leilani Mitchell.
Coach Paul Goriss has added a psychologist and nutritionist to his staff, and has started sending players for body composition scans to leave no stone unturned on the mission to play finals for the first time in eight years.
The Capitals success from 1999 to 2010 was built on doing things no other teams were willing to do and helped them win seven championships during a golden era.
"We're going to get better as the season goes on, but I know other coaches and players have taken note of us. And I take that as a positive thing because it feels like people are scared of us," Tolo said.
"I feel like we're underdogs. But they should be scared of us, because we're coming for them. I think things are starting to fall in place … we've fixed the things that weren't so great. This is the first year of a new start."
Tolo is recovering from a knee injury but is set to make her comeback on November 18. Her return will be the final piece in the puzzle after Nurse and Mitchell arrived and Griffin was appointed as a co-captain.
The quartet are a major part of Goriss' rebuild and signals the club's intention to chase a championship this season.
There are just three players – Keely Froling, Lauren Scherf and Maddi Rocci – returning from last year and the squad overhaul is a chance to reset following a disappointing period for the Capitals.
Recruits: Kaili McLaren, Kelly Wilson and Kelsey Griffin.Credit:5 Foot Photography
Goriss, however, wasn't willing to settle on new faces delivering success. He has added AFLW premiership-winning coach Bec Goddard as his assistant to offer a new perspective.
Sue Read has joined the Capitals as a sports psychologist and Kate Pumpa as the nutritionist, giving players extra tools to help them chase success.
Pumpa hosted a cooking class for the team's young guns earlier this week to show them how to prepare as elite athletes, while Tolo and Griffin have had body composition scans tailor training programs.
"You've always got grand plans and the No. 1 thing when I came into the job three years ago was to get the Capitals back to where they were," Goriss said.
"We've finally got the off-field stuff sorted. To me, that's giving us the winning edge or one-percenters. Whether that's nutrition, sports psych or Bec Goddard. All of those things give us an edge that other teams may not have.
"We want to be more of a professional team. Leaving no stone unturned in our preparation to be a winning team.
"We want to be the next group to has their little championship run and leaves a legacy behind. The girls have bought into that, but it doesn't just happen. There have to be building blocks."
Griffin was one of the first players to sign a contract to be a part of the Capitals' new era. The two-time championship-winner and two-time grand final most valuable player admits the unknowns made her nervous.
But the former WNBA player says the Capitals now have the ingredients to chase a title and she's excited about the off-court additions to the program.
"Sometimes when you hear about [psychologists], it's kind of taboo. But for me, especially with injuries, it's been really, really helpful," Griffin said.
"Just knowing certain things and cutting yourself some slack … the other big thing is realising you have a finite amount of energy, so working out where your priorities are.
"I think it's going to be great [for the Capitals]. We're trying to use all the resources at the University of Canberra to be able to give us that edge."
Capitals squad: Kelsey Griffin, Marianna Tolo, Kia Nurse, Leilani Mitchell, Kelly Wilson, Kristy Wallace, Lauren Scherf, Keely Froling, Hannah Young, Maddison Rocci, Eliza-Jane Loader, Kaili Mclaren, Abby Cabillo, Issie Bourne.
CANBERRA CAPITALS DRAW (home games in bold)
October 12: Capitals v Sydney Flames at Sydney Uni, 7pm
October 19: Capitals v Melbourne Boomers at Geelong, 7.30pm
October 21: Capitals v Adelaide Lightning at NCC, 2pm
October 26: Capitals v Melbourne Boomers at AIS Arena, 7pm
November 4: Capitals v Sydney Flames at NCC, 2pm
November 10: Capitals v Perth Lynx at Perth, 3pm
November 18: Capitals v Dandenong Rangers at NCC, 2pm
November 23: Capitals v Melbourne Boomers at NCC, 7pm
November 30: Capitals v Perth Lynx at Perth, 9.30pm
December 2: Capitals v Adelaide Lightning at Adelaide, 3.30pm
December 9: Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at NCC, 2pm
December 14: Capitals v Adelaide Lightning at Adelaide, 7.30pm
December 16: Capitals v Perth Lynx at NCC, 5pm
December 21: Capitals v Dandenong Rangers at NCC, 7pm
December 23: Capitals v Townsville Fire at Townsville, 4pm
December 28: Capitals v Townsville Fire at NCC, 7pm
December 30: Capitals v Dandenong Rangers at Dandenong, 3pm
January 4: Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at AIS Arena, 7pm
January 11: Capitals v Townsville Fire at Townsville, 8pm
January 13: Capitals v Sydney Flames at Sydney Olympic, 12.30pm
January 19: Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at Bendigo, 3pm
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