Why the Capitals have plenty of room for optimism

They enjoyed the highest of highs and heartbreaking lows, and while the Canberra Capitals will stay in the finals wilderness for another year, there's plenty of reason for optimism.

From Rachel Jarry's string of concussions to fourth quarter fade outs and controversial refereeing decisions, at times it was a case of "Canberra against the world".

A brilliant finish to the season was breathtaking and frustrating in equal measure, because it showed there were no excuses for a 13-game losing run that shattered their finals hopes.

But as with anything, there are a few things to get excited about - namely a pair of Opals-in-waiting.

THE GRUELLING SCHEDULE

Canberra Capitals v Sydney Uni Flames. Canberra Capitals Nat Hurst. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Canberra Capitals v Sydney Uni Flames. Canberra Capitals Nat Hurst. Photo: Jamila Toderas Photo: Jamila Toderas

While the final ladder won't show it, Goriss believes he has a top four team on his hands and it was "disappointing" it had to end so soon.

Winning five of their last six games proves that just might be the case, especially considering the Capitals knocked over league-leaders Perth to finish the season.

The season was condensed into a gruelling three month, 21 game schedule due to a broadcast rights deal with Fox Sports.

Captain and the club's most valuable player Nat Hurst admits it was tough to get through double headers nearly every weekend, which contributed in part to five losses by 10 points or less.

"I believe if we had a normal length WNBL season we would have a lot more W's on the board, just with time between games and preparing and what didn't go right," Hurst said.

"With that lack of time, that's what got us a few more losses than we would have liked. It's a learning curve.

"If Fox Sports Australia can be a sponsor and we have to have a shorter season, then it's a great reason to have one. We've just got to learn to adapt a lot quicker."

PROTECTING HOME COURT

WNBL round 1, Canberra Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre. The scene at the Capitals' new home, the National Convention Centre.

WNBL round 1, Canberra Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre. The scene at the Capitals' new home, the National Convention Centre. Photo: Rohan Thomson

While they are slowly building a title-contending roster, the Capitals can already claim a "world class venue" as home.

The Capitals moved to a brand new $250,000 court at the National Convention Centre, and setting up shop in the city has been a huge plus in Goriss' eyes.

"Having a brand new court to play in [has been great], I think it's one of the premier venues in the WNBL," Goriss said.

"At Tuggeranong in some of those close games and some of those wins you could see the crowd standing up, waving, chanting.

"You don't really get to see that reaction the crowd brings into the game [because the crowd is behind the bench]. All you get is hearing the noise and the crowd cheering.

"That's a disappointing part but I still wouldn't trade this venue for anything else, I think it's a world class venue for us."

THE FUTURE

Capitals' forward Ezi Magbegor adds the extras. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Capitals' forward Ezi Magbegor adds the extras. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

They're only teenagers but you might as well size up Eziyoda Magbegor and Maddison Rocci for Opals uniforms.

There is no doubt Goriss has unearthed two "superstars of the future", but finishing second-last in the wake the second worst losing streak in club history means change is inevitable.

With promising 21-year-old Lauren Scherf the only player contracted for next season, Goriss is wasting no time in starting the process - it begins "now".

The Capitals mentor will have individual meetings with each player over the coming week as he looks to build a roster capable of taking Canberra back to the finals for the first time in seven seasons.

"We've sat down as a coaching group and evaluated where we're at, where we need to improve for next season and both from the individual perspective and team perspective, what we need to have to improve our record," Goriss said.

"Obviously part of it is budget-driven but part of it is also what kind of personnel, player or skill set we need to get back to the top four."

Hurst isn't sure if she will play for the Capitals again with the 34-year-old set to reassess her future after a stint in Poland.

Hurst is the only player to have played in all seven of Canberra's championships and there is a clear difference between what the club had then and what it has now - continuity.

"You need that, you need continuity from season to season. You see the teams that are up the top of the ladder, they've had people come back season after season or core groups," Hurst said.

"It's what we used to have in the Caps and it's what worked. If any club wants to keep building we need to bring back core people.

"We just started to get on a run and started to get completely comfortable with how each other play and I would love to see a core group come back next season."

PLAYER OFF-SEASON MOVEMENT

Kate Gaze - considering Canberra Capitals Academy (SEABL)

Lauren Scherf - Diamond Valley (SEABL)

Abbey Wehrung - Diamond Valley (SEABL)

Mistie Bass - returning to United States

Chevannah Paalvast - considering SEABL, QBL or Big V

Jordan Hooper - returning to United States

Eziyoda Magbegor - Diamond Valley (SEABL)

Keely Froling - Canberra Capitals Academy (SEABL)

Natalie Hurst - Poland

Rachel Jarry - indefinite break due to concussion

Maddison Rocci - Sunshine Coast (QBL)

Callie Bourne - Idaho State University (United States college)

2017-18 RESULTS

Round 1: beat Bendigo Spirit 93-80 at National Convention Centre.

Round 1: beat Adelaide Lightning 84-77 at National Convention Centre.

Round 2: lost to Townsville Fire 65-76 at Townsville Stadium.

Round 2: lost to Melbourne Boomers 63-92 at National Convention Centre.

Round 3: lost to Dandenong Rangers 76-77 at National Convention Centre.

Round 4: lost to Adelaide Lightning 77-80 at Adelaide Arena.

Round 4: lost to Townsville Fire 68-83 at National Convention Centre.

Round 5: lost to Sydney Flames 62-81 at Sydney Uni Sports Centre.

Round 5: lost to Sydney Flames 72-81 at National Convention Centre.

Round 6: lost to Perth Lynx 67-85 at Bendat Basketball Centre.

Round 7: lost to Melbourne Boomers 66-96 at State Basketball Centre.

Round 8: lost to Bendigo Spirit 80-83 at State Basketball Centre.

Round 9: lost to Perth Lynx 76-89 at Bendat Basketball Centre.

Round 9: lost to Melbourne Boomers 72-92 at State Basketball Centre.

Round 10: lost to Sydney Flames 67-73 at National Convention Centre.

Round 10: beat Dandenong Rangers 81-79 at Dandenong Stadium.

Round 11: beat Bendigo Spirit 91-80 at Bendigo Stadium.

Round 11: beat Adelaide Lightning 88-87 at National Convention Centre.

Round 12: lost to Townsville Fire 66-99 at National Convention Centre.

Round 12: beat Dandenong Rangers 63-59 at Dandenong Stadium.

Round 13: beat Perth Lynx 74-69 at National Convention Centre.

This story Why the Capitals have plenty of room for optimism first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.