Room for improvement
Francis eyes better execution from Sunshine Girls despite big win in series openerMonday, October 18, 2021
BY SHERDON COWAN
Though pleased with the outcome of their opening contest against Trinidad and Tobago's Calypso Girls, Sunshine Girls Head Coach Connie Francis believes the team is still lacking in certain departments and is hoping they can make the necessary adjustments over the next two games.
The 71-22 scoreline in Saturday's first game in the three-game series, being played in honour of former Netball Jamaica President Margaret Beckford, represents the Sunshine Girls' dominance over their Caribbean rivals, but Francis saw the performance as anything but efficient.
Captain and ace shooter Jhaniele Fowler led from the front with 43 goals from 49 attempts, with support coming from goal attacks Shanice Beckford, who scored 13 of her 20 attempts, and Rebekah Robinson's seven goals from 12 attempts. Gezelle Allison, who replaced Fowler in the fourth quarter, scored eight of her 15 attempts.
Still, Francis admits that her side, which was making a return to competitive action since their Nations Cup appearance last January, was guilty of a few sloppy plays mid-court and casual attempts in the shooting circle, which robbed them of a wider margin of victory.
“I am very proud of the win but there are still areas of concern, and going forward I think that we have time to fix it before we head to England,” Francis said in a post-game interview at the National Indoor Sports Centre.
“I thought our shooting could have been a little bit better and sometimes our attacking. Especially that centre pass, that half-court attack, it struggles a bit, and we get unsettled at times. But we are still a work in progress. I am not going to say we could have scored 100, but I thought we missed quite a few goals that could have helped us to be even in the 80s,” she added.
For Francis and her Sunshine Girls this series is just a small step towards achieving long-term goals, with their main target being the upcoming series against the English Roses and, by extension, next year's Commonwealth Games.
“We have been doing a lot of work; we have been trying to work on our first and second phase of attack and our cohesiveness. So, for the second game there will be adjustments,” said Francis.
“It's about using different rotations and giving the girls an opportunity to gel together, because they are being watched by the selectors. So, like I said before, it's short-term, long term goals, and the long-term is to get them on court, give them quality time to play and to be ready for the next challenge, and then let the selectors do their jobs,” she explained.
It is on that note that Francis credited her defensive unit marshalled by goalkeeper Shamera Sterling, with Adean Thomas, Latanya Wilson and player of the game Shadian Hemmings limiting the Trinidadians' opportunities with some crucial interceptions at times.
In fact, the Jamaicans, who led from start to finish, only conceded six goals across the last two quarters, while their opponents struggled for consistency throughout.
“It's something that we have been working on, and I can tell you these girls make my job easy when it comes to making any adjustments.
“They love the idea of going up against different tasks, because we have tried a number of things around hands and feet and swap defence and being strong and aggressive. So I really like the way they feed off each other's energy, and I love what I am seeing,” Francis, who is in her second term since being back with the team, noted.
“That is what we have been working on. The first game is behind us so we are trying to see if we can fix some of things that are of concern, and we will take it from there,” she ended.