Canberra Capitals re-sign championship coach Paul Goriss


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Goriss inherited a Capitals side that had won just two games the year before his arrival and led the club fifth and sixth in his first two seasons. Before long he steered the Capitals to the promised land in his third season.

“I say ‘we’ because there’s people in the background other than the coaching staff and the players, we’ve done a great job over three years I’ve been here to change the culture and values of the program,” Goriss said.

“I was pretty keen to stay and see that job through, and I just don’t think it’s ‘job done’ with winning a championship. We’ve got to maintain us in the top echelon of teams in the top four, and make sure we’re getting better every year so we don’t let it fall back to where it was.

“I want to have that consistency with the group being a top four team.”

Canberra tabled preliminary offers to a number of players before the free agency window opened on Monday, with the club now set to battle with rivals to retain their title-winners.

The retention of Goriss is a huge boost to the Capitals’ hopes of luring Canadian import Kia Nurse and star centre Marianna Tolo back to the club.

All eyes are on Paul Goriss for the next two seasons.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Nurse was a standout in her first season in Canberra but made it clear Goriss’ return is pivotal as the 23-year-old weighs up her immediate future.

Kelly Wilson could return for one last hurrah while Leilani Mitchell’s future hinges on the smartest move for her family.

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Rising stars Maddison Rocci and Lauren Scherf have entered free agency, while import Kaili McLaren and development players Abby Cubillo and Elizajane Loader are seeking new deals.

“The main challenge with winning is trying to keep the roster,” Goriss said.

“Whether it be in the NBA with the [San Antonio] Spurs, or Townsville and Canberra back to when they were winning [WNBL] championships.

“It’s that consistency and continuity of the same playing group, that is used to playing together and knows how to win. That’s the biggest challenge for us, to try to keep as many of those girls as we can.

“I don’t think all 12 are going to be back, people are going to want to look at other opportunities whether it’s a starting spot or more money.

“I want girls that want to be here because they want to play for the Capitals and they know they’re going to get better.

“I think we’ve got one of the best programs all-round for the WNBL.”

His intention to stay in Canberra has long been clear but Goriss put contract talks on the backburner during the playoffs to chase a ring.

With his first WNBL championship in the rear-view mirror, the work begins in pursuit of a second – and Canberra’s ninth – because the job is never done.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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