THE Warrnambool Mermaids are hoping to unveil more than just their championship flag when their 2012 season starts tonight.
Nanjing Night Net

The side is also out to show its home crowd that this year’s line-up means business and what better way to do so than with a grand final rematch.

Newly-appointed coach Lester Pickett said the Mermaids would have eight players for tonight’s duel with Mildura.

“The majority of them were involved (in the grand final win) and they’ll be excited, which is good for them because this is their reward from last year,” he said.

“Then we need to get into it because we want to do it again this year.”

While tonight marks the Mermaids’ season-opener, Mildura started its campaign last weekend with an unsuccessful double-header, going down to Keilor (71-48) and Sunbury (80-75).

Pickett believes the key tonight will be shutting down Mildura guard Vanessa Power and American import Justina Udenze, who were the most damaging for the Lady Heat last weekend.

“They seemed to rely on those two players, so if we can try and shut down one of them and do the job on the other one, it will help,” he said.

“But we know that they’ll be gunning for us.

“(We) beat them in last year’s grand final, so they’ll play hard.

“We’ve got to have the mindset to click right from the start and we can’t give them a start.”

Mermaids newcomers Tiarna Rolph and Renee Tuck will take to the court tonight. The remaining six players were involved in last year’s triumph.

Pickett said Warrnambool would be looking to push the ball down the floor at every opportunity this season.

“We’re not a big team,” he said. “Apart from Kate Sewell, we’re not big in size and we’re not that bulky or strong, so we really have to push the ball.

“In defence, we’ve got to get up and get into them.”

The coach expected the younger players from last year, such as Olivia Krygger, Maggie Baker and Ebony Stacey, to have a bigger impact in 2012.

“They know what to expect now so they’ll need to step up,” he said.

The Mermaids will be missing talented teenagers Nicola Handreck and Annie Blackburn until the end of next month due to state commitments, while Darcy Saunders, who has moved away for university, has committed to play away matches.

Tonight’s tip-off is at 6pm at the Arc.

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