Bishop a natural leader

Canberra's Abby Bishop. Picture: John Preller
Canberra’s Abby Bishop. Picture: John Preller

During recent times, the Canberra Capitals have focused on generating the very best leadership qualities from within their talented squad.

Sports Wizard® has worked with the Club during a series of leadership seminars and sessions to help better understand and harness the leadership qualities within the team.

The WNBL website recently explored the leadership traits of star player, Abby Bishop, and spoke to Canberra Coach and Sports Wizard®’s Head of Basketball, about all of this.

Check out the story below courtesy of the WNBL website.

Saturday, November 2 and the seven days that followed will likely go down in Canberra Capitals folklore.

The stacked Dandenong Rangers rolled into Canberra ready to put their loss to Bendigo two nights earlier behind them.

The Capitals appeared vulnerable, with injuries and personal commitments reducing their squad to just eight players.

When star forward Abby Bishop limped off the court with an ankle injury and the Rangers took a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter those predictions were coming true.

But, inspired by youngster Carley Mijovic, Canberra came roaring back to take the lead and turn the game into a basket-for-basket affair, even with two Capitals fouling out.

With scores level with 45 seconds to play, it took an enormous three-pointer from Alice Kunek to finally put the plucky Capitals to rest.

“We lost by five points and at the end of the game we only had five players,” Bishop marvelled.

“We came out of that game really confident.”

Suddenly, a team that looked lost early in the season had found its identity, and with Bishop ignoring the pain in her ankle to rack up 22 points and 15 rebounds seven days later, they remarkably defeated Dandenong on their home court.

“I didn’t even know if I was going to play that whole week so I just came out with a nothing-to-lose mindset – and that’s what our whole team had,” Bishop said.

“We went in with an attitude like ‘We can beat you guys’. Obviously they have huge talent on their team, but we’ve got some great players too.”

And it’s that belief in the greatness of their club that led to the Capitals’ senior players standing up to be counted when their season was slipping away.

“Some of us have just upped our intensity, that’s one thing we were really lacking at the start. We had a few blowout games where teams just got on top of us,” Bishop said.

“I think we’ve also found some heart – We don’t like losing. For myself and Natty Hurst, when we were in Caps colours last we weren’t a losing team.

“We wanted to get the culture back to where it was when the Caps were winning.”

And that has meant dragging their younger teammates with them, something coach Carrie Graf has seen plainly on the practice court.

“I think Bishop is a natural leader. She’ll captain WNBL teams and I’d go as far as to say she has the qualities to captain the Opals down the track,” Graf said.

“She can lead by example, she’s assertive, she’s got a lot of growth to go in her game, but she’s already bloody good and she’s tough.”

While Bishop might only be turning 25 this Friday, she is relishing the veteran’s role of helping fast-track her talented young frontcourt buddies’ development.

“I’m always trying to help (Alex) Bunton and Mijovic learn and they’ve been really good, they take in on the chin if I yell,” she said.

“They know it’s coming from a good place.”

The London Olympian says the young pair are “great now” and are “going to be international players for Australia”, but helping them into the green and gold isn’t her only motivation.

With a string of must-win games coming up, Bishop and experienced Caps like Hurst and Jess Bibby know they must demand more from their emerging teammates on a daily basis if Canberra is once more going to become a feared WNBL destination.

“At the end of the day I want to win,” she said.

“Everyone’s dug deep and brought that extra bit of intensity and that extra bit of heart, that’s really helped us, but we’ve definitely still got a long way to go.”

This story originally appeared on the WNBL website, titled ‘Bishop the new Queen in Leadership game’ on 27 November, 2013.