Cullen de­fends Ferns’ mid­court

Upper Hutt Leader - - CLASSIFIED - BREN­DON EGAN

‘‘It's a team game and I think we haven't fo­cused on cen­tre or wing at­tack or wing de­fence.’’

Kayla Cullen has stuck up for the Sil­ver Ferns’ un­der­fire mid­court, stress­ing only a full team ef­fort will get them back into the Con­stel­la­tion Cup.

New Zealand head into tonight’s test in Ade­laide with dented con­fi­dence af­ter los­ing both home matches in the best-of­four se­ries.

The Sil­ver Ferns must beat the Di­a­monds in the re­main­ing two games, and by con­vinc­ing mar­gins, to have any slim shot of re­claim­ing the Con­stel­la­tion Cup for the first time since 2012.

Cullen said no-one was more an­noyed about Sun­day’s 60-52 loss than the play­ers them­selves, with the team only show­ing patches of what they were ca­pa­ble of.

New Zealand’s mid­court has copped plenty of crit­i­cism in the first two games be­ing out­played by Aus­tralian coun­ter­parts Liz Wat­son, Kim Ravail­lion and Gabi Simp­son.

Not enough pres­sure has been ap­plied de­fen­sively with Aus­tralia find­ing it too easy to send the ball into star goal shoot and cap­tain Caitlin Bas­sett.

On at­tack, the con­nec­tions be­tween the mid­court and shoot­ers has at times lacked pre­ci­sion with pos­ses­sion squan­dered away at key stages.

Cullen, who has been used off the bench at wing de­fence, said they hadn’t sin­gled out any one area of the court as let­ting them down. Ev­ery player wear­ing the black dress needed to step up their game and bring more ur­gency de­fen­sively.

‘‘I don’t think the fo­cus has been on the mid­court. It’s a team game and I think we haven’t fo­cused on cen­tre or wing at­tack or wing de­fence or what­ever.

‘‘We’re just look­ing at it as a team.’’

The Sil­ver Ferns have been bit­terly dis­ap­point­ing in the Con­stel­la­tion Cup af­ter a char­ac­ter­build­ing 57-47 vic­tory over the Di­a­monds in last month’s Quad Se­ries de­cider in In­ver­cargill.

With time tick­ing un­til April’s Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast, New Zealand des­per­ately need to sal­vage some pride in the re­main­ing two matches for their own self be­lief.

Cullen said they trusted their pro­cesses and didn’t be­lieve they had sud­denly be­come a hor­ri­ble side. ‘‘I think the key now is look­ing for­ward and pulling all the pos­i­tives out of those games and nail­ing those con­sis­tently I guess.’’

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