The women's NBL is set to finally get underway in just over a months' time with the Canterbury Wildcats now playing under their new Aussie coach Mel Downer - whose husband happens to coach the region's men’s team.
Downer told 1 NEWS she was stoked to be coaching the province.
“I’m really proud to be representing Canterbury,” Downer said.
“Obviously, there’s been such success here across all sports so hopefully I can contribute to that.”
If Downer’s CV is anything to go by, the Wildcats are in good hands.
Downer is a former women's head coach at the Australian Centre of Excellence and high performance manager at Queensland South Basketball.
Wildcats guard Shea Crotty said she’s been a brilliant addition to the franchise.
“What she does for basketball, full stop, is just great. So to have her as our coach and come on board with her wealth of knowledge, we're extremely lucky to have her.”
The role has always been a goal for Downer, who followed her husband Mick to Christchurch when he got the Canterbury Rams’ top job in 2018.
“A very, very proud partner,” the Rams coach said.
“She just loves coaching teams and she'll do an amazing job - and of courses I’m biased.”
Downer said they learn off each other.
“Mick’s the ultimate pro and able to bring a group of guys together from different experiences and backgrounds and get them to play for each other and a common goal and that’s really admirable.”
That’s exactly the kind of environment Downer aims to emulate with the Wildcats next month.