US import to boost Force after loss of Langford and Payne
THERE will be no Emma Langford or Nadeen Payne at the Ipswich Force this coming QBL season.
But in US import Brandi Brown, Force women's team coach Brad George has a player he believes can inspire the team to repeat its 2013 grand final appearance.
Brown, who played for Youngstown University, Ohio, was named the 2013 US National College Athletic Association (NCAA) League Player of the Year.
She averaged 20.1 points and 11.1 rebounds as one of only two players in the country to rank in the top 20 in both categories.
Brown finished her college career at Youngstown with a school record 1239 rebounds and 2079 points and also holds the university's career records for minutes, free throws, games played and starts.
She is one of only two players in the league's history to finish with more than 2000 career points and 1000 career rebounds.
Brown is now playing in Sweden and George expects her in Ipswich in April, ahead of the season start in May.
"Stats-wise she's very impressive," George said.
"She'll be good."
George admitted Brown alone would not be enough to replace Langford and Payne.
But he is close to signing another high-quality import and the Force have also secured the services of former Logan Thunder WNBL guard Sarah Davis for the first couple of months of the season.
If anything, George believes the new signings will give the Force squad more versatility and make it harder for opponents to shut them down.
"We're looking to get a shooting guard," George said.
"And we've added another shooting guard in Sarah Davis.
"That will let us spread the floor a bit.
"We've got the rest of the same girls coming back."
It means George doesn't have to start from scratch with a new squad and can continue to build on what his team achieved last year.
"We won't be reinventing the wheel," George said.
"We'll change a bit."
With Payne and Langford both forwards, the Force played very direct in 2013.
It meant opponents knew if they shut the floor down, they could restrict the Force.
It won't be so easy this year and George is confident fans won't have to lower expectations after last year's run to the grand final, which Ipswich lost to Mackay.
"Brandi can play inside but can also shoot three pointers at a high percentage," he said.
"It means we can be more open on the floor, spread out and be more versatile.
"We're quite confident if we can sign the player we're looking at.
"The squad is quite strong so we've set our sights up high.
"Obviously I'd like to get to the grand final again.
"The aim is to qualify for the top four.
"Then once you're in the finals, anything can happen."