Our story of ‘The Rookie and The Vet’ begins in opposition to a white-noise background of teeming rain pelting the tin roof of Melbourne Boomers’ Parkville residence.
Over the heavy pitter patter, returning import guard Tiff Mitchell laments: “this rain is killing me, the place is the solar?”
Mitchell and her new mate Olivia Nelson-Ododa deliver loads of mild to the Melbourne Sports activities Centres court docket on a dreary day as they bounce backwards and forwards about life and basketball — with the widespread purpose of delivering consecutive titles to the new-look Boomers.
Grand last MVP Lindsay Allen and Opals huge Ezi Magbegor are off to Europe and coach Man Molloy has been succeeded by Chris Lucas — or “Man Jr”, for his similarities to the Boomers’ long-time mentor, if you happen to ask Mitchell.
It’s a “new relationship” between the 2 Individuals however the vet has taken the rook underneath her wing.
“I knew of Tiff, however we’ve by no means truly spoke earlier than. As a teammate, as an individual, she’s nice to play with and a fantastic individual to be with off the court docket,” Nelson-Ododa says.
Mitchell, 28 and a seven-year WNBA veteran, provides an appreciative “Nawwww” on the compliments from the 22-year-old, who has simply completed her rookie yr with the LA Sparks.
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“Her first time being abroad … I do know it’s an enormous adjustment — being away from your loved ones and this league is admittedly aggressive,” Mitchell stated.
“As imports, it’s powerful to keep up a way of stability. I simply don’t need her to get too overwhelmed with issues, individuals throwing stuff at her, individuals anticipating her to be Ezi.”
Nelson-Ododa is 196cm so the comparisons to star centre Magbegor are certain to return.
Mitchell needs everybody to mood that.
“She is her personal participant,” Mitchell stated.
“The ‘stroll in Ezi’s footwear’ factor shouldn’t be a factor this season, she ought to stroll in her personal footwear.
“They’re two various kinds of gamers and we want Olivia to be Olivia for us this season.”
That Olivia is a defensive dynamo who despatched away greater than 250 photographs in her faculty profession at Connecticut and has clearly had an impression in follow — the Boomers’ ‘B-team’ hardly ever ventured contained in the paint, largely settling for bounce photographs, for worry of the long-limbed Michigan native sending it again with curiosity.
The Boomers are nonetheless blessed with three Opals — new mum Cayla George, feisty guard Kristy Wallace and injured ground basic Tess Madgen — and, with Mitchell and Nelson-Ododa, there are nonetheless excessive expectations.
OPPORTUNITY COMES IN LOSING LIZ
Nelson-Ododa was witness to a part of the Liz Cambage saga when the previous Opal walked out on the Sparks, mid-season.
Cambage was concerned in bodily and verbal altercations in a pre-Olympic scrimmage and finally left the Opals earlier than their Tokyo marketing campaign, earlier than later quitting the Sparks.
Nelson-Ododa stated it was a tough time for the staff nevertheless it offered her with alternative — she began the final six video games of the season in LA.
“When we now have a teammate depart like that, it does impression the staff in a means,” she stated.
“We had been teammates, we practised collectively, we performed collectively.
“We simply tried to stay centered on the video games we had left … and simply tried to complete off as finest we might.
“I used to be put able to showcase what I can do and actually tried to make the most of that chance and do one of the best I might.”
She’s one of many few girls who can dunk a basketball and says she’ll present that off within the WNBL if she will get the possibility.
The very first thing you discover about Mitchell is the muscle tissues. Her physique is a well-honed basketball machine and her health and power makes her a relentless participant at each ends of the court docket, serving to her end in visitors in opposition to greater gamers.
It’s a meticulous consideration to element — and nothing will get in the way in which. “Have I obtained time to complete these final two spots?,” she calls out from the court docket as we sit and look ahead to her to affix us and start the interview.
After all, it’s tremendous — however it could not have mattered what we stated. Basketball comes first for Mitchell.
“I’ve simply at all times gravitated in the direction of being essentially the most match on the court docket,” Mitchell, who’s learning to be a private coach, stated.
“Gamers most likely might shoot higher, bounce greater, however I’ve at all times prided myself on being essentially the most in form and never being outworked.
“Even off the court docket, with regards to little issues so far as the way in which you sleep the way in which you eat the way in which you reside, all that performs an element in your efficiency and that’s one thing I learnt at an early age and simply caught with it — possibly to a fault, generally.”
Mitchell kicked off the season with a 32-point, 9-assist, 4-steal tour de drive in a win over Perth, though the Boomers fell to 1-1 with a Wednesday loss to Lauren Jackson’s Southside Flyers.
Each girls take their private platforms significantly.
Nelson-Ododa has greater than 93,000 followers on Instagram and has used her place to spotlight the plight of basketball star Brittany Griner, who has been imprisoned in Russia.
“It’s devastating,” Nelson-Ododa stated.
“There’s not a day that goes by, particularly within the basketball neighborhood, individuals don’t give it some thought.
“We’re supporting her and we’re praying for her to be launched.”
Mitchell has her personal non-profit organisation SPIN Haven Basis — Single Mother and father In Want.
“I’m a product of a single guardian and my mum raised myself and my brother by herself,” she stated.
“I’m actually keen about discovering methods to offer again to folks and households that weren’t as lucky as I used to be with my mum.”
***Melbourne Boomers will unfurl their championship banner at their first residence sport on Sunday, November 13, 3pm, v Adelaide Lightning @ Melbourne Sports activities Centres, Parkville.
Initially printed as Melbourne’s rookie and vet import team-up Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Tiffany Mitchell hoping Boomers win back-to-back WNBL titles