Werribee Devils import Bex Van Kuyk will finally get a chance to take a deep breath, with the Queen’s birthday long weekend break in Big V Basketball women’s division 1.
To say it’s been a hectic 10 games as a Devil for Van Kuyk is an understatement.
From the moment the New Zealander set foot in Melbourne, it has been a period of constant readjustment.
The first challenge for the Wellingtonian was to settle into her new surroundings in Point Cook, where she rents with fellow Kiwi and Devils teammate Jess Slade, before finding out what Devils coach Mahaela Jackson expected of her star recruit.
Getting to know her teammates’ strengths and weaknesses was a task that could be refined only with time together on and off the court.
But, just as Van Kuyk felt she was getting on top of it, she was disrupted by a call-up to the New Zealand training squad for the Rio Olympics qualifiers.
It was an experience Van Kuyk cherished, even though she did not make the final cut.
Meanwhile, her numbers on the court continue to grow.
The centre/power forward is averaging 16.4 points and 15 rebounds per game, with a monster double-double of 22 points and 25 rebounds against Latrobe City the highlight.
Those big numbers have become the norm and Van Kuyk may have made a rod for her own back as opposition coaches wake up to her threat inside the paint.
So it’s time for yet another readjustment.
“I’ve been finding it a lot more physical in recent games,” Van Kuyk told
“Every time I touch the ball, there are two or three bodies automatically drawn to me.
“I’m trying to dish it out more and it’s opening up our other four players a lot more.”
Van Kuyk knows that once it all clicks into place and the ball movement is more fluid, the Devils will become a dangerous proposition.
Their second-last position on the ladder belies the talent on their roster, headed up by the two Kiwi acquisitions.
Van Kuyk is impressed with the Devils’ set-up and how it can aid her career ambition of becoming a New Zealand international.
She said the standard of play and continuity of the season in Victoria was far superior to what she could get back home.
“We don’t have this type of league in New Zealand,” Van Kuyk said.
“We don’t get to play every week, so being a part of this program is awesome.”
One of the benefits for Van Kuyk is the opportunity to play under a female coach.
The 26-year-old has plied her trade in four different countries but can recall only one of her former coaches being a woman. She likes how up front and personal Jackson can be about her game.
“She can talk to us a bit more, whereas male coaches can get a bit stand-offish and don’t want to get too personal,” she said. “Being a female coach, it’s easier not having those boundaries.”
Van Kuyk has decided to “start making decisions” about her basketball future and hopes that playing in Australia will give her career the kick-along it needs.
She wants to be part of New Zealand’s push for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will strive for a WNBL contract.
“I’d love to play in the WNBL,” she said. “That’s definitely an ambition but my main goal right now is Werribee and helping the team to get to where we want to be this year.”