SSN Player Focus: Donnell Wallam (Queensland)

THE Queensland Firebirds lost their opening round match last weekend, but in the process debuted a shooter who even after only one game may already be one of the finds of the season.

Fans got a glimpse of Donnell Wallam‘s talent at the Team Girls Cup, but her spot in the Firebirds squad was not confirmed until she was officially signed as Romelda Aiken’s replacement a few weeks ago.

Wallam began the match at Goal Shooter, and viewers could tell straight away she belonged at SSN level.

Although she is roughly the same height at the Vixens’ defenders were, the way she was able to stretch over the top of them and grab the ball, and then take a shot made it seem like she was at least a few centimetres taller than both of them.

She also proved how strong she is overhead, which allowed her Firebirds teammates to be creative when passing it into her and it gave them more options to create, especially at times when she was being double teamed.

Speaking of being double teamed, even when Wallam is in a two on one situation, she still has enough body strength to be able to out-mark her opponents.

Her only negative from the first term was that she gave away a penalty for stepping.

She did give away a contact as well in the second term, but she was still able to show off different positives of her game that she had not done in the first term.

There was one point in the second quarter where she was a little bit off balance after she’d received the ball. Other players in the same situation may have fallen over or taken a step, but Wallam had enough core strength to be able to rebalance herself and then go for the shot.

The Vixens started to get on top of the Firebirds in the third quarter, and there’s a telling correlation between when the Vixens started to streak ahead and when Wallam came to the bench.

At the start of the quarter, the scores were 32 to 30 in favour of the Vixens. When Wallam came off at roughly the eight minute mark, the margin had increased to six goals, and when Wallam came back on the start of the last the margin had ballooned to 13.

She returned to the court and the Firebirds began their fightback, so it’s clear how valuable Wallam is going to be, even a mere one game into her SSN career.

One other thing that was clear on the weekend was how well she worked with Gretel Bueta as her goal attack partner. Their movement around each other was not congested and they never ran into each other. Bueta was the real link between outside the circle and in it, while Wallam generally just stuck to the circle and Bueta fed the balls to her.

It was clear that the Firebirds have unearthed a new great shooting partnership, and despite the loss they’ve also found themselves a hidden gem for this season. They will certainly be hoping Wallam builds on this great debut game and becomes a true star of the competition.

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