It certainly wasn't the year first-time Launceston Tornadoes head coach Sarah Veale was expecting.
The '95 championship player had herself a team eager for a comeback season, but no one to play with the NBL1 South canning its 2020 season in March.
Veale described her first season as a "rollercoaster", however felt ultimately lucky to have used to the time to prepare for 2021.
"Positioning our team for success takes time and investment in our players, we have been able to focus on them individually so we believe we are in a better place than this time last year," she said.
"I am really looking toward our first game in April. It's what we have been working towards and waiting for."
ELSEWHERE IN SPORT
Like many sporting bodies, weathering the COVID storm was a new territory for the Torns, and the greater Northern basketballing community.
"It was such a massive learning curve for us all," Veale said.
"From NBL1 to club level, everyone handled it as best we could with no reference on what to do."
In spite of the challenges the pandemic brought, Veale said various groups helped to keep the basketballing family together.
"What was really wonderful was what we ended up achieving, and how multiple organisations worked together for the betterment of basketball ... we all bonded in spite of the pandemic," she said.
"I believe that the Tornadoes and certainly Basketball Tasmania led the way in staying connected with players via Zoom, having programs for the athletes to continue with, and worked really hard to keep them all connected.
"Our basketball community was really responsive and excelled at being supportive, we all had the players' health and wellbeing front of mind in everything we did and often worked across organisations to share ideas and check in on our athletes."
Both at the time and in hindsight, Veale believed the cancelling of the season outright was "absolutely" the right move.
"The health and safety of our players is paramount," she said.
"With no facilities to access we could never have been ready at any stage without the risk of potential for injury if we came back too soon.
"The flip side is that the positives have been significant, we are more connected as a group than last pre-season, we have been able to focus on the areas that are as important, like our culture, fitness and skill work."
The Tornadoes face the task of fielding a team for a 2021 full of uncertainty.
The fluid national and international border situations continue to impact travel, with the prospect of importing from basketball and COVID hotspot the United States proving to be a significant hurdle.
"It [COVID-19] could impact if we are trying to bring players in from overseas, they will need to hotel quarantine for 2 weeks," Veale said.
"They would not be training at all, so that would have an impact and there is also the financial implication associated to the quarantine."
Nationally, the demand for WNBL talent has risen as a result; Veale believed in spite of this, the Torns stood as good a chance as any side in landing key signings.
"They [WNBL players] are highly sort after at the moment, I don't believe it will impact our club though," she said.
"We have a great reputation with the agents, who represent the players and we are well into negotiations at present."
"We are currently negotiation with a number of WNBL and international players and we will have some exciting news to share soon."
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