By Jackson Russell
The impact of American duo Dani Reinwald and Rachel Bell has been the highpoint of the Whittlesea Pacers’ debut season in the Big V women’s state championship.
In their first seasons out of college, Reinwald and Bell have taken on the bulk of the workload in the Pacers’ 3-8 season.
Reinwald has averaged an incredible 19.2 points and 18.4 rebounds, while Bell has averaged 25.4 points including two 40-plus point performances.
The duo have taken adjusting to Australian life in their stride and have found a second home with the Pacers.
Bell said despite it being the first time she had moved away from home, the club’s hospitality had stopped her getting homesick.
“People were so nice and so welcoming here, I’m so fine. Like, I want to stay here now. It’s so nice, I really enjoy it here and I’m not wanting to go back home just yet,” she said.
Other than driving on the left, one of the biggest adjustments for the Pacers’ imports has been Australian officiating.
Reinwald said it had been a lot harder for her to get to the free throw line.
“It’s probably less physical overall but maybe they don’t call as much inside,” she said.
“I think there’s less transition but you have to get the shots up quicker with the 24 second shot clock.”
Bell agreed and said referees didn’t make the same calls as they do in Division I basketball.
“I’ve also noticed here that the refs don’t call as much. We will be running for five minutes straight before a whistle,” Bell said.
“They don’t call anything. I would be driving and someone would bump me off balance and I’d be like, ‘Okay, no call? I’ll just keep going.’”
Going from college where basketball is essentially a full-time job on top of studying, to playing in a semi-pro league where most players have full-time jobs has also taken some adjustment.
“At Vanderbilt, it was six days a week. I was waking up at 4.30am every morning and going till 10am, sometimes 1pm,” Bell said.
“I’m so used to that schedule, when I got here and we only practice twice a week, it’s a little more chill so that was an extreme adjustment but it’s been nice.”
Despite the Pacers rebuilding this season, both Bell and Reinwald have used the results as a learning experience.
“It’s my first time ever being on a team that’s not on top so it’s differing being on a team that’s rebuilding – it’s a learning experience and we knew that going in,” Reinwald said.
“When we came in, I definitely expected to lose more than win but as the season’s gone on, we’ve meshed well and have gotten better.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do but it’s definitely progressed so that’s really good to see.”
While they aren’t able to make commitments just yet, both Bell and Reinwald are open to returning to the Pacers in the future, possibly after a season playing in Europe over summer.