But while Praxis Pumas certainly have the favourable record to opening rivals Le Mont Saint Storm, they do have one particularly worthy opponent to go against – Liz Taylor-Kerr.
LMS Storm are one of the few top-flight sides making significant changes this season, notably welcoming back a player considered by long-serving Island women’s coach Pat Ogier to be ‘an exceptional talent and the best to ever pull on a Guernsey uniform’.
Although Taylor-Kerr is now firmly into her veteran years, the past Island Games star’s return has been welcomed by Guernsey Basketball Association president and LMS coach Pete Beausire.
‘She’s an amazing addition to the league, even if she’s not going to be the player she was 10 years ago or 20 years ago,’ he said.
‘It’s a bit of a lift for the LMS Storm girls, because they were considering folding as a team because they did not have the depth.’
LMS are also taking on Tracy Hubert, reducing the blow of losing Kat Daunt and Erin Ogier to opposing teams, plus Verona Tomlin’s early-season unavailability.
Men’s Division One has long utilised a draft system and Beausire said that a similar idea had been suggested for the women, before going down ‘like a lead balloon’ partly due to the Guernsey 2023 NatWest International Island Games’ proximity.
‘It does really well in Men’s Division One, but there’s an Island Games coming up and we do not want to disrupt the league too much,’ he said.
Beausire is confident in the balance of the remaining teams, though, and likewise with the men’s top flight.
Division One begins next Wednesday and the three title contenders are relatively unchanged.
Promising juniors Ed Miller and Saul Falla have been drafted into the top flight, while Island Games hopeful Nico Robinson moves from Mayside to Skipton – trading with Sam Simon – to get more experience against taller opponents like Martin Yabsley. But there has been no major redraft.
‘We found that the teams had good balance last year and we had redrafted the teams completely last season,’ Beausire added ahead of joining LMS on title defence duties.
It will also be a particularly short and sharp league – another consideration made with Island Games preparation in mind.
Organisers have condensed the Division One, Two and women’s schedule so that it finishes by mid-February, after which all league fixtures will be friendlies.
Tonight’s Pumas versus LMS Storm clash takes place at 6.05pm and is the first major match to take place at Beau Sejour in over two years.