WAGGA Blaze coach Peter O'Leary isn't accustomed to having an abundance of quality tall timber at his disposal.
But it's their stronger presence inside, and the return of an American playmaker, that has the Blaze primed to kickstart their Waratah League division one women title defence at Shoalhaven on Saturday.
American point guard Shakera Barnes has been given an international clearance to play this week after sitting out the first two games, a win over Goulburn and loss to Queanbeyan Yowies.
The Blaze literally played shorthanded without a handful of front courters in the 94-84 loss to the Yowies three weeks ago.
However Shoalhaven recruit Hannah Ryan returns for the clash against her former club, promising Tumut youngster Amelia Hassett has come on board and Caren Hugo is back after a year off with a knee injury.
Wagga's other American recruit, Khiani Clark, was superb in a 29-point masterclass against Queanbeyan and O'Leary said they're well placed to find their best.
"Against Queanbeyan we were severely undermanned but she had a huge game, it was probably the best game I've seen her play here," O'Leary said.
"She had to play five (centre) in that game but we'll play her at four (power forward) from now on with Hannah back.
"We were short of bigs last year and now we've got an abundance of them, it's something we've never had."
Ryan is a pre-med student who will be based at Wagga Base Hospital for the next two years, adding to the Blaze's newfound size.
The clash at Shoalhaven tips off at 4pm, while men's team Wagga Heat will look to secure just their second win in six games against the Tigers from 6pm.