SEABL Women's Report Cards

Photo Credit: SEABL

With the SEABL season coming to a close, Grant Richardson takes an overview of every side's performance during 2014.


East Conference

Brisbane Lady Spartans

17 wins, 7 losses- Champions

Positives

After winning just 4 games last year, Brisbane recruited viciously in the off-season. The strategy paid off, bringing in Patrice McKenzie from Frankston who was a solid contributor off the bench and Odette Andrew (11.6 points per game) from Knox who has now won three Championships. The WNBL additions included Tiana Mangakahia who starred at the point, Sarah Graham (15 points per game) and Olivia Thompson who was the stand out of the side. She averaged 17.8 points (sixth in the league) and 9.6 rebounds (eighth), finished sixth for field goal percentage and ninth for blocks, won Player of the Week in Round 4 and Player of the Month for July, was the Youth Player of the Year and finally was named in the second All Star team. She also shone in the Championship game, keeping Cayla Francis quiet as Brisbane won three straight playoff games to bring home the flag.

Negatives

The Lady Spartans had a shaky start to the season, going 2-4 through the first four rounds with both victories 1 point margins. Losses to the likes of Sandringham and Ballarat created concerns for their finals chances but when it mattered most, Brisbane’s exceptional defence carried them to the Championship.

The Future

The perfect balance of young and old saw 300+ games experience in Graham and Andrew combine with Mangakahia in the back court while Holly Smith provided the perfect back-up for the 21 year old Thompson. The difficulty will be in keeping that balance but with Donna Rinaldi at the helm, Brisbane are certainly headed in the right direction.

Overall- A+

Overshadowed by Dandenong in their conference during the regular season, Brisbane exploded into Championship contention when they defeated the Rangers in the Semi Final. Peaking at the perfect time, they won their final nine games and their Grand Final performance was clinical, holding a dangerous interior team in Hobart to their lowest total of the season while forcing them to shoot 30 three’s.


Geelong Lady Supercats

14 wins, 10 losses- eliminated in Conference Final

Photo Credit: Geelong Addy

Positives

In a scrap for fourth place, wins against Bendigo in Round 14 and two victories over their closest rival in Ballarat sealed their placing. They turned around their poor form coming into the playoffs with two blistering offensive performances, thrashing Nunawading and Dandenong by an average of 17 points. Alex Duck finished seventh in the league for assists (3.9 a game) and Tayla Roberts finished ninth for offensive rebounds (3.0) as well as earning Player of the Week in Round 15. Such a strong rebounding side, Geelong lost the board count just 8 times for the season, going 14-5 when they won it.

Negatives

The Lady Supercats showed signs that they were a Championship threat but inconsistency proved their downfall with a 6-6 road record hampering their cause. Their 54 points against Brisbane in the Conference Final was their lowest out-put of the season and although their stars in Duck, Sara Blicavs and Candice Rogers had impressive seasons, nobody from their roster was able to elevate their game to take Geelong to the ultimate glory.

The Future

A second import alongside Blicavs will be handy for Geelong in 2015 but if they can maintain their roster, a third straight finals appearance will be on the cards. One known retirement is Candice Rogers, who has said goodbye to the club after a 100+ game career. Cortney Williamson is blossoming into an impressive guard while Anna Teague needs to help relieve the heavy weight that was often on Duck’s shoulders this year.

Overall- B+

Geelong had an up and down season but got the job done when it mattered most and reaching the Conference Final makes for a successful year. When their stars in Duck, Blicavs and Roberts were firing, they were unstoppable offensively but the ride came to an end against Brisbane when they shot just 26% as a team.


Dandenong Rangers

21 wins, 3 losses- eliminated in Preliminary Final

Positives

Dandenong cruised through the regular season, losing just three times and finishing undefeated at home. Larissa Anderson returned to lead the team after taking them to their three-peat in 2010-12, earning Coach of the Year for 2014. Amelia Todhunter made the All Star team, won Player of the Week in Round 16, increased her point production to 14.1 and shot 4% better than her career average. Jacinta Kennedy (11.6 points, 6.6 rebounds) shone off the bench, recording four double-doubles in just 21 minutes per game and Faith Probst was awarded Defensive Player of the Year. At just 18 years of age, Lauren Scherf (14.8 and 9.5) is already a gun, earning Player of the Week in Round 18 and a spot in the second All Star team.

Negatives

Coming into the finals, everything was set up for a fourth Championship in five years but Dandenong unexpectedly fell out of the playoffs in straight sets, losing both games at home. It was their fifth straight Preliminary Final but Championships are expected from the Rangers and this was a sudden end to a promising year.

The Future

There would be temptations to pull the pin on this side after so much recent success but Dandenong still have a stable core that will challenge once again while Scherf is ready to take over the competition. With Tenaya Phillips and Jacinta Kennedy combining for 20.4 points and 10 rebounds per game, they will look to retain their services off the bench to compliment their experienced group of starters.

Overall- B

Dandenong were clearly the dominant side in the regular season but seriously faltered in the playoffs in an ultimately disappointing year. Phillips, Kennedy and Aimie Clydesdale all had breakout games in positive signs for the future while Todhunter and Scherf were brilliant as the anchors, despite perhaps fatiguing by season’s end.


Nunawading Spectres

16 wins, 8 losses- eliminated in Semi Final

Positives

Already a proven star in the WNBL, Bec Cole made the All Star Team, won Player of the Week in Rounds 2 and 5, was Player of the Month in April and collected 17.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Hanna Zavecz had a strong finish to the year while Alanna Smith was the league’s best bench player, exploding on to the scene out of the Nunawading Juniors. In just 18 minutes per game, she recorded 12.3 points at 51% shooting and 5.9 rebounds. She nabbed two double-doubles but was a point or board shy in another four matches.

Negatives

An 8 game winning streak set up Nunawading for a top two finish but they lost five of their last seven games to drop to third before being thrashed 47-72 by Geelong in the Semi-Final. A heavy reliance on Cole played a large part in their collapse while fellow restricted player, Bec Allen, was rarely sighted during the season, playing just eight games. Standing at 193cm, Eleanor Brentnall is the Spectres’ centre but she averages 5.6 boards in her 150+ game career. Nunawading’s lack of rebounding was exposed in the Semi-Final as Geelong finished with a 53-37 advantage.

The Future

Their interior problems could be cured by Lucy Dawson if she takes the next step into a starting role in 2015. Smith is a bench specialist but they require someone with her scoring capabilities to start and there is no guarantee that Allen or Cole will be back next season.

Overall- B

At their best, Nunawading were a thrill to watch with Cole and Smith dominating sides but it is their role players that must take the blame as the Spectres stumbled at the end of the season.


Ballarat Rush

11 wins, 13 losses- 5th East Conference

Positives

A star of the Opals, Steph Cumming again shone in the SEABL this season, averaging 20.6 points and 4.3 assists (second in the league) to earn a spot in the All Star team. She was awarded Player of the Week in Round 13 and Player of the Month in June. Abbey Wehrung increased her career point production by 3.3 and looks likely to be a franchise player of the future. A promising start to the year saw them win four of their first five games before finishing with three wins from their final four matches.

Negatives

In rounds when they played twice, Ballarat were just 5-9 while they were 2-5 on the second game of a back-to-back. Victories over Brisbane, Bendigo and Nunawading early in the season were countered by two losses to Launceston and a Round 15 re-match against the Lady Braves in which they scored just 39 points. That inconsistency combined with the fact they were the worst rebounding team in the competition caused them to miss the playoffs.

The Future

As stated before, the Rush faithful got a look at the future in 18 year old Wehrung and if they can hold on to Cumming, their back court will be a serious danger for oppositions. Nya Mason is a solid centre but just one double-double for the year is an area she can improve on.

Overall- C+

In a tough Conference, the Rush were certainly not up to the standard of the four finalists but were well ahead of Knox and Albury/Wodonga. They were unable to pick up a win when they really needed one, going 1-6 as they fell from two games outside a playoff spot in Round 12 to five adrift by Round 16.


Knox Raiders

5 wins, 19 losses- 6th East Conference

Positives

There were two stand-outs in a rather dismal season for Knox in Shanae Greaves and Jess May. Greaves improved on all her career averages, going from 8.4 points to 16.4 while collecting 7.9 rebounds compared to 4.3. She nabbed five double-doubles and truly revelled in the opportunity to lead the side. May earned Player of the Week for Round 1, stunning the Tornadoes with 33 points and 12 boards. She didn’t hit those heights again but still doubled her career average to 12.3 while increasing her rebound numbers from 2.7 to 5.7. Despite winning just five matches, the fight from the Raiders was always evident.

Negatives

Gabe Richards and Kelly Wilson have rarely been able to play full SEABL seasons due to national commitments but this year, they hit the court for Knox just eight times. A Round 10 defeat of Nunawading was the Raiders’ only upset while they finished the season with 11 straight defeats as fatigue got the better of them.

The Future

Citing financial issues, it looks unlikely at the moment that Knox will field a side next season. This would be a dramatic collapse for a team that has reached the Grand Final in five of the past eight seasons.

Overall- C-

The Raiders found the going a lot tougher than in previous years without Wilson or Richards. May and Greaves were exceptional under trying circumstances but were always out-numbered. The effort shown each week exudes a higher grade but there is no stepping around the fact that four of their five wins came against Launceston and Albury/Wodonga.


Albury/Wodonga Lady Bandits

1 win, 23 losses- 7th East Conference

Positives

Emilee Harmon was the only clear positive to come out of the season, averaging 19.9 points at 51% shooting and 11.2 rebounds to finish as one of just five players to average a double-double. Montana Farrah-Seaton is 17 years old but showed signs of the player she could be when she started the season with nine straight games over 11 points.

Negatives

The Lady Bandits started the year with a 1-2 record but then lost 21 straight, suffering 13 defeats over 30 points. Their lowest day came against Dandenong in Round 17 when they fell 38-109. With an average of 16 turnovers a game, they were the second worst side at taking care of the ball and when their second import in Rachel Maenpaa went down with a fractured finger, they were barely competitive.

The Future

With a total of five wins from their past three seasons, Coach James Ballinger has conceded that questions have to be asked of this franchise. They must retain Harmon for next season and hope for some luck with the health of a second import but with a few seasons under their belt, the likes of Sophie Kleeman, Lauren Angel and Farrah-Seaton must all step up in 2015.

Overall- F

Albury/Wodonga had more talent on their roster than in previous years but were unable to take a step forward. Losing streaks can be handled but the inability to provide a contest against sides in similar situations such as Canberra and Knox was thoroughly disappointing.


Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence

9 wins, 5 losses- ineligible for finals

Positives

As the CoE’s schedule only allowed them to play each side once, they were never eligible for finals but their record would have put them in a fight for second. Carley Mijovic collected 16 points and 10.8 boards per match while Nat Burton (61%) and Alicia Froling (46%) were unstoppable from the field. Steph Talbot and Tessa Lavey finished first and fifth respectively in the Golden Hands award, which combines assists and steals then subtracts turnovers to find an average.

Negatives

In four of their five losses, the CoE trailed at quarter-time with their average deficit 7.2 points. They were only soundly beaten once (by Hobart in Round 10) but without those first quarter slumps, the CoE could very easily have finished with a 13-1 record.

The Future

Even if they do not compete in the SEABL next year, this year of development will be invaluable for the entire roster with several players looking to make a name for themselves nationally. Players such as Chantel Horvat, aged just 16, proved her talents with an 18 point game against Ballarat, Anneli Maley (15 years old) had 16 points and 8 rebounds against Albury/Wodonga while Mijovic (20 years old) and Talbot (19) are already stars.

Overall- B+

The calibre of players was known to be high as we entered the 2014 season but how the younger and still underdeveloped bodies would go against the rest of the competition was the concern. A 1-2 triple-header in Round 7 proved the weight of a full season may have eventually gotten to the CoE but the young talent on show is extremely exciting for the future.


South Conference

Hobart Lady Chargers

16 wins, 8 losses- Runners-Up

Positives

Coming in after Round 9, Cayla Francis turned Hobart’s season on its head as their already impressive front court became the most dominant in the league. Francis finished first in the league for points (23.3), second for rebounds (13.6), second for blocks (2.1), ninth for assists (3.5) and third for three point percentage (41%). Those incredible stats earned her Player of the Week in Rounds 10, 12 and 19. She also made the second All Star Team alongside Kathleen Scheer who won Player of the Week in Round 6 and Player of the Month in May, averaging 17.9 points (seventh in the league), 8.2 boards (tenth) and 1.7 blocks (fourth). Completing the front court, Izzy Chilcott was Player of the Week in Round 11 and made the first All Star Team, finishing tenth for assists (3.5) and sixth for steals (1.6). Replacing Dan Krebs midway through the season, Mark Nash fitted seamlessly into the Hobart system, winning Coach of the Month for June.

Negatives

A 6-5 start to the year was compounded by a season ending ankle injury to Emma Langford in Round 2. They did find a more than adequate replacement in Francis but that poor start came back to bite the Lady Chargers when they missed out on a top two finish by one game. Their forward heavy line-up hurt them in the Grand Final as Brisbane clogged up the lanes and forced them to shoot from outside where their shots wouldn’t drop.

The Future

Francis is highly unlikely to return but a full season from Langford will keep the Hobart faithful positive about next year. Their most pressing concern is a deeper back court and a back-up for Ashton Eaton which could be found locally in 100+ gamer Alex Finlayson or rookie Alysha Simmons.

Overall- A

Hobart’s fortunes took a massive turn with the introduction of Francis and coming into the playoffs, they were the favourites to take home the flag. Reaching their first ever Grand Final is a massive achievement for the club but the difficult task will be repeating the feat, or going one better, next season.


Bendigo Lady Braves

17 wins, 7 losses- eliminated in Conference Final

Positives

A 12-1 home record proved the difference in taking top spot in the South as the likes of Chantella Perera (12.7 points) and Kerryn Harrington (13.1) led the side. LaSondra Barrett (12.5 and 7.9 rebounds) made up an imposing front court alongside Alex Bunton (13.6 and 10.5) with Bunton also finishing seventh in the league for blocks. As back-ups to those two stars, Heather Oliver and Lauren King chipped in impressive performances in smaller minutes.

Negatives

Hobart were Bendigo’s Achilles heel as they lost three of their eight games for the year against the Lady Chargers. A potent offence that averaged 79 points per game dropped by 8 when they faced Hobart and that inability to beat them culminated in a heart-breaking overtime defeat in the Conference Final. A 6-6 road record required them to fight until the last round for top spot.

The Future

Bendigo possessed a harmonious balance between a heavy front court line-up and guards in Harrington, Perera and veteran Jane Chalmers. The difficulty will be keeping those pieces in place while the most pressing issue will be retaining Alex Bunton, whose inclusion will keep the Lady Braves as a Championship threat next year.

Overall- B+

The only thing standing in between Bendigo and the Grand Final was Hobart although their performance in the Conference Final is still to be commended. A poor record away from home kept their regular season from being a complete success but this side is full of superstars and the Bendigo winning culture has now taken them to the playoffs for nine consecutive years.


Frankston Lady Blues

17 wins, 7 losses- eliminated in Preliminary Final

Photo Credit: SEABL

Positives

Frankston had one of the most deadly combinations in the league with Kelly Bowen in the front court and Maddie Garrick and Nicole Romeo at the guard. Garrick was the season MVP, averaging 18.5 points (fifth in the league) and leading the league in three point shooting (42%). Adding to those accolades, she won Player of the Week in Round 9 and 20 and was named in the All Star team. Alongside her, Romeo averaged 16.2 points, 4 assists (fourth), and 1.8 steals (fourth), finishing third in the Golden Hands. Bowen won Player of the Week in Round 8 and was a member of the second All Star team, averaging 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds (fourth). With a 10-2 home record and four straight wins to end the season, the Lady Blues earned a double chance in the finals.

Negatives

Bowen, Garrick and Romeo accounted for 52 of Frankston’s 72 points per game during the regular season but that reliance was exposed in the playoffs as they were bundled out in straight sets. Oppositions were able to forgo team defence and focus solely on the trio, restricting the Lady Blues to scores of 49 and 54. They lost the Semi and Preliminary Final by an average of 23.5 points.

The Future

With 7.5 points and 8.6 boards, Emily Fryters held her own but faced a difficult task against the forward heavy line-ups in the league. They need a dominant centre to relieve the pressure from Fryters while retaining the MVP, Garrick, is a must after they successfully replaced Steph Cumming with her last off-season.

Overall- B

This was an expected result for a team so reliant on three, albeit very good, players. Consistency was the key but it is unfair to expect Bowen, Garrick and Romeo to excel in every match and fatigue may have been a factor by finals time. That being said, it was the first playoff appearance for the Lady Blues since 2005 and with a more balanced line-up, they can challenge again next year.


Kilsyth Lady Cobras

15 wins, 9 losses- eliminated in Semi Final

Positives

Despite sitting fourth at the end of the season, Kilsyth finished just two games behind ladder leaders Bendigo, owning a 9-3 home record. Samantha Woosnam (Coach of the Month for April) preached defence and when Louella Tomlinson arrived in Round 8, they became one of the tightest defences in the league. Tomlinson averaged 17.4 points and 9.1 rebounds (seventh in the league) while finishing first for blocks with 53, 11 more than her closest rival in 8 less matches. Sarah Parsons (Player of the Week in Round 17) finished with 11.1 points, 8.6 boards, 3.8 assists (eighth in the league), and 2 steals per game (first in the league) to finish second in the Golden Hands. At the other end of the floor, Rosie Moult (12.8 points) was a machine from beyond the arc, averaging 7.5 attempts at 37% while Yvonne Anderson (16.9 and 3.4 assists) ran the point with aplomb.

Negatives

The Lady Cobras were always going to be up against it in the playoffs, with their record against South Conference finalists finishing at 2-5. With a top two spot up for grabs, they won just one of their last four games.

The Future

Already owning a strong starting five, Kilsyth’s bench is the focus for next year with another pre-season sure to help the likes of Olivia Bontempelli and Brittany Renton. Tomlinson and Anderson will make a world of difference if they return but in her first season as coach, Woosnam had the team playing her way from Round 1 and should attract a number of big names as Kilsyth look to return to their heyday of the early 2000’s.

Overall- B+

The Lady Cobras needed to make the playoffs for a successful season but unfortunately came up against a rampaging Hobart side that halted any chance of a deeper run. Moult and Anderson balanced offence with the exceptional defence of Parsons and Tomlinson and if they can recreate this team next year, Kilsyth will once again be a powerhouse.


Launceston Tornadoes

6 wins, 18 losses- 5th South Conference

Positives

After just 1 victory last season, a fifth placing has Launceston headed back in the right direction as they won three of their final six games. Alex Wilson (15.2 points, 6.9 rebounds) combined with Abby Bishop (18.9 and 14) to complete a superior front court. Joining the side in Round 11, Bishop finished third in the league for points scored, first for rebounds and eighth for steals (1.6). In just her second season, Lauren Mansfield continues to blossom, averaging 17.3 points and finishing ninth for steals (1.6) and fourth for three point percentage (39%).

Negatives

Nadeen Payne had earned Player of the Week in Round 7 after collecting 18.2 points and 9.2 boards per game but a knee injury prematurely ended her season the following round. Mansfield was required to carry the team from the back court for most of the season, tripling the average score of the next most prominent guard.

The Future

Six wins was certainly an improvement this year but no victory came against a side with a winning record and that must be the first goal for next season. They stacked their front court with Wilson and Payne and hopefully those additions pay off fully in 2015. Players such as Mariah Payne and Emma Russell can take the next step and relieve the pressure off Mansfield.

Overall- C

Bishop’s ten straight double-doubles in the last ten games of the season helped Launceston to a respectable overall record but the fact remains this club has only reached the playoffs twice in the past twelve years. Their front court now matches it with the best but a more balanced line-up is required to consistently win games.


Sandringham Sabres

6 wins, 18 losses- 6th in South Conference

Positives

After replacing Paul Flynn as Coach, Paul Graham helped the Sabres finish the year with five wins from their final ten matches. One obvious change Graham made was giving Mikaela Dombkins more court time, increasing her point production from 6.7 to 14 per game. Hope Walker finished tenth for points scored (17.8 per game) and grabbed 8.8 rebounds while Micaela Cocks finished fifth for assists (4.1) and earned Player of the Week in Round 14.

Negatives

With a 1-13 record by Round 11, Sandringham were forced to make the tough call in replacing Flynn. A solid line-up on paper saw four genuine starters with double figure averages but the team chemistry was just not there as they recorded 16 turnovers per game. Walker and Cocks finished first and fourth for turnovers respectively and losses to Albury/Wodonga and Launceston in Round 3 and 4 spelled doom for the Sabres very early in the season.

The Future

A lack of youth to back up the experienced starters was an issue for Sandringham so in that sense, this season can only have helped the development of Michelle Joy, Shannon Perrett and Alana Gadsby. If they retain the services of Walker and Cocks, the lack of team chemistry from early in the year will not be a problem in 2015.

Overall Ranking- D

Turnovers were the biggest obstacle for Sandringham as they still collected high numbers even after resurrecting their 1-13 start to the year. Finals were certainly the hope at the beginning of 2014 and to finish nine games outside the top four is demoralising, despite the silver lining of a 5-5 finish to the season.


Canberra Capitals

4 wins, 20 losses- 7th South Conference

Positives

Winning four of their final ten games, the Capitals have something to look forward to next season and their hard work was rewarded with surprising wins over Frankston and Knox. The addition of Nat Hurst made a world of difference as she averaged 15.5 points while shooting 34% from the three point line. Sarah McAppion collected 12.9 points per game and the defensive efforts of Ellie Junod and Caitlin Rowe saw them finish tenth in the league for steals and blocks respectively.

Negatives

Canberra scored under 60 twelve times for the season and went winless on the road with an average losing margin of 20 points. They had a dismal 0-14 start to the year and were the worst side in the league for turnovers with 17 per game.

The Future

There isn’t a quick fix for Canberra as not one player on their roster has 100 games experience but their performance at the end of the season should give them hope for 2015. They looked a capable side when Hurst was on the floor so a scorer of her calibre that is available all year must be their first aim in the off-season.

Overall- D+

The Capitals were never going to be in contention for the playoffs but their effort never wavered. Every player performed to the best of their ability and they were rewarded in games such as the Frankston victory.