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WNBL 2014/15 Round 12 Preview
Five games make up Round 12 in the WNBL, headlined by top of the table Townsville Fire hosting the most in-form team in the competition, the Dandenong Rangers. Alongside this, the Melbourne Boomers restart their campaign in their heated tussle competing for the final two playoff spots. The WNBL Round 12 preview coming right up:
University of Canberra Capitals vs. West Coast Waves
Friday 9th January 2015, tip-off 7:00pm local
Friday night's clash kicks off Round 12 as the UC Capitals look to improve on their loss to Dandenong last week. As the team welcomed home superstar Lauren Jackson, the team failed to lift for the occasion as Penny Taylor was in a world of her own to secure a tough victory.
For the Waves, it has always been seen as a tough schedule to kickstart 2015 and the turnaround after the Christmas break. After a horrid 11am game in Adelaide as the second game of a back to back the previous week, West Coast will be thankful that they have been handed a night game to gain every possible minute of rest between weeks.
As the UC Capitals stayed home all week preparing for their clash against the Waves, has it now become the time where Jackson starts getting her eye in and starts to contend for player of the week awards and logging heavy minutes. The Capitals will sure be looking for Jackson to be more involved in games, as their playoff hopes are starting to dwindle away with strong competition building for the final two playoff spots.
In addition to Jackson's involvement, Kristen Veal has been somewhat disappointing throughout the first half of the WNBL season. Despite leading the league in 3 point percentage (min 40 attempts), the Capitals point guard averages just 6.2ppg and 3.3apg. In what was talked about as a big year for Veal, she has somewhat taken a backward step due to Abby Bishop's outstanding season.
Capitals by 6
Melbourne Boomers vs. Adelaide Lightning
Saturday 10th January 2015, tip-off 3:00pm local (LIVE: ABC TV)
The ABC may not have scored the game of the round this week, however they televise a game that may answer a few questions about where these two teams are headed.
With the Adelaide Lightning finally breaking their awful long losing streak with a commanding 17 point victory over the tired West Coast Waves, they now head to Melbourne in hope they can build off their confidence boosting win.
Melbourne reignite their season with game one of 2015 against the competitions bottom feeders, in hope that their push to those third and fourth playoff positions can be secured.
Photo Credit: Michelle Couling Photography
Rebecca Cole's fabulous play throughout 2014 was one of the shining lights for coach Guy Molloy's team and he will continue to put the focus on his star point guard for the remainder of the season. With Cole running the team, the Boomers then allow Tess Madgen to move off the ball and become more of a scorer; something which they had struggled to find in the early parts of the season.
With that in mind, Melbourne must get their bench involved in this contest. With the likes of Laurie Koehn, Shanae Greaves and Amelia Todhunter, bench production becomes vital to keeping the scoreboard ticking.
On the flip side, Adelaide's second unit can be centered around Carley Mijovic. The Lightning tall will need to cause problems against the Boomers who lack height at the best of times.
Boomers by 7
Sydney Uni Flames vs. West Coast Waves
Saturday 10th January 2015, tip-off 7:00pm local
A big Saturday night takes off with Sydney Uni looking to take advantage of the West Coast Waves fourth game in just eight days. With a remarkable schedule for the Western Australia based side, fatigue will play a huge role in this game.
Whether it comes in the Waves' previous clash with the UC Capitals or here against the Flames, West Coast will have to make sure that their minute spread and player rotation is at an all time high.
The Waves will be looking to lean on their veteran players to get them through this tough road trip and who better to look at then WNBA star Lindsey Moore. This season's addition has been a very serviceable shooter who will continue to get open looks at will.
Moore however, will need to raise her averages of 9.6ppg on 32%FG shooting if the Waves are any chance to escape Sydney with a victory.
This is because of Sydney Uni's hot running duo of Leilani Mitchell and Katie-Rae Ebzery. Ebzery didn't miss a beat over the Christmas break, shooting up a masterclass in the Flames defeat to Dandenong last week. 23 points on 9-19FG shooting gives the Flames guard a burst of confidence coming into this tussle against the Waves. Mitchell was everywhere last week notching up eight points, nine assists and five rebounds displaying to the competition what she does best. Expect even more out of Leilani this time round.
Flames by 9
Townsville Fire vs. Dandenong Rangers
Saturday 10th January 2015, tip-off 7:00pm local
It's been just one week since the restart of the WNBL season, however this match pits two teams right at the top of their form. The Townsville Fire are nearly inch perfect, sitting at the top of the tree with a record of 11-2, while it has been the down and up season by the Dandenong Rangers which has put the league on notice.
With two tough road victories in NSW and the ACT, the Rangers were clicking on all cylinders and head coach Mark Wright has his entire team knowing their roles. This is what makes the Rangers so dangerous. While they may have three or four genuine superstars, they all know how to play their role.
Penny Taylor, Cappie Pondexter, Alice Kunek and Kath MacLeod are all playing to their strengths which is highlighted by Pondexter's ability to fill her position despite no longer being first choice on an offensive rotation. It's simple chemistry things that have this Dandenong team threatening the top two teams of the competition.
Whether or not Wright decides to take all his top level talent to Townsville is another question, with tactics starting to play out through the rest of the season as clubs will want to challenge the strength of the Fire in the post-season, rather than give away game plans in the regular season.
This could prove timely if the Rangers are to bring their all-out firepower to north Queensland, as yet another victory could loom. If not, the depth of Townsville led by their dynamic duo of Suzy Batkovic and Cayla Francis with the help of Steph Cumming and Micaela Cocks will be too strong.
Rangers by 1 (If Rangers send a full team)
Bendigo Spirit vs. Adelaide Lightning
Sunday 11th January 2015, tip-off 2:00pm local
In what will be an emotional end to Round 12, it will also shed light on what was deemed such an amazing career by one of the competitions most timely competitors.
Australian Opals and Bendigo Spirit star Kristi Harrower has finally declared that she will hang up the boots, with the 39 year old guard expecting her first child.
It has been declared by Harrower that she 'may' take the court on Sunday in one final swansong. This of course, nearly wipes out any hope the Adelaide Lightning had on defeating the defending champs.
With Adelaide staying in Melbourne after playing the Boomers just 24 hours prior, the Lightning will have to overcome the odds and a very determined Bendigo outfit who will be content on giving Harrower the best way to say goodbye to the game, a win.
The Spirit haven't been as flash this season as many have seen in their previous two championship years, however import Kelsey Griffin is starting to find another gear and will be a tough match-up for the rest of the season.
If the Spirit can get both Griffin and Gabe Richards to rekindle their past form, Bendigo will be right up in the hunt alongside Townsville and Dandenong.
Spirit by 12