WNBL 2014/15: Round 2 Preview
After an exciting first weekend of WNBL action, round two promises to deliver again with some tantalising matchups.
Adelaide Lightning vs. Dandenong Rangers
Thursday, 23rd October – 5:00pm (local time)
Adelaide host Dandenong in a Thursday twilight fixture to kick off round two, with the Lightning out to bounce back from their horrendous first outing in Perth.
Dandenong had a much more enjoyable start to the season, comfortably accounting for cross-town rivals Melbourne on the back of stingy defence and potent perimeter shooting.
The Lightning will face a tough test in containing Rangers import duo Cappie Pondexter and Annalise Pickrel, who both turned in impressive first-up displays to lead their side and will be tough covers for the Adelaide defence.
Throw in Alice Kunek, who is poised to return from injury, and the Rangers will only get stronger.
Laura Hodges played very much a lone hand for the Lightning against West Coast and will need a hand from some of her established teammates, with Angela Marino, Jess Foley and young gun Carly Mijovic all needing to improve their outputs.
On paper and based on what we saw in round one, everything points to a Rangers win, and while the Lightning aren’t without their fair share of talent and should be much more competitive at home, the visitors should salute.
Dandenong by 9
Bendigo Spirit vs. University of Canberra Capitals
Saturday, 25th October – 3:00pm (local time)
Bendigo and University of Canberra will face off in the televised game in what should be a ripping contest between two sides that will feature prominently at the pointy end of the season.
Both teams, however, will be coming off a loss, with the Spirit going down to the Fire in Townsville and the Capitals losing out to Sydney Uni, both by three points.
The Spirit led in the latter stages of their match with Townsville but were overrun by the home town Fire in the final term, and will be looking to put together four strong quarters against another quality opponent.
The form of Belinda Snell and American Kelsey Griffin were huge positives for the Spirit last week, however Gabe Richards was well-held and could be in for a big one.
That won’t be easy against a Capitals front court boasting Abby Bishop and Steph Talbot, who were both impressive in their opening night win over the Boomers in Melbourne.
With Lauren Jackson still out sidelined, however, there is a heavy reliance on the outside jump shot for the Capitals, with Kristen Veal, Carly Wilson and Jess Bibby all firing at various stages in their two contests last week as their offence occasionally broke down.
In a contest that will likely go down to the wire, the Spirit hold the slightest of edges through playing at home and will start favourites. Flip a coin.
Bendigo by 3
Dandenong Rangers vs. Sydney Uni Flames
Saturday, 25th October – 6:30pm (local time)
The Rangers will back up on Saturday when they host Sydney Uni in what will be a closer match than many would think by looking at the two sides on paper.
The Flames showed last week they are contenders for the top four, with Kate Ebzery and Opal Leilani Mitchell impressing in their first outing together.
Dandenong will be well aware of the challenges that the Flames will present them, with Mitchell facing her old side for the first time since being squeezed out by the returning Kathleen McLeod in the off-season.
The Mitchell versus McLeod matchup will be fantastic to watch, while Ebzery going up against WNBA legend Cappie Pondexter will also be intriguing in a huge test for the Flames scorer.
Back at home after their trip to Adelaide, the Rangers should have too much firepower, but if the Flames can take advantage of a potentially sluggish Dandenong side in the second leg of a weekend double then they will be right in the contest.
Dandenong by 5
Melbourne Boomers vs. Bendigo Spirit
Sunday, 26th October – 1:00pm (local time)
The Boomers struggled in both their outings last weekend, capitulating in the second half at home against the Capitals before being completely outgunned by Dandenong a day later.
The Spirit will present them with another huge test, both on the perimeter and inside the paint.
Tess Madgen and Rebecca Cole will have their hands full containing Belinda Snell and Tessa Lavey, while Gabe Richards and Kelsey Griffin will stretch the undersized Boomers inside.
Melbourne will need to run and gun to play to their strengths, particularly given the Spirit are coming off a game the afternoon before, and will need to rely on generating some offense, which was hard to come by in round one, and scoring heavily if they are to upset the Spirit.
Despite having a game less than 24 hours earlier, the Spirit should be able to edge out their opponents on the road and perhaps finish the weekend with two wins from two outings.
Bendigo by 5
Townsville Fire vs. West Coast Waves
Sunday, 26th October – 1:00pm (local time)
The final match of the round promises to be entertaining with the Fire hosting the Waves.
Both sides are undefeated after one game, with the Fire impressively edging the Spirit in a grand final rematch while West Coast were the most impressive team of the round, thrashing Adelaide by 25 points after finishing with just one win and the wooden spoon in 2013/14.
The Waves’ new import duo in Cassie Harberts and Lindsey Moore had a lot to do with the much improved performance, with the latter top scoring, while Sarah Graham’s addition paid instant dividends as she finished with 15 points and 8 assists on debut for the West Australian club.
Townsville, however, are a much better side than the Lightning and will test the Waves second up, with the WNBL world about to find out exactly how much improvement West Coast have enjoyed.
A strong start is critical for the Waves, and they will need to stay on top of Cayla Francis and Suzie Batkovic in the paint or risk being blown away.
Despite their impressive performance at home last week, the Waves will need to step it up a gear if they are to knock off the Fire in their own gym, and that will likely prove too much of a challenge for now.
Townsville by 7
For full results, fixtures and information head to www.wnbl.com.au or click here.