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WNBL 2014/15: Round 4 Preview
Round four of the WNBL season kicks off with a Wednesday clash between Sydney Uni and the University of Canberra.
Sydney Uni Flames vs. University of Canberra Capitals
Wednesday, 5th November – 7:00pm (local time)
These two sides will clash again after meeting in round one, with the visiting Flames leaving with a well-deserved three-point victory in that contest despite some shooting fireworks from Jess Bibby in game 351.
The Flames suffered their first defeat of the season in round three as they fell to Adelaide in overtime, with Leilani Mitchell playing a lone hand all night. Sydney Uni capitulated in the dying minutes as the Lightning forced an unlikely overtime before stealing the win.
Katie-Rae Ebzery had an average game, her first of the season, and will be looking to bounce back to her red-hot form that she has displayed in the opening two rounds.
The Capitals thrashed a hapless Dandenong as they chalked up 100 points, becoming the first side to do so in season 2014/15 so far. Abby Bishop has been brilliant in the early part of the campaign in the absence of Lauren Jackson and will be a tough cover for the Flames.
The sides currently sit third and fourth on the table, and deservedly so, and will be looking to put a win’s gap between themselves and the fifth-placed Adelaide with a win in this contest, while the Capitals will be looking to turn the tables on the Flames and level up the potentially important season series at 1-1.
In a tight contest, the experience of the Capitals may just be enough for them to bounce back from their last clash and get the win away from home.
University of Canberra by 1
West Coast Waves vs. Bendigo Spirit
Friday, 7th November – 7:30pm (local time)
On paper this match suddenly seems like the most lopsided matchup of the round by far, which is a far cry from what both sides dished up in round one.
The Waves started their WNBL season with a convincing 20-point thrashing of Adelaide, but have since been blown away by Townsville and Melbourne as their offense has turned to water to sit 1-2 and looking as though they are headed for another wooden spoon battle.
The Spirit lost their first match of the season, albeit by three points to Townsville away from home, but has come up with quality wins against University of Canberra, Melbourne and Dandenong in the following weeks, with the latter to the tune of 22 points last start, to sit in second at 3-1.
The form of Waves import Lindsey Moore was promising in the opening weekend but has fallen flat since, with a combined 5-of-25 shooting in West Coast’s two losses simply not good enough from their star player if they are to get back on the winner’s list.
The Waves are going to struggle to contain Gabe Richards at the defensive end, and while they are failing to score consistently at the other end of the floor they will face an almost impossible task to beat the Spirit.
Bendigo by 15
Dandenong Rangers vs. Townsville Fire
Saturday, 8th November – 3:00pm (local time)
A quick look at the standings and recent results would suggest that this clash will be a whitewash, with the first-placed and undefeated Townsville Fire travelling to bottom-placed Dandenong, with the Rangers on a four game losing streak since their opening win over Melbourne.
However, the introduction of WNBA and Opals star Penny Taylor to the home side’s line-up is sure to change all of that, but by how much is yet to be determined.
The Rangers are in desperate need of some help after their hellish off-season and poor start to the WNBL campaign, and despite the last minute signings of WNBA legend Cappie Pondexter and young gun import Annalise Pickrel, it is depth that the team in green has been lacking.
Taylor suddenly provides a fourth genuine scoring option alongside Pondexter, Pickrel and Tegan Cunningham, which should keep the Rangers afloat against some of the better sides for longer.
Addressing the paint is their biggest issue, with only Lauren Scherf a genuine centre and the undersized Pickrel and Cunningham trying to play the position, meaning they will still face plenty of difficulties to contain most of the league, and the 196 points they gave up in round three to Bendigo and University of Canberra is an indicator of this issue.
There has been no other more potent and dangerous duo inside the paint than Suzie Batkovic and Cayla Francis so far this season, and the Fire enforcers should enjoy plenty of the ball on the glass and close to the basket in this clash.
Taylor will make an instant difference on the offensive end, but the Rangers have far too many holes in their roster and the visitors should cruise to another win and remain undefeated.
Townsville by 9
Melbourne Boomers vs. Dandenong Rangers
Sunday, 9th November – 1:00pm (local time)
The Boomers and the Rangers occupy the bottom two spots on the ladder after three rounds with a combined 2-7 record, which wouldn’t sit well with either set of players or Guy Molloy and Mark Wright.
Melbourne did get on the board with their first win of the WNBL season in round three, grinding their way to an uninspiring 15-point victory against the Waves in Perth on the back of some strong defensive play.
Tess Madgen, the league’s Player of the Week, led from the front and was brilliant, and will need to continue to step up as the primary scoring option for her young side.
After a breakout 2013/14 season, Rebecca Allen has been slow off the mark in 2014/15 but can turn that around in an instant, and she will be eyeing this important clash as the game to kick start her season.
The Rangers will unleash Penny Taylor on the Boomers, making their task all the more difficult, and the shooting prowess of Taylor, Cappie Pondexter, Kathleen McLeod and Tegan Cunningham will need to be kept in check by the home side if they are to be any chance of turning the tables on their round one result.
However with a game the day before against a quality Townsville outfit, the Boomers should look to run-and-gun and make sure the fatigue well and truly hits the Rangers hard late in the match.
Despite both team’s struggles, this match should be entertaining and close, but if the Boomers can exploit the Rangers’ defensive woes they will grab an important win.
Melbourne by 2
University of Canberra Capitals vs. West Coast Waves
Sunday, 9th November – 1:00pm (local time)
The Waves face another difficult task when they travel to Canberra to take on the Capitals, and despite both sides playing their second game of the round, the home side will be well-rested after their midweek trip to Sydney.
Abby Bishop looms large as the main reason why the Waves will struggle in this contest, with the undersized roster of West Coast looking as though they will be incapable of holding down the former Opal and genuine superstar of the WNBL.
The Caps should continue the trend of the Waves’ being completely outrebounded, with the past two weeks showing a 97-56 disadvantage on the glass as the Fire and Boomers, who are not exactly brimming with frontcourt size themselves, putting the West Australians to the sword.
The Waves will need to get more out of their shooting brigade if they are to stay competitive, with Lindsey Moore, Toni Edmonson and Sarah Graham all going quiet after strong opening game showings.
All indications are an easy win for the home side, and if the Waves can’t recapture some of their round one form it could get ugly very quickly.
University of Canberra by 15
Adelaide Lightning vs. Bendigo Spirit
Sunday, 9th November – 2:00pm (local time)
The Lightning host the Spirit to close out the round in what shapes as an entertaining and high quality contest.
Adelaide stole a win in Sydney last week to square their season at 2-2 after four games, and have shown glimpses of being a top four side along the way.
They were all over the Fire for 15 minutes in Townsville last week before eventually succumbing to a heavy defeat as they fell away alarmingly in the second half, albeit to probably the best side in the WNBL.
Laura Hodges has been a standout but Jess Foley is starting to hit her straps and Alex Bunton was brilliant in the match against Sydney Uni in what is hopefully, for the Lightning, a sign of things to come.
Hodges’ battle with Gabe Richards is sure to make for ripping viewing, and whether Richards is able to break even with the more experienced and well-travelled Hodges will go a long way to determining her side’s fortunes.
The Spirit hold an advantage in the backcourt, however, and if the likes of Belinda Snell and emerging Opal Tessa Lavey can guide the offense and put some points on the board themselves then it will place pressure on the shoulders of inconsistent duo Foley and Angela Marino to do the same for their team.
In a close match, and despite being away from home, the Spirit should be able to come away with a win, but beware the Lightning in their home gym.
Bendigo by 3