WNBL 2014/15: Round 7 Preview

Sydney Uni Flames vs Adelaide Lightning

Friday 28th November - 7:00PM (local time)

Adelaide and Sydney Uni both come together to open up the round on Friday night in Sydney. Both teams are coming off loses in round 6, and will be looking to rectify this on Friday night.

Sydney went down to the competitive West Coast Waves in a close two-point battle played in Alice Springs. Adelaide dropped two games in a disappointing previous week, with a combined losing margin of 35 points over the two games.

This being the third time already in the seasotn these two clubs have matched-up, both Adelaide and Sydney will know what it takes to brake the 1-all deadlock in their head-to-head battle.

The Flames will be looking towards start point-guard Leilani Mitchell to capture her early season excellence against the Lightning, where she put up a fantastic 30-point, 8-rebound and 5-assist performance. Mitchell was Sydney's best player last week, and will be heavily relied upon to score easy points on Adelaide's tall-timber on the inside, helping big's such as Paris Johnson to easy shots.

Adelaide will be looking for a spark however, as ever since their first win against the Flames away from home, the offense has sputtered, scoring only 52 points over a 4-game period. With Laura Hodges likely to be the focus of Sydney's defense, Adelaide's other bigs including signings Emma Langford and Carley Mijovic need big games to end the four-game losing streak. Both players have received limited game-time and struggled to shoot the ball in the first six rounds, which will need to change quickly as the season progresses.

Shannon Seebolhm's Flames look too talented for the Lightning, and even though they've already dropped one at home to Adelaide, they're too good to let that happen again.

Flames by 13


Bendigo Spirit vs Melbourne Boomers

Saturday 29th November - 3:00PM (local time)

Both teams are coming off big wins last week, with Bendigo knocking off Townsville in a close one, while Melbourne dominated Adelaide in a 17-point victory. Both wins were important for each team, as Bendigo are now in a clear first-place in the league while Melbourne are still in close contact with a top four spot, only outside by a game and a half.

For the Spirit, it seems like any player on the roster is capable of having a big game, regardless of opponent. Laden with depth, Melbourne will find it difficult to lock-down on one Spirit player making it difficult for them, as Bernie Harrower's Bendigo have proven to date that every player on the team is a capable one. It was Kelsey Griffin who had the big game last week against last season's runners-up Townsville, with 24 points and 9 rebounds. This week, it could be anyone on the Spirit roster who proves to be the game-changer.

With the looming inclusion of sharpshooter import Laurie Koehn, Guy Molloy will have another asset, especially on offense to add to his young, talented arsenal. Koehn is an unbelievably talented asset from beyond the arc, which will produce open shots, not just for Koehn, but for other Boomer players as the Spirit will be forced to close her out whenever the ball is in her hands behind the three-point line. This'll be handy for Tess Madgen, who's currently playing the best basketball of her life in an MVP-candidate season, giving her an extra weapon.

Photo Credit: Michelle Couling Photography

Koehn is a great inclusion for the Boomers, however on the road to a deep and talented Bendigo squad, they don't look close to match.

Spirit by 8


University of Canberra Capitals vs Adelaide Lightning

Saturday 29th November - 7:00PM (local time)

Adelaide gear up for their second game within 24 hours with an away clash against the 5th-placed Canberra Capitals. Adelaide will be looking to make it two wins from the weekend to put their season back on track, while the Capitals need a win to keep the pressure on clubs in the top-4.

Slowing down Abby Bishop, who's having a fantastic season will be a struggle for Adelaide, as she's easily the most talented big in the league. Across this season Bishop is averaging 19.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists, proving that she has a complete game. Adelaide will have to force Bishop into giving the ball-up back to her guards for any chance of winning this encounter.

The battle between Laura Hodges and Bishop should be thrilling. Both players have been the centerpiece for their squads for a long period of time, so look for the offense to flow through these two throughout this game. Whoever can win the battle on defense between these two will win the game.

Alex Bunton, Carley Mijovic and Steph Talbot will all play their former teams in this game. Look for these three to get excited early after the nerves have gone, as they'll be desperate to get the one-up on their former teammates.

Capitals by 2


Townsville Fire vs West Coast Waves

Saturday 29th November - 7:00PM (local time)

West Coast are almost the surprise bunch of the competition, where after the disappointing 2013/14 WNBL season they've won 3 games more already. This has included a big home win over reigning premiers Bendigo, however their next toughest task is to take on 2013/14 runners-up the Townsville Fire on the road.

Townsville are ready to come out firing after an overtime loss to the Bendigo Spirit. Townsville allowed 47 points in the first half in the game against the Spirit, while they limited Bendigo to just 21 in the second. West Coast have scored 70 points or more in 3 of their last 4 games, leaving it critical for the Fire to crack down on defense early in the encounter.

West Coast will be looking to the recent winner of the Player of the Week award Lindsey Moore to launch their attack on the Fire. Coming off a 24 point, 7-rebound and 5-assist performance against Sydney Uni where she broke down the Flames, Moore is required to replicate that performance once again.

Navigating Townsville, much tougher opposition who have Cayla Francis and Suzy Batkovic on the inside will be a difficult job for Moore, but her ability to set up teammates for open shots on the outside where she's averaging 4.4 assists per game could push the Waves over the edge.

West Coast in a thriller.

Waves by 1.


Melbourne Boomers vs Sydney Uni Flames

Sunday 30th November - 1:00PM (local time)

Melbourne and Sydney meet at the State Basketball Center for the last game of the round seven. Sydney are currently happy in the top-4, while Melbourne are on the outside looking in.

The first time these sides met Sydney ran out 12-point winners in a largely disappointing performance by the Boomers. Tess Madgen scored 35 points on just 13 shots and had 7 rebounds in a stunning performance, but her teammates failed to make her spectacular performance a memorable one.Rebecca Cole, Rebecca Allen and Natalie Burton are all key to this game, as they'll take the pressure off Madgen to score against a team of natural scorers including Leilani Mitchell and Katie-Rae Ebzery.

Sydney Uni are currently having one of their best seasons in a long time, even after last week's loss to West Coast. The Flames play a great team-orientated style of basketball, where they produce more assists than most teams in the league. In their win against the Melbourne Boomers, the Flames tallied 21 total assists.

Melbourne are small on the inside, with Natalie Burton being their only true big. The Flames should attack the Boomers down low, producing easy points in the paint for Sydney in a hostile environment.

Tess Madgen is playing like she's already the MVP, and this'll continue on Sunday at the State Basketball Center. This time she'll play like the MVP with a little bit of help from her teammates however, which include new import Laurie Koehn.

Boomers by 5