WNBL Round 11 Preview
A host of exciting games in the WNBL await in Round 11, check it out as Michael brings his thoughts to the week ahead.
Credit Geoff Tripp for photography.
Townsville vs Canberra
Friday 13th December
Townsville RSL Stadium
Townsville: Suzy Batkovic - 35 points, 19 rebounds, 4 blocks - last week vs Logan
Canberra: Had the week off
Canberra are travelling into hostile territory in Northern Queensland, ready and prepared for a tough encounter after having a week to recuperate, facing in-form Suzy Batkovic and her Townsville Fire. Batkovic is coming off a week where the Fire had two games against the Logan Thunder away from home, where she posted numbers of 17 points and 12 rebounds in Saturday night's encounter, then went on to total 35 points, 19 rebounds and 4 blocks for Sunday's game. Suzy will surely draw the attention of Canberra coach Carrie Graf, who'll be ready after Logan's debacle trying to stop her, in trying to limit the impact Batkovic will bring across in the game, whether sending double-teams or just aiming to limit space in the restricted area, Batkovic is someone that definitely will need to be handled.
Steph Cumming is another member of the Fire who has had a particular impressive week, notching double-digit points in both encounters, which included a perfect 5/5 shooting game. Giving Batkovic attention is one thing, but Townsville are full of capable shooters like Micaela Cocks and Mia Newley, who will prove fatal on open shots.
Canberra's week off came after a disappointing 13-point loss at the hands of Sydney Uni. The Capitals shot at a respectable rate (51.9%), but their downfall was their negative use of the ball. They turned the ball over 21 times in the game, 9 times more than the Flames. Keeping ahold of the basketball while making smart decisions is something Coach Graf would of implemented into the minds of her players over the extended break. Abby Bishop and Alex Bunton will be sure to make this a thrilling battle under the ring with Batkovic and Kayla Standish. The Capitals duo have been pulling in boards with ease, especially Alex, who has taken in double-digits in rebounding in her last 3 of 4 matches, something she'll be sure to try and continue in order to keep Suzy off the backboard.
Canberra are rested up, but now that Batkovic has finally found her mojo, I see Townsville pushing themselves further into the top 4 with another win. Fire by 6
West Coast vs Melbourne
Friday 13th December
Willetton Basketball Stadium
West Coast: Antonia Edmonson - 19 points, 4 rebounds - last week vs Dandenong
Melbourne: Tess Madgen - 12 points, 6 rebounds - last week vs Bendigo
The Boomers travel west this weekend for the first of two match-ups over the weekend, the first with cellar dwellers of the competition, West Coast. The last time the Boomers traveled across the Nullarbor, the Waves troubled the Boomers for long stretches of the game, before Melbourne edged West Coast out in a large way to finish the game, en route to a 22 point win; look for the same type of game this week. West Coast played one of their better games for the season last week against the Rangers. Even though they went down by 21, they challenged the experienced Rangers for long stretches of the game. Antonia Edmonson continues to be big for the Waves, with her veteran presence and shooting ability keeping the Waves intact for long stretches of the game.
Melbourne came agonizingly close to defeated the powerhouse team of the competition last week, falling to the Spirit by 5 in a low-scoring 60-55 encounter. Kristi Harrower didn't hit a field goal, Elyse Penaluna and Kelsey Griffin had 10 points and 7 rebounds between them, they shut down almost everybody, except Gabe Richards who went for 24 points and 9 rebounds. The valiant effort they put in last week will aid them in staying in a positive mindset to avoid complacency. Bec Allen is a defensive monster, who's 6 blocks doubled her previous high for the season, where she has consistently blocked 2 or 3 shots per game. Another big defensive game looks to be in sight, where he can take advantage of an inexperienced West Coast team.
Look for Tess Madgen to start early in this one, predicting a big game for her. Boomers by 17
Dandenong vs Sydney Uni
Saturday 14th December
Dandenong Basketball Stadium
Dandenong: Jenna O'Hea - 19 points, 5 assists - last week vs West Coast Sydney Uni: Alicia Poto - 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists - last week vs Adelaide
Sydney's tough week continues, after falling at home to the Lightning who were missing Laura Hodges. It doesn't get any easier for them, now on a Melbourne road trip, where first they play the heavily WNBA invested Dandenong Rangers. Katie-Rae Ebzery had a tough time last week trying to keep ahold of the ball, off by her usual lofty standards. She turned the ball over 5 times, a number which no player should ever reach. She was also unable to maintain her usual influence in passing and rebounding the ball, something she'll aim to change this week. The Spirit were out-rebounded by Adelaide last week by 14, for any chance at a win against a tall Dandenong team, they've got to lower that differential, and crash the boards early and always.
The Rangers are coming off a big win Saturday night against the last-placed Waves in Western Australia. 21 points being the final margin, it's not a telling indicator of how much the Rangers were pushed to the edge by the motivated Waves. Lellani Mitchell had a quiet night by her standards, failing to live up to her insane almost triple-double the week before, while Kayla Pederson only scored 1 point on 0/4 shooting, these numbers simply weren't good enough no matter the opposition. Sydney are coming back with a vengeance, so these two starters will need improved performances.
If Dandenong can shoot at 50% like last week, look at a 10+ victory for them, with it being a Saturday night home game for them, with a casual 1000+ attending, look for the Rangers to send their home crowd home very happy. Rangers by 9
Adelaide vs Melbourne
Sunday 15th December
Adelaide: Jess Foley - 17 points, 3 steals - last week vs Sydney
Melbourne: Rebecca Allen - 13 points, 6 blocks - last week vs Bendigo
Melbourne face Adelaide in a nice, early 11AM game in Adelaide. Melbourne have had the edge over Adelaide in their two previous encounters (both in Melbourne), having the edge by 22 and 14. In both games, Melbourne scored over 70 points, scoring 75 in the first and 85 in the second, if Adelaide want to right the wrongs of their previous match-ups, they need to crack down on defense. The hopeful inclusion of Laura Hodges will help, returning from an ankle injury, but established veterans Jess Foley, Jenni Screen and new import Chay Shegog will need to close down the fort on the what can be explosive Melbourne defense. Last time they played, Tess Madgen scored 25 and Chelsea Poppens 21. A better effort is needed into stopping this dynamic duo.
The Boomers should be coming off a big win against West Coast on Friday night if all goes to plan, so they should be bursting with confidence upon arriving at the Adelaide Arena. Amelia Todhunter has been excellent upon her move into the starting line-up at the expense of Amber Hegge, scoring 11 and 14 respectively in her two appearances there. Her inclusion has given Guy Molloy a big boost to the scoring of his first 5 on the court. Chelsea Poppens needs to stay out of foul trouble for a shot at victory, dominant in the middle of the key, her abilities were dearly missed as the Boomers struggled to comprehend the impact that Gabe Richards made last week, the same thing could possibly happen with Laura Hodges.
Look for Melbourne to complete the regular season sweep of the Lightning, they're just one class above Adelaide and it'll show on Sunday morning. Boomers by 8
Bendigo vs Sydney Uni
Sunday 15th December
Bendigo Basketball Stadium
Bendigo: Gabe Richards - 24 points, 9 rebounds - last week vs Melbourne
Sydney Uni: Katie-Rae Ebzery - 18 points, 2 assists - last week vs Adelaide
Sydney's weekend just got even tougher. Fresh off facing Dandenong, less than 24 hours they travel to Bendigo to face the league-leading Spirit. Rohanee Cox has had two disapointing scoring weeks, scoring less than 10 points (7 and 9 respectively) After scoring in double-digits the previous 9 games, Sydney need Rohanee to step up with her shooting in order to take the sure-to-be attention off Katie-Rae Ebzery. Production from their bench is needed for Sydney, with the starters struggling, members of the second unit need to make the most of the limited minutes and put points on the board,
Bendigo were so close to being shut down. Kristi Harrower had little impact, Kelsey Griffin and Elyse Penaluna weren't themselves and Kelly Wilson and Sara Blicavs were limited from the field. Bendigo coach Bernie Harrower will be sure to avoid last week's debacle, urging all his players to get involved, instead of leaving it to be a "one-woman game". Feeding it low and early to Gabe Richards will be crucial for the Spirit, even though they should have enough, Sydney will be limited in the ways they can defend her down low, so Richards should be able to take notice early.
Look for another big Gabe Richards game here. Bendigo by 12
Logan vs Canberra
Sunday 15th December
Logan: Tegan Cunningham - 17 points, 9 rebounds - last week vs Townsville
Canberra: Had the week off
Logan will look to bounce back after two disappointing efforts against Townsville, culminating with Logan Coach Jason Chainey getting ejected in the final quarter of the final game. Tegan Cunningham was the sole bright spot on the weekend, being the only Thunder player to put in a consistent effort that challenged the Fire in each game. Logan will need to work on the whole box-out concept for a win this weekend. After struggling to handle Suzy Batkovic, the Thunder will face Alex Bunton and Abby Bishop who are terrific under the ring. Emma Langford, Hannah Zavecz and Tegan Cunningham will have a difficult but doable job of limiting their impact, but after learning from last week's incident, anything is possible. Look for the Thunder to go straight to Sarah Graham off the bench for the some quick scoring - the talented guard is capable of putting up points in a hurry.
As previously mentioned, looking for Abby Bishop and Alex Bunton who have a nice, favorable height advantage over the Logan bigs. Studying last weeks game, Logan vs Townsville would of seen that the Thunder struggled against the Fire bigs, so the Capitals will go in with the same game plan. Attack the key. After a terrific season to date, Natalie Hurst will be ready after the enjoyable week off to make a big difference for the Caps. Averaging 19 points and 4 assists in her past 3, she's one to look for in this game.
Canberra will leave behind a difficult Round 9, where they lost in disappointing fashion to Sydney, by making up for it here. Canberra by 6