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WNBL Round 14 Preview
Here comes another big week of WNBL madness with 6 games this weekend. Even more exciting match-ups this week, headlined by the resurgent Adelaide Lightning up against the Canberra Capitals, this week seeks to entertain the fans.
Credit Geoff Tripp for photography.
Townsville v Sydney Uni
Wednesday 8th January
Townsville RSL Stadium
Sydney are coming off another disappointing loss to Canberra, one that will really put their shot at the finals on hold. Townsville had an extended break, having time-off last week. Sydney Uni need to focus on pushing the basketball and aggressively pursuing turnovers; whenever they do this, they are more likely to beat their oppenents. Furthermore, currently averaging 28 points and 14.3 rebounds in her previous 4 games, guarding Suzy Batkovic would be key to the game. Import LeSondra Barrett may be tasked with guarding her and it will definitely be a struggle with her tendency to fall into foul trouble. Also, Rohanee Cox and Alicia Poto will need to start Sydney running early with Townsville being an outfit that finishes strong and able to take teams out at their mercy.
The core surrounding Batkovic will need to step up against the Flames. After having insane stats in her previous four games, Karen Dalton is sure to set-up some sort of defensive scheme to limit Batkovic's impact on the game. Kayla Standish will be the x-factor for the Fire in this game. Lining up next to Batkovic, the defense is sure to be less-aggressive towards her and she should attempt to make the most of it. Rachael McCully will set up the Fire early and will have the luxury of feeding to either inside or outside players since Townsville are equally strong in these areas.
Townsville are one of my favourite teams to watch and should be able to defeat the Flames. Fire by 8
Logan vs Dandenong
Friday 10th January
Logan face Dandenong at home, ready to redeem themselves after the debacle which almost cost them a win last week. Dandenong will show no mercy on sides who don't play 100% all game. After last week's loss to the Lightning, Jenna O'Hea and the Rangers are back with a vengeance. Townsville struggled holding onto the ball against the lowly-Waves. They finished with 22 turnovers against their name with Emma Langford chalking up 7. For any chance of a Logan victory, they need to keep a hold of the basketball. Hopefully, this week the Thunder can play more than 7 players on the court.
Dandenong played a stinker last week. They allowed Adelaide to shoot 11 three's and shoot at an efficient rate of 58% from downtown. They were also beat in rebounding (46-34). Last week, they lacked the distinct aggressiveness that they have been showing for most of the season. The Rangers need to work on pushing the ball inside early, an area where the Thunder struggle. Dandenong's bench played extended minutes last week, yet they failed to make much of an impact, shooting a meagre 6/21 last week. They must improve on this for a deep run into the Finals. Rangers by 13
Melbourne vs West Coast
Friday 10th January
State Basketball Center
Appalling. That's the only word you can use to describe the Boomers game last week. They were suffocated on offense by the Spirit and failed to show up defensively. This week, they play West Coast who were promising against the Thunder last week but should still be no match for the Boomers. Rachael Jarry was seen as a big last week, but she did not impress in limited minutes. Shooting 17% and committing more turnovers than assists and rebounds combined, she needs to be a bigger presence coming off the bench for Guy Molloy. Jarry needs to score, and score efficiently at that, if not a blowout may just be in the cards. Lets just hope the Boomers never play that ugly game of basketball we saw last week ever again.
Toni Edmonson continues to prove that she is one of the best players in the competition. She's scoring 17.8 points in her past 5 games and is a constant threat to opposing teams with her ability to penetrate and post-up. Gabi Clayton has impressed in her previous two games, finally giving the Waves a legitimate offensive option from the bench. She's scored 12 points in her past two games and has proven to be able to score, be it when attacking the rim or from the perimeter.
Melbourne played really bad last week, but it doesn't change the fact that the Boomers are still a much better team. Expect it to be closer than last time though. Boomers by 12
Canberra vs Adelaide
Saturday 11th January
Abby Bishop was fantastic last week. She had 19 points and 10 rebounds against the Spirit, then went on to score 27 points and 12 rebounds against the Flames in a win, en route to a Player of the Week award. Abby is playing terrifically of late and is currently averaging a double-double this season (19.2 points, 10.1 rebounds). In this game against the Lightning, she'll need to assert herself over Laura Hodges and Chay Shegog, a task that the Dandenong Rangers talls struggled to do last week. More importantly, Natalie Hurst needs to score more than a combined 7 points in 2 games like she did last week. She was taken out of both games where she failed to make an impact as a result of defensive pressure from opposing teams. The Capitals need her to be back to her 20-point best against a red-hot side.
Adelaide proved that they were a fantastic side in the 20-point demolition of the 2nd-placed Dandenong Rangers last week. They found open shots and continuously forced turnovers and bad shots against their opponents. Incredibly, the Lightning assisted 21 times on the 29 field goals they made. Numbers any team would aim to repeat. An incredible feat which indicates just how well they found their teammates and made unselfish decisions which led to a big win. It's no longer the Laura Hodges show in Adelaide, and it's great for the club. Every player on the floor is now a threat to score or make a big play and this will take them far; especially against the Capitals.
Adelaide are rolling along and Canberra are in great form, a difficult game to choose. Adelaide by 1
Townsville vs Dandenong
Saturday 11th January
Townsville RSL Stadium
Townsville are lucky enough to have two home games this week and both with an extended break in between. Townsville has established a terrific outside game which is led by shooters Micaela Cocks and Steph Cumming. Suzy is terrific inside, while Rachael McCully distributes the ball well. Cumming and Cocks are both threats from the perimeter, ready to space the floor in Townsville's inside/outside offense. Look to both Mia Newley and Olivia Thompson coming off the bench to provide a big spark which is something Dandenong lacks.
Caught napping after the long-break, it's a perfect time for Dandenong to snatch a win out of these two opportunities this week. The last time these two teams played, it was a high scoring encounter which the Rangers won 84-81 at home. Look for this to be another offensively-orientated game with Alice Kunek taking full control of what seems to be a sinking-Rangers ship. She'll be able to have the advantage over her defender with her height advantage, mixed with her athleticism. Look for Kunek to fire from deep early.
Townsville won't lose at home to the Rangers. To me, they are the league's second best side. Fire by 7
Bendigo vs West Coast
Saturday 11th January
Bendigo Basketball Stadium
Bendigo are a class above every other WNBL side. And they are multiple classes above the Waves. It doesn't get any easier for West Coast after facing Melbourne the previous night as they travel to Bendigo to face the red-hot Spirit. The living legend Kristi Harrower is having an amazing season passing the basketball with 7 or more assists in 5 of her past 6 games, and that shouldn't change against the Waves. With easy shot opportunities, Kristi should make a meal of the West Coast defense and carve up high assist numbers in what should be a limited minutes affair. Sara Blicavs and Chelsea Aubry should be able to light it up from the bench, and should look to bolster their season averages in this game.
I'm never going to underestimate the Waves after the amazing performance they had last week. They are finally starting to recover from season-depleting injuries with Shani Amos and Nat Burton coming back to give the Waves a well-needed impact on defense. And Deanna Smith isn't even back yet. Shani Amos had an amazing 8 assists in 19 minutes last week, so Melissa Marsh and Nat Burton should aim to make the most of her new-found passing ability.
The Waves will earn respect with a somewhat narrow loss to the Spirit. Bendigo by 16
How do you think this weekend will turn out? Let me know down below.