SEABL Men’s Report Cards

Photo Credit: SEABL
Photo Credit: SEABL

Photo Credit: SEABL

With the SEABL season coming to a close, Grant Richardson takes an overview of every side’s performance for 2014.


East Conference

Nunawading Spectres

20 wins, 6 losses- Runners-Up

Positives

Nunawading nabbed top spot in the East with a Round 20 home victory over Dandenong on the last day of the regular season. They were consistent throughout the year, winning seven of their first eight games before finishing on a seven game winning streak. The leader of the team, Shane McDonald (15.8 points, 6 assists) earned Player of the Week in Round 3 and made the All Star team. He finished third for assists and third in the Golden Hands award (which combines assists and steals then subtracts turnovers to find an average per game). Mitch Creek was a major addition, coming alive in the finals where he averaged 25.6 points and 9.6 rebounds. He also made the All Star team and earned Player of the Week in Round 20. Simon Conn (19.3 points, 10.4 boards) was one of the most dominant forwards in the league, making the second All Star team, finishing fifth for field goal percentage (56.1%), first for free throw percentage (86.4%) and eighth for total rebounds.

Negatives

There was only side that the Spectres didn’t beat this year and that was Mt. Gambier who ran over the top of them in Round 7 as well as the Grand Final. Nunawading’s up-tempo style of play meant their defence could be leaky, conceding an average of 89 points in losses.

The Future

Nunawading have now reached the Grand Final twice in the past four years and if McDonald and Conn return in 2015, there is no reason they cannot be there again. A player like Creek slotted in perfectly as an X-Factor and they will need to look for someone who can provide an element of surprise again next year.

Overall- A

2014 cannot be defined by their Championship loss but the Spectres will be disappointed to not take home the trophy after such a fantastic year. Their big crowd numbers were reward for a side that has now reached the playoffs for five consecutive seasons.


Geelong Supercats

19 wins, 7 losses- eliminated in Conference Final

Positives

At the end of Round 12, Geelong had a 13-1 record with their only loss a 1 point defeat to Frankston. They then overcame injuries to snatch second place, taking advantage of an early 27 point victory over Dandenong to own the head-to-head result. The defensive player of the year, Eric Gaff (11.8 points, 11.2 rebounds) finished fourth in the league for boards and second for field goal percentage (59.3%) while Mike Mercer (3.7) and Nick Owusu (3.4) were both in the top ten for assists. A victory against Dandenong in the Preliminary Final was the highlight, keeping the Rangers to their lowest score of the season in a 28 point rout.

Negatives

When Mercer went down in Round 12 with a season ending Achilles injury, the side lost 20.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Although Anthony White Jr. averaged 17.3 points as his substitute, Mercer’s explosiveness and chemistry were impossible to replace. Geelong were poised to make a real run at the Championship but had to settle for a Conference Final without their star import.

The Future

Geelong’s guard stocks consist of three 250+ game veterans in Owusu, Nathan Herbert and Jamie Medved. It will be interesting to see if they can go around again while they will hopefully be teamed up with Mercer, who will make a full recovery. After five years at the helm, Coach Jamie O’Loughlin is moving onto the NBL but assistant coach Leon O’Neil will replace him and should maintain most of the well known Geelong structures.

Overall- A

The Supercats played to their full potential after losing Mercer, coming up just short of Nunawading in the Semi-Final before putting Dandenong to the sword in the Prelim. They ran out of gas by the Conference Final and although they will look back on this season and wonder what might have been, their resolve and determination is to be commended.


Dandenong Rangers

19 wins, 7 losses- eliminated in Preliminary Final

Positives

Tony Lewis (22.9 points, 11.9 rebounds) bounced back from an average season last year to win the 2014 MVP. He was awarded Player of the Month in June, finished second in the league for boards and had 24 and 21 in the Semi Final. His partner in crime, Daequon Montreal, collected 23.4 and 7.6 per game while nabbing Player of the Week in Rounds 5 and 12 while both imports made the second All Star team. The Rangers went on a 13 game winning streak and won 17 out of 18 games between Rounds 5-18, helping Darren Perry to win Coach of the Year.

Negatives

With Montreal absent early in the season, the Rangers started 0-3 and this poor start hurt them in the race for a top two finish. In the Preliminary Final, Geelong’s front court contained Dandenong’s two imports and no other player managed double figures. This reliance on their two superstars ultimately hurt them in their chase for back-to-back championships.

The Future

Photo Credit: Dandenong Journal

Photo Credit: Dandenong Journal

Having deserved a stint in the NBL for several seasons, Montreal has finally gotten his opportunity with the Adelaide 36ers. If he plays to his potential, Dandenong could be seeing a lot less of him and it will be hard work replacing one of the best imports of the past three years. Andrew Harms is still the rudder of the side but they will be looking for further improvement from the likes of Calvin Enge, Ben Gaze and Owen Odigie to support him.

Overall- B+

The Rangers electrified the competition with their 13 game winning streak and it was great to see Lewis back to his powerful best under the rim. However, for the defending champions, a loss in the Preliminary Final was not good enough while the fact that their two imports scored half of their points each game shows a lack of team balance that was eventually exposed.


Ballarat Miners

14 wins, 12 losses- eliminated in Semi Final

Positives

The surprise packet of the season and the most exciting side to watch, Ballarat went on a six game winning streak from Rounds 6-9 that included victories over Mt. Gambier at home and Dandenong, Hobart and N/W Tasmania away. Roy Booker led the league for points (28.6) and assists (6.9), winning Player of the Week in Rounds 2 and 7, Player of the Month for May as well as making the All Star Team. His import partner, Ken Horton, collected 21.5 points and 13.2 rebounds (first in the league) and led the competition with 21 double-doubles for the year as he too made the second All Star team. On top of that, he won Player of the Week three times in Round 8, 13 and 15 as well as earning Player of the Month in July while David Flint was awarded Coach of the Month for May.

Negatives

Taking longer than other sides to gel, the Miners started the season 1-4 but just when they were at the top of their game, Booker was cruelled by a season ending Achilles injury in Round 12. Dyricus Edwards was a solid replacement but could not live up to the hype of Booker, who was the anchor of the side despite averaging 4.5 turnovers (the worst in the league). His loss was felt most in the Semi Final when Ballarat closed within 2 points of Dandenong in the final two minutes before losing by 7.

The Future

If Ballarat hold on to their two imports, they could head into the 2015 season as favourites. Local talent in Anthony Fisher and Chris Smith produced solid seasons and can provide support as the Miners look to make back-to-back playoff runs for the first time since 2003.

Overall- B

It was a season of “could-haves” for Ballarat as they looked primed to make a charge at the Championship before Booker’s injury. A 6-7 home record was hampered by their poor start but every side will have been thankful to Dandenong for eliminating such a dangerous side early in the finals.


Albury/Wodonga Bandits

7 wins, 19 losses- 5th South Conference

Positives

Jamar Briscoe can hold his head high; keeping the side together with 18.2 points and 3.2 assists a game. Arriving mid-way through the year is never easy for an import but Lamar Mallory’s double-double average of 17 and 11 rebounds more than compensated for the loss of Mohamed Ntumba. With 401 games placing him fourth on the all time list, Nick Payne went out on a high. His averages of 15.6 points, 4.8 boards and 3 assists were all up on his career numbers.

Negatives

A 3-14 start to the year was compounded by Ntumba leaving after Round 10. An inability to overcome injuries was sighted as the cause but team chemistry may have also been a problem as his point and rebounds numbers dropped by 4.4 and 2.3 respectively. Although they only won four games at home for the year, an averaging losing margin of 18.9 on the road was even more disappointing.

The Future

The loss of two regular fixtures in Ntumba and Payne will leave big holes in the Bandits line-up. It will be important to retain as much of this year’s list as possible due to the lack of chemistry throughout the year and the first step will be holding onto Mallory as an import.

Overall- D

In such a tough Conference, it was hard to see Albury/Wodonga making the playoffs but their horrendous start to the season ruined any hopes they may have had. A three game winning streak was the only reason to smile all year.


Brisbane Spartans

7 wins, 19 losses- 6th East Conference

Positives

Izzy Tueta found some consistency to his game late in the season, reaching double figures in six of his final seven matches. An 84-82 win over the Thunder was the highlight, surviving a late charge as eight players hit the scoreboard.

Negatives

Citing personal issues, Zach Henifin returned to the US after Round 10 and without him, the Spartans lost 15.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. They finished the year 2-10, dropping their final eight games. A revelation last season, Scott Kenny’s point production fell by 7.7 and his side had a disastrous average losing margin of 20 points at home. They were also the first team to lose to the Centre of Excellence.

The Future

Without Henifin for the second half of the year, Brisbane were unable to find a replacement but that cannot be the case next season. CJ Massingale was brought over from Knox and although his point production dropped by 8.2 per game from last year, he showed signs of the match winning player he can be when he scored 33 against his old side. His presence will be welcome next year but Brisbane’s most pressing issue is a big man inside as they were routinely mauled in the rebound count.

Overall- D

The most disappointing team in the East Conference, Brisbane came as close as you can to a fail with the victory over N/W Tasmania and passable performances from the likes of Tueta, Massingale and Brendan Teys saving them. Touted as a top four prospect, their back court never fired while the absence of Henifin left a gaping hole under the rim.


Knox Raiders

7 wins, 19 losses- 7th East Conference

Positives

In a depleted front court, Delwan Graham (15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds) stood tall, one of ten players to average a double-double. The addition of Adam Doyle, combined with Rhys Carter, made for a formidable back court while Robbie Linton shot 48% to lead the league from beyond the arc. The highlight of the season came in Rounds 15 and 16 with back-to-back wins against Kilsyth and Geelong.

Negatives

Admittedly in a re-building phase, the Raiders lost 1300 games experience in the off-season, leaving just one 100+ gamer on their roster. They started the season 2-10 and finished with a 2-11 road record with their only victories coming against Albury/Wodonga and Canberra. Import Jeff Jones averaged 10.6 points but had little impact while their front court averaged 48 rebounds per game. Putting that in perspective, it is 8 less than the CoE, the youngest side in the league, managed.

The Future

There is no future bleaker for a side in the SEABL at the moment with the Raiders unlikely to field a team next year due to financial issues. It will be a different looking league without them as the Men have been a SEABL institution since 1982 while the women have been playing since 1990.

Overall- C-

Knox were simply out-muscled against the best in the league but capable performances later in the year against the likes of Frankston, Nunawading and Ballarat were encouraging. The off-court troubles are the pressing issue for Knox right now though.


Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence

2 wins, 14 losses- ineligible for finals

Positives

There is a wealth of young talent in this CoE side but it was Xavier Cooks (13.4 points, 7.5 rebounds) who stood out, shooting 53% from the field. At 212cm and 16 years of age, Isaac Humphries grabbed 6.7 boards per match and will be a beast in any competition in years to come. The highlight of the season came in a Round 9 upset over Ballarat when Cooks recorded a steal and game-winning dunk on the final offensive play.

Negatives

Sharing the ball was a problem with Jack McVeigh’s 1.8 assist average a team high. Comparably, the next lowest for a side was Jamar Briscoe’s 3.2 for Albury/Wodonga. They finished 0-8 on the road with an average losing margin of 11 points.

The Future

Several players were included in the Under 17’s side that competed at the FIBA World Championships including captain Thomas Wilson, Dejan Vasiljevic, Harrison Froling, Deng Gak, and Humphries who broke the record for most individual points in a game. With the Boomers squad already looking the healthiest it has in a long time, there is a certainly a bright future for the next crop of Australian stars.

Overall- C

Although they won just two matches for the year, this season was not about wins and losses for the CoE and their development in the 14 SEABL games will prove invaluable. The victory over Ballarat proved they can match it with the best when firing on all cylinders but fatigue and a lack of strength were certainly hindrances in most performances.


South Conference

Mt. Gambier Pioneers

22 wins, 4 losses- Champions

Positives

The Pioneers avenged their 2013 Grand Final loss, capping off a brilliant season with a Championship victory. They were undefeated at home, finishing 15-0 with an average winning margin of 13 points. Brad Hill (18.6 points, 7.9 rebounds) was one of five players to average double figures, earning Player of the Week in Round 16 and making the second All Star team. Tom Daly (15.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists) finished in the top ten for three point shooting and ninth in the Golden Hands. Ben Allen cemented his place as a bona-fide clutch shooter with a game winner in the Semi Final for the second straight season and Damian Johnson’s defensive prowess placed him seventh for steals (1.5) and second for blocks (2.5). Finally, Richard Hill won Coach of the Month for April in his third year at the club.

Negatives

Not much went wrong for Mt. Gambier this year but in their four losses, their average margin was 13 points. Erik Burdon suffered injury setbacks throughout the year, playing only 10 games but he managed to return in the second half of the season when the Pioneers really needed him.

The Future

If they weren’t already, this Mt. Gambier list is now on the map. With NBL teams already picking up Hill, Daly, Burdon and Allen in past years, Johnson is sure to be the next one scouted. The difficulty will be in retaining their starting five but experience outside of SEABL will do these players no harm.

Overall- A+

Following last year’s disappointment, the Championship will taste even sweeter for Mt. Gambier and they deserve the trophy after a superior regular season. They won 2 more games than Nunawading and five more than their closest rival in the South Conference. They then showcased their resolve in the playoffs, winning the fourth quarter by an average of 7 points after trailing in two of the three games at three-quarter time.


Kilsyth Cobras

14 wins, 12 losses- eliminated in Conference Final

Photo Credit: SEABL

Photo Credit: SEABL

Positives

Kilsyth peaked at the perfect time of the season, making it to the Conference Final after finishing third with a record barely above .500. They were comprehensive against Sandringham in the Semi Final before upsetting N/W Tasmania on the road with a solid 14 point victory. Auryn MacMillan (16.8 points, 10.1 rebounds) arrived late but his form in the playoffs was spectacular, collecting 21 and 14 per game. He finished first for field goal percentage (59.4%) and was a dominant force in the front court alongside Tim Lang (19.8 and 8.5) who finished tenth in the league for scoring and eighth in blocks. Kyle Adnam earned Player of the Week in Round 9, recording 3.8 assists per game (seventh in the league) and winning Youth Player of the Year while Joel Naburgs (19 points) was named in the All Star team.

Negatives

Losing Dain Swetella after just five games was a harsh blow to their import stocks while they finished 5-8 on the road, the equal worst record for a side in the playoffs. Two losses to Canberra and a defeat at the hands of Albury/Wodonga kept them out of a top two finish while they had a heart-breaking end to their season when Ben Allen hit a buzzer beating three to sink them in the Conference Final.

The Future

Cam Johnson is a 25 year old guard who averaged just 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds but his defensive capabilities had Coach Rod Popp call on him for 36 minutes each playoff game. Impressively, he kept the likes of BJ Jenkins and Tom Daly quiet and if Kilsyth stalwarts in Lang and Naburgs return, the Cobras have the balance at both ends of the court to make another run at the Championship.

Overall- B+

Wins over Geelong and Mt. Gambier stabilised Kilsyth’s season as they also fell to Canberra twice but the combination of Lang and MacMillan created headaches in the playoffs. Their confidence was rightly sky high coming into the Conference Final but they fell just short in a gallant effort against Mt. Gambier.


N/W Tasmania Thunder

17 wins, 9 losses- eliminated in Preliminary Final

Positives

With a 6-2 record after six rounds, the Thunder were basically assured of second spot in the South Conference from very early in the season. Not quite at the Pioneers standard, they were far superior to the other contenders and finished 11-2 at home. BJ Jenkins was named in the All Star Team, won Player of the Week in Rounds 1, 4 and 19, finished third in the league for scoring (23.8 points), sixth for assists (4.2), first for steals (2.9) and second in the Golden Hands award. Tyrone Lee (18.8 points, 10.4 boards), earned Player of the Week in Round 11 and finished in the top ten alongside Nathan Wilson for offensive boards (ninth and tenth respectively).

Negatives

N/W Tasmania just fell short of Mt. Gambier in the Semi Final but their Prelim against Kilsyth was disappointing. Perhaps expectations got the better of them as Jenkins, who had scored less than 19 points twice during the regular season, tallied 14 and 18 in the playoffs. A 6-8 road record included losses to Sandringham, Canberra, Bendigo and Brisbane.

The Future

The most pressing issue for N/W Tasmania next year is to win a final. If Jenkins and Lee return, they will have two of the most high calibre imports in the league while Wilson and Brad Simpson have developed quickly and should continue to improve. Jenkins needs more support in the back court though and Mason Bragg could be the man next season, having already upped his point production from 2.3 to 9.4 this year.

Overall- B

The Thunder were a strong regular season team but it matters for nought when you finish second and do not win a final. With some playoff experience under their belt, expect N/W Tasmania to come out firing next season.


Sandringham Sabres

14 wins, 12 losses- eliminated in Semi Final

Positives

The Sabres won the battle for the final playoff spot as their record against Frankston and Bendigo gave them the advantage despite all three teams finishing on 14-12. A 79-62 victory over Frankston in Round 19 sealed their spot and proved their ability to win clutch games. Rayshawn Goins averaged 18.1 points and 10.9 rebounds (sixth in the league) while the addition of Junior Hairston (17.4 and 11.2) half-way through the year completed a dominant front court. At 35 years of age, Nathan Crosswell (6.7 assists) won the Golden Hands award. After 13 matches, the decision to release Mike Moore was made, citing team balance and defence as more important factors than his 21.8 points per game. The gamble paid off as Stefan Uzelac and Alister MacDonald stepped up in his absence and the Sabres went on to win 10 of their final 13 games.

Negatives

Sandringham finished 1-6 against the other South Conference finalists. Their competitiveness gave them a lead against Kilsyth at three-quarter time in the Semi Final but a 9 point loss was a fair result for their season.

The Future

If given a full year to attack the competition, Hairston and Goins could take over but it seems unlikely that both would return. As the leader of the side, retaining Crosswell is a must while MacDonald showed signs that he could be a franchise player.

Overall- B-

Sandringham’s fourth place finish is a testament to a season that saw them win convincingly for half of the year but also saw their inability to pick up a scalp. Although they have reached the playoffs in five of their six years, the Sabres have never advanced to the Conference Final and that must be the goal for 2015.


Frankston Blues

12 wins, 14 losses- 5th South Conference

Positives

Closing in on 200 games, Chuck Long continues to toil for the Blues, averaging 14.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists. They were capable of knocking off quality opposition; recording wins over Ballarat, Nunawading, Geelong, Dandenong and Mt. Gambier.

Negatives

A victory over Sandringham in Round 19 could have been enough to snatch fourth place but Frankston faltered, losing by 17 points. Brandon Polk had a very strong season, earning Player of the Week in Round 14 and averaging 20 points and 9.8 rebounds. However, when they needed him to take control of the Sandringham game, he managed just 6 and 5. The Blues had a tendency to step back and watch Polk go to work, finishing with a 4-10 record when he nabbed a double-double while a 34 point, 20 rebound effort against Canberra still wasn’t enough to help his side to the win.

The Future

Frankston’s front court will continue to dominate with the Long/Polk combination but those two forwards led the side for assists so an attacking point guard is badly needed. If they do not recruit one, Ben Louis or Mike McInnes will have to step up from their cameo roles.

Overall- C+

With perhaps not as much expectation as Bendigo or Hobart had in the South Conference, Frankston’s 12-14 record is about right for where they are at. Long, Polk and Mitch Chapman all performed at their peak but the next tier of players could not carry the Blues into a playoff position.


Bendigo Braves

12 wins, 14 losses- 6th South Conference

Positives

Filling the shoes of Jazzmarr Ferguson and Ivan McFarlin was never going to be easy but Dustin Salisbery (20.7 points and 6.1 rebounds) and Zack Atkinson (16.8 and 9.8) were a strong import pairing. Salisbury earned Player of the Week for Round 17 while Atkinson shot the third best percentage from the field (58%) in the league. Surpassing 200 games, Kevin Probert finished fourth for assists while Josh Wilcher (12.2 points) did enough to warrant his recruitment from Sandringham.

Negatives

In the tight race for fourth spot, Bendigo had their fate in their own hands but lost to Kilsyth in Round 16 and 19 and fell by a point to Frankston in Round 18. Averaging just 16.5 assists per game, Bendigo were one of the worst sides for sharing the ball and they missed the finals for the first time since 2004.

The Future

The time it takes for new imports to gel can make or break a team and with a season under their belts, Salisbery and Atkinson will be raring to go if they are retained. With four Championships in the past decade, Bendigo expect success and if experienced Coach Ben Harvey is back, he will not have them dwindling outside the top four for long.

Overall- C

The Braves were right around the mark until the last round but failed to pick up the scalps needed to make themselves a playoff threat. A 6-7 road record was the equal second best in their Conference but a 6-7 home record kept them grounded. Ultimately, Bendigo did not deserve to make the finals this season.


Canberra Gunners

10 wins, 16 losses- 7th South Conference

Positives

The Gunners sat at 3-9 after Round 9 but a dream run saw them win five of their next six games to put them in contention for a finals spot. Star import Garlon Green finished second in the league with 24 points a game while earning Player of the Week in Round 10. His partner, Matt Staff, averaged a double-double of 15.4 and 10.1 boards. Dan Joyce nailed two-game winners, Dan Jackson hit one, Tad Dufelmeier emerged as a serious young talent and Shawn McEachin won Coach of the Month for June.

Negatives

Sitting outside the top four only by percentage in Round 16, Canberra came crashing back to Earth with a 79-110 loss to Frankston. It triggered a collapse which saw them lose six of their final seven games as a playoff spot for the first time since 2007 went begging. They were 5-3 against South Conference finalists but 2-4 against the other three sides that didn’t make the cut, with their lack of consistency their ultimate downfall.

The Future

Tad Dufelmeier played just 10 matches for the year as he looks at options overseas but retaining him would be a massive coup for the franchise, as they were 7-3 with him in the team. Youngsters in Dylan Simpson, Josh Hathaway and Mitch Brown will need the experience of Jono Miller and Joyce to continue their development as the return of Green and Staff is unknown.

Overall- C+

Canberra were never a strong chance to make the playoffs but road victories over N/W Tasmania, Bendigo and Kilsyth as well as several clutch performances showed their maturity. Coach McEachin has them headed in the right direction but two star imports will be needed if Canberra are to break their playoff drought.


Hobart Chargers

9 wins, 17 losses- 8th South Conference

Positives

At 207cm each, Jerrah Young and Khalil Hartwell were imposing figures under the rim and combined with one of the most explosive guards in the league in Deba George, Hobart had a promising 5-3 start to the year. Earning Player of the Week in Round 6, George scored 35+ seven times. Hartwell was the true stand-out, shooting 52% for 14.4 points and 10.3 rebounds a game and amongst all the front court turmoil, he remained the rock for Hobart.

Negatives

Hobart were famed for a top two finish this season but things began to fall apart once Jerrah Young was dumped mid-way through the season. Despite averaging a double-double, the Chargers needed more scoring and replaced Young with Zac White. However, the new import played just 5 matches before an ankle injury exacerbated Hobart’s problems. They won 3 of their final 10 games, had a 3-10 record at home and recorded a league low 12.5 assists per game. George fatigued badly during the second half of the year, with his turnover numbers almost equalling his assists by season’s end.

The Future

The Chargers will learn from their mistakes this year and will perhaps stick tough with their off-season acquisitions, giving them more time to find their feet rather than upset team chemistry. George can hopefully have confidence in the likes of Tiri Masunda to take over more of the scoring duties while an official announcement on a Head Coach should settle things.

Overall- D

The most disappointing team of the year, the performance of Hartwell saved 2014 from being a complete disaster while three 40 point games from George kept the fans coming back. Finals were on the cards before the season started though and they only have themselves to blame with a few risky decisions not paying off.

Grant Richardson

Written by

Grant is Media Coordinator at Basketball Australia and has also written and commentated for seabl.com.au.

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