The largest senior basketball competition in Australia is set to tip off this weekend with the nation’s best 23 years and under competition set to launch the 2017 season. While the Molten Victorian Youth Championship divisions kickstart Big V in 2017, it’s the State Championship Men and Women which attract the most interest in basketball fans across the state year after year.
With that in mind, below you will find some of the intricacies which have divulged over the course of the off-season, beginning with the promotion of the Casey Cavaliers in State Championship Men (and the relegation of the Bulleen Boomers), and the promotion of the Sunbury Jets in State Championship Women (with the relegation of the Whittlesea Pacers).
Season Tip Off
State Championship Men
Saturday 18 March 6pm
Ringwood Hawks vs. Werribee Devils
The full fixture is set to be released within the coming days
The 2017 finals series will comprise of the top six teams over five weeks. First and second place receive an opening bye, while two elimination finals consist of 3rd vs. 6th and 4th vs. 5th. Following this, a Best Of Three semi final series takes place between 1st and the LOWEST ranked winner from the elimination finals, while 2nd faces the HIGHEST ranked elimination final winner. The two winners then face of in a Best Of Three grand final series.
State Championship Men
The Cavs are the newest member of the State’s most elite competition, after being Runners-Up to a Nathan Sobey led Warrnambool Seahawks squad in Division One Men last season.
By all reports the core remains in tact, with Ben Louis and co. ready for a tilt at the big time in Big V. The squad is bolstered by the marquee signings of former Knox import and 2016 All-Star Five member Brandon Polk, as well as the former Latrobe City star Raheem Lemons from Division One Men.
The Pick and Roll understands that there could be more on the way however, one potentially with NBL Championship credentials.
Corio Bay Stingrays
The Runners-Up from last year may be the big losers from the recent off-season with the much fancied favourites entering the 2016 Grand Final series upstaged by the ever consistent Ringwood Hawks.
Losing both imports in Dondray Walker and Trevon Clayton to rival clubs is a common occurrence in the league, however it’s the loss of Ma’alo Hicks to Geelong SEABL which will hurt the most. Always the toughest match-up for opposing teams, the Stingrays will now have to rely on Jason Reardon more than ever as he picks up where he left off with Michael Rebula and now two new faces from American shores Cam Baker and Jordan Latham. New head coach Tim O’Leary has his work cut out for him early it seems.
Diamond Valley Eagles
It was highlights galore throughout the first half of 2016 when Dejan Vasiljevic landed in the Eagles Nest and Diamond Valley may have landed someone who can provide highlights all year long. Brandon Conley has been touted as the Big V’s ‘dunking machine’ after an impressive collegiate career at Oral Roberts University.
Ross Moll takes the reigns as he makes his way across from Whittlesea to replace Al McAughtry, a high calibre coach will certainly have this team in the right position – also keeping in the back of his mind the pitfall the Eagles succumbed to during the backend of last season.
The All-Australian brigade was made most famous at the end of last season STORMING into finals contention after winning 13 straight games to secure their place in the Big V post-season. Unfortunately it didn’t propel them into a grand final berth, but it certainly paved the way for future propositions.
Trevor Lee has his men primed and ready for another grinding year, with reports coming out of the camp that a relatively similar line-up will be rolled out.
It was a tough year in 2016 for the Magic winning just four games, however it looms to be a similar year with youth development a key component for the years ahead.
Jack Barry is a player in waiting and would really thrive in the competition now if he was surrounding with a little bit of talent, however he’ll be relied upon to run the bulk of the offence at Boroondara with the team losing a couple of pieces from last season. It’s been rumoured that Dave Schaffert will return to the club after a one year stint at Bulleen, which is sure to ignite a quick fire offence.
Hume City Broncos
Could this be the Broncos year to leapfrog into championship contention? Hume loomed to make the playoffs for the first time in a while last season but were pipped at the post by McKinnon.
Fast forward to now and the front office have worked hard over the off-season, landing valuable replacements for the departing Jamal Brown and Jermaine Maybank as league Most Valuable Player Mike Rose comes to Broadmeadows from Knox and Trevon Clayton from Corio Bay.
If Lee Jeka suits up in the blue, green and white for Round One, the Broncos are back baby.
Knox were heavily reliant on their two restricted players in 2016, as Mike Rose (MVP, All Star Five) and Brandon Polk (All Star Five) were duly rewarded for their efforts. Now both players have departed to rival clubs, the onus is on the Raiders to not only finding suitable replacements but to improve their depth.
They found pieces for the future in Adrian Tomada and Dylan Hare, so if they can uncover two more of these types they’ll be putting themselves in the picture once again.
Matt Hodgson and Chris Kaba enter the fray looking to extend Knox’s honeymoon period entering the competition.
The Coug’s scraped through to the top-6 last year and didn’t make much of a splash after that. A primetime off-season saw one of the faces of Big V Justin Nelson slot into the head coaching role, with the recruiting process to follow soon after.
Dillon Stith, alongside Max Cody and Axel Dench were happy to stick around, before the key signature of Ivan Platenik lured across from Waverley. Benji Tamir returns from his short stint back at Maccabi, while there’s also news a genuine starting calibre player could be rolled out sometime this season.
Big players in 2017.
The reigning champs are back and a same look Hawks are ready to roll out the red carpet to raise their championship banner in the early rounds.
However, not only are the Hawks another year older (we say this every year though, right?), Nate Champion returns home and Logan Lyle not retained. This opens up two import spots with Jacob Gibson to fill one of those spots. You may be surprised, but Gibson is set to slot right into the Hawks offence, a lethal three-point shooter. Never write them off.
The Falcons could be one of the powerhouse teams that take a small slide in 2017, with the Falcons arguably losing the two best players from last season (Platenik/Hodgson).
Despite not much coming out of the camp, the Falcons are expected to develop their youth in a season where they can regroup and find a star or two in the making.
The Devils finished under .500 last season but were pleased with the production of their two imports so much they decided to bring them back. Jeremy Smith and Fred Hunter come back to Eagle Stadium and are joined by some much needed depth at the club.
They’re on the up, but there’s only six teams that can make the playoffs.
The Pacers were hit hard over the off-season having to change head coaches not once, but twice! Ross Moll departed the club for DV, which saw the club announce John Hauer as his replacement. Unfortunately, due to health reasons was unable to take up that position. Brian Vaughns will now lead the charge in season 2017 and will have his work cut out for him.
Losing Jason Dirkx who followed Moll to Diamond Valley, plus the all important Chris Kaba who treks to Knox, Vaughns has picked up Jonathon Maybank (Craigieburn) and Terrance Swaine (Camberwell). With both players untried at this level, it’s hard to see how the Pacers will start the year, however with the competition around it doesn’t look like that Whittlesea will trouble the post-season.
McKinnon to defeat Eltham in three games.
Jason Reardon (Corio Bay)
Ben Waldren (Eltham)
Mike Rose (Hume City)
Matt Hodgson (Knox)
Ben Waldren (Eltham)
Stay tuned for the Ultimate Guide to the 2017 Big V State Championship Women season.