The WNBL kicks off once again on Friday night, with season 2014/15 set to be a cracker. Join us at The Pick and Roll to follow the ups and downs of another jam packed season!
Melbourne Boomers vs University of Canberra Capitals
A showdown of the 2010 and 2011 grand finalists to kick off-season 2014/15 as the Melbourne Boomers host the newly named University of Canberra Capitals.
Both sides have had a jam-packed off-season, starting with the Boomers who had three players sent to Turkey, who represented Australia at the FIBA World Championships. Rebecca Allen, Rachel Jarry and Natalie Burton all played extended roles for the Opals who claimed the bronze medal. Melbourne however, will be without Jarry for what could be most of the WNBL season, as surgery is required for her injured knee she suffered during the tournament.
For the Capitals, Lauren Jackson was a major part of the Opals plan however succumbed to injury and missed the World Championships. In good news for the Caps, she will only miss the early part of the WNBL season.
Both teams went 2-1 in the recent Spring Shield held in Bendigo; the Boomers losing to eventual champions, the West Coast Waves and Canberra falling short to Townsville. Tess Madgen was the star for Melbourne over the course of the weekend, scoring 23 points against Sydney while having 18 points and seven rebounds against the Waves. Abby Bishop controlled the tempo for the Caps, exploding for 21 points, six rebounds and five assists (against the Fire) and 20 points and eight rebounds (against the Lightning) in the two games she played.
Look for both of these teams to come out of the gates a little nervous and the first half to be a dog fight in order to get the upper hand. Defence will win this game, in what looms to be a low scoring contest.
Melbourne by 5
Dandenong Rangers vs Melbourne Boomers
The Rangers kick off their season with a home opener against arch rival Melbourne. With the Boomers facing a second leg of a back-to-back, they are faced with a difficult task ahead.
For the Rangers, their star-studded signing Liz Cambage went down early, seeing her WNBL season crushed with an Achilles injury. Dandenong were not to be denied in claiming one of the biggest scalps of the season to wear green for the upcoming campaign, as they went on to sign Cappie Pondexter as her replacement.
Dandenong were not one of the best teams during last weekend’s Spring Shield, heading into the regular season with three double-digit losses. In fact, not just double-digit losses, they lost by an average of 23 points (20p loss to Townsville, 20p loss to Canberra, 29p loss to West Coast).
Expect the Rangers to heavily lift from their pre-season form and will battle hard for the Michele Timms Cup. Look for early signs of who Dandenong will be going to for offence, as Pondexter won’t be able to control the game by herself.
Melbourne by 3
West Coast Waves vs Adelaide Lightning
The West Coast Waves have stormed into season 2014/15 being crowned the WNBL Spring Shield champions. From dead last winning just one game the previous season, the Waves have come along in leaps and bounds from their dismal season just seven months ago.
Adelaide on the other hand, has had their captain Laura Hodges taste success thanks to the Aussie Opals. Hodges will once again play a vital part in the Lightning’s success this season and will be one to watch throughout the early part of the season.
The Waves went 3-0 in Bendigo, defeating the likes of Melbourne, Bendigo and Dandenong in the process. Deanna Smith was named the final MVP with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Lindsey Moore chipped in throughout the tournament and will be a talent in the WNBL.
With West Coast coming off the back of a confidence boosting weekend, they have a major opportunity to carry that over into the regular season and tie their season record from last season after just one game.
West Coast by 1
University of Canberra Capitals vs Sydney Uni Flames
Sydney Uni hit the road for their opening game of the season, facing a tough task of the Capitals. Canberra will have had their regular season hit out against the Boomers to prepare for this one as they look to delight fans in the club’s first home game.
The addition on Kristen Veal for the Caps will provide an enticing matchup against newly acquired Leilani Mitchell as the two point guards will be looking to gain the upper hand early on, while trying to impress their new teams respectively.
In the WNBL Spring Shield, the Flames finished 1-2, with the solitary win over the Adelaide Lightning. Strong performances from Katie Rae Ebzery (28p against Adelaide) and Casey Samuels (16p and 6r against Adelaide) provided an indication of what’s to come.
With both sides looking for an improved performance this season, look for a tough tussle this early on in the season plus all of the new faces wanting to impress coaches on both sides of the floor.
University of Canberra by 7
Townsville Fire vs Bendigo Spirit
The final game of the round pits last season’s grand finalists, where the Fire will look for some sort of redemption.
With both teams maintaining somewhat similar squads as the season prior, it will be Townsville’s energy and new signing Cayla Francis that could lead the charge for their chance at a victory. Bendigo brings in just one new addition, veteran Belinda Snell returns to Australia on her quest to claim the WNBL prize.
Both teams WNBL Spring Shield had minimum impact, as the Fire cruised to two easy wins before sharing minutes between players in their final game against Melbourne. Bendigo went on to make the final before also losing in their final game to the West Coast Waves.
Stephanie Cumming and Micaela Cocks provided a promising duo once again for the Fire, both shining throughout the weekend. While Belinda Snell only played one game for the Spirit, she certainly proved her worth. A 15 point, six rebound and four assist effort against the Flames saw her debut run like clockwork.
The Spirit may have the wood over their week one opponents, however Townsville have home court and the motivation for vengeance and it should be enough for an early season victory.
Townsville by 3
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