The 2014/15 WNBL season is right around the corner and The Pick and Roll team will be previewing each team for the next to weeks. Next up, the Bendigo Spirit.
2013/14 Record: 22-2 (1st)
The Bendigo Spirit had another spectacular season claiming their second straight WNBL Championship. Whilst the retirement of club champion Kristi Harrower is still in the air, she is currently listed to be by the sidelines in a coaching role for the Spirit.
Gabe Richards spurred on the Spirit last season and earned herself an All-Star Five selection in the process. The combination of Richards and Harrower defined the season as they were virtually unstoppable throughout.
Who’s New: Belinda Snell (CCC Polkowice, Poland)
You Won’t See: Ebony Antonio (West Coast Waves), Kristi Harrower (retired), Chantella Perera.
Back Again: Kelly Wilson, Jane Chalmers, Tessa Lavey, Gabe Richards, Maddie Garrick, Sara Blicavs, Chelsea Aubry, Kelsey Griffin, Elyse Penaluna, Heather Oliver, Andrea Wilson.
Coaching Staff: Bernie Harrower (Head Coach), Jonathan Goodwin (Assistant Coach), Kristi Harrower (Assistant Coach), Andrew Walsh (Assistant Coach)
The 27 year old American has played a vital role since joining the Spirit in 2012. Griffin is arguably one of the best offensive weapons in the competition. The former number three draft pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft (Minnesota Lynx), Griffin is primed a ready for a full WNBL season this time around as the star missed the first batch of games last season due to her WNBA commitments. Due to the FIBA World Cup, this will not be the case this year and Griffin will be looking for season MVP honours after finishing sixth last season.
Despite this, Griffin has indeed won back-to-back Rachael Sporn Medals (Grand Final MVP), and could quite possibly add a third title to her resume in as many seasons playing for the Spirit.
To display back-to-back championships inside your home stadium; brings about a target on your back. The Spirit are set to endure mentally one of their toughest seasons yet, in order to attain what is a rare feat for any club in any sport or competition- a threepeat.
In what has been a successful offseason with the core basically staying in tact, it has been the addition of Opals gun Belinda Snell that has certainly kept the champions on the radar.
The dynamic pairing of Griffin and Opals call up Gabe Richards, plus a veteran in Jane Chalmers and the continued leadership of Kristi Harrower on the sidelines, make the Spirit a team you wouldn’t want to be facing down the business end of the season.