The 2014/15 WNBL season is right around the corner and The Pick and Roll team will be previewing each team for the next two weeks. Next up, the Melbourne Boomers.
2013/14 Record: 14-10 (4th)
In many eyes, the Boomers overachieved in 2013/14 by reaching the finals despite bowing out at the first hurdle. Boasting an undersized and inexperienced roster, Melbourne battled gamely throughout the season as key injuries derailed their season in the latter stages. Olympian Rachel Jarry and import Chelsea Poppens were reduced to spectators as the Boomers were bundled out by eventual runners-up Townsville at the semi-final stage; however the emergence of Rebecca Allen and the impressive improvement from development player-come-starter Shanae Greaves were huge positives to come from the season.
Who’s New: Natalie Burton (West Coast Waves), Olivia Thompson (Townsville Fire), Kelly Bowen (Frankston Blues, SEABL), Rosie Moult (Dandenong Rangers)
You Won’t See: Chelsea Poppens (released import), Amber Hegge (released import), Hayley Munro, Nicole Romeo, Steph Collins
Back Again: Tess Madgen, Rachel Jarry, Rebecca Allen, Rebecca Cole, Amelia Todhunter, Shanae Greaves
Coaching Staff: Guy Molloy (Coach), Cheryl Chambers (Assistant Coach), Mark Alabakov (Assistant Coach)
After an injury-riddled 2013/14 campaign, Jarry will be looking forward to getting back on court niggle-free and helping her side go deep into the post-season. The Opals forward could only manage a handful of games last season but is a key cog to the Boomers side, and once she returns from Australia’s World Cup campaign in early October will prove pivotal in dictating the fate of Melbourne in 2014/15. The importance of Jarry was highlighted by the extra load carried by Tess Madgen and Rebecca Allen at the offensive end last season when the Olympian was missing through injury, and by returning to the line-up she will create plenty of headaches for opposition defenders as the third genuine star of the Boomers starting five.
Melbourne will look to improve on their fourth place finish in 2013/14 and win a finals match in the upcoming season, but that may prove tough with Bendigo, Townsville and Dandenong all building formidable rosters. The Boomers have added two very good players in Natalie Burton and Olivia Thompson to an already quality-filled roster, and the squad has the potential to make big inroads into the top sides and go deep into the playoffs this season. Many believe Melbourne over-achieved in 2013/14 with a very young and undersized roster, but this also means the club has plenty of upside with Rebecca Allen in particular looking ready to take another giant leap after her breakout 2013/14 season saw her win a spot in the national side. A grand final appearance is certainly not out of the question for the Boomers, but a finals exit in an earlier round is perhaps looking more likely.