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 Sydney Uni Flames.
2013/14 Record: 10-14 (6th)
The Flames missed the post-season for the fourth consecutive year, hanging around the middle tier of the competition once again. Lauren King and mid-season import signing LaSondra Barrett chalked up the minutes in what was a somewhat disappointing season for fans. Renae Camino was let go four months early from her contract as she became disgruntled with management and from there the Flames season hit crossroads.
With King now hanging up the boots, plus the clean out of players the team has undergone this off-season, Sydney Uni will be looking for a fresh start as their hunt for finals success starts again in season 2014/15.
Who’s New: Leilani Mitchell (Dandenong Rangers), Kate Oliver (Marist College), Paris Johnson (Brisbane Capitals, QBL), Mikaela Ruef (Stanford University), Hayley Moffatt (Nunawading Spectres SEABL), Nicole How (NSW Hills, Waratah)
You Won’t See: Kathleen Scheer (Adelaide Lightning), LaSondra Barrett, Alicia Poto, Chloe Dalton, Kathryn Rendell, Darneka Rowe, Jaimee Kennedy, Lauren King (retired)
Back Again: Rohanee Cox, Katie-Rae Ebzery, Tahlia Tupaea, Casey Samuels
Coaching Staff: Shannon Seebohm (Head Coach)
The former Dandenong jet slots straight into the Sydney Uni line-up and will provide much needed leadership on a somewhat new and youthful Flames squad.
When Leilani arrives in town for the 2014/15 WNBL season, she will be coming off a FIBA World Championship run with the Opals which is only going to improve her confidence and level of play.
After over five years playing internationally, including the WNBA with New York Liberty, Leilani took on the Aussie league last year as she debuted with the Rangers. She was named in the WNBL All-Star Five and finished the season with averages of 11.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.
If Sydney Uni are to improve off the back of last season’s disappointment, Mitchell’s contributions is where it all starts.
The Flames look to have attempted a mini clean-out of last season’s roster, while looking to bring in some serious talent. The additions of Mitchell, import Paris Johnson and Kate Oliver will all be ready to step up and turn the Flames into some sort of contender.
While Mitchell has been the biggest coup of the off-season for the Sydney side, gaining youth will also be seen as a valuable addition. The signing of college graduate Mikaela Ruef out of Stanford looks to add size to the Flames front court and she will gain some great experience in her first season at a professional club.
Sydney Uni seems to be a fairly consistent team over time and that should remain when the Flames hit the court for the upcoming season. The next hurdle for these girls is to really push for a finals spot, however it just doesn’t look like this could be the year.