UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA CAPITALS
Wins – 13
Losses Ð 11
Standing Ð 5th
2015/16 result Ð 2 wins, 22 losses- 9th
Under a new coach for the first time in 11 years, the Caps were led back to some success by Paul Goriss as they finished with their best overall record since 2010/11. Carly Wilson farewelled the league seventh on the all-time games played list while the return of Marianna Tolo ensured the Caps had one of the strongest front courts as she combined with Mikaela Ruef, the only player to average a double-double through the regular season, for 32.8 points and 19.5 rebounds per game. Ruef also tallied 93 offensive rebounds, the most in the competition while Lauren Mansfield continues to develop into one of the WNBLÕs best point guards, adding 14.7 points per contest at 36% shooting with five assists (third best in the league).
Needing to sweep Round 19 with wins over Adelaide and Townsville to reach the playoffs, the Caps fell to the bottom ranked side in the Lightning, ending any hope of a Championship run. Against fellow non-finalists, they owned just a 6-4 record and as a team, they were the lowest ranked club for assists and steals over the season.
A shining light in her return to the WNBL, Marianna Tolo was named the leagueÕs Defensive Player of the Year as she led the competition in blocks at the end of the regular season with a total of 58, tallied 5.5 defensive rebounds (fourth in the competition) and finished third for her team with 23 total steals. She was also named the CapsÕ MVP as she played every game of the year to end the campaign third in the competition for points and rebounds per game with 18.1 and 8.5 respectively. The centre also shot 56% from the field, the highest mark for any player while hitting 85% from the free-throw line in a complete performance at both ends of the floor.
The return of Tolo is up in the air at the moment but if she does not come back, it will leave a big hole in the UC CapsÕ front court. The vacancy will be well sort after though with the Caps back on the right track, especially if that newcomer can team up with Ruef who is a beast on the boards and be serviced by the up and coming Mansfield. They will be searching for greater depth in their bench with the likes of Kate Gaze and Abbey Wehrung needing to take the next step in 2017/18 to help fill the void left by Wilson. Having gotten back on track in terms of a winning percentage this season, the Caps will now be aiming to return to the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
Returning home after a college stint, Keely Froling was an important role player for the club off the bench, averaging 3.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Understandably, she took a little while to settle back into the Australian game but did play every match of the regular season and is now spending the Winter playing for the Caps Academy in SEABL. That on-court work should have her primed for a big year in 2017/18 and a greater role within the organisation.
GRADE Ð 7/10