September 25, 2017 | WNBL news

2017/18 SEASON PREVIEW: UC CAPITALS

The UC Capitals have lost their captain from last year but have accrued more than enough talent to make some noise in the 2017/18 WNBL season.

University of Canberra Capitals

Last Year: 13-11, finished 5th.

Returning: Callie Bourne, Kate Gaze, Abbey Wehrung, Keely Froling.

Newcomers: Mistie Bass, Ezi Magbegor, Natalie Hurst, Rachel Jarry, Chevannah Paalvast, Lauren Scherf, Maddison Rocci, Jordan Hooper.

Fixture:
With the perfect platform to set up their season, the UC Capitals play four of their first five games at home. Even in a condensed season, the Caps face a tough schedule through Round 9-10 as they play five games in the space of 15 days, four of which come on the road against Perth, Melbourne, Dandenong and Bendigo.

Strengths:
Improving their win tally by nine last year, the challenge for the Caps this season is to take the next step and return to the playoffs. Returning to the club, Natalie Hurst has the Championship pedigree as a seven-time title winner and alongside Olympian Rachel Jarry, they bring experience to the side. While Kate Gaze and Keely Froling are handy complements that performed well last season. Import Mistie Bass has just had a baby and while it may take some time to return to full fitness, her mentoring and veteran leadership will be key to assisting the likes of Maddison Rocci and Callie Bourne. There are big wraps coming for Ezi Magbegor after just a couple of pre-season games but the Under-17 World Championship MVP and Centre of Excellence product looks set to become one of the WNBL’s future stars. Her defensive work in the paint could have a massive impact in terms of rim protection alongside Lauren Scherf.

Weaknesses:
Developing into another star of the competition, the 2015 Rookie of the Year in Scherf still has big shoes to fill as she comes in for Olympian Marianna Tolo. While the Caps are sure to get solid production out of her, they may feel the impact of Tolo’s loss more than they would like while they will also be sweating on the health of Jarry who has suffered a couple of knee injuries in the past.

Watch out for…
Jordan Hooper. A lights out shooter, Hooper should be the Caps’ main offensive weapon this season after a strong showing for SEQ two years ago. She finished third in the league with 18.5 points per game that season, displaying a strong mid-range game as well as the ability to work down low which will balance the front court nicely alongside Scherf. Hooper also finished seventh for rebounds with 8.6 in 2015/16 but has stated she is looking to improve her work on the glass as well her ball-handling to add even more strings to her bow.

Predicted Finish:
The Caps have been starved for success in recent years, having not had a winning record since 2010/11 which was also the last time they reached the playoffs but this roster looks capable of finally returning them to the top four. They have an array of offensive weapons through Hooper, Hurst and Jarry but will be relying on younger players like Magbegor and Scherf to control the defensive end which could see them come unstuck against strong offensive oppositions.