WNBL24 Round 8 Preview

December 20, 2023 | WNBL news

Written by Mark Alabakov

 

MELBOURNE VS SYDNEY

📆 Wednesday 20th December

⏰ 7:00 pm AEDT

📍 Melbourne Sports Centres – Parkville

📺 ESPN

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

 

Melbourne and Sydney derbies are hotly contested at the best of times, regardless of sport – but this one has some intriguing narratives to play out.

The match itself pits 5th place VS 2nd place, a team with a plan that continues to put bricks in the walls of their foundation throughout ups and downs VS the early season bolter that hit 2 speed humps last round.

Sydney wants to demonstrate it’s identity as a multi-faceted and balanced lineup, lead by a coach and key players who know how to win. Melbourne has bounced back from defeat with a positive response once more, and though they lost 2 games last round to 7th and 8th on the WNBL ladder, it’s wholly explainable and not panic stations – they were without Canada and Wallace, likely to both be 35 minute per game players and 2 of their best 5 … and this league is really good ! Ladder position doesn’t make anyone an easybeat.

Jordin Canada may or may not be back, health pending, for the Boomers, but Rocci and Conti are more than capable veterans of the league that can step in and deliver game management and pesky backcourt defense at a high level to offset her absence. Blicavs was firing on all cylinders against Adelaide and will pose match up problems for the Flames, like-for-like, as a tall and slashing small forward who can shoot the 3.

The Flames will equally pose challenges for the Boomers in pick and rolls if they switch and are left with mismatches – especially if they involve Cayla George who can roll or pop, depending on her match up. If Hillmon guards George, the Sydney guards will test her ability to contain their dribble drives whilst staying out of foul trouble, then equally as worrisome is a smaller defender left to guard a rolling and sealing George. If Sydney goes big with McSpadden on the floor too, Hillmon will guard her and then a Froling or Blicavs can guard George and be more ‘switchable’ onto a guard in that case, and create a win for the Boomers. It would pay Sydney to play ‘smaller’ and only have 1 true post player on the floor and 4 perimeter types in that regard, then pick apart mismatches created or force Melbourne’s hand to defend a different way.

LOOK OUT FOR: The return to the BoomBox of Molloy, Madgen and George. All 3 were storied members of historic times for the Boomers and delivered first class service to their organization for many years. Tonight marks their return to a building they had a big hand in making a fortress out of, and built from the ground up. The return will bring up a lot of memories and emotions for the trio involved, as well as the fans.

 

 

UC CAPS VS ADELAIDE

📆 Thursday 21st December

⏰ 7:00 pm AEDT

📍 National Convention Centre Canberra

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

 

2 teams on cloud 9 after triumphant wins last round get to square off in a fun clash to showcase the emerging talent they both possess.

Seeing the confidence and competence build in Sharp, Fowler, Bourne and Brazel gives hope for the future of both programs.

Both teams can and want to ‘run and gun’ in transition, so we’re likely to see a high scoring affair that will spawn moments of absolute awe and moments of chaos, as they try to find order and manage the time and score.

The thing that will separate these 2 teams is who can get to 80 points or above. Both teams have had patchy 3pt shooting, free throws earned and number of total scorers/bench scoring. To be consistently competitive in the WNBL, teams need all streams of offense open and accumulating. Who can take that next step?

LOOK OUT FOR: The bright future of the Cygnett WNBL. It’s been well-publicised how promising headline acts like Melbourne and Borlase are, but there’s more emerging talent at both of these clubs that should excite fans and build hope for the way they can help their programs moving forward.

 

 

SYDNEY VS BENDIGO

📆 Friday 22nd December

⏰ 7:00 pm AEDT

📍 Quaycentre

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

 

Last time they met, this was a tale of 2 halves. Sydney’s first half defense was outstanding, then the Spirit’s stellar 2nd half 3pt shooting got them a come-from-behind victory.

Since then Sydney has taken their lumps with a transient lineup that hasn’t featured them at a full, injury-free contingent state yet, squeaking out 3 close wins when they’ve been ‘closest’ to that roster availability.

The Spirit’s 3pt shooting helped them to a win against Adelaide and kept them in the hunt VS Southside last round. Kraker, Ally Wilson and Wehrung were dangerous from the arc, hitting a total of 17 3pt shots between them in round 7.

Can the Flames get and stay healthy, or can their role players grow and expand to fill voids the team needs and be part of a second half of the season charge?

The Spirit are still seeking a win against a top 4 team, but till the next opportunity arises to try to do that, can they be the ‘best of the rest’ and beat the teams that sit in the 5-8 bracket with them?

LOOK OUT FOR: The battle of pride and wills for the 5th rung on the ladder. This one could get physical and hostile as both teams won’t want to budge an inch and will know 5th place and a mathematical finals chance is at stake.

 

 

PERTH VS SOUTHSIDE

📆 Saturday 23rd December

⏰ 3:30 pm AWST

📍 Bendat Basketball Centre

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

 

The last time they met, Perth arguably had the best first half performance in the competition this season to date. They made defensive adjustments that kept the Flyers on the back foot and then penalized every unforced error and bad shot into a fast break attack that has become the envy of the league for its clarity and threatening options to go to.

Flyers Coach Cheryl Chambers rolled the dice and committed to a 2-3 Zone for the entirety of the second half to both break Perth’s rhythm, but also have the ability to play Russell and Jackson at the same time without them being vulnerable in pick and roll situations – it worked and the Flyers clawed their way back, with a Cole dagger 3 icing the game.

Southside will need more in the defensive package to disrupt the Lynx this time as they’ve clearly worked on their plan to attack zone defense and it has disrupted them less and less each time an opponent has tried to borrow from Southside’s winning gameplan when they’ve played Perth.

Perth has taken a step forward within maintaining concentration and execution in second halves, but the Flyers will challenge if its still a work in progress – Southside are the best performing 2nd half offense in the league, averaging 44 2nd half points.

LOOK OUT FOR: Perth’s growth in 2nd half game management VS the tools in Southside’s defensive toolkit. Whoever has made more progress with evolving since their last encounter will win this one.

 

 

TOWNSVILLE  VS MELBOURNE

📆 Saturday 23rd December

⏰ 7:30 pm AEST

📍 Townsville Entertainment Centre

📺 9NOW

🌎 Live & Free via unbeaten.com or FIBA YouTube

 

The game that closes the pre-Christmas round is one of the most intriguing. The piping hot Townsville Fire go toe to toe (intentional choice of words) with the physical, possession-dominant Boomers.

The Boomers present a big challenge for the Fire – they are a brute force team that fights for position on the floor and possession of the basketball. The challenge they face, which would be a nightmare to deal with as an opponent, is can Hillmon, Froling and Blicavs bring the floor of their lesser individual game, closer to the ceiling of their best games, together. Games against high caliber competition can bring this out, but they’ll need to work on that clarity.

So far each of the above have responded to a lower end statistical game with a big output, such is their class, but the Boomers won’t want to be vulnerable based on variable and unpredictable outputs from their stars.

Townsville are rolling. They’re simple and efficient and have weapons offensively. They are cued to what to look for to speed up their decision making and they do a wonderful job of keeping the dominoes falling till they get the shot they want.

Courtney Woods playing starters minutes last round was a revelation – it gave the Fire another shooter, finisher off the dribble and intelligent, unflustered playmaker.

LOOK OUT FOR: A Jordin Canada with a point to prove. After her unfortunate concussion-like symptoms last round, consummate competitor Canada could only sit and watch, in the best seat in the house, as the intimidating aura she helped create for this year’s Boomer’s team took a step backwards. If she’s healthy and able to play, best believe she will be on a mission to make up for lost time, be a force that won’t be denied and try to will her Melbourne team to a big redeeming win over the ladder leaders.

 

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