By Ryan Edwards
In the Flyers’ WNBL Semi Final against Townsville they started off with a 41-point 1st quarter explosion, using that fast start to keep the Fire at arm’s length for the remainder of the game and running out 106 – 93 winners. Townsville then went on to defeat the Melbourne Boomers in Friday’s thrilling Preliminary Final, setting up a Flyers-Fire rematch for the title. Here’s an in-depth statistical look at how the Flyers took down the Fire in the opening round of the Finals and what trends they should look to carry over into the championship decider.
Leilani Mitchell Staying Aggressive
Leilani Mitchell has had a fantastic season for the Flyers, but she has often taken a back seat offensively, preferring to look to create for others far more often than for herself. That all changed in a major way once the Finals came around. Mitchell came out aggressive from the tip, attacking the rim repeatedly. Leilani had a season high 10 possessions ending with her driving the ball to the rim, where the Flyers scored an impressive 1.400 points per possession (PPP). She either found gaps at the rim herself or sucked in the defense enough to create an open jumper for her teammates, helping the Flyers shoot a scorching 43% from 3.
When Mitchell wasn’t attacking the rim, she looked much more willing to shoot than she has at any other point this season. After averaging 9.8 points on 7.5 shot attempts per game, Mitchell came out firing, scoring 19 points on a season high 15 shot attempts. Leilani should look to keep that aggression going in the semi-final to take some of the defensive attention away from Cambage, Cole and Sara Blicavs.
Veteran Subs Stepping Up
Southside’s starters may get all the headlines, but two former champions coming off the bench made all the difference in the WNBL Semi Final. When Steph Blicavs and Rachel Jarry entered the game the Flyers soared, seeing a significant boost to their defensive numbers, while also seeing an uptick on the offensive end. Rachel Jarry’s statline of 6 points and 4 rebounds may not stand out when you read the box score, but she had a significant impact on Southside’s success.
Jarry is an extremely smart player who moves the ball well, has great shot selection and is an elite team defender. She slowed down the Fire attack by staying one step ahead in defensive rotations, cutting off driving lanes to the rim. Because of this, Jarry had the highest PPP differential on both ends of the court, with the Flyers scoring 0.216 PPP more with her and giving up 0.384 PPP less on the defensive end.
Steph Blicavs was by far the Flyer’s best defender Wednesday night vs the Fire. The 2016 Defensive Player Of The Year was the best shot defender on the team, giving up only 0.684 PPP as the primary defender.
Steph was excellent defensively no matter where she was on the floor. She was the team’s best defender vs drives giving up 0.571 PPP and despite her size she was even the best defender vs shots at the rim, being the only Flyer to give up less than 1 PPP at 0.556 vs 9 shot attempts. Don’t be surprised to see Southside insert her late in the Grand Final to try and slow down a hot Lauren Nicholson or Shyla Heal. Having these two champions guiding the way on Sunday may be exactly what the Flyers need to take home the title.
WNBL Grand Final – Broadcast Details
Jayco Southside Flyers vs JCU Townsville Fire
At Townsville Stadium
Sunday 20 December 2020
2.00pm AEST / 3.00pm AEDT