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Now that we're heavily into pre-season mode, a new non-official WSBL insider, Konstantin Zoric, gives us their thoughts on the upcoming WSBL season.
1. South West Slammers (2012 16W-6L, 2013 16W-6L) – Champions last year with everybody returning. When they play their best they are very difficult to guard, Kara Hargreaves is inconsistent but aggressive and a good defender, Sitzmann can fill it up, Ogoke excellent defensively and starting to find some form in the WNBL and Wallam the perfect utility off the bench. Zoe Harper is back but is something of a question mark, her form last season was sporadic and she has had an injury plagued season for the Waves. Still have to start at the top in my book.
2. Rockingham Flames (2012 15W-7L, 2013 13W-9L) – Grand finalists last year and have an even stronger team for 2013. Garbin to come in off a strong Waves season and Courtney Hargreaves (Tigers) will be a nice fit and has played for Coach Petrik before. Could finish a little lower on the ladder than their seeding with Cannon arriving late and Garbin being in and out during the regular season, but definitely not the team you want to see in a three game series.
3. Wanneroo Wolves (2012 16W-6L, 2013 14W-8L) – No Kidner (college) will be a bigger loss than people realise, but everybody else is returning plus Alex Kerr is back in the line-up and Ellyce Ironmonger still an outside chance of playing. Some will depend on how Coach Alava moulds the team together but they have a flexible roster that can attack inside and out.
4. Lakeside Lightning (2012 12W-10L, 2013 14W-8L) – Amazing the difference a quality point guard makes - Claire Johnson turned this program around in 2012. In 2013 Byrnes will continue to pull the trigger, Van Schie is back in and they are bringing in a second import to go with Seyler. Will be difficult to beat, especially at home, but unless the second import is “Cannon good” won’t quite be up to the level of the top three.
5. Kalamunda Eastern Suns (2012 15W-7L, 2013 13W-9L) – Break out seasons in 2012 for Jones, Mueggenborg and Berryman. No news from Suns on an import, Moyle or additions to the line-up, they could potentially finish higher but at this stage haven’t added as aggressively as other clubs. Pressure defence and three point shooting makes them very dangerous when playing well.
6. Willetton Tigers (2012 16W-6L, 2013 16W-6L) – Lose Hooper (Logan) and Hargreaves (Flames) but pick up Edmondson (Waves, Tall Ferns) and Wallbutton (Waves, Tall Ferns) - so much for bringing through a Tigers junior or two. Not only is this adding more talent but it is fixing the glaring weakness they had in the post last season. Marsh will be as reliable as ever and expect Napier to be much improved. Will light up the regular season but rumour has it that Tall Ferns players will be away on international duties during the finals, won’t contend without them.
7. Cockburn Cougars (2012 5W-17L, 2013 11W-11L) – Pass returning, Kate Fielding in (Eagles), Priestley injury free and they are confident import Jones will re-sign. Assuming this happens, they get out of the 2-3 zone and actually play defence; Cougars are my pick to be the big improvers of 2013 and make the play-offs.
8. Stirling Senators (2012 4W-18L, 2013 9W-13L) – Glen Ellis is a great showman but doesn’t have the sideline impact he used to. The big recruiting rumour is that Natalie Burton is lacing them up for the Senators with Walker (Hawks). These are two high quality additions to play with Gardner and look for a strong season from young Sam Roscoe. Jeffers will still need to play far more efficiently than 2012 for this team to compete with the big guns but could have an improved season and even sneak into 8th.
9. Perth Redbacks (2012 13W-9L, 2013 8W-14L) – Narelle Henry back coaching, a fit and healthy Rachel Lisch will have a better season than 2012 and some of the younger players in the squad (O’Sullivan, Jakens, Italiano) may step up a level this season. But the bottom line is No Payne = No Chance, and apparently she is off to Canberra with her partner. The annual “Camino is playing” rumours have been heard but as yet nothing is announced and it seems highly unlikely. If Hiddlestone doesn’t return to her 09, 10, 11 form then their season results could be even lower.
10. Mandurah Magic (2012 2W-20L, 2013 8W-14L) – Brooke Ryan in as coach, Casey Mihovilovich set to return and I’m sure they’ll have plans for an import. Look for this team to be significantly better this season and could even win a few more games as their home stadium is tricky for visiting teams. Tried to recruit Emma Pass in the offseason and struck out but look for the Sidebottom sisters to have break out seasons in the league.
11. Perry Lakes Hawks (2012 9W-13L, 2013 7W-15L) – CJ to replace Morcom, Walker out (Senators), Clayton to Canberra and potentially Burton to Senators. Still capable inside with Tobin, Boyanich and younger Burton, but appear very thin in the guard department. Wins may have to come from improving Hawks juniors; of course if Natalie Burton plays here I would move them up a couple of spots.
12. East Perth Eagles (2012 10W-12L, 2013 3W-19L) – Eagles women are set to return to the cellar and, without their recent recruits returning, will now need to refocus on their struggling junior women’s program. Player losses include Fielding (Cougars), Foote and Maffin. The word is Norwood is staying in Canberra to play SEABL but suddenly being out of the Capitals WNBL rotation could change this. If they were to return her and get an import they could become relevant, but still too thin in the guard spot behind Jorre St Jorre to seriously compete when it counts.
The opinions, views and comments in this article are those of the individual and are not the opinions or views of the State Basketball League or Basketball WA.
Photo by Helen Theoharakis (Hoop Shots)