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We've added a new MSBL writer in 2013 and our anonymous writer "Huson Nesbitt" starts off with some power rankings for the 2013 SBL season, right on the eve of the 2013 SBL Pre-Season Tournament.
Check out what he has to say!
1. Wanneroo Wolves (1st 23-3): The Wolves have been arguably the deepest team in the SBL for the last two seasons and would be sorely disappointed not to have at least made the Grand Final in 2012. SBL MVP for 2012, Damian Matacz, will not have to burden as much load inside with the acquisition of Rob Huntington (Stirling). The Wolves achieved a major coup in luring prize recruit, Trian Iliadis to the club following a successful career at Old Dominion University. Iliadis and Salinas will be formidable on the wings. No Hussey (at least for the start of the season) will test their younger PG’s and new coach Craig Friday. However, Greg Hire will provide the Wolves with strong leadership and experience and with the calibre of players on their roster and their depth, the Wolves will again be a tough opponent in 2013.
2. East Perth Eagles (4th 16-10): Keeping a roster together in the SBL is no easy feat, but Coach Forde has managed to bring some stability to their program and the Eagles will again feature at the top end of the SBL standings in 2013. The combination of Tupaea, Williamson and Balcombe in the backcourt provides more than a few headaches for any opponent. Throw in an athletic and experienced 7-footer in Tom Jervis and you have the makings for a team that can shake for the title. The Eagles have acquired Mike Jones (Stirling) who has proven he can stretch the floor and shoot with accuracy on a consistent basis. Jones will fill a similar role to Easley but is probably a more consistent shooter which will help the Eagles spread the floor for Jervis. The Eagles also get great minutes from their bench in Kisselev and Dongalic. Expect these guys to be even better in 2013.
3. Lakeside Lightning (2nd 22-4): Coach Stewart is also one who has managed to keep his roster together, including his imports, for a number of years. You can’t put a price on good chemistry and guys who play for each other. 2013 will be a little different for the Lightning, losing arguably their most valuable player for the last four seasons, Luke Payne (Retired). The main core of players appears to have returned apart from Simon Lokan (Tigers). This may come into play if Beran continues to have issues with his back and misses games as he has done the last two seasons. The loss of Payne will be covered somewhat by Jesse Dixon (Hawks) who has an underrated skill set on the wing and is great in the open court. Prue is again the key to their success and as long as he pulls down 20 boards a game the Lightning will be able to play their high octane game with a barrage of three point shots. From all accounts the replacement import for Payne is quality but will wait to be seen what kind of impact he will have on the Lightning roster.
4. Cockburn Cougars (3rd 17-9): The boys in blue had a fantastic 2012 season and Coach Charlie has done a great job in developing a tough brand of physical, aggressive basketball down at the Cougar Den. It remains to be seen who exactly will suit up for the Cougars this year which is why the Cougars aren’t as high on the Power Rankings as they probably deserve. From all accounts Davey and Stanley are retiring, McIntyre is taking extended leave overseas and Jeremiah Wilson will not be returning. The Cougars have managed to secure Alex Prince (Tigers) which will help, but Charlie will need to recruit another import of the same calibre as Wilson to be able to defend his title. Gavin Field and Damien Scott will be dangerous on the wings and with Carlwell returning, will give them a dominant inside presence. Will the likes of Chan and Van Lit be capable of running the team against the premier PG’s of the League?
5. Perry Lakes Hawks (10th 11-15): The hiring of Shawn Dennis as Head Coach was a major coup for the Hawks who under-achieved in 2012. Dennis has managed to acquire two young up and coming players in Rob Cassir (Tigers) and Tevin Jackson (Tigers), both of whom are on the Wildcats Development Squad. This will help in the backcourt where they struggled a little in 2012. Not to mention signing dynamic PG Michael Lay to run the show for the up-tempo Hawks. Key loss in local product, Jesse Dixon (Lakeside) but have recruited well to replace him. Will need to find some help for Purser on the front line but I’m quietly confident Coach Dennis will follow his trend of strong recruiting to find a dominant big.
6. Perth Redbacks (6th 15-11): There is no debating the Redbacks have underachieved for the last few seasons, 2012 was no exception. With great teams on paper and resources at their disposal, no banners have been raised down at Belmont Oasis in the recent era. A new coach at the helm is probably what was needed to shake things up, but from all accounts the shake-up has been unsettling for a number on their roster. Majstrovich is yet to sign and rumours were swirling around Wagner possibly relocating. There have been murmurs of other key players looking elsewhere also. This cannot bode well for any kind of unity within even the most talented roster. However, Lackovic is an experienced coach and if he can manage to keep his roster together should be able to perform well. Key acquisition of Justin Brown (Suns) will give them the inside presence they have lacked. Vigor, who was much improved in 2012, should have a solid 2013 providing he can stay healthy. If the Redbacks can keep their squad together, they’ll be a tough matchup.
7. Willetton Tigers (*11th 10-16): Coach Foster has a young and enthusiastic group at his disposal this year, almost the opposite to 2012. Losing Prince (Cougars), Cassir (Hawks), Jackson (Hawks), Jones (Retired), Moore (Retired) and Ballantyne (Buccs) has totally reshaped the look of their roster and the Tigers will be looking to rebuild in a fresh environment. Imports Kampman and Davis have been replaced by what appear to be two talented imports and have also acquired up and coming big man, Simon Lokan (Lakeside). Adam Nener returns as does Wildcats Development Player, Kyle Armour. The Tigers will be relying on Brayden Santich, Andrew Black and Hayden Noordehoek to give them good minutes off the bench. A lot will depend on how well the Tigers can gel as a unit but Coach Foster will be looking to avenge sitting out of the playoffs last year, albeit to an administration error which resulted in three wins being deducted from their record*.
8. Geraldton Buccaneers (9th 12-14): The Buccs made a spirited late run at the playoffs in 2012 and barring a come from behind victory from the Suns against the Cougars in the last round of the regular season they would have scraped into 8th spot. Coach Evans has secured dynamic duo, Shamus Ballantyne (Tigers) and Mark Heron, who have played together at both Willetton and Goldfields where they also won a championship. It will be interesting to see how they are received when they return to Kalgoorlie in a Buccs uniforms! The Buccs lose long term import, Michael Lay (Hawks), but in retaining Daniel Thomas they will have a great backcourt. Ralph is a proven player in the league and will continue on this trend but the Buccs need a dominant presence inside. Wundenburg plays hard and is tough on the glass but is not a natural scorer. The Buccs don’t have a lot of depth and haven’t for a long time, but Coach Evans has proven that given the right recruiting can push the top teams. A lot will come down to who they can recruit in the paint.
9. Mandurah Magic (5th 16-10): The Magic had their best season in a long time last year and were very close to advancing to the second round of the playoffs after losing in a tough series to eventual runners up, East Perth. Coach Chalk remains at the helm and will again have his boys playing an exciting brand of basketball. The Magic retain their potent backcourt of Land, Bowman and Caporn and have also retained Mullenax inside. If the rumours are true and big man Tommy Remmerswaal is out, the Magic will struggle to find the success they achieved in 2012. Remmerswaal elevated his game last year and became a dangerous threat both inside and out. Replacing him will be difficult and with no real younger development players being ready just yet the Magic may find it difficult to keep teams from collapsing on Mullenax. Role players Trahair and Gray are unknown at this stage. If they are not returning the Magic lose any resemblance of depth in their squad.
10. Goldfields Giants (7th 13-13): The Giants were perhaps the beneficiary of the Tigers admin error in 2012 and managed to get a playoff berth under first year coach, Dan Fisher. The Giants have lost versatile import guard, Ty Harrelson and a number of their local players in Earle, Hulme, Hurst and Bowler but retain veterans, Lordan Franich and Dwayne Radcliffe as well as young gun Rory Pekin. With Franich and Radcliffe and what appears to be a tough import big the Giants have a solid front line but will need to recruit a strong PG and someone who can knock down the three to replace the firepower of Harrleson, Earle and Hulme. Having signed and released previous SBL MVP Anthony Lee will hurt. It will be interesting to see who they sign to replace him.
11. Kalamunda Eastern Suns (8th 12-14): With the injection of Lee Roberts mid-way through 2012 the Suns went on a tear in the second half of last season. They made the playoffs for the second time in their short history but were ousted in straight sets in the first round by the Wolves. Coach McCormick has relocated (Tigers) and incoming coach Warren Kuhn will take the helm. SBL leader in three point percentage, Joel Questel returns along with Ben Smith who sat out 2012. Departing are Corey Craig (Retired), Brown (Redbacks), Adam Nash (Cougars), Roberts, Palmer and Franich (Retired) which really formed the core of this team in 2012. Up and coming big Rory Lobb has also been lured away to play football. Word on the street is veteran Russel Haxby will also join their roster. However, if the Suns cannot recruit two dominant restricted players (especially inside) they will struggle for wins in 2013 and will need to rebuild.
12. Stirling Senators (12th 8-18): Seven year Head Coach of the Illawarra Hawks, Dave Lindstrom will be at the helm of the Senators in 2013. This is a great pickup for a club that is currently overhauling their off-court setup and going in a new direction. Lindstrom, who will be working alongside previous SBL Head Coach, Wayne Creek, will bring his knowledge and expertise to a club that will be rebuilding from scratch, but don’t count them out. The Senators are have picked up Wolves big man Jordan Wild and 2012 import Adhar Mayen will return, both of whom are versatile, high quality players who can play inside and out. Young talent, Nik Iliadis will have plenty of opportunity to show that he can play at this level and will need to be at the top of his game for them to get wins on the board. It is rumoured that Eric Lindstrom will also be playing and will be a welcome addition to their roster. Austin Bruton is unknown at this stage but would be a valuable asset to a young group.
13. South West Slammers (3-23): Ty Harrelson will have his work cut out for him as Player/Coach for the Slammers. The boys from the South West have only won a handful of games over the last few seasons but bringing in Ty is a step in the right direction. Veterans Edwards and Smith are said to be returning however I’m not sure this is enough. Worthington has fought admirably but really needs a dominant post player to assist. The impact of a second import will be crucial in the Slammers chances of moving off the bottom of the standings, however Harrelson should have some great candidates given how well connected he is. In order to move higher than 12th they will need to lure some Australian talent down south to bolster their roster.
14. Rockingham Flames (4-22): After a very disjointed and disappointing season in 2012 the Flames have brought in Coach Utley who coached the Magic women in 2012. Utley has been at the Flames previously and has performed well. However, he had a much different roster to work with back then. Flames junior Samuelson is in US College and Ryan Godfrey appears to have suffered a season ending injury which decimates their backcourt. Word is Rhett Della is no longer with the Flames which also hurts them inside. Jake Amos is an up and coming player and deadly from outside but will need players around him to be effective. Marko Deric returns but will need to be in better condition than he was in 2012 to make a real difference for the Flames. This will be a rebuilding year for the Flames who desperately need stability from their third coach in two years.
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 Clare Chapell