The Evening Game

Sports with brains. Pop culture with heart.

 

WNBL18: An off-season primer

WNBL18: An off-season primer

It's been an eventful WNBL off-season, with last season's stragglers, Melbourne and Adelaide, bringing in major talent, while last year's semi-finalists also look to be strong.

Stay tuned for comprehensive previews of each team in what promises to be one of the most competitive and closely-run WNBL seasons to date.

Laura Hodges is back for another campaign with the Adelaide Lightning.

Laura Hodges is back for another campaign with the Adelaide Lightning.

ADELAIDE

Incoming: Abby Bishop, Aimie Clydesdale, Ruth Hamblin, Lauren Nicholson, Natalie Novosel, Vanessa Panousis, Nicole Seekamp,

Outgoing: Anne Hatchard (AFLW), Sam Logic, Anneli Maley (Oregon)

Retained: Chelsea Brook, Sarah Elsworthy, Jessica Good, Laura Hodges, Shannon McKay, Colleen Planeta

Free Agents:  Jordan Hunter, Mollie McKendrick, Ieva Nagy

Coach: Murray Wong / Chris Lucas

Notes: A major overhaul from last year’s last-placed team, Adelaide have made major strides forward over the off-season.

Now a member of the Opals, Kelsey Griffin will be back to captain Bendigo (Photo: Syngenta222)

Now a member of the Opals, Kelsey Griffin will be back to captain Bendigo (Photo: Syngenta222)

BENDIGO

Incoming: Rachel Banham, Betnijah Laney

Outgoing: Blake Dietrick, Kerryn Harrington (AFLW), Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (France)

Retained: Kelsey Griffin, Ashleigh Karaitiana, Heather Oliver, Nadeen Payne, Gabrielle Richards, Ebony Rolph, Ashleigh Spencer, Kara Tessari,

Free Agents: Jane Chalmers, Andrea Wilson

Coach: Simon Pritchard

Notes: Bendigo should benefit from continuity as they have retained much of their 2016/17 core, including the whole second unit. They have also addressed their previous lack of outside shooting with Banham and Laney. 

Capitals guard Abbey Wehrung will be back after her best WNBL season yet.

Capitals guard Abbey Wehrung will be back after her best WNBL season yet.

CANBERRA

Incoming: Mistie Bass, Natalie Hurst, Jordan Hooper, Rachel Jarry, Ezi Magbegor, Chevannah Paalvast, Maddi Rocci, Lauren Scherf,

Outgoing: Jazmon Gwathmey (Turkey), Lauren Mansfield (Europe), Marianna Tolo (Turkey), Carly Wilson (Retired)

Retained: Keely Froling, Kate Gaze, Abby Wehrung,

Free Agents: Janelle Adams, Maddison Allen, Callie Bourne, Issie Bourne, Alice Coddington, Mikaela Ruef

Coach: Paul Gorriss

Notes: Replacing Tolo and Wilson will be no easy task, but the Caps have brought in WNBA vet Mistie Bass and have retained some intriguing young player. They also get some genuine star power in Hooper and Jarry as well as Scherf, who looks to be on the brink of a breakthrough season. The Capitals still have one free import spot.

Tayla Roberts will move from Adelaide to Dandenong.

Tayla Roberts will move from Adelaide to Dandenong.

DANDENONG

Incoming: Tessa Lavey, Carley Mijovic, Laia Palau, Rebecca Pizzey, Kayla Pedersen, Tayla Roberts, Kiera Rowe

Outgoing: Chloe Bibby (Mississippi State), Aimie Clydesdale (Adelaide), Jacinta Kennedy (Retired), Ally Mallott (Latvia), Natalie Novosel (Adelaide), Lauren Scherf (Canberra)

Retained: Rachel Antoniadou, Sara Blicavs, Steph Blicavs (nee Cumming), Amelia Todhunter

Free Agents: Rosie Fadljevic, Madeline Puli, Saraid Taylor, Briahna Whatman

Coach: Larissa Anderson

Notes: Dandenong have a new-look team from last year’s runners-up, but again look to be finals bound. Laia Palau, a three-time Olympian for Spain, joins a star-studded backcourt.

Liz Cambage is a huge in for Melbourne (Photo: Tim Collins)

Liz Cambage is a huge in for Melbourne (Photo: Tim Collins)

MELBOURNE

Incoming: Liz Cambage, Chelsea D’Angelo, Courtney Duever, Cassidy Gould, Ash Grant, Peri Kalka, Emma Nankervis, Jenna O’Hea, Louella Tomlinson, Kalani Purcell

Outgoing: Alice Kunek (Perth), Olivia Thompson (Perth)

Retained: Kasey Burton, Bec Cole, Monique Conti, Maddie Garrick, Bec Ott, Brittany Smart

Free Agents: Chante Black, Kelly Bowen, Jess Bygate, Tegan Cunningham, Kalisha Keane, Elyse Penaluna

Coach: Guy Molloy

Notes: Boomers have addressed their lack of frontcourt players in the most emphatic way possible, recruiting Liz Cambage. Jenna O’Hea gives them a top-tier wing, while their overall depth looks to be a level up from last year.

Scoring phenom Sami Whitcomb is set to again be an MVP contender for Perth

Scoring phenom Sami Whitcomb is set to again be an MVP contender for Perth

PERTH

Incoming: Alex Ciabattoni, Amanda Dowe, Alice Kunek, Ali Schwagmeyer, Kayla Standish, Olivia Thompson, Courtney Williams

Outgoing: Breanna Butler (Deportivo Zamarat), Ash Grant (Melbourne), Ruth Hamblin (Adelaide), Tessa Lavey (Dandenong), Carley Mijovic (Dandenong)

Retained: Nat Burton, Toni Farnworth (nee Edmonson), Tahlia Fejo, Sami Whitcomb

Free Agents:  Kisha Lee, Tenaya Phillips

Coach: Andy Stewart

Notes: Perth still have at least four roster spots for 2017/18, but have retained their key player, Sami Whitcomb, who is currently playing in the WNBA. Coach Andy Stewart has said the team is looking for athletic players who will fit into their uptempo style.

SYDNEY

Incoming: Katie-Rae Ebzery, Kimberley Hodge, Emily Matthews, Maddie O'Hehir

Outgoing: Leilani Mitchell (Turkey), Lauren Nicholson (Adelaide)

Retained: Carly Boag, Shanae Graeves, Sara Graham, Jen Hamson, Cassidy McLean, Lara McSpadden, Belinda Snell, Asia Taylor, Tahlia Tupaea, Susi Walmsley, Ally Wilson

Free Agents: Chris Boag, Hayley Moffatt

Coach: Cheryl Chambers

Notes: Most of the championship-winning squad from 2016/17 returns, but replacing basketball genius Leilani Mitchell is easier said than done. Asia Taylor was expected to move overseas, but will now return in a huge get for Sydney. Opals regular Ebzery will likely again be a top ten scorer and focal point of the attack. 

Cayla George returns for Townsville, where she was a key player in two championships. (Photo: Bidgee)

Cayla George returns for Townsville, where she was a key player in two championships. (Photo: Bidgee)

TOWNSVILLE

Incoming: Zitina Aokuso, Cayla George (nee Francis), Miela Goodchild, Marena Whittle, Sydney Wiese

Outgoing: Natasha Cloud, Kayla Standish (Perth)

Retained: Haylee Andrews, Suzy Batkovic, Michaela Cocks, Darcee Garbin, Mia Murray, Kelly Wilson

Free Agents: Amy Kame, Chevannah Paalvast, Ainsley Walsh, Jacqui Zelenka

Coach: Claudia Brassard

Notes: With the return of George, Townsville have returned to their twin towers frontline who were the two leading scorers in their champion teams of 2014/15 and 2015/16. Sydney Wiese adds shooting, while the team has added some exciting youth in Aokuso, Whittle and Goodchild. The team are currently pursuing a second import.

NBL Shootaround: Kings' first look at Isaac Humphries

NBL Shootaround: Kings' first look at Isaac Humphries

NRL: Smith, Vaughan, Rapana headline our team of the year so far

NRL: Smith, Vaughan, Rapana headline our team of the year so far