By Grant Richardson
Game Of The Week - Launceston v Geelong
Saturday 18th April- 6:30pm @ Elphin Sports Centre
It is still very early days in the season but after not making finals since 2010, Launceston’s hopes for 2015 are bright as they host Geelong while the Lady Supercats look to prove their worth on the road.
In a 100-80 thrashing of Sandringham, Launceston scored 17 more points than any other side for Round 1. They shot 54% from the field, scored 48 points in the paint and punished the Sabres with 21 points off turnovers.
Their triple-threat front court is where Geelong will be most concerned. Alex Wilson’s 28 points on 11-14 shooting, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals and a block earned her Player of the Week while Emilee Harmon collected 26 points and 7 boards. Rounding out the trio, import Mikaela Ruef dominated the glass with 17 rebounds (5 offensive) to go along with 17 points in her debut.
To counter this, Geelong may install a player like 193cm Tayla Roberts into their starting five to join Sara Blicavs and Rosie Fadljevic. Blicavs tallied 18 points and 13 rebounds in their 2-point win over Ballarat last weekend and her athleticism will make for an intriguing battle when matched up with Wilson.
Aside from Blicavs, Cortney Williamson (20 points, 8 boards, 7 assists) was the heroine for the Lady Supercats on Saturday night. Her near triple-double sets up a fascinating clash with Launceston point guard, Lauren Mansfield, who had 22, 5 and 3 with 3 steals in her own impressive season debut. With an extra 13cm in height, Mansfield should have the advantage but Williamson’s quickness is tough to contain.
On the second night of their Tasmanian road trip, the Lady Supercats will have to call on all their experience to manage a Tornadoes side that will look to play a physical game under the rim. Launceston could send a message to the rest of the competition with another powerful offensive performance, especially against a likely finals contender such as Geelong.
Prediction: Launceston by 6
Friday 17th April –
Hobart v Geelong:
Both sides were narrow victors in Round 1 with Geelong surviving a late run from Ballarat while Hobart reduced a 5 point final quarter margin to beat Sandringham by 3. With similar issues confronting them in their Launceston game, the Lady Supercats could struggle to contain Kathleen Scheer, Klara Wischer and Kylie McCauley who all had double-doubles last weekend.
Albury-Wodonga v Bendigo:
The Lady Bandits will kick off their 2015 campaign against a Bendigo side that led by as much as 43 points in their rout of Ballarat. Alison Bouman should provide a spark at both ends for the home side but the Lady Braves will be intent on starting their year with two road wins before playing their next five at home.
Saturday 18th April –
Sandringham v Kilsyth:
Starting the year with the Tasmanian road trip was a tough ask for the Sabres but just as bad as their two losses was the -12 rebound count in each game. Kilsyth’s forward stocks are not as impressive as Hobart’s or Launceston’s but their concern lies in how to cover Sandringham import, Brittany Smart, who exploded for 31.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last round.
Brisbane v Ballarat:
Having been tipped for a top four spot in the East Conference, Ballarat will be desperate to avoid a 0-3 start after a poor opening weekend in which the only thing to salvage was Olivia Thompson’s two double-doubles. After losing to Frankston, Brisbane are in danger of spoiling a dream run to start the season in which they are playing five of their first seven at home.
Dandenong v Canberra:
The Capitals have added some offensive firepower in the off-season, nabbing Steph Talbot from the Centre of Excellence while WNBL veteran Jess Bibby will run the show as point guard. Their depth will be immediately tested against Dandenong after Tenaya Phillips (19 points) came off the bench to join three other Rangers in double figures in Round 1.
Nunawading v Albury-Wodonga:
Nunawading will be the final side to kick off their 2015 season and, on paper, have possibly the scariest back court in Nicole Romeo and Rebecca Cole. However, if the Lady Bandits can cover those two scoring machines, the Spectres will become vulnerable with a diminished bench from their 2014 list.
Sunday 19th April –
Kilsyth v Frankston:
Although they are playing their second straight road game, Frankston will have had a week’s rest since their Round 1 victory in Brisbane. They showed no signs of missing Nicole Romeo, scoring 80 points on 45% shooting. If the Lady Cobras fall to Sandringham on Saturday, they will be desperate to put on a good show in front of the Kilsyth faithful for the first time.