By Grant Richardson
During the event, the awards for the Most Valuable Player, All-Star teams, Coach of the Year, Youth Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Club of the Year and Referee of the Year will all be announced.
Last year, Tony Lewis won the men’s MVP, Maddie Garrick took away the women’s MVP while Kyle Adnam and Olivia Thompson won Youth Player of the Year. Defensive Player of the Year was taken out by Eric Gaff and Faith Probst with Dandenong’s Larissa Anderson and Darren Perry sweeping Coach of the Year.
This season’s honours promise to be hotly contested once again with my nominations, in no particular order, for the major awards below.
Most Valuable Player
Tony Lewis- Quickly settling into life at Bendigo after playing with Dandenong the past two seasons, Lewis averaged career highs for both points and rebounds while starting the year with nine consecutive double-doubles.
19.7 points per game, (5th in the league), 12.3 rebounds per game (1st), 132 offensive rebounds (1st).
Damian Johnson- The defensive stalwart of the best team in the league, Johnson stuffed the stat-sheet on a weekly basis at both ends of the floor, shooting at 48% from the field.
15.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg (11th), 3.75 blocks per game (1st), 2.4 steals per game (2nd).
Roy Booker- The league’s leading scorer for a second consecutive year, Booker’s lowest output was 16 points against Hobart while he scored 30+ five times with a season-high of 36 points against the Thunder on 10-12 three-point shooting.
25 ppg (1st), 47% field goal shooting, 5.2 assists per game (3rd).
Cory Dixon- In his debut season, Dixon was one of only five players to average a double-double while finishing second in both total offensive and defensive rebounds.
21.2 ppg (3rd), 11.1 rpg (2nd), 1.3 bpg (4th), 54% field goal shooting (4th).
Daequon Montreal- Another impressively consistent season saw Montreal score in double-figures every game while tallying 20+ on 17 occasions. In a stacked front court, he still recorded seven double-doubles.
23.9 ppg (2nd), 8 rpg, 125 made free throws (1st).
Brittany Smart- A shining light in Sandringham’s dark season, Smart shot at 46% overall from the field and scored at least 15 points every game with a season-high of 37 points against Launceston.
23.9 ppg (1st), 9.1 rpg (9th), 1.3 spg, 39.6% three-point shooting (4th).
Mikaela Ruef- An injury against Canberra early in the season ruined Ruef’s chances for a perfect season of double-doubles, having reached that mark in every other match. Recorded four games of 20+ rebounds while grabbing 10 offensive boards on three separate occasions.
16.4 ppg, 15 rpg (1st), 3.3 apg (7th), 21 double-doubles.
Stephanie Cumming- Among a talented Kilsyth team, Cumming still led the club in scoring while scoring 15+ every match. Her pure shooting stroke was evident from all parts of the court.
21 ppg (3rd), 5.1 rpg, 2.7 apg, 87% free throw shooting (1st), 48% field goal shooting (11th).
Kelly Bowen- One of just seven players to average a double-double, Bowen was a dominant front court presence in a disappointing season for the Lady Blues. Scored a season-high 42 points against Launceston before tearing apart Bendigo with 17 and 20 rebounds less than a month later.
22.3 ppg (2nd), 10.6 rpg (5th), 2.2 spg (2nd).
Kathleen Scheer- Finishing with career highs in points, rebounds and assists, Scheer also led the league in blocks with 22 more than any other player.
18.8 ppg (4th), 8.7 rpg (10th), 2.5 apg, 2.2 bpg (1st), 34% three point shooting.
Coach of the Year
Richard Hill- Mt. Gambier finished with the best regular season record, won an incredible 17 consecutive games and were unbeaten against South Conference rivals. After missing the playoffs in 2012, Hill has taken the Pioneers to three consecutive Conference Finals in his quest for back-to-back Championships this season.
Brad Chalmers- Finishing with the best home record in the league (11-1), Albury-Wodonga won their final seven games of the regular season to streak into top spot in the East Conference. After missing the finals in the two previous years, some solid recruiting has seen the Bandits return as a legitimate Championship contender.
Leon O’Neill- Taking over the reins at a club that has not missed playoffs since 1997, the pressure was on O’Neill and the Supercats but he responded with a top two finish in the East Conference. In a fight with Dandenong through most of the season for that coveted double-chance, Geelong earned the position with five wins from their last seven matches.
Larissa Anderson- Another dominant season from Dandenong saw them finish with the best home record (10-1) and equal-best road record (9-2) while finishing unbeaten against the East Conference. In her fifth year as head coach, Anderson has never not reached the Preliminary Final in a remarkably consistent career.
Samantha Woosnam- Not even a pregnancy mid-season could stop Woosnam’s form as she has taken Kilsyth to a second consecutive playoff appearance. The Lady Cobras finished two games clear on top of the South Conference and had an average winning margin of 15 points at home.
Reece Potter- Although the Tornadoes had the chance to take top spot in the South Conference late in the season before finishing fourth, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2010 is still a commendable achievement for Potter. A ten-game winning streak mid-season will have fellow finalists worried.
Australian Youth Player of the Year
Kyle Adnam- In just his second season, Adnam has already made a name for himself as one of the premier point guards in the league. His buzzer-beater against Sandringham in Round 12 proved his ability in the clutch.
17.5 ppg (15th), 3.8 apg (10th), 81% free throw shooting (5th).
Dejan Vasiljevic- Played all but one game for the CoE, improving his point production by five on last season while not reaching double-figures in just one game.
17 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 84% free throw shooting.
Anthony Fisher- Cracking the 100-game milestone at just 21 years of age, Fisher still managed to average double-figures in scoring among a very talented Ballarat back court.
12.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.4 apg, 45% field goal shooting.
Kerryn Harrington- Already averaging double-figures, Harrington recorded career best numbers for scoring in 2015 while continuing to be deadly from beyond the arc.
14.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 34% three-point shooting.
Alex Wilson- One part of a deadly front court line-up for the Tornadoes, Wilson was a menace on the boards while stretching the floor with her outside shooting.
18.1 ppg, (8th), 7.9 rpg, 44% field goal shooting.
Abbey Wehrung- A scoring machine at 19 years of age, Wehrung hit the fourth most amount of three-pointers while scoring 20+ in six of seven games from Round 8-12.
17.5 ppg (11th), 5.7 rpg, 2.6 apg, 35% three-point shooting.
Defensive Player of the Year
Damian Johnson- 90 total blocks (26 more than any other player) and 58 total steals (2nd in the league). Helped Mt. Gambier to the second best defence in the competition for points allowed (74) and lowest field goal percentage allowed (40%).
Eric Gaff- 64 total blocks (2nd) and reached double-figures in rebounds in 13 games. Geelong held oppositions to fourth least amount of points (79) and fourth lowest field goal shooting from inside the arc (40%).
Donte Nicholas- 68 steals (1st) with a season-high eight against Brisbane and Bendigo while helping Albury-Wodonga to a league-best 7.2 steals per game as a team. Nicholas often defended the best perimeter shooters from the opposition but still collected 7.7 rebounds a game.
Mikaela Ruef- 214 total defensive rebounds (1st) while also leading the league in rebounds per game. Ruef would have recorded 13 double-doubles with defensive boards alone and grabbed 1.1 steals per game as well.
Klara Wischer- 149 total defensive rebounds (4th) led to 13 games of double-figure boards including a run of seven consecutive matches from Round 12-16. 69 total steals (21 more than any other player).
Emily Fryters- 232 total boards (4th) with 13 double-figure rebounding games and a season-high of 18 against Kilsyth. 25 total blocks (5th) and is chasing her second Defensive Player of the Year award after winning in 2012.
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