Season Preview - Stirling Senators
Stirling broke several years of frustration to make the men's finals in 2011, but missed out on the women's side. Find out how well positioned they are to improve on those results in 2012 by checking out the next of our season previews.
Stirling Senators Season Preview -
2011 Recap: Stirling broke a run of three straight near-misses in 2011, but couldn't go any further than the first round of the finals. After finishing 10th in 2008 and ninth the following two seasons, Don Jamieson's side got hot at the right time in 2011 and were able to finish fifth with a 15-11 record, helped by being on the right end of the bizarre four-way tiebreaker. Their comeback overtime win over Wanneroo on the final day of the regular season meant they avoided Lakeside in the quarter-finals and got a friendlier series against Perry Lakes, but they weren't able to take advantage as the Hawks won 2-0. Lee Roberts was outstanding for the Senators throughout the season, while fellow import Michael Jones also played a crucial role in their success.
Off-Season Grade: D+
Off-Season Summary: Roberts has departed and that represents a major blow. The American averaged 26.1 points and 14.9 points per game last season and was arguably one of the best five imports in the league. New import Ryan Govan, a 23-year-old, 196cm forward, has a lot to live up to. Govan is a rarity being a non-American import, as he hails from Scotland. Jones, who averaged 24 PPG last season, has been retained and will be their other restricted player. The bulk of the rest of Stirling's team is as it was last year, with the main exception former NBL centre Geordie Cullen, who hasn't been signed.
2012 Fixtures: Stirling would want to have a finals spot locked up nice and early, because it's not going to be easy for them to get wins late in the season. Six of their last eight games are on the road, while the two at home - against Cockburn and Geraldton - will be far from easy.
2011 Recap: On the back of tough 2009 and 2010 seasons, where the Senators had a combined 5-39 record, there was slight improvement last year. They had a 6-16 record and at one point threatened to contend for a spot in the finals, but fell away quite drastically later in the season. Rachel Watman and Michelle Joy both had interrupted seasons and without their two key players, life was always going to be tough for Stirling.
Off-Season Grade: D-
Off-Season Summary: 2012 is likely to be a development year for Vlad Alava's side. Joy will continue her career in the eastern states, Watman has signed for Perth, Danika Pisconeri has gone to Mandurah and Emma Berryman has also departed. The result of those four crucial losses is an incredibly young side and that's going to make it hard for Stirling to make the finals for the first time since their fourth-place finish in 2008. In Alava, they have one of the better developmental coaches going around and most will be happy if he can show progress with this group in 2012.
2012 Fixtures: Things could get pretty ugly early, with Stirling's first three games against 2011 top four sides Willetton, East Perth and Mandurah. Six of their last seven games are away, with plenty of tough trips in that time, including the Eagles, Magic, Wanneroo and Lakeside.
What the Grades Mean: The grades are a subjective way of analysing whether each team has improved over the off-season. A grade of C- or better indicates they are well positioned to improve on their 2011 performance, while a grade of D+ or below indicates they're expected to be weaker. They are not intended to predict each team's ladder position.