Season Preview - Rockingham Flames
After disappointing men's and women's seasons in 2011, the Flames will be desperate to bounce back. Nathan Winch looks at the changes they've made over the off-season in the last of SBL.asn.au's club-by-club season previews.
Rockingham Flames Season Preview
2011 preview: After a strong start, the Flames fell away drastically in the middle portion of 2011 to finish with a 7-19 record in 12th position. Import Jerel Allen averaged over 21 points per game while second import Kent Tribbet averaged 16 points per game, but the remainder of the squad were inconsistent at best. Another disadvantage for the Flames was veteran guard Carlin Hughes only being available for a handful of games.
Off-Season Grade: D
Off-Season Recap: The Flames' leading scorer, Jerel Allen has departed the team but they have retained Tribbet's services for 2012. Hughes has retired from the SBL and the loss of one of the competition's leading point guards - and one of Rockingham's most experienced players - will be a significant blow and it leaves a big vacancy at point guard. Former Redback guard Josh Guppy has made the move south to join the team. Veteran Rhett Della will be a big part of what they do again this season, while they will hope youngsters like Beau Samuelson can step up to play a more significant role.
2012 Fixture: Rockingham face tough opening rounds with a double header against Lakeside and Goldfields and then a round 2 matchup with defending champions Wanneroo. Rounds three and four do not look any better for the Flames as they run into perennial finalists Willetton and Cockburn.
2011 Fixture: It's safe to say the lady Flames will want to forget 2011. They finished bottom of the ladder with a 2-20 record, a stunning slide after their second place finish in 2010. They lost Waves forward Kaye Tucker and Casey Haggar, the two most important players from their extremely strong 2010 team, and there was simply no way to replace such production. The only shining light for the team came from West Coast Waves guard Jacinta Bourne who averaged just under 15 points per game. Bourne's sister Talisia provided solid backup in a young and inexperienced team.
Off-Season Grade: A-
Off-Season Recap: Coach Ryan Petrik will be looking forward to starting his 2012 campaign with a couple of key players making their return to the Flames. Tucker returns after missing the 2011 season through injury while Casey Haggar also comes back after having a year off through injury and the birth of her first child. They will provide much-needed experience and will ensure the Flames are big improvers in 2012. Although there has been no confirmation as yet, the team is also expected to sign an import in the near future once the WNBA Draft Camps are over.
2012 Fixture: Clashes against the Slammers, Hawks, Eagles in rounds 6-8 will test Petrik's young team. They place Perth and Stirling in the final three rounds and will look to finish strong, in what could be a potential finals appearance this year.
Article by Nathan Winch
Photo by Helen Theoharakis (Hoop Shots)