SEASON PREVIEW: WOLLONGONG ROLLER HAWKS
WOLLONGONG ROLLER HAWKS
Last Year: 13 wins, 5 losses, 3rd
Roster: Clay Kelly, Nicholas Scott, Darren Hayes, Tim Macrow, Hannah Dodd, Brad Fisher, Brett Stibners, Andrew Tarrant, Luke Pople, Nick Taylor, Michael Auprince, Ashley James-Kennedy.
The Roller Hawks will get a real test of their team straight away when they take on the Cobras in the first game of the season although they do play the Cluster Round at home. Seven of their first eight games played at Shellharbour City Stadium but they will need a buffer on the ladder after those matches in order to reach the post-season due to a bye in Round 8, the last round of the regular season.
Wollongong was one of the most exciting and efficient offensive teams in the league last season and not much should change this year as their six leading scorers are all back. That includes Luke Pople (a member of the All-Star Five) and Nick Taylor who both averaged over 15 points per game in 2016 while Michael Auprince developed into his role as one of the Roller Hawks’ go-to players in the front court, finishing fifth in the league for rebounds per contest (8.8) on the back of five double-doubles. Wollongong do not need to change too much from last year and may only need a bit of polish which they lacked last year to be successful as they owned a 3-4 record against the Cobras and Wheelcats in 2016.
One To Watch:
Brett Stibners. One of the stars of Australian wheelchair basketball for a decade, Stibners is a World Champion and two-time Paralympic medallist who proved he is still at the top of his game last year thanks to a Rio Paralympics berth and an NWBL All-Star nomination. He was the second most potent scorer in the competition and has now averaged at least 20 points per game in seven of his past eight seasons with no reason to think he will not be one of the leaders again in 2017.