SEASON REVIEW: BE ACTIVE PERTH WHEELCATS
BE ACTIVE PERTH WHEELCATS
Wins - 8
Losses – 10
Standing – 5th
2016 result – 13 wins, 5 losses 2nd
With their backs against the wall after starting the season with a 2-5 record, the Wheelcats responded to sweep Red Dust in Round 4 and keep their playoff hopes alive right until the final weekend. Alongside Norris who was exceptional all over the court once again, Kim Robins bumped his point production over 20 per game while shooting 49% and Amber Merritt contributed 7.8 points at 51% to back up a stellar WNWBL campaign. Thomas McHugh played every game for 7.6 points, Andrew Dewberry impressed with 5.6 points per contest while Andrew Liddawi showed solid signs with two double-digit performances to open up the season.
The Wheelcats were in with a shot of playing in the finals up until the last round but needing to rely on other results is never a strong position to be in. For a team so used to success, Perth will have been bitterly disappointed to miss out of playoffs, especially after claiming the silver medal in 2016. They were certainly a step below the top four though, owning a 2-10 record against finalists and it was their defence that let them down, giving up the second most amount of points in the competition. With only two members of the Wheelcats participating in every game, they were also disrupted by player absences.
For the second consecutive season, Norris averaged a triple-double of 27.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 11.4 assists to tie the Mid-Point MVP with Tom O’Neill-Thorne. He also finished second for three-pointers made and fourth for free-throws made, tallying a double-double in all but two contests while scoring at least 17 points every time he hit the court. A season-high of 50 points came against Adelaide in Round 7 which he combined with 11 rebounds and 13 assists in just 35 minutes.
It will be interesting to see the direction that Perth head into this off-season and whether they consider 2017 an anomaly or a warning as to where their team is headed. Norris and Robins cannot do all the heavy lifting offensively but the Wheelcats must look at the defensive end and in particular their team defence to where they need to improve for next year.