Women's SBL Season Preview – Joondalup Wolves
THE Joondalup Wolves will have a new coach and so far are entering the 2016 Women's SBL season with an all local roster that still looks talented enough to ensure the Lady Wolfpack remain a genuine contender.
The Wolves finished the 2015 regular season in third position with a strong 18-4 record before thumping the South West Slammers in two quarter-final games, and then falling short against the Willetton Tigers in the semi finals.
There are some significant losses from that team heading into 2016 though.
Most notably coach Vlad Alava has moved on, but Craig Friday is more than capable of stepping up to fill the void to take over the helm.
There are some big losses to the playing stocks with Chelsea Burns moving to Victoria, Casey Lockwood returning to the United States, Antonia Edmondson joining the Perry Lakes Hawks and Rebecca Mercer signing with the Perth Redbacks.
All of them were key players last season with Mercer the competition's leading three-point shooter and averaging 18.5 points.
Edmondson contributed 7.9 points, Lockwood 9.2 and 5.2 boards, and Burns 6.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.5 steals. Alex Kerr is also another significant loss.
It's not all about the departures for Joondalup, though, with Klara Wischer a significant signing after playing with the Perth Lynx in the WNBL.
She is capable of having a significant impact and combined with the likes of Shani Amos, Ellyce Ironmonger and Nikita Martin, it's still a talented group for Friday to oversee.
During the SBL Blitz at Warwick Stadium, the Wolves failed to win a game against the Stirling Senators, Cockburn Cougars, Willetton Tigers and Perry Lakes Hawks.
The Lady Wolfpack begin their season on Saturday March 19 against the South West Slammers at Eaton Recreation Centre. Their first home match will be on Easter Thursday at Joondalup Basketball Stadium against the defending champion Rockingham Flames.
Monica Majok, Nikita Martin, Abbie Ironmonger, Catherine Hay, Chelsea Belcher, Kate Campbell, Amy Kidner, Chloe Ferguson, Ellyce Ironmonger, Jaimi Campbell, Cameron Flynn, Briana Chambers, Ellen Wilkins, Shani Amos, Klara Wischer
Coach – Craig Friday
Championship Winning Coach - VLAD ALAVA
PREDICTION – 4th
The Wolves have had a significant roster turnover this off season with the loss of Kerr, Noni Martin, Lockwood, Burns, Edmondson and Mercer. The addition of Lynx player Klara Wischer helps but a lot will depend on the play of Nikita Martin, Shani Amos, Ellyce Ironmonger and Amy Kidner. They have a solid core and if E Ironmonger and Kidner can stay healthy and provide inside presence on offence then they will be up in the top four. Craig Friday returning as HC helps as he is a Wolfpack stalwart. Expect big things from young Chelsea Belcher- this kid can be a long time WSBL player if she stays with it.
SBL Slam Radio Host - MATT CECINS
PREDICTION – 6th
Craig Friday takes over the reins and has made a smart signing in Klara Wischer from the Perth Lynx. Wischer had a solid collegiate career at the University of San Diego and has experience in the SEABL with the Hobart Chargers. Shani Amos and Nikita Martin still forge a formidable scoring combination and the Wolves will benefit from having one of the tallest line-ups in the league, with seven rostered players over 180cm tall.
PREDICTION – 3rd
It will be hard to replace Chelsea Burns at the defensive end, and the offence of Mercer and Edmondson, but Klara Wischer from the Lynx is a huge pick up. Amos, Ellyce Ironmonger and Martin are still their keys and capable of keeping them in the mix.
Article by Chris Pike