SEASON PREVIEW: SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Last Year: 12 wins, 3 losses- Runners-Up
Roster: Sarah Stewart, Tracey Carruthers, Annabelle Lindsay, Anthea Castelli, Patricia Luff, Kim Hughes, Brodie Palmer, Hannah Dodd, Zeena Suavaga, Stephanie van Leeuwen, Sandra Sono, Liesl Tesch, Rachel Coady.
Sure to be desperate to improve on their Runners-Up finish from last year, the Flames have the chance to get off to a hot start with games at home throughout Round 1 and 2. They then do not hit the court again until Round 6 in an extended break that stretches almost two months but face a hectic final round as they play four games over three days to finish the regular season.
The Flames seem confident that they can move one step up on the podium after last season as they have retained every player from 2017 while adding a couple of pieces as well. They fell to the Stars twice in the regular season but got past them in the Preliminary Final with the Blues the only team that they could not beat in the post-season. Sarah Stewart is coming off a campaign in which she averaged close to a triple-double with 12.7 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to earn her fourth 3.0 MVP award in the past five years. After having her most productive season offensively, Hannah Dodd earned the 2.0 MVP award as one of four Sydney Uni players to average double-digits in scoring while the three-time Paralympic medallist with the Gliders Liesl Tesch adds significant clout to their line-up. Amongst those big names, the Flames had several role players perform admirably in 2017 including the likes of Tracey Carruthers (5.1 points, 3.6 rebounds per game), Stephanie van Leeuwen (4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds) and Brodie Palmer (2.9 points and 2.6 boards). If they can step up again and have a few other bench players come to the fore, Sydney Uni should be able to get over the line and climb to the top again.
One To Watch:
Annabelle Lindsay. A rising star both at local level and for the Australian Gliders, Lindsay could be the future of the national program. An ex-SEABL player, Lindsay has picked up the wheelchair game easily and her height and shooting prowess make her a formidable opponent in the front court. Last season, she finished fifth for scoring (15.7 points) and second for rebounds (13.2) as one of only six players to average a double-double. Her size at the defensive end will also be crucial to the Flames' Championship hopes.