Wins – 6
Losses – 16
Standing – 5th East Conference
2014 result – 11 wins 13 losses, 5th South Conference
After a horror run to start the year, Ballarat made the tough call to blood their youngsters, resulting in the loss of Jess May. The brave move was rewarded as they finished the year with a 5-5 record, defeating Brisbane, Geelong and Nunawading in the process to give the club hope heading into 2016.
A 1-11 start to the season saw the Rush never in the hunt for the playoffs despite recruiting well in the off-season. Their handling of the ball caused the most issues as they averaged 4.6 less assists than their opponents, 3.2 less steals and the third most amount of turnovers (17.9) in the league. They managed just one win on the road, a 20-point defeat of Sandringham.
Australian Youth Player of the Year, Abbey Wehrung, could be the leader of the franchise in years to come. She improved all her career stats, increasing her points from 12.5 to 17.5, her assists from 1.9 to 2.6 and rebound numbers from 4.1 to 5.7 while hitting the fifth most amount of three-pointers at 35%. If she can limit her turnovers, the 19-year old’s offensive capabilities could see her become one of the premiere guards in 2016.
With a new head coach David Flint taking over the reins, he will be look to retain the services of last year’s signings in Olivia Thompson and Shanae Greaves while combining them with a couple of imports could see them return to playoff contention. Also of importance would be a pure shooter to help out Wehrung in the back-court.
A shooting guard, Kasey Burton could be the player to take the next step in 2016 and improve Ballarat’s shooting percentage, which was the third worst in the competition this year. She carried the extra responsibility in the second half of the season extremely well, increasing her point production from 4.7 to 9.1 a game after Round 10 while her shooting improved from 29% to 32%.
GRADE – 3/10
Wins – 13
Losses – 11
Standing – 4th East Conference
Post-Season Results – lost to Dandenong (SF)
2014 result – 14 wins 12 losses, 4th East Conference
Leading the league in scoring for the second consecutive year, Roy Booker averaged 25 points per game while nailing 15 more three-pointers than any other player at 39%. As a team, they were the best shooters from within the arc and had the third most productive offence. A five-game winning streak to finish the regular season saw them make the playoffs with a clutch win over Nunawading in Round 17 a highlight.
The fact that they needed a five-game winning streak to make the playoffs showed how disappointing they were early in the season as they started the year with a 4-6 record. Problems arose with Kodi Augustus before they made the decision to release the import and their sometimes manic style of play led to 17 turnovers a game (2nd most in the league) and 21 fouls a game (2nd).
Aside from Booker, Gregory Thondique made an impression on the league after arriving mid-season as a replacement for Augustus. With seven double-doubles in 14 games, he averaged 17 and 9.9 boards while influencing the defensive end with 1.1 steals per game. Stepping up when they needed him most, Thondique recorded 20 points, 15 rebounds and two assists in the Round 17 clash against Nunawading.
After suffering an Achilles injury that kept him out of the 2014 playoffs, Booker stated he had unfinished business but a loss in the Semi-Final this year will not have satiated him so hopefully he can return with a steady import to once again make an assault on the competition. Anthony Fisher will be a benefit as he is a young gun with the rare combination of 100 games experience but a shutdown defensive player under the rim will help the Miners’ cause the most in 2016.
With a possible vacancy in the front court next year, Chris Smith could fill that void and become the defensive beast they require. He will be 27 years old by the time next season rolls around and has ticked over the 100 game milestone, giving him the experience needed to match it with the league’s best rim protectors such as Damian Johnson and Eric Gaff.