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2016/17 SEASON PREVIEW: DANDENONG RANGERS
Friday, March 17, 2017

DANDENONG MEN

Departing:
Lucas Walker, Daequon Montreal, Ric Marczenko, Dwayne Campbell, Matt Owies, Mason Peatling, Jack Saunders, Chuck Long, Jayden Bubb, Andrew Harms.

Returning:
Lucas Barker, Jack Perry, Liam Gibcus, Dieuson Biyendolo.

Newcomers:
Tim Lang, Josh Oswald, Jorden Page, Riley Wood, Nodia Odigie, Mitch Barry, Luke Hughes, Puoch Puoc, Chauncey Orr (import), Tyler Robertson, Mitch Riggs.

Fixture:
Dandenong’s new look roster will be put to the test in Round 1 when they visit the defending champs. They will enjoy the Easter Break as it comes between consecutive back-to-back’s from Round 3-5 including road games against Mt. Gambier, Frankston and Nunawading.

Strengths:
A 200-game player, Tim Lang is a strong pick-up for Dandenong whose front court has been severely altered and his presence under the rim alongside Liam Gibcus will maintain the Rangers as a top defensive side. Chauncey Orr will help the scoreboard tick over after proving himself as a three-point threat at college while Jorden Page is a past St. Mary’s player. Returning from an ACL injury that he suffered in his final college game, Mitch Riggs will be keen to prove himself in his debut for the Rangers while the wraps on Nodia Odigie are that his ceiling is higher than his brother, Owen.

Weaknesses:
The Rangers have lost a plethora of experience and players that have been the backbone of their run of six straight playoff appearances with Montreal and Harms as well as Walker and Long all departing. Lucas Barker has a lot of responsibility to shoulder without the safety net of Harms to back him up while Dandenong will also need to find the 23 points per game that they have lost without perennial MVP candidate Montreal in the line-up.

Watch out for:
Lucas Barker. Approaching his 100th SEABL game, Barker is coming off his most productive season in 2016 where he averaged 10.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 45% from the field. His career free-throw percentage still sits at just 60% but if he can improve that and get some easy points from the charity stripe, he will help power the Rangers’ offence as he looks to match himself with the best point guards from around the league.

Predicted Finish:
For the first time in a number of years, Dandenong’s roster has changed enough that their season looks to be a bit of an unknown. With Gibcus and Lang in the front court they should have one of the tightest defences in the competition which will allow them to finish in the top four. If their imports can impact the scoreboard and gel with Barker, a top-two finish will await them.

Top Four- South Conference

DANDENONG WOMEN

Departing:
Chloe Bibby, Amanda Meinking, Najvada George, Sarah Slater, Monique Andriolo.

Returning:
Aimie Clydesdale, Lauren Scherf, Bree Whatman, Clare Papavs, Amelia Todhunter, Sophie Tarabolsi.

Newcomers:
Rosie Fadljevic, Anneli Maley, Maddi Puli, Rachel Antoniadou.

Fixture:
The Rangers will aim to prepare themselves for an assault on the second half of the season with a favourable draw following the Queen’s Birthday weekend. They face six of their last eight games at home heading into the playoffs and those games are sure to shape the final four with four games against conference rivals.

Strengths:
Owning six players from Dandenong’s WNBL team that are currently competing in the Grand Final series, the Rangers look to be one of the best team’s leading into the season. Clare Papavs remains one of the most dangerous two-way players in the league and the back court combination of Aimie Clydesdale and Amelia Todhunter enables the Rangers to provide full court pressure to opposition point guards while their speed can punish them on the way back. Lauren Scherf, one of the players with the most potential in the league, was the 2016 Grand Final MVP and will hopefully carry that momentum into a big 2017.

Weaknesses:
While there is still time to bulk up their roster, Dandenong’s list of ten players looks like it could be a little thin once they move beyond their starting five. They look certain of a top-four finish in the South Conference but their top two hopes could be stretched if any sustained injuries or long-term leave hits their star players.

Watch out for:
Anneli Maley. Signing with the Lightning in the WNBL halfway through the 2016/17 campaign, Maley showed she belongs at that level despite being just 18 years of age with an average of four points and four rebounds in 12 contests. Alongside Scherf she should help the Rangers own the glass against most sides while her underrated passing will also be a considerable advantage.

Predicted Finish:
In their quest for a sixth Championship in the past eight years as they look to build on their legacy as arguably SEABL’s greatest ever team, Dandenong look to have another roster that will compete for the 2017 title. Their WNBL-calibre starting five is sure to set up a majority of their wins but they will need their bench to still play a significant role across the 18-round season to set them up for another post-season run.

Top Two, South Conference